Working part-time? It’s the first step on your career

Things are getting expensive aren’t they? And it’s the basics that seem to be increasing in price the most. I’m sure that will mean that even more UoR students than usual will need to work part-time during term time to help fund their studies.

Image advertising jobFest

If this applies to you, then be reassured that as well as paying your way now, you are also investing in your future employment too. That’s because every part-time job is giving you the chance to develop your skills and learn more about yourself, and in doing so it’s creating stories that you can share with future employers in interviews for jobs after university, and for placements and internships whilst you are at university too.

Now I can almost hear some of you saying ‘But how will my shift at Tesco help me become a film editor/games developer?’ or ‘How can working in a care home help me get my first step on the ladder to a career in law/sustainability?’.

Well, what recruiters look for, especially in people at the beginning of their career, is evidence of their skills, and an insight into the type of person you are – and working in retail, or care, or warehousing, or hospitality etc. gives you lots of opportunities to develop both.

For instance, nearly all jobs require you to work with other people – team mates, managers, clients, and so on. That’s giving you the chance to practice your communication skills, your team working skills, your customer focus, your ability to take feedback, and much, much more besides.

So when you’ve been working for a while start reflecting on what you like and don’t like doing, and why. Also consider how what you do is different to the way your colleagues do the same role, and then why do you do things differently. This reflection can be difficult to do, so chat it  through with someone – friends, family, a careers consultant – as they will help you be more objective about your skills and approaches, and help you see things from different angles.

And don’t stop there – another thing a recruiter likes to know is how you’ve made a difference. So once you roughly know what’s expected of you, and you’re getting competent, start to think about how you can add more value to the organisation. Maybe you’ve spotted a better way of doing something that would save time and money, maybe you’ve seen an opportunity for new products and services to be introduced to create more income, maybe you could offer to help train the new starters, or offer to learn some of the other roles so that you can be used more flexibly whilst you are at work.

Your time in part-time and casual employment is really valuable, so value it, make the most of it, and be proud to share those stories when you are applying and interviewing for the types of role you want after uni.

Graham Philpott,
Head of Careers Consultancy