One of my cobloggers is going to intern with a judge on the D.C. district court this summer after the first year of law school. This is a great development, and I’m a little bit envious, because I didn’t have anything like that kind of success in that realm when I went to law school.
I graduated from BYU with my extremely marketable degree in Latin and Greek (snort!) in 1982. It was a really bad recession back then, a lot like now. I was going to be starting law school at the University of Illinois College of Law in the fall, and I thought I would have an easier time finding a job in Illinois than in Provo, so we went ahead and moved to Urbana at the beginning of the summer.
The job search turned out to be brutal, however. I remember trying a McDonalds, and they literally laughed at me. There simply wasn’t a job to be had in the land.
But I was not only married, I had a baby girl, and I had to find something. So I lowered my standards even further and took a gig selling those coupon books. I sat in a room filled with phones, and I would call people trying to sell them a book of coupons for $35. When they hired me, they pushed hard for me to take the pure commission option, but I know I’m not much of a salesman, so I opted for the straight hourly wage option. I worked the phone for hours, and maybe I sold one or two books, I don’t recall. But it seemed like everyone I called was an old retired woman on a small, fixed income, who didn’t really have a use or interest in a book of coupons like the one I was trying to sell. The next day when I showed up for work, the whole operation was gone. It was a boiler room, and I never even got paid for my one day’s work.
My next effort was to drive an ice cream bike. These things were common in the area. But I had to go to the far northwest side of Champaign to pick up the bike (an ungainly one-speed affair), then drive it all the way to the far southeast corner of Urbana, my assigned area, before I could sell anything. I did it, and spent a long, hot day not selling very much ice cream. Taking the long trips to and from my area into account, I realized I was making less than a dollar per hour. So that job similarly lasted a single day. (At the bottom of this post is a picture of me with the bike just outside my apartment building holding my baby daughter.)
The only actual job that really worked that summer was a couple of weeks late in the summer when I was able to detassle corn (a common type of work in the farm fields of Illinois.)
After my first year of law school was over, I didn’t get any sort of law-related job, although I tried. (It is much less common for students to get such jobs after their first year, which is why I’m so thrilled for my coblogger’s opportunity.) But I was able to get an actual job that summer. Our Stake President, Joseph Woolley, was a plant physiologist at the University, and he got me a job working on the research farm. I worked there with my friend Michael Hicks, which was simply awesome. I don’t quite recall exactly what we did; I seem to remember a lot of weeding. But it was total fun. Mike and I always worked together, and so we spent the summer out in the fields under the sun having long, deep gospel (and other) conversations. I also recall honing my GA impressions (my specialties were Bruce R. McConkie and Neal A. Maxwell). We worked with year-round farmer employees, and that was a bit of a culture clash. The bathroom at the main building had huge stacks of Playboys and Penthouses in it. At lunch time they would play cards, while Mike and I would sit off to the side and read. (I was reading Xenophon’s Anabasis–in Greek, of course–that summer.)
After my second year of law school, I finally got a law-related job for the summer. Not one of those cushy ones with a big Chicago firm, but one with a Rock Island insurance defense firm. We got a nice apartment and spent an idyllic summer along the banks of the Mississippi. We had almost no possessions with us, which was actually kind of a good thing. I spent a lot of time playing with my daughter in the park across the street, and if we wanted something to read we would just walk to the cool, old library.
Those are my summer job tales surrounding law school; what are your summer job stories?