Workin' for a livin'

A summer spent working at a cake shop, a pizza place and several odd jobs

Like lots of other students at the University, I returned home from school desperate for cash and deeply indebted to my parents. So, upon arrival back in the Bay, I quickly set out in search of summer work, determined to go out in the world and make the big bucks — or, you know, minimum wage.

I started by getting my old high school job back at Nothing Bundt Cakes, which is a cake shop with a penchant for terrible puns that, yes, only sells cakes with a hole in the middle. While I worked there I got to do fancy things like operate a cash register, assist with marketing and account management and help people make the agonizing decision of which flavor cake to get. Since I’ve worked here for so long, I’m friends with all the other employees, who make this seemingly banal job a highlight of my summer. Last week, my friend Leah tried to do a high kick in the middle of the bakery and ended up splitting her khaki pants all the way up the back. We play music in the back and dance while frosting cakes. My boss here is also effortlessly cool and funny, albeit one of the greatest stress cases I have ever seen. I’d like to think we’re friends.

I also made the mistake of accepting the first restaurant job offer I got, which is how I wound up as a hostess at a local pizza restaurant. Nights working here are agonizingly boring, as it seems I’m always either standing behind my pedestal being told to “look pretty” and “play on my phone” to entertain myself, or being screamed at by a mom with three kids who doesn’t want to wait 10 minutes for a table.

In all honesty, in the back of my mind I thought this second job might be fun because I have a friend who worked as a hostess here in high school and ended up meeting her current boyfriend. Tragically, my coworkers are predominantly female, all significantly older than me and also not as nice as I had hoped. The hostess who trained me starts approximately 85 percent of her sentences with either “No offense, but…” or “I’m not yelling, but…” As a mildly intimidated new employee, all this did was give me the impression I should probably be slightly offended and she really wishes she could start yelling (gosh darn, all the nearby restaurant goers preventing her from really letting me have it!).

In another bid to up my income, I tried to get a dog walking job through the app “Wag!,” but I failed the phone interview and was deemed unfit to walk a dog, which was a low point for both my wallet and my self-esteem. However, undeterred, I’ve been making some extra cash by doing odd jobs for family friends — house sitting, feeding cats and helping high school seniors write their college essays.

While I’m not complaining about my own summer, it’s been all fine and good, I can’t help but wish I had made some bigger plans for myself. Sorority sisters are filling my Instagram feed with pictures of them “studying” abroad — riding on camels in Morocco, making pasta in Italy and lying on beaches in Spain. My roommate from first year is interning on Capitol Hill and got to sit in on one of the Comey meetings. How cool is that!? Clearly one of us took the time to look for and apply to internships, while the other napped regularly and spent an exorbitant amount of time lying on friends’ floors and not getting anything done. Anyways, too little too late I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of really incredible opportunities for undergrad students. And next year, hopefully, I’ll be doing something a bit more inspiring.

Even though this hasn’t exactly been the cliché summer of exotic vacations and poolside lounging next to lifeguards with six-packs, I have made a bit of money, and I learned that there’s a reason why so many people emphasize finding a job that encompasses your passions. Life isn’t nearly as fun when you feel like you’re wasting your time by doing something unfulfilling. And that’s the lesson I’m going to keep in mind as I try to find internships for next summer and as I continue taking classes and trying to figure out what the heck I plan on doing post-college.

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