An alarming start to a summer of growth


Katy O’Sullivan grew in maturity and leadership at her Northville Hills Golf Club summer lifeguarding job (Photo Illustration: Paisley Sutton).

A first job is always stressful for teenagers. It is the first time they are faced with a great amount of personal responsibility and are compelled to work with others in a mature way. With all the anxiety that comes along with a first job, it is easy to imagine how stunned junior Katy O’Sullivan was when the authorities were called to her summer lifeguarding job.

Working at Northville Hills Golf Club was simply the next step for O’Sullivan. After competing with its swim team for countless summers and watching her older sister work as a lifeguard at the pool, O’Sullivan felt like an employee before she had even applied for the job. Lifeguarding did not feel like much responsibility for her until one night during her first week at work.

“My manager called me one night to check the fill pump,” O’Sullivan said. “The alarm should [have been] turned off but when I opened up the locker-room door [it] went off. I tried to put in the code but it wouldn’t work.”

O’Sullivan did her best to remain calm and called her manager immediately. While on the phone, she heard the sound of sirens drawing near and went outside to explain herself to the police and fire personnel.

“I had to prove to the police that I worked there,” O’Sullivan explained. “They questioned why I was at the pool so late and I had to show them my lifeguard certificate and proof of employment.”

O’Sullivan explained how sorry and embarrassed the pool manager was after the incident. The code she had been given was for the old alarm system and did not work for the updated version. She received a few hours of extra pay and was praised on how responsibly she handled the situation.

“It made me realize that I was working at a legitimate job and I actually had to grow up and be able to handle all these responsibilities,” O’Sullivan said. “Afterward I was just a lot more aware of all the responsibilities and jobs that I had to do.”

First jobs are extremely valuable to teenagers for more than just the money that they bring in. O’Sullivan learned a great deal of maturity and professionalism which will stick with her as she pursues a career later in life.