SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO GO PART-TIME TO GET TO FULL-TIME.
Taking on a part-time job (or jobs) when your heart is set on landing a 9-to-5 can be a tough pill to swallow—especially if the last few months of your life have been dedicated to scoring your ideal entry-level position. While taking on part-time work might seem like a step in the wrong direction or even a step back, I found it to be just the opposite. I vowed to make the most out of my part-time job early on; I refused to allow it to be meaningless or something that would stunt my professional or personal growth.
Like most college seniors, I wasn’t 100 percent certain about what I wanted to do after graduation or how to direct my ambitions into a coherent career path. But three months before I threw my cap into the air, I landed a freelance contract position with two academics from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. I was hired to copyedit their book, Weary Warriors, and help throughout the publication process. What more could an English major ask for?
Well, besides full-time employment, health benefits and maybe free coffee…
Luckily, this job was inherently flexible and gave me the option to work remotely; I was traveling a lot after graduation, so this position fit my lifestyle seamlessly. The upside to only working 25 to 30 hours a week is that I still had time to refine my resumes, cover letters and references, go to informational interviews, network and interview at my convenience. I even reached out to people above me who were more than happy to give feedback on my resumes, dish out advice or even contact “someone in the industry” on my behalf. These are the sorts of part-time perks I never expected, but they really paid off in the long run.
Part-time work doesn’t have to be a logical, linear stepping stone into something greater; it can really just be a means of transition.
Through this part-time job, I was referred to other academics that needed editing or proofing for their manuscripts. Forming client relationships was a key to success in this position, and that skill definitely carried over into my current position, in which I help professors build courses from scratch daily. More importantly, I discovered that I love the process of editing and proofing with intellectuals so much that I sought out other opportunities with a similar experience. Enter Career Contessa, and later on, Study.Net (my current full-time gig). At the time, there was no way of knowing how much my part-time job would prepare me for my first full-time job, but I’ve come to learn that skills and responsibilities that you might find trivial or unrelated to your “real” dreams often come into play down the line. Retrospectively, I can now see the fluidity in my early career—each experience lead to the next like a set of falling dominoes.
Part-time work doesn’t have to be a logical, linear stepping stone into something greater; it can really just be a means of transition. Take it from my very successful sorority sister who utilized her part-time job experience in a completely different way. She worked at Gap during her junior and senior years, and when she graduated, she relocated to New York City for the superior job market. Although she had little interest in retail or fashion, she continued working as an assistant manager for Gap until she landed her first entry-level job at an art gallery in Brooklyn.
There are many benefits of investing your time in a part-time job while you look for something more permanent.
There are many benefits of investing your time in a part-time job while you look for something more permanent. I’ve more than had my fair share of part-time jobs—everything from cleaning beds at tanning salons to working at television stations. But for me, my part-time job provided financial stability, flexibility and professional skill building while I sorted out what I really wanted to do with my life (which, by the way, is still a work in progress).
The most crucial thing I learned about working odd jobs is that you gain invaluable perspective that becomes a part of you and your outlook on life. If you feel stuck working a part-time job, try to embrace the positive and make the most of the experience—you never know how it might help you out in the future!And when you do land your first real job, pause for a moment to think about how you got there—the twists and turns of your journey may surprise you.