I have had a LOT of jobs over the past several years. A LOT. When I add up all of my post-grad internships, part-time/freelance gigs, and full-time positions, I’ve had (and this is not including internships in grad school) 13 jobs in four different states since finishing undergrad–sorry x 100000 to my poor accountant (dad) for making these past several years an absolute nightmare tax-wise!
How this crazy situation happened…
To clarify, most of these jobs were part-time (I firmly believe in staying in a full-time job at least one year if possible and also believe that one should never choose to leave a full-time position without having something else full-time lined up. As tempting as it may be to peace out of a bad job situation and move home–if that’s even an option available to you–this isn’t the most sustainable decision in the long-run for many reasons!). However, because I did switch industries (I went from PR/magazine journalism to K-12 education to higher ed), I do have plenty of experience starting over in new full-time work settings, which could potentially be a post for down the road!
Growing up, I had a couple of part-time jobs here and there in high school. I worked as a day camp counselor one summer and then at a local bakery the summer before I started college. (Taking home free bread and pastries every day was a dangerous but wonderful perk! I found that job by going door to door to several businesses with my resume until one of them told me I could work there.).
In college, I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to focus on extracurricular activities that were meaningful to me and relevant to my passions. However, during my second year in New York, it came time to search for a part-time job again, this time in a huge city with (thankfully) tons of work opportunities available at any given moment. During my last six-ish months in the city, I worked at a college counseling firm (something I wanted to do prior to beginning my master’s program in higher education). For the first couple of months, the company could only really afford to have me come in three days a week, so I decided to piece together a couple of other things in order to give myself full-time hours and pay, and I’m so glad I did. I spent two other week days working for a former magazine internship supervisor (she was so fun and energetic, and it was great to do something in another industry I love), and at night, I checked students in to media-related night classes a few times a week–this literally just involved sitting outside the classroom and signing people in and setting up A/V equipment. This was actually the perfect setup because once everyone went to class, I could do my own work while sitting at the check-in table, and I managed to work on several of my grad school application essays during this time!
I also really enjoyed the fact that no two days in a row were the same, since I was hopping between tasks and offices rather than sitting at the same desk for the same amount of time each day. While the hours were a little more nontraditional (the evening job would go from about 7 to 10 pm), I still had weekends totally free and got to enjoy having a little bit of daytime flexibility without running from place to place. *As an important caveat, I was fortunate that I could piece together these part-time jobs and still get by due to being under 26 and having parents with health insurance. I really wouldn’t be able to ever make the same arrangement work now without paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket (another thing that’s been drilled into me–don’t ever skimp on health insurance and think you’ll be ok without it, even for a couple of months!).
So, you want a part-time job but don’t know where to look…
I’ve found many of my part-time jobs on Craigslist, including my current one at a gym in my neighborhood in DC and my previous one at an accessories store in Georgetown. In NYC, I found the two part-time jobs through word of mouth and via Media Bistro, a popular website with journalism job postings. I also freelanced a bit, writing pieces for a moving/organization company in the city. In Philadelphia, I worked as a restaurant hostess at a popular tavern-like (and dog-themed!) spot near campus for about a month during the time between graduation and moving back to DC to start my full-time position. I found that job by literally just calling dozens of restaurants in the area and asking them if they needed summer help until a couple of them told me to come in for an interview. Now that I’ve worked at a bunch of different places, I thought I’d share some reflections on part-time work.
What I like:
It’s super social! If you’re working at a front desk or as a hostess, you’ll be talking to people all the time–coworkers, customers, etc. Working with fun and interesting people makes the time fly, and it’s a great way to get to know new people in your city.
The perks! By working at the front desk of a gym, I not only get paid but now get a free membership there, which is amazing (I didn’t even realize that was one of the benefits when I took the job). I have another friend who works at a yoga studio in NYC in exchange for free classes and loves the arrangement and know other people who work at boutique fitness studios and get similar benefits.
Learning a new skill. It’s definitely comforting to have a “back up” skill that you can use no matter where you go or what happens in your life. Even trying something just for a summer gets you ahead a little bit.
Having multiple sources of income. Obviously the main reason to get a job! It’s definitely nice to have a couple of different paychecks come in each month. It doesn’t need to be glamorous…is my gym job a side hustle? No. But is it a great supplement to my full-time work? For now, yes!
It can be difficult to find part-time work that’s relevant to your long-term goals. Since I love writing and design, my freelance work with Houzz has been a great way to build my resume in those areas, but I can’t say the same about every position I’ve done.
Finding the time. My schedule can get crazy during the week, so I don’t have time for unlimited shifts and don’t want to overschedule myself. And I maintain that your part-time work shouldn’t deplete your energy at your full-time job. Also, I really value balance and try to find shifts that are manageable and fit in with both my full-time work obligations and personal life. Since I usually see friends Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights, I try to keep those evenings open but don’t have as much issue with working on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Finding a local place to work. The worst thing is to find a great part-time job and then realize you’ll spend $10 a day getting there. Look for somewhere within walking distance or otherwise super convenient, and you’ll thank yourself later!