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Hanging up the one-piece

Melissa Flanagan | Thursday, November 3, 2011

Around this time one year ago, the questions began.

“What are you doing next summer? Internship? Research project? I’m interning in Washington, D.C. to help pass immigration legislature. What about you?”

As a sophomore, I laughed. Internships were meant for the summer after junior year, I thought to myself. I was perfectly content to return to my summer job of three years as a lifeguard on Long Island.

“Oh, you’re lifeguarding again? That will be … fun.”

After I overheard a freshman bragging about the job she secured at J.P. Morgan, I soon realized the majority of Notre Dame students did not share my view of internships. But that did not faze me. I was not yet ready to give up my summers. At 19-years- old, I was still a teenager. I could not imagine being a “real person,” perhaps taking a train into New York City at 7 a.m. five days a week and only seeing the sun and ocean on weekends.

No, I was definitely not ready for that. So I called the director of the pool I had worked at, told him I was returning for another summer and dug out my old one-piece bathing suits. In May, as my classmates left for the daily grind of working life in cities all over the globe, I headed home to Long Island. And I had a blast.

I spent my workdays in the sun, guarding a pool where parents generally enrolled their children in weekly swimming lessons from the ages of 3 to 8. Needless to say, we did not have a single save in the four years I worked there. I spent every one of my off days, and usually parts of my workdays, at the beach. What I lost in professional experience, I more than made up for in tan.

Unfortunately, I’m now a junior. It’s time to hang up the one-piece.

My old mantra of “I’ll get an internship the summer before senior year” has been haunting me ever since I returned to South Bend. Although I have certainly tried, I can no longer justify spending my summer days playing games of “All Fishies Under” in the deep end and making string bracelets with 12-year-olds.

The idea of an internship does not particularly frighten me. But the end of my summers? The end of the lazy days spent relaxing in the sun, and swimming in the pool and ocean? That is utterly terrifying. I have only one reassuring factor that is keeping me from hyperventilating when I think about the coming summer. Although I am applying to internships in different areas, I refuse to concede on one criterion — the location must be within an hour’s drive of the ocean. Nine months in a landlocked state is far too long already, and I don’t think I could handle another three.

Maybe I’ll even bring the one-piece along for old time’s sake.

Contact Melissa Flanagan at mflanag3@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.