Farewell and Bon Voyage, See You in the Fall

Do you have a summer job? Summer jobs are great.

They offer you escape; they’re an opportunity to live a completely different life for a couple months. You finish your finals, put your books away, and completely refocus your energy and efforts until it’s time to return to school in the fall.

My summer job is pretty unique, and I want to tell you about it: I’m a commercial Alaskan salmon fisherman (which is fitting, given my last name), and in a mere four days I’m getting on a plane to head back north for my seventh (seventh!) season on the waters of Bristol Bay.

It’s awesome, it really is. Sure, the hours are long and the work is hard, but it is such an irreplaceable way of life. Fishing commercially is the epitome of self-employment and is the essence of capitalism. We do not punch a time clock, we are paid on percentage. The harder we work, the more money we make. The fish only run for a short period of time, and it is within this window, and only within this window, that we are able to earn our living. It’s a rewarding feeling when we do well, and, conversely, a desperate and heartbreaking feeling when we do not do well.

I have paid my dues, put my time in on the back deck, and the rewards have been pretty wonderful. I am now the captain of the same boat that took a chance on me as a deckhand seven years ago. I run the ship.

What’s your summer job? Are you a lifeguard? A barista? A clerk at a department store? Take my advice: be serious about it. Be the best at it. It may not seem like it in the here-and-now, but your summer job is much more than a few month’s pay; it could very well be what you become in your future. It could be what you’re best at, and you don’t even know it yet. If, eight years ago, you had asked me “what are you going to be?” I never would have imagined the answer would be “Alaskan salmon skipper.”

Opportunities come when you least expect them. Maximize what you are given today; it could benefit you tomorrow. Oversee that aquatic center. Own that coffee stand. Manage that Macy’s. Be the boss.

Bye-bye, Wildcats. Have a blast this summer, and go do work. The possibilities for are endless.

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