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Sonya Sorich: How to handle a summer job

Last year, I told you about my first summer job -- a stint at McDonald's, where I (almost) mastered customer service, food preparation and the art of flaunting McPants.

We've once again entered the time of year when young adults scramble to gain professional experience. I feel your pain. I, too, once Googled "better word for babysitter" in hopes of bolstering my resume.

Most summer jobs aren't paradise. You might even wonder if your hard work is worthwhile.

It is. To prove it, I'll share my second-most memorable venture into the world of summer employment.

I resisted an urge to return to McFamiliarity.

I went to a local temp agency, where my computer skills helped me land a clerical job at Blue Shield of California. Or so I thought.

On my first day at the job, I showed up in professional attire and was escorted down a hallway. My final destination: the mailroom.

I was working in the mailroom. In heels.

My new boss explained the routine. Boxes would arrive, and I'd deliver them to the appropriate department.

Naturally, my co-workers found great humor in my predicament. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it seems like I somehow ended up with the heaviest, most awkwardly shaped boxes on my first day.

In a desperate attempt to appear professional, I casually accepted the challenge in the same manner I'd file papers. "Lifting 30-pound boxes in a pencil skirt? I do this all the time!"

Inside, I was crying. The sympathetic glances I received from employees in the building's departments didn't make things any better. When someone remarked on my ill-suited shoes for the 50th time, I had to refrain from exploding.

But I survived -- and returned to work the next day in a T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. It was uncomfortable, but I didn't have too many other options. After all, McDonald's wasn't hiring.

And you know what? I couldn't help noticing a hint of admiration in my co-workers' eyes. When I ended my mailroom stint, they confessed they didn't think I'd last beyond the first day.

Even though I've avoided heavy lifting since that summer, the job taught me an important lesson. When reality doesn't match your expectations, it's best to flex your muscles, change your shoes and never look down again.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at or 706-571-8516. Visit to read her columns.