Heading into the end of my junior year I expected a summer full of internships, commuting, adulting, and business clothes. Throughout the year, I was getting myself ready to apply and interview for internships in my dream city, Manhattan. This was going to be the summer that I put my big toe into the real world and I could not have been more excited.
However, when COVID-19 came into our lives and internships started getting canceled, I realized that my dream of having a New York City internship would not become reality. I was beginning to panic as the pressure of getting an internship summer after my junior year was screaming at me from the back of my head. The summer now seemed uncertain and unconventional.
And yet, that is far from what ended up happening. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue working for my summer beach patrol on Long Beach Island. When I had my first day of work on June 17th, I felt too old and out of place. It felt like I was taking three steps backward in my career.
As the summer progressed, I started to appreciate the bonus time I was given to work with my friends at the beach. Although I had been lifeguarding for four summers, a lot was different and I had to adjust many aspects of work due to COVID-19. Working with beach patrons safely required setting up a barrier to ensure everyone stayed a safe distance from the lifeguards. Dealing with beachgoers who did not respect our safety measures on a daily basis increased my confidence in myself to assert authority and stand up for what is right.
As I reflect on my summer, I think about how much I grew as an individual. I learned that it is okay to break the status quo and do whatever feels right for myself. Lifeguarding is definitely not something career services would strongly advise heading into your senior year of college, and yet I gained so many skills that I will take with me into my future career. Creating my own path led me to countless memories, lifelong friends, and parts of myself that were so deeply embedded in myself that I didn’t know existed. My confidence in myself grew stronger as I realized it is more than okay to do what you feel is best for yourself. I never expected to have an extra summer of lifeguarding, but I was thrown a curveball and took it in stride.
If I were to take away one piece of information that I learned from my bonus summer, it would be that sometimes life takes you on an unexpected path, but you just have to ride the wave.