Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life." I don't know if that's entirely true, but I do know that I have been very lucky to have landed quite a few wonderful jobs already in my relatively short lifetime, each of which has brought its own pros and cons. However, overall, I have been extremely lucky to have largely enjoyed the work I have done thus far: The summers before ninth, tenth and eleventh grade, I worked as a junior counselor at a summer camp I attended during my entire childhood. The following summer, I had a brief stint as a cashier/barista at a local cafe, but a few months later I actually ended up working in an escape room as the person who resets all the puzzles and boxes after people play the game. That job carried me through the end of high school and even into my seasonal college breaks; while at college. While, I'm a cashier/food prepper at another cafe. These jobs seem random and, I admit, I did look for them with the intent of being able to make some money for myself. But honestly, these jobs became so much more than just a biweekly paycheck. They have taught me a lot aside from how to serve lunch to twenty-five ravenous ten-year-olds, how to use a cash register or how to use different types of locks and puzzles; they have all made profound impacts on my life. Here's how five things my part-time jobs have given me.
1. Better Communication Skills
In every odd job I've held, one thing has always been a requirement: I had to interact with people. Given my college majors and my love of performing, I'm sure you can guess that idea of being around people was really anything but awful to me. However, just because I'm comfortable talking does not mean I'm inherently good at it. From reasoning with ten year old campers about why they really have to go to the nurse about that headache that's been lasting all day, to signing in and redirecting people of all ages at the escape rooms, to figuring out the best way to take orders from regulars versus from newcomers at the cafes, the customers themselves at each of my jobs have forced me to become a better communicator, and I am thankful for it. Not everyone understands things the same way, some people need more explaining than others. Typically, directions or questions need to be delivered fully and clearly. The one thing you can be sure of, though, is that a smile (and a compliment/small talk, if you have time for it) goes a long way in ensuring that customers leave happy.
And, of course, I can't forget about my coworkers. I've worked with people of all ages in all types of businesses with different types of side jobs and families. Not only has working at different places exposed me to some diversity, but it has taught me loads about team work. Some of this is just learning the preferences of whomever you're scheduled with, but, for the most part, its basic things like being clear, speaking up, asking questions if you're confused and helping someone else with their task if you have a free minute. I have no doubt that these communication strategies will stay with me throughout my life, as they have already come in quite handy in group projects and class discussions at school.
2. Lessons in Time Management
I'll admit, time management is a lot easier when it comes to summer jobs. It pretty much just requires fitting your social time and any chores or errands you have to do around your work schedule. Jobs during the school year are a bit more difficult. Suddenly, there's class, activities, clubs and homework to account for too. It's definitely a lot, and can quickly become overwhelming or seemingly unmanageable if you don't stay organized. My planner is my absolute best friend. It's just a paper booklet, nothing too elaborate, but it allows me to look at my month as a whole, as well as what each day has in store. Planners and calendars not only give you a basic to-do list of where you have to be each day, but they also are essential for, well, future planning. The earlier you tell your job about a conflict, the easier it's going to be to take off when you need it. It shows that you value time, and are also proactive about organizing yourself for the future. While having a job isn't necessary to figuring out how to manage your time, it sure makes for a good crash course in figuring it out, because it doesn't offer you much of a choice.
3. The Ability to Multitask
While they have all definitely been different ways, each job has definitely taught me how to multitask. It's nice to think that wherever you work will always be smooth sailing, but things become busy or change at the last minute, and you have to be able to to adapt to that while still keeping up with quality work. This could mean brewing the much needed fresh coffees in the time the sandwich you're making is warming, while also grabbing a customer's tea order because you're going in that direction anyway. It could mean the mere task of serving unlimited family style lunch to 25 ten year olds at once (let me tell you; they can eat), or it could mean checking in a group while a different group has come in last minute and needs you to make change for them while you answer their questions about the game they're about to play. It's all happened, and I am not unique in having these crazy, chaos-mode experiences. My jobs have helped me to learn how to be able to get multiple things done (efficiently and effectively) at the same time, while maintaining my composure. This has bled over into helping me in school, as well as simple chores, and goes right along with the time management bit.
While I know I am still a few years away from needing to find a *gasp* full-time, "real world" job, I do know that bosses and companies like to see that you have some experience behind you; they like proof that you are a diligent worker. I have seen this just while looking for part-time jobs, so I am sure that in the "real world," experience matters just as much. Yes, that experience might need to be more so in specific fields than just general working. However, it can't hurt to have a plethora of skills you can pull from, and a plethora of instances in which you can explain something you did or worked on to help your place of employment. For example, when interviewing for my cafe job at college, I was asked about how I would handle high stress and fast-paced business situations. Because I had experience, I was able to pull out a few instances in which I could prove that I could handle those high pressure moments. So, while pouring coffee for hours on end might not seem like its helping my far-off future and is more so financially benefiting my current self, I know that it shows I have discipline, and can handle myself in a busy work environment. The idea alone that one had this ability serves as a huge boost to one's credibility.
5. Memories Upon Memories
Is this point only here because I'm extremely sentimental? Is it here because my jobs have given me plenty of topics for essay ideas? Yes, and yes. When it comes down to it, yes, my jobs have taught me a lot of things about myself, other people and the skills required, but they have also provided me with some of my fondest memories. I have been lucky enough that my places of employment have largely been places I enjoy spending my time, even when things get tough. They have given me stories that relate to a variety of topics and lessons, which do indeed come in very handy for school, but they have also been the reason, at times, that a day turns from bad to good. As I write this, a few moments come to mind from each place I have worked, and I find I am smiling to myself as I think of them. I know not everyone is that lucky, I know, but this goes to prove the point that part-time jobs can be enjoyable, as well as profitable.
To wrap things up, I'm not saying at all that having a job purely for the financial aspect is a bad thing at all. In fact, its kind of what I expected many of my jobs to be when I first began them. However, I am incredibly grateful for what I ended up with. I had no idea of the huge personal impacts that my places of employment would have on me; it was most serendipitous. So, if you're on the fence about getting a job while you're a student, I say you should go for it. You just might find something surprising.
Lead Image Credit: Pexels