A Student's Guide to Part-Time Work
Imagine if anywhere from 8 to 20 hours of your week suddenly disappeared. All that time you once allocated to studying, socializing, and Netflix? Suddenly gone. In place of this missing time? Money (and experience). In essence, this is what having a part time job is like.
Regardless of their motive, whether it be affording “boujee” clothes, paying off post-secondary expenses, or building a bulkier resume, students are often ignorant to the realities of working life. This article presents advice on how to make the most of your part-time work and mitigate some negatives you may encounter along the way.
Work Where You Want
You’re young. You’re inexperienced. Your pool of available jobs is smaller than that of the experienced worker. To better improve the chances of an enjoyable experience, apply for jobs that match your interests and that you’d like to work at. If you have a passion for piano, apply to a music store. If you like reading and organizing, apply to a library or bookstore. Part-time work presents an opportunity to gain experience in a field of work you may be interested in, and it makes yourself more credible for later jobs.
Even if a business you’d like to work for isn’t hiring, introduce yourself to a manager and hand in a resume. Don’t set unrealistic expectations just to disappoint yourself (sorry, Microsoft doesn’t typically hire 16-year-olds), but also be ambitious. If you think you’d be a good fit for a certain workplace and would like to work there, apply! You never know who might call back asking for an interview.
Prioritize Time Management
Working part-time over the span of the week can be a difficult adjustment for an already busy student. Hours vanishing into thin air would be one thing, but hours at work require your energy, focus, and concentration–all parts of a recipe for a tiring activity. You’ll likely spend additional time recovering after your shift if it was particularly stressful or tiring, meaning the effects of your work last longer than just the hours you’re shifted for.
Losing these excess hours, it’s imperative to reevaluate your schedule and priorities. Unfortunately, you might need to give up the luxury of watching 2 hours of YouTube a day in order to maintain your grades. If your commitments aren’t given the necessary time and energy, these areas of your life will take a hit in dedication. The point of a job isn’t to disrupt your schedule and turn your life into chaos. To eliminate this worst-case scenario, you must either make time to fulfill your other commitments, or reevaluate your dedication to those commitments.
Maintain a Healthy Life Balance
You need to evaluate whether a job will leave you with the necessary time to pursue your goals. If you find yourself constantly bored on weekends or short for change, part-time employment could be just what you need. However, if you already feel stressed and overwhelmed with your current commitments, a job could be too big a burden to undertake.
If you feel overwhelmed with your part-time work, rest assured that managers were students once, too, and are often accommodating and reasonable people; if you need to cut down on your shifts during exam season, or if you find your mental or physical health is suffering as a result of your work, don’t be passive about fixing this issue. If you need to take a leave of absence, let your manager know, or if your job was nothing like you expected, write a letter of resignation and quit. Remember to always leave your employers on good terms–the world is smaller than you think, and running into a manager or employer in the future is a legitimate possibility.
Take full advantage of the work opportunities before you. From improving your speaking, conflict resolution, or time management skills, don’t let the chance to grow from this experience pass you by. Your first part-time job may be challenging, but the pay-off is extremely rewarding.