Mile High Youth Corps: A Valuable First Job

Summer of Service Corpsmember, Rebecca H., highlighted her experience with Mile High Youth Corps for a college application essay. Her essay, included below, demonstrates the positive impact a summer job at the Corps can have.

From Rebecca H.:
This past summer was different from any I have ever had. It was certainly busier and less laid-back than the summers that came before, and from my perspective it felt even shorter than a summer usually does. None of this means it was anything less than marvelous. Last summer I made new friends, learned new skills, and discovered a lot about myself and the world around me; to do all of this I had to work hard and put myself in new situations, but even the difficult parts were entirely worth doing.

What really defined last summer for me was my employment in the Mile High Youth Corps’ Summer of Service program. I had not wanted to get a job, because I was only too keenly aware that summertime never lasts quite long enough, especially with a truckload of summer homework to do. My parents insisted, saying something along the lines of “valuable life experience” and “you’ll be glad of it later.” (I didn’t believe them at the time, of course.) I chose the Youth Corps because working outside was far more appealing to me than flipping burgers.

Even before my first day of employment, I was presented with challenges. I’m a shy person overall, so my first job interview was something I dreaded. However, I made an effort to go into it smiling and enthusiastic. I believe that my attitude, more than anything else, was what made that interview pay off. Not only did I get the job, I learned that even intimidating people, like future bosses, can turn out to be kind and humorous. I also had to overcome shyness on my first day “on the payroll,” making an effort to introduce myself to the other kids. This helped me make my first day a positive one, and also helped me accomplish something more lasting and satisfying: making friends. Even though most of the other Youth Corps kids had backgrounds very different than my own, we quickly found similar interests and struck up conversations. My experiences the first few days of my job proved, beyond a doubt, how effective a good attitude can be for starting off on the right foot.

As the summer passed, my Youth Corps crewmates and I were outside, rain or shine, building trails and pulling noxious weeds in city parks and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal nature reserve. The work was often difficult, and usually monotonous, so it tested both body and mind. I learned a lot about various topics: tool safety, wilderness medicine, how to identify non-native plants. On some days we learned about more abstract subjects, such as the history of the Arsenal and green energy. I came to decide that a job can be a way that I can learn things that are not taught in high school, and get paid as well.

I wish everyone’s first job were as valuable as mine was. Because I had such positive experience, the next time I get a job I will be able to see it as an opportunity, not a burden. I have skills and memories now that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I had the chance to make friends I never would have met otherwise. When my parents were telling me I needed a summer job, I had no idea that it would turn out to be more than just a job; it was a meaningful step forward in my life.

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