Just over seven years ago I was desperately looking for a summer job. I'd started looking long before classes finished. I'd gotten a job offer before the semester ended, but felt prompted to turn it down. And nothing else was presenting itself.
I spent every day looking for work. I made the mistake of moving home, and so I not only had to put up with not being able to find work, I also had to put up with nagging parents. "I saw that McDonalds is hiring. Why don't you apply there?" McDonalds? A notch below my very first job at Arby's? No way.
Life was pretty miserable.
Two months in, I decided I had to get out of the house. My mother was driving me insane. So I called an uncle in California, and asked if I could volunteer at the sleep clinic where he worked. He talked to the woman that would be supervising me, and two days later I was on a plane, headed to Palo Alto. I'd volunteer full-time for seven weeks or so, and hopefully make a good enough impression to be hired back at some later point. I paid my way (and in California that meant $20/night for a dorm room, plus the cost of food, transportation, etc.) Somehow I got out of having to pay for the room, and so my costs were fairly minimal.
The next summer, I flew back out. I worked for the entire summer and the entire fall, eight months total, and made more than three times as much as I would've made working at McDonalds (and I was working, between two different jobs, an average of 45 hours a week, whereas a place like McDonalds would've probably limited it to 15 hours a week--so I was really making nine times as much money). I paid off student loans, saved up money for next year's schooling, and had enough money leftover to buy a car.
I returned again after graduation, to work another five months. Again, made enough to pay for some education and a ten-week backpacking trip through Europe.
I went back for my second degree, and worked part-time for a couple of clinics in Utah. They didn't pay quite as well as Stanford, and they certainly were a step down in quality, but they helped put me through college the second time.
My boss at the Stanford clinic ended up writing one of my letters of recommendation for law school. And this summer, my healthcare background (along with my science degree and good law school grades) helped me snag a coveted law clerk job that pays well, is good experience, and looks great on a resume.
Lessons learned: follow impressions obtained from prayer and don't despair when they at first seem to be false impressions. Things work out, eventually.
Oh. And don't follow your mom's advice when she tells you to sell out and go work for McDonalds.