by Freedom Murphy
For many teens, summer is a time to be with friends, go on vacation, or just kick back. However, for some young people it’s all about getting a job. With summer now winding down, each teen fortunate enough to have found work for the first time has his or her own story of a first summer job.
Taj Omari, 17, works at the South DeKalb YMCA as a lifeguard. “I wanted to work this summer because I was tired of my parents buying me things that were what they wanted. For me, getting a job was a step toward my independence,” said Omari. Having been on the swim team at this particular YMCA since she was 8, Omari said being a lifeguard is her ideal first job. “This was the first job I ever wanted, and I have known my boss since I started here on the swim team,” she said. “When I was younger, I used to think that it must be cool to get paid for sitting in a chair. Of course now that I work here and given my experience, I feel a higher level of responsibility so I really have to be on top of my game every day to get better.”
Having new found responsibility working at Chick-fil-A in Lithonia, Nikolas Swift, 15, said he is setting the stage for bigger things to come. “Having a summer job has taught me to manage my money a lot better,” said Swift. “One day I want to manage my own business so when I go to work and see my boss’ work, I take from his example. Plus there are other advantages. “I wanted to work at Chick-fil-A because of the scholarship opportunities the company offers when I get to college,” he said. Swift described a normal work day as busy. “I have grown to be able to manage it. My tasks include a variety of things like packing the condiments, bagging food at the drive through, and taking out the trash. Outside of that just putting a smile on everyone’s face when they come in.” Swift said that during past summers he spent time with friends hanging outside but this summer is very different.
Some teens looked for work for the mere experience but found new agendas. Noting that he initially sought employment for the job experience before college, Max Murphy, 17, said that he has become a role model. “My job as a camp counselor for the 4-,5-,6- and 7-year-olds has really gotten me involved in not only guiding the kids’ day-to-day activities but to act as positive and mature as I can around them,” explained Murphy who works at Midway Recreation Center in Decatur. “It’s not always easy because kids are kids and they misbehave sometimes. When they do, I try to help them out by nipping the problem in the bud and letting them know that it’s not OK to misbehave. In most cases I can usually see a little bit of a difference,” said Murphy.
These teens like many others have traded in their traditional summer for a step toward adulthood.