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Life > Experiences

Not So Happy On Chappy: What I Learned Working on Martha’s Vineyard For The Summer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I had what most college students would consider the dream summer job.

Over the summer I worked as a lifeguard on Martha’s Vineyard, a very popular tourist destination and a Massachusetts island off of Cape Cod. Now, most college kids would consider this their dream job, and it was a very fun experience; I lived on the beach all summer and made super good friends. However, this was a very unique place of work and there were some aspects of my place of employment that made working on the Vineyard all summer a little unbearable.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything because honestly I mostly loved my summer experience, but it taught me a lot of things that I truly wish I never learned. Be prepared for a list of silly things I did this summer recounted in a very melodramatic manner. I don’t recommend any of the below…

The first red flag about my summer job is that we only were given one day off a week. Now, to be fair we were given free housing, but working from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (and often later into the night) six days a week is very grueling. However, I did learn how to work VERY hard. The beginning of my summer consisted of strictly manual labor. All we did was lift things. Let me repeat that: ALL WE DID WAS LIFT THINGS. The one pro about this is that I was extremely strong for the first month of summer, however, that was counteracted by the next three months of lifeguarding which consisted of sitting for eight hours straight every day. On one of these days, we were instructed to stain the storage closet. Now, if anyone out there has stained anything before, you know you need a mask and a well-ventilated area. Well, when we stained this big closet, we weren’t provided with either of those things. So our brains were a little fuzzy that day after inhaling noxious fumes for two hours. Talk about an OSHA violation.

Something else I learned how to do this summer is clean a grease trap. This might be one of the grossest, most repulsive tasks to exist on Earth, and I do not recommend it to anyone! This task was doled out to the nine of us that worked there after we threw what my boss considered a “party” on the premise of our place of work (keep in mind, where we also all lived). So, all of us woke up to clean the grease trap, tired and extremely unwell. To uncover the grease trap we had to dig through sand for a good hour before. So, after digging, we sweatily scooped buckets and buckets of grease from this hole in the ground. When I tell you I will never forget the smell of that grease, I am not lying.

Now on to the good things I learned this summer. I learned how to bartend, do a backflip into the water, and deal with difficult people (patrons).

Ultimately I am glad I had this experience of my horrible while simultaneously fun and crazy summer. From now on, literally any job will seem easy compared to the job I did this summer. 

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Carol DeRose

U Mass Amherst '25

Carol is a freshman, political science major who loves to read and ski in her free time.