How your Part-Time Job can Help you Win your Future Dream Job
By Alex Hargreaves
For those of you who have already been lucky enough to land a part-time job, congratulations! Having some spare cash to spend whilst you’re still studying is a privilege that should not be taken for granted. However, the long term advantages of having a part- time job at university extend far beyond having a healthy bank account. Whether you realize it or not, your part time job is equipping you with skills that will be beneficial to you for the rest of your working life.
For the majority of full time students, having a part time job means working in the retail or hospitality industry. A study conducted in 2012 by the Australia Bureau of Statistics revealed that approximately 48% of students studying full time also had part time employment. Of the 48%, 20.8% classified themselves as sales assistants and 7.6% classified themselves as waiters/waitresses. Other popular jobs for full time students include bartenders and baristas (5.9%), receptionists (4.7%) and kitchenhands (2.9%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012).
Whilst there are some lucky students who have managed to gain a casual/part time position in their field of study, most students undertake part time work in a field that is completely unrelated to their future career goals. Even if you do see your part time job as simply a means to an end, it is important that you recognize how the work experience you are gaining now is shaping you into a more attractive candidate to future employers. Here are some valuable skills that a retail/hospitality job will give you that will no doubt prove important later down the road in your career path.
#1 Customer Service Skills
There are simply no jobs where a solid understanding of customer service skills is not preferred if not a necessity. Even if you will not be dealing with customers directly in your chosen future career, you will still have to interact with your colleagues and possibly external stakeholders on a daily basis. Being asked one too many times which items are on the $2 breakfast menu or which rack of clothes the 50% discount applies to will no doubt teach you how to be patient with people. It will also teach you how to deal in a professional manner with a wide variety of different personality types. This can be challenging at the best of times and the earlier this skill is developed, the better.
#2 Point of Sale Transactions
You may think that the days of operating an EFTPOS machine will be far behind you once you land your dream job, however, this may not be the case. Whilst processing payment transactions may not be a part of your everyday work life anymore, it is possible that at some stage you may need to cover the front counter person. Someone who is able to take over their colleague’s job at a moment’s notice with minimal training is obviously more attractive than someone with no basic P.O.S skills. Not to mention, ensuring an EFTPOS report balances at the end of the day is an extremely stressful task and will most likely cause you to be more robust in dealing with stressful situations in the future.
3# Job Interview Skills
No matter what your part time job is, it is likely that you had to interview for the position, unless you are working in your grandma’s bakery. The more job interviews you go to, the more prepared you will be when you have to interview for a job that you desperately want. Attending interviews will equip you with skills that you need such as learning how to dress professionally, having answers prepared for typical interview questions and being punctual and organized.
#4 Cultural Awareness
It is likely that wherever you work, you will be dealing with customers and colleagues from a wide range of racial, cultural and religious backgrounds. It is important that you learn to be sensitive to others cultural differences. Being able to easily adapt to the way others think and behave will make you a much more agreeable person to work with.
Your confidence is naturally boosted with each new job that you master. Often when you begin a new job, you will feel completely overwhelmed. You may feel like it’s impossible to learn all of the many necessary tasks to perform the job. When you have been doing your job long enough, it is often the case that you realize you have actually become quite good at what you do and your self-confidence increases. If you have many part-time jobs as a student, you can use your career changes to boost your self-confidence. People who believe in themselves and their abilities make attractive candidates. You will be thankful that you are used to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone when the time comes time to apply for your dream job.