Summer Jobs

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?


  1. When I was a teenager my dad was an engineer at Boeing, but his first love was farming. So he farmed on the site, with U-Pick strawberry and raspberry fields. We lived on two acres and he planted a bunch of raspberry bushes in the back. One summer it was my job to man the field. Soooo incredibly boring. But he let me keep all the money that came in, which I think was about $400-$600 or so. Unless I’m totally misremembering that, which is entirely possible.

    My other teenage job was at a Hawaiian teriyaki place.

    I never really went to college year-round with summers off.

  2. Congratulations!

    This may be slightly off topic, but 10 years ago the Atlanta office of the law firm where I work hired 65 summer associates. This coming summer, we’ll have 7. Two from Harvard (Yale and Georgia Tech undergrads), two from Vandy (Duke and Univ. of the South undergrads), and one each from Yale (Princeton undergrad), Northwestern (UNC undergrad), and Georgia (UVA undergrad). All of them are at or near the top of their law school classes, all were at or near the top of their classes in undergrad, and all are on law review or another journal. The summer associate from Georgia, arguably the weakest of the five law schools, has a 3.94 GPA, is on law review, won the school’s moot court competition, and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. The resumes for the other folks would similarly blow you away.

    Thank God I am not a 2L looking for a job in this legal market. Best of luck to all you law students out there!

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I hear ya, Randy. It is an insanely tough market out there right now.

  4. MikeInWeHo says:

    The summer after my freshman year at Michigan I worked at a hotel on Mackinac Island (not the Grand Hotel, however). I ran the bike rental stand and also kept an eye on the adjacent video arcade. I could play all the games for free. It was fabulous.

  5. I’m currently a 2L, and this is a long story.
    Several years ago, about a year after my mission, I couldn’t find a summer job. I’d been offered a summer job, but felt prompted to turn it down. I was too proud to stoop to McDonalds (I’d worked fast food before, and was insistent on moving up, not back down). Two months into the summer, still no job, and I was desperate and depressed. So I flew out to Palo Alto and volunteered for the rest of the summer at a sleep disorders clinic my uncle worked at. My boss there offered me a job if I ever wanted to come back for it.
    The next summer, I went back, worked the summer and then the fall semester, and made good money (working in California and going to school in Utah got me the best of both worlds–a relatively high-paying job and low tuition). I was also able to find the same type of work in Utah, and it ended up paying for both of my undergrad degrees, a cheap car, and a backpacking trip through Europe.
    Fast forward several years–I’m desperately looking for work after my first year of law school. Two weeks after the year ended, and I still don’t have a job; the last interview had been a disaster, with the interviewer chewing me out for my shortcomings, telling me how disappointed he was at the interview (for a volunteer job, no less). I’m devastated, but keep looking.
    I have another interview with a firm downtown. It goes fairly well. They’re looking for someone with a medical and science (Biology major) background, I fit the bill, and my good grades are a bonus. They interview me and a bunch of 2Ls–and that same afternoon I get the job. It pays more than I expected, continues through the school year, and has been a fantastic place to work.
    Had I found a summer job years ago as an undergrad, I would not have volunteered at the sleep clinic, I never would have gotten the job there, and I probably would not have gotten the job at the law firm I’m at right now. Had I gotten any number of other law clerk jobs I interviewed for this past spring and summer, I would have missed out on the fantastic place I’m working now. God’s reminder to me, maybe, that, despite how bad things might seem, things will work out.

  6. I worked second shift after my freshman year of college at a plant that manufactured pre-fab ceiling tiles support bars. I was the only employee who really could work a computer, so when the old guy who ran inventory control had a heart attack, they moved me off the paint machine to the computer.

    After my mission, I spent a summer working for the local school district, painting school rooms, replacing carpet, mowing, etc. I spent the next summers back in Provo. I spent one summer working for BYU Takeout Services, delivering eclairs, wedding cakes, etc.

    I spent one summer doing software testing for a local company. After that, I did a year-long internship for a big multinational computer company. Upon returning for my last year, I worked as a programmer and then worked for a tech startup in Provo and Orem.

    I’ve worked full-time while in grad school, though.

    The year-long internship (paid, so it was more of a co-op) was the greatest thing I’ve ever done for my career. My wife and I had gotten married less than a year before, and we found ourselves in a new city, in a state we’d never expected, and made a go of it…

  7. I have a brother who graduated law school in 2008. His wife graduated med school the same time, and they had a baby a couple of months later. As a 2L, he’d worked for a federal judge, but he couldn’t really interview until he knew where she was going to match (her first choice was about an hour away). They ended up having to move to another state for her residency, and he’d missed the chance to really find a job.

    So, he spent the next year being the SAHD and collecting bar exams. He ended up passing the bar in 4 states and is now clerking for a judge about a mile away from the hospital where his wife works. He can visit his daughter at the daycare for lunch.

    He won’t admit it, but the year he spent not working/studying and taking bar exams/being a SAHD has probably been the greatest year of his life.

  8. Natalie B. says:

    #7: I loved the year that I got to spend at home. And, actually, it was the volunteering that I did during that year that I got to talk about in this last round of interviews.

  9. StillConfused says:

    Before law school I was an air traffic controller. As a 1-L, I worked for the AGs office in the Consumer Rights Division. That oversaw licensed professionals and the like. Never any clerkships for me. As a corporate and estate planning attorney, I have no interest in court stuff. And I was not interested in traveling for any work as I had a spouse and children. I also took two summer classes at the UofU’s lawschool that first year.

  10. Kevin Barney says:

    anon no. 7, I know a guy who was a lawyer, but his wife was a professional violinist. They would move to where she could get work, which made it impossible for him to do normal legal work (I think during that time he did contract work). She had a baby while she was with the Chicago symphony. Even while she was in the hospital, she had to practice four hours a day–the nurses loved it!

  11. I ended up doing landscaping work mostly, though I tried to get a job sorting dinosaur bones in Oklahoma. I have very fond memories of driving one of those lawn utility trucks around (I think the brand was something like Kubota?), trying to roll it off the top of a hill. And one summer I worked for a travel guide in central america, meeting far more rodents in $2-$5 hotels than I’d met in my life before then. Summers are stressful. Just before college I worked about 3 days in a telemarketing company that sounds like your highly reputable one. Strange memories indeed.

  12. My first summer job was working for Dairy Queen. Within a few weeks I was assistant manager-my ability to stay sober and not sell drugs over the counter made up for my complete lack of knowledge. My father was the old fashioned, very protective sort and had decided my brother would walk to work and pick me up when I worked late to protect me. My younger and much littler brother came that first late night to pick me up. As we walked he said “Let’s get one thing straight, if anyone comes YOU’RE fighting and I’M running.” Cracked me right up…he later worked with me…I don’t think either of us can consider eating dairy queen.

  13. What a story, Kevin.

    The summer of 1991 was going to be different. I decided to stay in Provo to play and work. Found a great job, had a blast. Lost that great job less than two months later. Shocked, I decided to (why not?) enroll in summer school.

    Much like anon’s story, had I not had that summer term, I would not have been able to return from my mission, graduate and get into grad school when I did. The timing was amazing, and my grad school experience was one of the best things that ever happened to me – still has such an impact on my life, even now many years later as a SAHM.

    My other summer job story that is memorable is from a couple of years earlier when I came home from vacation and found that I had been laid off from my cashier job that I had had for a couple of summers. I spent the rest of the summer working temp jobs. It was hard work, but learned and grew a lot having lots of “first day on the job”s.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    britt, my wife worked for DQ when she was in college. She says she knows where that ice cream comes from, and she *still* loves it!

  15. As a 1L currently searching for a summer job, these stories of law students not being able to find a job are only making the panic set in even deeper. Thanks, BCC, for making me feel even more desperate :)

  16. My first summer after High School, 1996, I worked as a Museum assistant. I got paid about $250 dollars a week and I dusted, cleaned, moved, put ID on ALL kinds of stuff. I even made a display. One project that was mind numbingly fun was going through every single newspaper they had and even ones on microfilm looking for the first name of the Mayor who served in the 1920’s. I did find his name, “Ernest H. Bate” on the back of a photo. Great pay, great people to work with but the work itself was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Sorry LT! As a 1L, I wouldn’t limit yourself to only law jobs; cast as wide a net as possible.

  18. LT, we aim to please.

  19. Steve Evans says:

    Sorry LT. It really sucks out there right now.

  20. coffinberry says:

    The legal market is sorely shrunken at the moment.

    Back in undergrad, lets see… I was a YMCA camp counselor the summer of ’84. I stayed in school the following summer. Then worked at DI the summer of 86. After graduating in ’87, I worked for a political pollster. By the summer after that, I was a SAHM.

    Fast forward many years. In 2006 after my 1L year, I did two unpaid internships: one for an autism legal research program, and the other for the local courts in the family court facilitator’s office. In 2007 I was a research assistant (see Of course the bar exam ate the summer of 2008, but I’m in my second year of clerking now.

    Looking for a firm job, though… I’ll take any leads you have!

  21. At least if I can’t find a job for the summer I’ll have more time to devote to studying the wisdom on BCC.

  22. Gah!! Somebody get LT a job, STAT!

  23. This (rather depressing) op-ed says that right now there are about 45k new JDs chasing 30k new legal jobs per year.,0,1467294.story

  24. #23: I don’t really get the call for the federal government to step in and restrict the number of schools. So what if “this continual flood of graduates only suppresses wages”? Isn’t that what happens in any job sector to balance supply and demand?

    There should be good data available on job prospects so that students can make an informed choice. But if people want to blow $$$ on law school only to be a waitress, I’m not sure that’s anybody’s problem but the student.

    We see the opposite problem with Med Schools. Not enough doctors, inability to start new schools or graduate more students, and the artificial restriction of supply drives up cost for everyone or causes distortions like “nurse practitioners” doing everything a doctor does or hiring graduates of overseas medical schools.

  25. Natalie B. says:

    I used to bomb interviews, because I was so nervous about
    them. I was only able to change my performance when I started looking at interviews as a fun opportunity to meet people and network rather than an evaluation of me. Whatever I do, I can’t focus on the outcome.

  26. Natalie B. says:

    This past year, I had a lot of time to explore different jobs through volunteering, because we moved to a new area where I couldn’t immediately find one. It was very eye-opening to me to see the huge range of careers that are out there. There are so many fantastic career options–community planner, survey researcher–that I never even knew existed while in college. Even though it’s a bad economy, it made me realize that sometimes my choices are limited only by failure to look around more. It was liberating to realize I could be happy doing a number of things, because then I didn’t have to bank on any one opportunity opening up.

  27. I’ve loved all my summer jobs.

    In high school I was a life guard after my sophomore year and I slept after my junior year (literally — chronic fatigue and sleeping 17 hours a day=no job). After my senior year I babysat for our neighbors, which was awesome. Their kids were 13 and 10, or thereabouts, and pretty much all I had to do was make them lunch and drive them to various sports camps. Great pay, too.

    I spent all my summers in college (and part-time during the school years, too) working at the museum affiliated with the university. I loved it. Great work, great people, interesting stuff and I got to set my own hours — the only downside was that it payed very poorly, but I didn’t care. It was totally worth it.

    Oh, and detassling is a very common summer job in IL, but one I was quite happy to avoid. Heat and I don’t get along well (though that was also a problem the first summer I worked at the museum — we were on the 4th floor of an un-air-conditioned building and couldn’t open the windows).

    britt, you totally cracked me up.

  28. Latter-day Guy says:

    1st summer out of high school, I worked 12hr night shifts at a window factory alternating between 48 and 60 hours a week. It was awful. After my mission, I worked in (no joke) the last dynamite factory in North America. I much preferred that job to the window place. And so, given my experience in light industrial labor, it only makes sense that I’m majoring in music.

  29. I’ve had two.

    I have done call-centre work for UK government helping find jobs and getting permission to work in the country.

    The other, I worked with a tree surgeon. It did not pay well, but I worked out-doors in a physical way with one of kindest people I have ever meet. He had 8 boys but just seemed content to provide meet their needs, especially if it meant lowering his prices for some of his older customers. Often he would not even break even on a job for a complete stranger.

  30. Ok, momentary threadjack:

    uh, Cynthia L (#24) what is with the scare quotes around Nurse Practitioners? Also, what is the objection to NPs seeing patients? Most cases people visit a doctor for can be easily diagnosed and treated by an NP, freeing up dr’s to spend their time on patients who need them most. They are highly trained medical professionals – not a distortion of the medical system at all.

    My sister is an NP and a damned good one. Many doctors at her hospital take their own kids to see her when they are sick. If doctors don’t oppose them seeing patients why should you?

    Also, are medical schools outside of your country to be somehow deemed inferior? I know there are some great medical schools here in Germany and I trust the graduates of them implicitly. A dear friend of mine got his medical degree in Colombia. After passing some minimum requirements to legally practice in the US, he is a successful and trusted pediatrician there.

    I hardly see either situation as a “distortion”


  31. Market research. Lots of market research.

  32. John Mansfield says:

    When my mission service ended, I felt exhausted in many ways and there were only a couple of months until I would leave home to resume school, so I looked for an easy job. I took the graveyard shift minding a new convenience store on the edge of town. This was great for having time to myself, sometimes an hour or more between customers. Sweeping outside in the summer night was pleasant. From midnight until two or three, there would be a few casino workers coming off their shifts who would stop by for beer and cigarettes. Starting before five would be construction workers heading to the job who would pick up sandwiches and soda for the day. During my weeks there, I only had to ring up two or three pornographic magazines.

    It got old before long, and I would sometimes think “A month ago I was preaching the gospel of salvation, and now I’m selling beer and cigarettes.” It was a good thing there were sandwiches to make for the construction workers; that was one small contribution to the good of mankind. Toward the end of the stint, a high school classmate stopped in. We chatted a while. Things were going good for him. He had a landscaping job and was making $500 a week. After he left, I was depressed and had to remind myself that my overall choices were good ones. The two years of missionary service had been purposeful. Going to college would lead to good things. At that moment, though, I was earning $3.50 an hour, fifteen cents above minimum wage, and I didn’t deserve a bit more for what I was doing.

    The next summer I found more appropriate labor. I had a dump truck and a radio and become a regular at the landfill. I got ticketed for being overweight once, and the boss was going to pay the ticket but never did. My father forwarded to me at school the notice that there was a bench warrant for my arrest due to the unpaid fine. That was kind of cool in a way, being a wanted fugitive, and even ties in with the legal career orientation of most of the other commenters.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 27, it’s true that detassling isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, but I viewed it as a romp in the park. That’s because when I was in high school I got assigned to a roguing team instead of a detassling one. Our job was to weed soy bean fields. While some teams walked through the fields with hoes and got the little weeds, we had to work on the big ones with our hands. Some of those buggers were huge, almost like little trees. It was back breaking work, and after that experience detassling always seemed like a vacation.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    I came off my mission in mid-October and had 2-1/2 months until going back to school at the Y in January. I got a job moving a factory that makes auto meters from Elgin to Sycamore. Two of my best friends, also recent RMs, worked there with me, so that aspect was a lot of fun. (One of the owners was LDS, so we had an in that way.) But it was backbreaking work over long hours. That was actually good motivation for me to go and get a good education, because I knew I didn’t want to end up doing *that* the rest of my life!

  35. For the DQers it wasn’t so much the actual ingredients it was the things added by the employees…with the number of times I caught them, I was sure there were other things going on that I didn’t know about.

    I’m wondering if my brother will email me and tell me his version of the events.

    It is absolutely true that a bad summer job can be great motivation during the school year. All these night job stories make me tired. I’m more of a 5am than a 2am person

  36. I worked washing dishes at the MTC cafeteria. An absolutely awesome job as it was basically all you could eat. That was worth the price of admission alone, but on top of that they paid me too.

  37. Kaimi, if there really are 30,000 new legal jobs out there this year, I’d be shocked.

  38. Detasseling- oh the memories!
    My favorite summer jobs in college involved working for natural resource agencies (usfs, blm, etc.) The summer after I got married my wife and I conducted backpack electrofishing surveys in remote areas in the west. It was the best job I have ever had.

  39. As a teenager I worked as a lifeguard in the summer. After I went to college I realized I could make (and save) more money working at a summer camp. I applied for waterfront, but they called me back and asked if I could teach sailing instead. I said sure. (I had never sailed a boat in my life!) How hard could it be, I thought, and spent the next 2 weeks reading and learning everything I could from books (pre-internet). When I started working I used the teaching strategy of sitting on the boat and explaining what to do while letting the kids do the actual sailing themselves.

    Worked out pretty well !

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    BiV, now that’s chutzpah! I love it!

  41. Alex T. Valencic says:

    Like Kevin Barney, I attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, although, unlike Kevin, I was here for undergrad work in Elementary Education, and I was unmarried until I graduated.

    I worked for the University Housing Dining Services the entire time I was here. I refilled hot food lines, restocked shelves, swiped students’ cards and, at the highlight of my Dining Services career, because the only student cook, manning the Eggs to Order station at the wonderful Illinois Street Residence Hall (best college job ever).

    I worked one summer at FedEx Ground unloading trailers, but that ended after a few months after I pulled something in my shoulder, eliminating my ability to reach above my head. To this day, my shoulder hurts, and causes all sorts of grief.

    After graduating, I took a summer job in May with a friend’s commercial office cleaning company, expecting to work past the summer on the weekends while I taught full-time in one of the many elementary schools in the area. I also got married this summer.

    Fall came around and, after applying for about two dozen positions and interviewing for almost every single one of them, I failed to get a full-time position, so I continued cleaning offices, while become a crew leader, then Assistant Operations Manager, and then by January I was Operations Manager. I had also started working as a substitute teacher in the Champaign school district the previous September.

    This past June, my wife and I took over ownership of the company, and I still work as a substitute teacher in Champaign. I never saw that coming when I started cleaning for a summer job!

  42. For my first few years of college, I worked as a dishwasher in the cafeteria. Not a bad job at all. Free food (like the previous MTC job), and I learned sign language from my co-worker.

    During the summers, I’d do extra stuff – fixed sunken graves in a graveyard, worked the delivery crew for a furniture company, and stuff like that. Took a semester off pre-mission and worked 90-110 hours a week as foreman at a dry bean warehouse.

    Post-mission, I worked night audit in a casino, delivered pizza, and washed more dishes. My final two years of school, I worked night audit in the nastiest hotel you could imagine, and finally got on as a behavioral therapist in a group home for convicted pedophiles with developmental disabilities. Creepy job, but I generally had the night shift so I could study on the job. I’d work 40 hours a week and take 18-22 credits, mostly because I never wanted to go back to fixing sunken graves again.

    Now I work in corporate finance for a really big bank. Funny how the stuff I learned on each of those jobs comes in handy.

  43. My first summer job was as a picket. The local clerks union had a grievance with a hardware chain that they wanted to publicize. So they hired four 16 year olds to carry picket signs in front of one of the stores. Someone came to check on us once a day. We flirted with the girls working at the Foster Freeze, listened to my friends new 8 track tape player in his 68 Camaro, goofed off, and got more than a few stern lectures from WWII vets shopping at the store about unions being the downfall of America.

  44. My summer job was the same as my fall, winter and spring job: keeping American Fork stocked with Cheerios. At the time, about 10 years ago, the store management boasted that they sold more cold cereal than any other location in Utah.

  45. My 1L summer I worked for a good firm in Milwaukee. (These were flush times.) My wife had to stay in Chicago for her job. I lived in the Plaza Hotel on Cass Street (not Manhattan). Friday afternoons I’d take the Hiawatha train back to the Chicago, and return Sunday night.

    2L summer I worked for the firm I’d join after graduation in Los Angeles. My wife stayed in Chicago again. I lived in Bunker Hill downtown. One Friday I flew home to surprise her. And her boyfriend.

    (OK, I made up the boyfriend part.)

  46. The summer before my mission I worked at a chalk board factory with a whole crew of very interesting characters. I had to wake up at 4:30 am to make a 5:30 shift. It was a really interesting job.

    Before that I had worked on an assembly line preparing circuitboards.

    Summer jobs are often interesting and allow you to gain experience that you might not have otherwise thought about.

  47. My summer job for the first four years of college was teaching drivers training in So. California. Sixty to seventy-hour weeks with crazy teenagers, a surprising majority of whom had actually not ever sat behind the wheel of a car before. I remember well my very first student. Picked him up at his high school at the end of the school day, teenagers swarming around. We hopped in the car, and I told him to drive. He said, “really?” I said “yep.” He was not familiar with reverse, so we ended up going over the curb and across the grass and sidewalk to get out to the street. At an alarming rate too. After we got a safe distance from the school I told him to pull over and asked if he had ever driven before. “No, but I’ve played a lot of video games.”

    Not to worry, I eventually got my payback by making students stop halfway up Third Street in Laguna Beach (a notoriously steep street), and then start again. The squealing tires…ahhh, good times.

  48. julie, yeah I guess there’s no reason for the quotes, you can consider them off. Still, I’m not sure how you infer that I don’t think nurse practitioners do a good job or can’t be “damn good” from that comment. I personally would rather take myself and my kids to a nurse practitioner in many cases.

    But the existence of a job title that is functionally identical to doctors, with a different training path, is a sign of extra-market pressures/constraints on the training path. I don’t think this is very controversial. Maybe the solution is just to formally admit that med school is overkill for routine doctor tasks (instead of only de facto admitting this via nurse practitioner policies), and let med school be only for training specialists. This is basically happening already via student choice–very few med school graduates choose go into family/general practice.

    PS: I think you’re just misinterpreting my use of the word “distortion.” It’s a technical term of Economics, it just means change (external influence) to the market equilibrium; it doesn’t imply a good/bad moral judgment.

  49. Summers in high school I pruned trees on a “cut-your-own” Christmas tree farm in Dousman, Wisconsin. We used long knives, sort of like lightweight machetes. You walked around the tree, hacking it into a Christmas-tree shape. You do this for a few years before it’s sold. On the knife-hand leg you wear a baseball catcher’s shin guard, because the branches of the tree pull the blade in towards you on your downstroke, and occasionally you’d clock it right in to your shin. One day I had the wrong leg forward and buried the knife into my shin bone. The next day I started wearing two shin guards.

    On Christmas break from school I’d work there helping people select and cut their trees.

  50. The summer after my 2L year, I worked for a federal judge as part of an “externship” program. The work that summer didn’t pay me anything, but I got a couple of law school credits for it. I had to pay for the credits, of course. So, I joke that I had to pay to work that summer.

    Still, no biking around trying to sell ice cream. Geez, Kevin.

  51. We’re currently paying off law school loans after my husband finished his first year and left for a better job opportunity. At the time we had people yelling at us that we were insane. That another job would always come around but a law degree was forever.

    Considering what we have to pay for just the first year, I give thanks every day we left when we did. Especially when we see all of our classmates struggling to find any kind of work to do.

    We, like SOOOO many of our peers, only pursued the law school path because there was no other path open at the moment and it seemed like a good use of our time. I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. Jared likes his new career, we saved ourselves a fortune, and we got out of the way of the true believers.

  52. Ah, soybeans, the lovely other half of the IL landscape. I suppose weeding was probably worse than detassling. I’m glad I escaped both (well, other than weeding our family’s vegetable garden).

    And Alex Valencic, I spent my freshman year working in ISR’s dining hall (a few years before you were there). The worst shift was Friday night dishroom, the best was the 2-4 shift when pretty much no one was there and you could just stand around talking with co-workers (or friends who decided to eat during that time). The museum was way better, though.

  53. I’ve heard all of these already, although I don’t remember you bringing up your impressions of general authorities. can’t necessarily say it surprises me though. Also, you should probably ask mom to help you with uploading the full sized image, because I only get a thumbnail when I click on it.


  54. I took classes and worked part-time selling meat through the store front of the BYU meat lab my first summer at BYU (no longer there, apparently. Last time I drove by, it looked like they were selling used computers there. *sniff*). Then, I got a job to milk cows at the BYU dairy out in Spanish Fork (not owned by BYU anymore. Also a *sniff*), but I didn’t feel good about it, so I was a calf feeder every other weekend instead. I did that my second year of BYU. For my second summer, I worked on a cattle ranch owned by BYU up in Idaho. Then I didn’t work my third year so I could also do some independent courses and finish my degree in three years. That summer, I got married and worked in the computer department of the BYU Bookstore.

    Then I did my MBA at BYU with an awesome internship in corporate finance.

    And then I stayed home and had 5 kids in 10 years and am still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

  55. I learned from my calf feeding job that hungry calves are just as obnoxious as hungry kids – except that they weighed almost as much as me and could knock me over. That was particular painful in the winter when everything was covered in ice. And scours smells just as bad as kid diarrhea. Yup, lots of useful correlations there.

  56. I’m going to be a mom this summer after my 1L year. Any lawyers out there who think I should try to do something else besides parent during my law school summers?

  57. I worked on my farmer’s tan at the local golf course during the summers. Playing golf–not working.

  58. Pre college- office assistant at town hall.
    1st summer- office assistant for a lawyer’s office that mostly did estate planning seminars.
    2nd summer- study abroad
    3rd summer- engineering internship
    Post grad- research
    MS summer- research
    1st PhD summer- research
    and I’ll be doing research again this summer. So very fun. Thankfully, though, my advisor thinks that 20-hour summer assistantships really mean 20-hours a week. She is AWESOME.

  59. Rachel, it all depends on your circumstances and what you’re looking to do after law school. If you’re plan is to try and get a job with a firm, or a judicial clerkship, or a government position, then my opinion would be that it’s important to do something law related (broadly speaking) to put on your resume (particularly in this crummy market). When I was in law school, very few 1Ls got paid summer jobs, but most everyone did something, like joining a study abroad program, or working for free for a judge or government agency, or helping one of your professors with a research project. Look at it as a helpful stepping stone to the next job.

    Just my two bits.

  60. I didn’t go to law school, but I did work two summers at the old Defense Depot Ogden, now closed, while in college at Weber State (69-74). It used to provide spare parts, maintenance items, and supplies to the various military services. The first summer was spent mostly doing janitorial type stuff, sweeping floors, moving stuff around, etc.

    The second summer, though, was a great introduction to the realities of the $200 hammer and thd $500 toilet seat. I worked in a “repackaging unit”, where we took the various items, and relabeled them with new Federal Stock Numbers, or replaced old packaging with new. The highlight was repackaging 20,000 u-bolts and 40,000 nuts in boxes of 100 each into new boxes of “U-Bolts, with 2 ea nuts attached, 100 ea.” That meant that three of us college students spent weeks sitting with piles of u-bolts and nuts, and had to spin the nuts onto the u-bolts, count them out into lots of 100, and put them in new boxes. I remember that using the label machine to print the new labels when we were all done took half a day. I can’t believe it was really cost effective to have us do that, but they were paying us $2.12 an hour, so it worked for us.

  61. “Not one of those cushy ones with a big Chicago firm, but one with a Rock Island insurance defense firm.”

    There’s a reason big firms like Jones Day get nicknames like Jones Day, Nights, and Weekends. They may pay well, but a job at these types of firms is not what I’d call “cushy.” Long hours, little control of your schedule, no life outside the office, incredibly enormous egos of the partners, soap-opera office politics, and cutthroat internal competition all combine to make a pretty toxic work environment. (I know: pity the high-paid lawyers.)

    Of course, if you’re only referring to summer jobs, then a summer internship at one of these places is, in fact, usually pretty easy. Work you could do in your sleep; home by 5; and two-hour lunches. It’s blatant false advertising, of course, and they’ll even tell you that while you’re going through. No one seems to mind, though.

  62. One college summer I spent working for the BYU grounds crew–$1.60/hour for 40 hours a week. The next summer things didn’t work out too well, so I spent the first part of the summer watching the Senate Select Committee on Watergate–great stuff. But I did spend a month in Oregon, bucking hay, stickering lumber, re-roofing a house, chasing the girls (no pay for this last “job”).

    And then I worked for a BYU faculty member re-roofing his house. His favorite exclamation seemed to be “Judas Priest” which he shortened to “Judast” as we went along. I have no idea what he was thinking.

    The summer before my mission it was home construction–most notable was that the owner was the son of the guy who played the voice of God in “The Ten Commandments.” He’d show up at the job sometimes and rattle the rafters with his basso profundo!

    My brother and I spent one summer in business building cabinets–we’d always underestimate the time required for installation, and by the time we were done our hourly wages would be about 25 cents. But then I got a job with a building contractor, at $4.00, which he raised to $4.50 when I got married. We had a big concrete pour scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, 1977, which I remember sleep-walking through, since my oldest son was born about 3:30 that morning.

    I got some great part-time jobs during law school working as a finish carpenter. Good pay, interesting work. Beats all hell out of trying to sell anything.

    After my second year of law school I clerked for a Wall Street firm–working 9:00 to 6:00 most days, with just a few late nights at the printers working on securities registration statements. Living in New York that summer was a grand adventure, and we returned after graduation a year later and have never left.

  63. #38:
    I also helped with electrofishing surveys–helping a professor do research, during the school year. If I ever have to live off the land, I want one of those machines. I might get sick of fish, but I’d never go hungry.

  64. I started working at 15 1/2, and never stopped until I had my first child. I’m perplexed and slightly envious of this Summer Job idea.

  65. I actually worked year-round in college, though less hours during fall and spring than I did over the summer. I know a lot of people who worked during the school year and over the summer, but just had different jobs over the summer than they did throughout the school year. Many of the jobs students do during the year just aren’t there over the summer (they need significantly less people working in the residence hall dining rooms and grading for classes, for instance — both jobs that I had during the school year).

  66. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 53, yeah, I don’t know why the picture is just a thumbnail. I pulled it off my FB profile; Emily had tagged me in it.

    No. 61, right, by cushy I was only referring to the summer jobs, not what those firms are like for the newly minted associates.

  67. Schooled at the University of Oregon in the mid ’70’s. Through a fellow church member who wisely bailed out on architecture, I got a job roofing. It turned out to be one of those ‘motivator’ jobs. I was able to work during breaks and in the summer. We had one child at the time an my wife worked at a nearby hospital as a emergency room receptionist.

    The first break I worked was in December, when Eugene is it’s most rainy. If you didn’t work the rain, you didn’t work. There was no money in the budget for proper rainwear so I always came home soaked and cold. A few months after that first stint, I found out my one of my former roofing partners was picked up on murder charge.

    Summer wasn’t much of a bargain either. My employer was too cheap to buy proper pumping equipment for the tar, so I had to haul 5 gallon buckets or hot tar up and down a ladder. In order to knock the tar off your shoes you had to put the them in the freezer so the tar would become brittle. I didn’t think this was a big deal, but it did not please my wife.

    We also had to haul the bundle of shingles up ladders. One of the houses we did had eaves three stories up. His biggest ladder reached about 6″ past the eave line. Way too much flex in the ladder! I think I was paid $2.00 an hour.

    My job before we moved to Oregon was a union carpenter in Chicago, making $8.50 an hour. I didn’t make that money again until about 8 years after graduation.

  68. The summer after my mission was the best. I worked for Sprint as an operator, and I was almost always working the Portuguese “gate,” which, unlike the English gate, actually had breaks in between the calls. Many of the calls that did come in were Brazilian kids playing with payphones. Some of them were quite funny.

    During swing shifts I would get English gate calls also, usually from Ghana. “Sprint Global One, how can I help you?” A little girl’s voice spoke up, “Oh. Ummmm. I just called to tell you that you’re doing a great job!”

    My buddy was on the French gate, and he brought in his college algebra homework, and he asked for help. After a while I started bringing my old calculus book to work to play with when I wasn’t on the phone. I was registered for the fall at BYU to begin a psychology major, but after weeks of doing calculus for fun, my dad suggested that maybe I ought to do something more quantitative. Now I’m ~18 months away from a PhD in physics, and I haven’t regretted a bit of it.

  69. After a while I started bringing my old calculus book to work to play with when I wasn’t on the phone.

    I really like math. But mostly as a tool, not as a form of entertainment.

  70. As an undergraduate at BYU, I worked summers cleaning one of the buildings at DT. That sucked.

  71. Lots of law students and lawyers here, it would seem.

    3L here. Spent my 2L summer interning at a Chinese law firm in Shanghai. Hardly paid anything–I took a loss, when all was said and done–but it was a great experience. It was my first trip to Asia since completing my mission over 4 years earlier. Traveled every weekend, ate wonderful Chinese food every day, took lots of photos, and just tried to soak it up. Really improved my Chinese legal vocabulary, too.

    Spent my 3L summer at a law firm in California.

  72. P.S. The first summer after returning from my mission, I worked as a telemarketer in Provo while attending summer term at BYU. I felt absolutely filthy at the end of each shift. It’s a terrible, terrible job. I made fairly decent money, but ended up quitting after about 6 weeks.

    My next job was as a janitor in Heritage Halls. Which was about one hundred times better than telemarketing.

  73. My summer before I went on my mission I worked for the Forest Service thinning trees with a chain saw. When I opened my shin with the saw (hitting nothing but skin) I saw three inches of my shinbone. Good times in the La Sals.

  74. Worked at a Boy scout camp when I was 14–made about 50 cents/hour. Great fun. Sold $200 shoes after high school at a boutique outlet. Before college, I sold Christmas trees at the Elf’s Christmas Tree Forest–had to dress up as an elf. Most times, I was the only one on duty and had to relieve myself in the “forest” rather than leave the lot unattended.

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