Now that another school year has ended, many students staying in town for the summer are scouring Ann Arbor to find the ideal summer job. Restaurants have help wanted signs in the windows, camps are calling for counselors and job postings in the classifieds are promising fun, adventure and a chance to develop business skills “if you call this number.”

Paul Wong
LSA junior Phil Barclay scrapes food for his job as a server at the U club. (DEBBIE MIZEL/Daily)

But not all these jobs turn out to be as worthwhile as they sound, several University students said. On and off campus, some students have had less-than-ideal experiences with jobs they thought would be better.

Engineering junior Rajiv Haque said selling Cutco knives for Vector Marketing two summers ago did not make the cut as far as good summer jobs are concerned. He said that while he was allowed to make his own schedule, he became annoyed because representatives from the group he worked for were always checking up on him.

“They called you at home to see how much you sold and how many appointments I had for the day. Sometimes they’d call me up at 8 a.m. and wake me up,” he said.

While the job sounded promising on paper, Haque said the advertisements only picked out the good points.

“There were restrictions for who you got credit for selling to,” he said. “There was a base pay for appointments and then you get a certain percentage of how much you sell. You wouldn’t get your base pay if you didn’t meet the requirements.”

Haque said the job can be especially difficult for students who do not know many people who are very well-off.

“If you don’t know people who are going to buy your product from you then don’t do it because you’re basically going to waste your time. You’re not going to sell anything or make much money,” he said. “Most people are not going to want to pay 50 dollars just for one knife.”

Engineering senior Daniel Winterhalter was a member of a University paint crew for three weeks at the beginning of his freshman year. He submitted an online application and found himself moving furniture and preparing residence hall rooms to be painted.

He said while the job matched the description he was given when he applied, it turned out to be much worse than he imagined.

“It was really hot in the dorms – over 90 degrees most days – and the windows had been closed for weeks or months, so it was dusty too,” Winterhalter said.

He left that job after less than a month of work for another job that paid less and offered fewer opportunities for overtime pay.

“The dust and the heat and the monotony combined weren’t worth the wage,” he said.

In her attempts to make loads of summer cash, LSA junior Elisha Eisenberg worked at Burger King and Caesarland, a Little Caesars that includes a children’s play area and an arcade.

She said she did everything from cleaning Burger King bathrooms with gum stuck in the toilets to cleaning the play structures at Caesarland from the inside.

“You’d have to crawl through the play structures at the end of the day and sanitize it with spray stuff and paper towels. Plus your knees kill you after you crawl through the whole thing,” Eisenberg said.

Other than the money, she said she could not think of any other positive aspects to her jobs. “You make lots of money, that’s always good. But other than that, nothing’s coming to mind,” she said.

But not all students are concerned with the possible negative consequences associated with a potential summer job.

Engineering sophomore Onochie Anyanetu said even if some jobs are as bad as everyone says, he is just looking for the job that pays the best for the summer and is not concerned with the rest.

“I’m seriously thinking about Cutco because it is a huge heap of money, but I have a lot of friends telling me not to do it,” he said.

He said his worst summer job was working at White Castle. “I had to get up at five in the morning to go to work from seven until three (in the afternoon) five times a week,” he said.

Anyanetu added that he would even go back to White Castle if they paid him enough.

“This summer I just want to make a lot of money. Where or what I do is not too important to me,” he said.

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