Hi, this is Michael Josephson with my last Something to Think About story for the school year.
Julia, an 11th grader was thrilled when she got an A+ on an assignment to design an advertising brochure in an art class. And when her teacher, Mr. Roberts, told her she should consider a career in advertising Julia realized that was exactly what she’d like to do.
A few days later, Mr. Roberts told Julia he talked with Max, a former student, who was now the chief creative director for a prestigious advertising firm. “The firm doesn’t hire high school students,” he said, “but I persuaded Max to give you a summer job. It only pays minimum wage, but you’ll get great experience. Do you want it?”
Julia was excited: “Absolutely, I’m honored you recommended me.” Julia’s parents were so proud they told all their friends.
When Julia reported to work, Max was very nice but didn’t seem to know what to do with her. He had her run errands most of the time, but she occasionally was allowed to sit in creative meetings. Julia thought she was going to get some hands-on mentoring and she was very disappointed.
After two weeks on the job, a friend told Julia the summer camp she was working at needed a new counselor immediately since one of the girls quit without notice. Her friend said, “It’s really fun. There are tons of cute guy counselors. And it pays twice what you’re getting at the advertising agency.” Julia really wanted to take the job.
What do you think? Should she take it? What are the possible consequences if she decides to stay or leave?
The very first commentary in this series was about decision-making, and I want my last opportunity to talk with you before the summer break to return to that theme because the decisions you make in life will make your life.
The fact is, it would be a terrible mistake with long-term consequences if Julia quit. Mr. Roberts went out on a limb for her and he’s not likely to do so again if she lets him down. She would also create a very bad impression with Max, a person who could be enormously helpful to her later in life.
It’s easy to come up with rationalizations to justify breaking a commitment, but people of character keep their word even when it turns out to be costly or inconvenient.
Julia should understand that doing this job exceptionally well, proving her integrity as well as her gratitude for the opportunity, would make Mr. Roberts proud that he recommended her and Max glad that he hired her — and this is worth much more than a fun summer and a little more money.
Treat every job as if it’s an audition for the next job. Do more than you have to do. Approach even routine tasks as an opportunity to shine. And, above all, keep your word.
I give you this parting wish for the summer – the same one I give my children every morning: “Be good, learn, and have fun!”