For most college students, summer is a time to take a break from classes. They get part time jobs just to hold over the summer, vacations here and there, and then head back to school. This was honestly what I expected to do over this summer: pick up a second retail job for the summer, then leave it when classes started back up. Boy, was I wrong.
Instead, I ended up working some of the most bizarre schedules I have ever worked in my life at a chemical plant. Started off with 8 hour days that eventually switched to rotating 12 hour shifts, 4 days on 4 days off, only to be put back into 40 hour weeks Monday-Friday. I got no vacation days and didn't have an option to take days off. The most vacation I got was two weekends at Cape Cod. I checked in social media when I could, and quite often I was jealous of all these people going on trips with their family and friends. But working all summer with no time off did teach me a few things.
Here's the things they will tell you: jobs that have 12 hour shifts pay pretty well. As a college student, the pay I received was exceptional, roughly 2-3 times more than most retail jobs. It is not easy, however. 12 hour shifts take A LOT out of you everyday. It is a struggle on occasion to keep yourself motivated, let alone not fall asleep depending if it's a slow day or not.
Then there is the things they won't tell you, which summarizes up to one thing really: your body gets, for the most part, destroyed. For the most part, you don't get to have a full meal unless you order out. Rotating shifts are constantly throwing off your sleep schedule. On the shifts you work days, you can't do much: work, sleep, then back to work. Night shifts are nicer, since you have at least 4 hours of the day depending on what time you wake up. But trying to shift sleep patterns can be difficult. I can recall some nights where I didn't sleep just trying to adjust for the next shift, or not sleeping for some other reason.
The big question: was it worth it? Throwing a summer away and part of my health for a decent paycheck? At this point in my life, I say yes. My plan for the most part this summer was to work regardless. Getting the job I did get helped me put a decent amount of money towards my student loans, with some to spare for myself. At any other point in my life, I would say probably not. Working with rotating 12 hour shifts made life quite a pain to manage for only a few months. I can't imagine trying to manage that for a year. In addition, the cons would start to outweigh the benefits after some time.
My personal opinion: if you get the chance to work over a summer for good money and no vacation, do it at least once. You save a decent amount of money in a short time, and most of the time, you make more than a basic retail or restaurant wage. In addition, some of the money can be thrown at student loans, and still have money left over for yourself. Sure, it may be a year without a summer, but a decent chunk of money is on the line. It almost seemed foolish not to take it.