Student story: make your part-time job work for you

Like many students I could not afford to study unless I had a job. I’m in my third year, and the chilling realisation of ‘the real world’ is looming. I’ve emerged blinking into the blinding lights of numerous graduate schemes and initiatives and feel woefully underprepared. I blame this partly on naivety, but mostly on my absence of free time. I want to get a first – thus every moment I’m not ‘on the clock’ I’m putting in the hours at the library.

So now I’m in this position how do I demonstrate relevant work experience to an employer?

There will be many of you, like me, who look at the vast, gaping hole in the ‘relevant experience’ part on your graduate applications and feel like crying. In my darker moments, I wonder why any employer would pick the girl from the coffee shop over the girl who has done one million internships. Well, I’m about to tell you.

Take the time to look at your part-time job. The fact you have managed to keep popping into work and focussed on your degree is an achievement in itself. Pat yourself on the back – you’ve earned it. So look right there is a little thing called ‘time-management’ (essential in any field of work) on the job description. Think up a great example of when this has been crucial and tick that off the list!

Now remember what you are actually doing at work. Most student part-time work is customer-service based. Congratulations, you little social-networker – what you are practicing every shift shows you have excellent ‘communication skills’. In the real world of work, these will be essential all the time. You will be able to build relationships with clients and workers effectively and easily.

Take a look at the person next to you – your co-worker. Are they your friend? Your enemy?  Your lover? (naughty!) Whatever relationship you have, the fact that you work together effectively reveals your ability to ‘teamwork’. Being able to ignore their screechy laugh and humour them when they show you the umpteenth picture of their cat means you will be able to work toward a team goal without irritating each other. Well done you tolerant lot.

Is your work fast paced? Well that shows that you are driven. Work in sales? Then you are target orientated and used to working under pressure.  More creative? Then you are ideas led. You get the idea, people.

Essentially what I am saying is that you must make the most of your part-time work. There are plenty of graduates who have the luxury of time and money to complete ‘relevant’ unpaid placements, and they are your competition. However, does this actually make them any better? You have to convince your potential employer how and why your seemingly irrelevant job actually reveals your inner strengths in the same way a placement would.

Well I hope that this piece puts the fire in your belly to succeed. Take your part-time job and make it work for you, fellow students – you’ve earned it.

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