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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The summer before my junior year of high school, I got my first job.

It was at a local coffee shop located near a college campus in my hometown. Almost everyone who worked there went to the university, so I was the youngest by quite a few years. Luckily, my uncle’s friend owned the shop, hence why I got the job. 

At first, I thought it would just be fun to earn some extra cash over the summer, but the shop quickly seeped its way into my whole life. 

Working with college students, I was able to learn the ins and outs of college life (or at least that’s what I thought at the time). I liked being surrounded by people at different points in their lives. They didn’t tell drama-filled stories or gossip for petty reasons. Instead, they talked about projects they were working on and were genuinely interested in my own college plans. 

One of them even inspired me to become a vegetarian (which I still am to this day) with stories from her own vegan journey. 

I also got to know a bunch of regulars; some for the better, some for the worse. Either way, I learned how to talk and form connections with strangers. This has helped immensely in my schooling as a journalist. 

The best part of working at a coffee shop according to my high school self?

It made me feel cool. 

There I was hanging out with college students, drinking fancy coffee and chatting about life. The fact I couldn’t even make most of the drinks my first year of working there didn’t dampen my newfound “coolness.” I was an unstoppable vegetarian hipster who worked as a barista at a coffee shop on a college campus. Hear me roar!

Jokes aside, working there on and off for three years made the place feel familiar. Every time I worked, I would leave smelling like coffee beans. It was my signature scent in the summer.

Then winter break of my sophomore year came around, and I didn’t go back to the shop. I don’t work there anymore. 

I miss being able to call myself a barista. Of course, for the “ooos” and “ahhs” it receives, but also because I miss the shop back home. I miss the customers. I miss the owners. And most of all, I miss my coworkers. 

Every time I go home, I visit the shop. It looks different and there are some new faces behind the counter, but it always feels like home. 

Jenna Bal

Kent State '24

Jenna Bal is a sophomore journalism major with a minors in English and web development. This is her second semester writing for HerCampus and the Burr. When she’s home in Toledo, Jenna enjoys working as a barista and spending time with her younger sisters. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, and journaling, and her favorite read is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. After graduation, she hopes to write for a magazine and eventually pursue her master’s degree in library sciences.