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Haley Adams

The beginning of the end ...

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part column from Haley Adams. The second part will appear in Thursday’s BCR.

Of course, as per usual, I’ve been meaning to write another piece for a while. Although this summer has turned out to be quite different than originally planned, I can honestly say it has been full of learning experiences. I am excited to begin the final year of my challenging, enlightening, and amazing undergraduate experience; I can’t help but look forward to crossing the finish line at the end!

To catch up a bit, I am currently a rising senior, yes, senior (I can’t believe it either!) at Harvard, still studying biology and art history (among a plethora of other things). I chose to spend my summer here, at home, in New England, and I’m writing from my couch in my first apartment. I have trouble calling it an “apartment” because in reality, I have a floor within a three story home in a quiet Cambridge neighborhood along the Charles River about a mile from Harvard’s campus and two miles from downtown Boston. I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon this great opportunity! I’ve been subletting from a traveling vocalist for the summer, but I am now signing (my first!) lease and living off-campus for my fourth and final year at Harvard.

So back to my change of plans this summer. I had originally accepted a last-minute internship offer at an event-planning firm downtown, and honestly, I was thrilled! After many interviews, this seemed to be the opportunity I was waiting for!  My boss and founder of the firm promised an engaging “learning experience.” This is the part where I tell you the bad news. Three weeks in, I felt like Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada. I was a minion in a lonely office, sitting in a plastic chair, with no lunch break. My boss was difficult. OK, I’m being kind; she was impossible, and I went to work each day praying I wouldn’t upset her. Did I mention the internship was unpaid?

So I quit. That word, “quit,” is not one of my favorites. I had a tear-filled conversation with my one true source of life guidance, my mother of course, and I remember her saying, “It sounds like you already made your decision. But you didn’t quit, Haley. She quit on you.” She made it seem so simple and obvious. I was unhappy; I recognized it; and I should do something to fix it.  

First thoughts: Maybe I was supposed to stick it out and maybe it would pay off in the end? Maybe my boss was testing me. Maybe she was waiting for me to demand more meaningful work or would end up writing me a fantastic letter of recommendation that would land me a dream job. My final decision: Too many maybes! The prospect of spending the rest of my summer like this (it was only the second week of June) was dreadful. Life is too short to risk being unhappy for future gain. Second thoughts: What about my resume? I would go back to school in the fall and have to face the ever repetitive question, “What did you do this summer?” with failure.  

Nearly two months later, I can say that I made the right decision. I simply cannot imagine having continued my summer as it had started. Yes, it was difficult to quit. But there was an immediate weight lifted. Needless to say, her complete lack of a response to my email stating my reasons for resigning completely validated my reasons for quitting! She clearly didn’t care about providing a “learning experience” at all.

So you’re probably wondering what I’m doing with myself now. After taking the internship, I had also applied for a job at a restaurant and bar in Harvard Square, where the manager was a Harvard alum and member of Adams House. What are the chances? Needless to say, I got the job and had begun training as a server. I had planned on working a few nights a week to pay my rent while working at my unpaid internship during the day. However, after I quit the internship, I began taking on more responsibilities. My manager quickly realized I had a knack for customer service (thank you Brandy’s Hallmark and Family Video!) and wasn’t afraid to work long hours (thank you summer field work). Now, I work five times a week, and it has definitely been the most profitable job I’ve ever had. Financial independence is a great feeling, and the best part is, I don’t take my work home with me. No stress, casual attire, and free roasted asparagus and avocado quinoa salads ... yes, please.

I am thankful for my family, friends and boyfriend who supported my decision. This summer, I’ve had time to rest, relax and live. I’m thrilled to begin my last year of college here at Harvard and can definitely say I am in the best possible frame of mind to enjoy each and every minute.

Haley Adams, a Princeton High School graduate, is a senior at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. She can be reached at haleyadams@college.harvard.edu.

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