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POSTCARD FROM ILLINOIS

A Workaholic Summer

By Will Bohlen

I am insane. Yes, that is correct. I am crazy. Put me in the loony bin. Lock me up and keep me away from small children and Harvard students. I am working three jobs this summer. 70 hours a week.

Some people are using the summer to travel. Some people are using it to work. Some people are using it to vegetate in front of the television. I am using it to run myself into the ground.

When I went home for spring break, I told my old boss at the local tennis courts that I was going to work for him this summer teaching tennis to tiny rugrats for little more than minimum wage. It's a lot of fun, but it isn't exactly resume-building, the supposed goal of all Harvard students.

My hometown of Springfield, Ill., is not on par with the big cities in this country in terms of outstanding summer job opportunities, so I planned on just taking it easy this summer--hanging out with my family, making a little money and watching a lot of television. I'd be watching NBC, not working for it.

So, when two terrific jobs in Springfield fell into my lap, I did what any stereotypical, overachieving Harvard student would do--I took them both.

My weekday job (40 hours) is working for the Springfield public school district doing research under the auspices of the superintendent. Seeing a Harvard student, he probably wanted to hire me as an example of the type of person the school district could produce.

And that is fine with me. They're paying me well, and the stuff I'm dealing with is interesting. I'm researching the idea of offering classes over the Internet. It is a relatively new idea, and it puts me on the cutting edge of technology. Plus, I get to play on Netscape all day.

When I go home Friday afternoons, I turn right back around and go back to work. This time I head to the city paper for my weekend job--covering the police beat for 20 more hours.

I've been at it for only about a week, but I can already tell that it's going to be a valuable experience. That may sound like a line for a job interview I will be giving sometime in the future years ("It was a valuable experience. I learned so much."), but it fortunately is true.

One of the toughest assignments I may have for a while occurred last Saturday. I had to go to the scene of an apparent drowning--the apparent drowning of a 7-year-old boy. It was my first assignment on my own, and it was already a rough one. I had severely mixed emotions. On the one hand, I got a rush from scrambling around to cover it. On the other, I was deeply saddened by the event.

Later that night, my spirits lifted with a story that was a little more light-hearted, even if it ended with several people being taken to jail. I was at the county jail to pick up the booking sheets for the night and noticed a bride sitting in the waiting room. I radioed my editors and told them the situation, and they responded that I should see what was going on. We had heard a little about the story already (her husband had gotten arrested at their wedding reception), and they wanted to know if she would tell us her side of the story.

I approached the bride in as sympathetic a manner as I could muster and asked if she would tell me what had happened. Turns out her new husband had been drinking at the reception and started mouthing off to the bride's cousins. The cousins got mad and jumped him, causing enough of a ruckus for all of them to get sent to jail. They did get bailed out that night, so there may have been a honeymoon after all.

My third (and final) job is at the tennis courts again this summer. I had not planned on working there after getting the other two jobs, but, when I went to tell my boss, I found it hard to say that I wasn't going to be around. So I told him I'd work ten hours a week. It's not hard, but it does take time out of my schedule. That is time I could be spending with my high school friends, but, since many of them aren't even around this summer, that isn't as big of a loss as it would have been last year. The biggest hurt probably comes in the lack of rest I will get this summer. By the time I get back to school in the fall, I will be exhausted. School will be a welcome change of pace--a change to a more relaxed one.

My summer schedule could actually be a very good thing. I won't have to readjust to the academic rigor; I will downshift a notch. I won't be worried about wasting my summer away; I will have enhanced my job prospects for next summer. I won't be worried about finances next year; I will be set. Hmmm. Momentum, resume-building and money. Maybe I'm not so insane after all.

Will Bohlen '01, a government concentrator in Pforzheimer House, is keeping his nose to the grindstone.

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