Print Edition: June 3, 2015

Photo Credit Mark Roy : Flickr
Thanks to summer jobs and internships, summer “break” can be just as stressful as the rest of the year.

Growing up, summer was by far the best time of year. With no school, and therefore no responsibilities, days were spent outside riding bikes, swimming, or doing pretty much whatever it was we felt like doing.

Then we grew up and somehow without our noticing it, summer transformed into one of the most stressful times of year for students.

To an outsider, summer may seem like a break from the hectic life of a student, with exams out of the way and many of us taking a break from courses until September — but in reality, it can be almost as anxiety-filled as the school year. The pressure of schoolwork may not be present, but it has been replaced with the pressure of summer jobs, internships, co-ops, and the stress of trying frantically to save enough money for the upcoming year while still being able to afford to take that road trip with friends and attend at least one music festival.

This perfectly describes my first summer as a student. I was expecting summer to be the same as it was during high school — a time to hang out at the beach with friends and do pretty much nothing more than that — but it turned out to be drastically different. I got my first real internship and instead of spending my days at the lake, I was cooped up in an office praying to God that I was working hard enough to get a good reference.

There was also the added pressure of saving money. As a full-time student, working more than part-time is not an option during the school year, at least not if you’re trying to keep your grades up. This meant that I had the summer to save enough money to pay for the upcoming year’s tuition. It was either that or get student loans — which I did not qualify for because my parents earned more than StudentAid BC thought parents of a student needing financial aid should earn, even though asking my parents to help me out with tuition was not an option.

Because of this, my entire summer was spent budgeting and barely spending any money on anything other than gas to drive to work. The anxiety only increased when my car broke down during the summer and I had to spend nearly two weeks’ wages to fix it — a lot when your summer job is only 12 weeks long.

Although everything ended up working out, that was one of the most stressful summers of my life. Yes, I had saved enough money for the upcoming year and had scored a great reference, I had spent four months of my year completely full of anxiety — the opposite of what summer should be.

This summer, I promised myself I wouldn’t fall into the same situation. I was much pickier in my job search and rather than taking the job which offered the most money and hours, I settled for a summer job that would still allow me to save for tuition, but didn’t force me to spend my entire summer in an office. As a result, I now have time to enjoy my summer the way it should be enjoyed, with a few road trips and concerts, but while still working and earning money.

While I may not be earning as much money as I did last summer, and my job may not look as impressive on my resume, the reduced amount of stress and anxiety has made it completely worth it and I know that when I start courses again in the fall, I will be returning from a relaxing summer and not a stressful one, and I know it will be worth it.

So while working this summer and frantically trying to save enough money for the upcoming year, remember that it is summer after all, and it wouldn’t be summer without a few camping trips and beach days. I’ll take those over anxiety any day.