Growing up, my family was never “well- off” with money, but my parents did everything in their power to work hard and provide my siblings and I with everything we needed and many things that we wanted.
As I reached my freshmen year of college at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I realized at my core that I was a very independent person. However, I was still relying on my parents for funds that were slowly dissipating, as my dad was laid off of his job the summer right before I started college. I was disheartened when I needed to ask for more money, and felt guilty spending the money I earned from a ten-hours-a-week work- study job on things I didn’t really need, but wanted. It seemed that all of my peers around me had much more work experience than I ever had growing up in a small town, and most of them juggled going to school full time and having at least one part time job. I decided since my first two semesters were going to be very busy, I needed to get a summer job following my first year so that I could make my own money and budget it how I wanted to. I hadn’t been on a big vacation in many years, so achieving that was my main goal.
I met with my boss in February after she had been buying clothing and accessories for her retail store in Nantucket, MA at a fashion trade show in New York City. I was extremely nervous- it was my first real job interview and I really needed this. I was confident in my newly learned skills from school but I had no retail background except for working at the school Style Shop for one hour a week as part of a club I was in.
After the interview, my boss offered me the job on the spot. I gladly accepted and knew I would be off to Nantucket to work for the summer. I would be away from my friends that I hadn’t seen in months because they were attending schools fairly far away, but this was what I needed in taking a step further towards feeling independent and not feeling like that “broke college kid” all the time.
Summer rolled around, and I began working five days a week starting the day after I arrived. When I proved my abilities and drive at the store a couple of weeks in, I was asked to work six days a week. I would stay longer than I needed to, help with any maintenance that needed to be done without anyone asking me, and I tried my hardest to accommodate every customer to make him or her happier when walking out of the door. We didn’t have many workers and I didn’t mind the extra salary, so I was happy to accept working an additional day.
Working six days a week came and that one extra day was harder than I expected. I had time to go to work in the morning, come back, make dinner, and get ready for bed. Although tiring, pushing myself felt rewarding. I was feeling the results in my confidence and I was seeing the results in my bank account. Any time I went to buy anything I didn’t need, I would picture how many hours I would’ve had to work for it and how I would much rather spend my money on a getaway in the winter.
A few months later, even after buying everything I needed for school, paying for housing and food while I was staying in Nantucket, and treating my parents to a few gifts, I still have a significant amount of money saved up that I will be able to go on a vacation during this winter break. Having job responsibilities and working hard to achieve above expectations has landed me much more than just money, but confidence and an even stronger drive. From this, I am able to achieve what I really wanted- a nice vacation- but I never feel the need to size myself up against anybody else that I go to school with now. I know my abilities and I believe in them. And as for next semester, I am much more confident in myself when applying to internships and jobs for spring.
My main takeaway from my story is this: if you work hard, you will achieve. However, if you work hard and go above and beyond expectations, you will achieve much more than money.