Summer jobs: the living ain’t easy
Seasonal work gives teens a taste of the adult world and the independence, responsibility and rejection that comes with it – not to mention having to deal with the general public
Young entrepreneurs: “Each business had to pay €8 for a slot on the flyer, so they did. And we got 80 businesses taking part.” Twins Michael and Oisín (13) McGloin from Bundoran, Co Donegal
My first summer job actually started at Easter. My friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons – she went on to become a lawyer, but she’s actually a lovely person – and I went to work in a dry cleaner. We travelled into town on the bus. We took our breaks, along with our adult colleagues, in a rat-infested cellar. We went to the pub at lunch time. We were 14. We were delighted.
It is easy to forget how conscientious and open-hearted young people are, and how eager many of them seem to be to join the discredited, shrinking and increasingly cynical ranks of the employed. It is easy also to forget what having a job means to us all, and how much we learn at work.
A flying start
Kathy McGloin of Bundoran has watched the difference that working has made to her twin sons, Michael and Oisín (13) this summer. “They’re getting up a lot earlier, and they’re getting up themselves,” she says. “It’s made a difference to their self-esteem. It’s given them a wee bit of independence. They can go to the cinema, they’ve got their own money.”
Despite their youth, Michael and Oisín, who in the past were part of a team that won a Foróige enterprise award, or NFTE, say that many of their schoolmates from Maghene College are working in Bundoran’s tourist outlets.
“But there’s a lot of people looking for jobs,” says Michael. “We were looking for summer jobs ourselves.”
He and Oisín started their commercial leafleting business in June, and they will work through July and August. Each morning they deliver flyers to local businesses and caravan parks, for a couple of hours. Kathy thinks an eight-hour day would be too much for 13 year olds – “although sometimes we work seven days a week”, as Michael says.
The division of labour is clear. Both boys leaflet, but “ I’d be more like talking and doing interviews, and Oisín would be more on the computer,” says Michael. “Each business had to pay €8 for a slot on the flyer, so they did ,” he says. “And we got 80 businesses taking part.”
He is saving his money – “although we have outgoings as well” – for a school trip to China next year. “We hope to continue it next summer,” says Michael.
A little respect
In another tourist town, Kinsale, Clara Power completed her Leaving Certificate in June and is now a waitress in the Fishy Fishy restaurant. She started there in transition year, when she did work experience. “It’s a gourmet restaurant, it’s a big restaurant, it’s always busy,” says Clara. “ You’d be sweating. You’d be running all over the place. It’s stressful. Yes, my legs hurt after four hours if you don’t get a break. I didn’t work here for my sixth year at school, so I’d say by the end of the summer I’ll be used to it again and I won’t feel it.”
Of the owners, the Shanahans, Clara says she is very respectful. “And they really respect me. If they ask me to do an extra shift I do. At the same time they let me take three weeks off in the high season, which was a big deal. We get above minimum wage. We get a lot of tips and they are divided between everyone: everyone in wash-up, everyone in the kitchen gets something.”