6 Ways to Make Your Part-time Job Work Toward Your Future Career

The jobs students have in high school and the early college years may often seem to be dead end. Even if you applied to a job only to make some extra cash, it’s never too early to start thinking about your career. The job you snagged at the movie theater or at your local burger restaurant can help build you up for the career you always dreamed of and you may not have even noticed. Here are six ways you can maximize your part-time job.

1.) Use the random experiences you gain from job to job to develop and position yourself as a unique candidate.

Start by changing your mindset from simply job-hopping or just trying to make money to cover lunch splurges at Qdoba between classes or on weekend outings with friends. What you're actually doing is diversifying yourself in terms of experience. Let's say that your ultimate dream is to be a world-renowned playwright. The more skills you pick up from short term jobs the more unique you become. For example, you might set yourself apart from other writers because the  characters you write use more realistic dialogue. You may not realize the skill of writing realistic dialogue could draw from all the conversations you’ve had or overheard while working as a barista at a coffee shop. By working at a customer-facing job, you can master a skill that sets you apart from others.

2.) Model your experience around your passions.

If you’re still on the fence about which career path to pursue, that's okay because chances are you’ve figured out what you’re passionate about and what you’re talented at. You’re gaining experience from your day-to-day work and this seemingly random experience can be used in the future. Let's say you want to be one of the world’s most influential teachers but you’re currently answering the phones with one of your local insurance companies after school. Being exposed to how things work there, you probably have learned a thing or two about insurance. As you learn over time, you may build up enough knowledge to teach an Insurance 101 workshop in the future. Experiences from temporary jobs can contribute to skills that will be useful in your career.

3.) Master the wording on your resume.

Get serious about your resume and realize that the right wording on a resume can make all the difference in landing a job and advancing a career. Let’s say for example, you've worked selling tickets for your local movie theater and you’re now serving subs at the neighborhood deli. These may seem like minor roles or insignificant places that you’ll forget about once you're making the big bucks, but think long term. Instead of saying that you’ve handled cash and food for customers, you could reword this to be much more impactful. For example, you could say that you’re “Skilled at accurately receiving and processing banking transactions” or that you “successfully upheld standards of food preparation”. Be careful with stretching your wording too far, though, and only list experience you’ve truly gained on a job.

4.) Save the funds from your part-time gig and invest in your talents.

Get into the habit of setting a portion of your paycheck aside for things that interest you. Say for example you want to be a film director but you’re currently working the fries at a fast food establishment. With your savings, you could buy your first camera and with your spare time you could capture footage and learn to edit. You’ve just put yourself ahead of the curve with one investment. Even if you’re not quite sure what you want to make a career out of, this will still help put a solid skill under your belt.

5.) Network and learn from leaders at your current role.

Always have a open mind and a friendly attitude while on the job even if the job is just for extra cash. You never know who you may meet and what opportunities may come about. The leaders in your current role could be used for references in the future and could write letters of recommendation as needed. Just because you start a job thinking short term doesn't mean long term positions may not open up. If you’re known as the outgoing team member who engages with everyone, you may be approached about a position that could transition into a career, either at your current place of employment or at an outside source.

6.) Always put forth your best work no matter how insignificant your role may seem at the time.Hard work goes hand-in-hand with a positive engaging personality. Don’t waste any downtime at work. If things are slow then take the initiative to work on something that needs to be done. Check in with your leaders to see if you can work on homework so that you’re always working. If you’re the best worker at your job, then you’re setting yourself up to be aligned with leadership roles within your company. Your team leaders will trust that they can put more responsibility on your plate. Even if these opportunities never come about at your current company, you’re still instilling an amazing work ethic within yourself.

By following these six steps, you can jump-start your career and before you know it you’ll look up and be working in the position you always hoped to have! Good luck!

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