Careers Advice Blog

Can your part-time job help your career? The truth about transferable skills

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It’s a major dilemma for many students, the decision between doing work experience (usually unpaid) which will aid your career aspirations, and doing part-time work that pays well, but seems irrelevant. The fantastic news is:

You don’t have to choose.

Yes, that’s right. Your part-time job can help with your career aspirations, and it’s all about that job-hunting buzz phrase: “transferable skills”. So, you want to work in marketing but you currently work at the local cinema. Shovelling popcorn and serving it to customers with money to burn may seem of little use to your marketing dream… but let’s break down exactly what you’re learning from that part-time job, using the cinema/marketing example.

1. Customer service

Dealing with customers face-to-face is a sure-fire way to develop skills in understanding what makes the public tick, an essential skill in marketing.

2. Your surroundings

You’re seeing marketing all around you at work. Cinemas are full of posters, signs for food, advertising from sponsorship companies, all examples of marketing, and all of which you will subconsciously think about as you work. Even if it is a conversation with your colleagues that goes along the lines of:

“That poster is awful!”

“I know!” You’re starting to analyse the kinds of marketing that we are faced with on a daily basis.

3. Take the initiative

Does your cinema have a Facebook page or a Twitter account? Ask to take control of it for a few days/weeks to get some experience of online marketing. Speak to your manager, especially if it is an independent establishment, about how the marketing is done within the company. The same stands for HR, accounting and so on.

4. Working in a team

Nobody in the working world is an island. At some point during your career you are going to need to work in a team, which makes any part-time experience a fantastic bonus!

So what can we learn from this example? You don’t have to work in your specific chosen career in order to gain experience. In fact, many employers will consider experiences gained in different sectors as enriching, rather than irrelevant. While it may not give you ‘obvious’ skills, there are always opportunities to be gained from any employment you undertake, whatever sector you are working in!

What do you think about part-time jobs and transferable skills? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: cyclonebill / Flickr

I’m a serial multi-tasker who loves having no spare time. Also an English Literature student.
Harley RyleyCan your part-time job help your career? The truth about transferable skills

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