Part-time jobs to build your full-time career

Everyone gets it. Sometimes, you just need to pick up a part-time job to help cover expenses.

That said, most part-time workers don’t fully realize the long-term value their job can bring to their career path. Let’s take a look at some common part-time work scenarios, and how they can really mover your career forward:

  1. 100% Career-related

These are the perfect, gold-standard part-time gigs that are perfectly aligned with both your schedule and your career goals. On-campus examples might be the communication major working a few hours each week writing press releases for University Communications or a statistics major putting in several hours each week for Institutional Research. In cases like these, there are offices on campus engaged in work that is not only closely aligned with specific majors, but also mirror the sort of entry-level jobs expected after graduation.

  1. Providing transferable skills

There are plenty of jobs out there that are not career-related on the surface, but allow you to practice skills that you will later take to the full-time workplace in other contexts. Foodservice and retail are common part-time employment sectors that fill this niche – dealing face-to-face with clients/customers and engaging in on-the-spot problem solving are present in these settings, and will be solid skills to use after graduation as well…and if you are promoted to a managerial role, you’ll gain people management skills than most interns will never get!

  1. Unpaid internship? Take it…AND get a part-time job

Sometimes, picking up a “whatever” part-time job can make it possible for you to say “yes” to an unpaid internship. Let’s face it, some small or nonprofit employers really can’t afford to pay interns, but still offer meaningful work experiences. Taking an unpaid summer internship on a part-time basis can still allow you to work in a less career-related (but more lucrative) job on the side.  Win-win!

  1. ALL work has value

Even the most uneventful work (and I spent two summers sitting in toll booths!) will allow you to create an employment track record. You’ll get used to receiving formal instructions, following the boss’ rules, being on time, tracking your time worked, dressing appropriately, and a million other little details that will ultimately make you a better full-time employee after graduation. Further, it will provide you with referees – people whom your future employers can contact for references before they make you a job offer…and people who supervised your work are usually in the best position to provide an employment reference.


  1. Contacts for future networking

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m always making connections. You never know who you might meet. I’ve sent students to intern at a company where I met a hiring manager because our kids were in the same swim class. You never know if that customer whom you just helped pick out a new tablet is also looking for interns or if your boss’ spouse majored in the same field as you. Always be on the lookout for contacts.

If you’re still not sure how to leverage your part-time work for full-time gain, visit the Center for Career Development to work with one of our career advisors – we’re here to help!

See you soon (at the mall) (in the restaurant) (at swim class) (in the toll booth)!



images: google images

By John Bau
John Bau Career Consultant, School of Engineering John Bau