One of the biggest challenges students must face is balancing time and effort between short-term and long-term goals.
Many choose to maintain part-time jobs while enrolled in full-time university or college programs. Sometimes that part-time job may not directly align with the your long-term career aspirations and often the two are entirely unrelated. It’s all a matter of circumstance or preference.
Whatever the reason, rest assured that it is possible to leverage your part-time job in the pursuit of your long sought after goals for the future. The question is: how can you get the greatest return out of what may often feel like a seemingly aimless time investment?
Make it relevant
Think about the position you want after graduation. How can the skills you are developing and perfecting help improve your knowledge repertoire?
Take, for example, a part-time retail position in sales. The list of valuable skills is endless: meeting sales goals, sustaining relationships with customers, training new hires – all of which can translate to a wealth of other positions. But even if your interests do not lie in the corporate world, be innovative, think of ways you can make your part-time position applicable to those goals.
- If you want to be a Graphic Designer…offer to design an ad, poster or flyer for the retailer you work for.
- If you want to be an Engineer…ask your manager about implementing a process you think would be more efficient.
Frame your experience
You are the storyteller and it’s up to you to get the person on the other end of the interaction to hear exactly what you want them to know. It’s that simple.
Part-time work experience, in whatever field, helps not only to develop valuable skills but also builds character and demonstrates integrity. Recruiters will be interested in these characteristics when they are looking to invest in a new hire.
According to Amir Khan, Client and Student Advisor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, recruiters are interested in the technical skills of a candidate, but they also place emphasis on your soft skills when considering your application.
Going the extra mile can get you noticed
Let’s take a look at someone who took full advantage of the opportunities made available to him by his part-time job: Anthony Saracino was a full-time student enrolled in the Fashion Communications program at Ryerson University and he graduated with a Bachelor of Design. Anthony worked part-time at Guess as a Sales Representative while he was in school – a familiar scenario for many students.
The difference with Anthony is that he never lost sight of his long-term goals and was fueled by his passion for the fashion industry. Naturally, this led him to go beyond the stipulations of his job description.
He began putting together the window displays for the Guess location where he worked. His displays were so eye-catching that when Marciano himself was performing store visits, he noticed the displays – and Anthony – and flew him out to work in Los Angeles.
He has now been living there for five and a half years is currently the Creative Manager and Styling Director for Guess Jeans.
Part-time retail work is still relevant experience
Or take Robert Rizzo, for example, a Director of Marketing for a multinational consumer packaged goods company. When he was a full-time BBA student at Schulich, he also worked as a Sales Associate at Gap and was extremely well-versed in the art of jean folding.
Even today, with his wealth of experience and knowledge, should Robert find himself in a job interview, referring back to his time at Gap is one of his favourite strategies. “You don’t need professional experience to have a platform to showcase what you can accomplish,” he says.
His dedication to accomplishing a task that may have seemed menial at the time led to strong recognition and other perks at the retailer, such as having the opportunity to train new hires and adjusting his work schedule to fit with his classes. “Most importantly,” Robert acknowledges, “my work experiences and accomplishments gave me plenty of great stories to tell during my interviews helping me stand out from the rest.”
Use numbers to add credibility
As much as we try to escape them, numbers no doubt add legitimacy to your claim. Quantifying your accomplishments can help the recruiter put the depth of your contributions into perspective. And even if something may seem like it’s not quantifiable, if you really give it some careful consideration, it is at the very least possible to speak to the end result of your contributions.
Amir advises students to do just this. “I always ask students, what did you do, how did you do it, and what exactly was the result? Yes, you provide customer service, but how do you provide this service? Are your customers repeat customers?”
What strategies have you used to get the most out of your part-time jobs?
Photo credit: thinkretail