Caceres is one of the millions of people between ages 16 to 24 years old who take on jobs during the summer months. Twenty-five percent of these students worked in the leisure and hospitality industry and 19 percent gravitated towards the retail industry in July 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In high school, Caceres took a class offered by Project Lead the Way, a program that promotes science, technology, engineering and math careers for students. Employees from the car component manufacturer Aisin U.S.A. Manufacturing, Inc, based in Seymour, Ind., visited the class and talked about needing students to work during the summer.
Caceres knew she needed a job and Aisin paid more than something service-oriented at $10 an hour. She had heard about the horrors of factory work from textbooks mentioning the Industrial Revolution, but she took the job anyway.
Caceres received a position on an assembly line, and soon learned that factory work had changed since the 19th century. Injuries weren’t common, fans cooled down workers and Caceres said she felt safe while working. But factory work still had its challenges.
The assembly line was fast-paced and the workers needed to learn how to operate the machines quickly.
“I was fortunate enough to be placed in an assembly line with very patient workers,” Caceres said. “I was new, so naturally I couldn’t work as fast as the senior workers.”
Caceres and her assembly lined needed to produce a certain number of parts to meet daily production quota. Teamwork and punctuality were valued among fellow co-workers. Teams were expected to help each other in order to produce numbers.
Caceres had expected the fast-paced environment, but she said she never anticipated the amount of hours that would be put into her job.
“The first week I worked I was supposed to only work eight to 10 hours a day, but I ended up working 10 to 12 hours,” Caceres said.
It took Caceres a couple of weeks to adjust to her new factory schedule, but she was compensated for the extra work. If she put in 40 hours of overtime she received $15 an hour.
Caceres plans on returning to Aisin this summer. She said she hopes to receive a design-based internship at the factory to compliment her architecture major, but if it doesn’t happen, Caceres will return to the assembly line.
While Caceres worked in a factory, students like Ramona Simmons, a criminal justice major, received jobs in service, or in Simmons' case at French Lick Resort and Casino. But Simmons’ job isn’t serving food or working at a desk: she’s in the laundry room working as an attendant.
Like Caceres, Simmons also had to work with large machinery. She unloaded and sorted dirty laundry or she cleaned and inspected the machine. She also needed to be flexible with her hours to accommodate for busy weekends or holidays.
“Different days will require different levels of patience to deal with certain circumstances,” she said. “No two days are the same.”
Simmons’ job shared similarities with Caceres, but Simmons got paid less at $8.25 an hour. Still, Simmons and Caceres want the same thing: to eventually complement their future degree with relevant summer jobs.
For Simmons, that would be ride-alongs with local police or volunteer work as a jailor.