By 13, I was babysitting all over the neighborhood.
When I finally turned 16, I was more than ready to start my first hourly job. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had my heart set on working at Camp Thunderbird, a YMCA camp for kids, as a lifeguard. Little did I know that lifeguarding would teach me valuable skills and truly change my life.
Here's 6 reasons why lifeguarding was the best summer job ever:
Save the day
Getting certified as a lifeguard entails learning how to save lives. Surprise, surprise. However, as a teenager, I had no idea how useful this would be. Since being certified in CPR, first aid, AED and the administration of oxygen, I have been able to teach countless others these skills. In addition, I was actually able to save a young boy who almost drowned during a swim lesson. Who knows when the next person will choke on some food, swallow too much water in the pool or experience a heat stroke. Becoming a lifeguard enables you to be the one who saves the day – and a life.
Work with friends
I got to work alongside some of my friends from swim team, and I quickly became close to the coworkers who I didn't know initially. Working side-by-side in the sun brought us together, and I was able to walk away from my lifeguarding experience with many new friendships and fun memories.
Free pool access
Pool memberships are not cheap these days. Being a lifeguard provided me with free access to a pool whenever I wanted to relax, sunbathe or swim. If I got sweaty being in the sun, I would just take a quick dip in the pool. Shifts on the stand are usually only 15 to 20 minutes long, so relief was never far away. Access to a pool also allowed me to swim laps before or after my shifts. I could work and workout all in one place.
If you're a people watcher like me, this job will suit you well. Sitting for countless summer days on that stand, I was able to observe tons of people and speculate about their lives. This was food for my fictional mind, and I created quite a few stories centered around what I thought those people were like. Lifeguarding allows you to bask in the sun, relax and observe pool activities. You will literally get paid to people watch.
Look like Larry the Lobster
Larry the Lobster from Spongebob was my inspiration as a lifeguard. Getting to sit high off the ground with a red tube, whistle and fanny pack felt pretty legit. If you're worried about pulling off a fanny pack, have no fear. I would wear mine loosely around my hips so that it would dangle slightly like a gun holster. One thing that I quickly learned was not to get burnt like a lobster. Wearing plenty of sunscreen can prevent the stereotypical lifeguard burn and give you a sun kissed glow.
Gain life skills
My first job taught me skills like teamwork, problem-solving and communication, which prepared me for future jobs. I learned how to work as a team player and how to ask for help when I didn't know what I was doing. For example, when I became a camp counselor several years later, my ability to communicate my needs and ask for advice prevented many mistakes. Also, my experience problem-solving situations at the pool has enabled me to better figure out projects at my current Snagajob internship. I discovered that common sense, asking for help and determination can unravel any assignment.
If you're looking for your first or next hourly job, then give lifeguarding a shot like I did. It might just change your life too.