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Hayes: The forgotten value of summer

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Hayes: The forgotten value of summer

Bob Hayes, Columnist

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During my final week of high school, my economics teacher, Mr. Yang, spent each day giving us advice as we entered a new, freer stage of our lives. Mr. Yang is both a quirky, hilarious guy and an outstanding teacher. We would spend Monday through Thursday learning about balance sheets and exchange rates (with some funny stories about Mr. Yang’s life mixed in), and then on Friday we’d watch his favorite film, “The Princess Bride.” It was one of my favorite classes throughout high school, and the final week was particularly memorable. Those last few days, he advised us on college lifestyle, what is important in life and how to find happiness.

One bit of advice from Mr. Yang is particularly germane to our lives today: “You do not have many summers left. Enjoy them while you can.”

In our increasingly hypercompetitive world, summers represent a few months during which we can make a name for ourselves. We feel pressured to get the best internship so that we can add a section to our resume that will hopefully make us more attractive to potential employers.

I understand it. If we attend college to acquire skills and advance ourselves in the job market, our summers are a crucial time. Work experience may actually be the only way to distinguish ourselves from the thousands of graduates applying for the same jobs.

While summers are a valuable commodity in the eternal rat race, they are perhaps invaluable as a final extended period of time during which we have freedom from occupational or educational constraints. Unless you decide to be a teacher or end up unemployed, for the rest of your working life, summer is just another working season. Yes, you will get two weeks of vacation, but your buddies will be spread across the world and have different vacation periods.

Right now, summer lasts three months, the weather is fantastic and most of our friends who we have not seen for months are home. When will we ever have an opportunity like this again? Do we really want to spend this invaluable time working 10-hour days in a boring office, getting little (if any) money?

My didacticism does not intend to say that working over the summer and advancing oneself is a bad choice. I, too, will be working this summer and will every summer I have left. I will do whatever I can to land an internship or job that most fits what I want to do.

However, I will also always remember the value of each summer as simply a time to enjoy my friends, my family and my life. Go to a baseball game with high school friends, have an awesome weekend at a music festival, go on vacations – and maybe your parents will pay for them while you have the chance.

This summer, we must consider how valuable these few months are. While many of us will spend our days working jobs, we must strike a balance between three months in an office and doing things we enjoy. If we spend all summer working ourselves into the ground at a job, does that not just set the precedent for the rest of our lives?

Now, my parting words from a fun year as a columnist echo Mr. Yang’s parting words to me as a high school student: Do everything you can to enjoy this summer. It may be the last opportunity in your young life.

Bob Hayes is a Weinberg freshman. He can be reached at roberthayes2017@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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