It can be disheartening if you are not fortunate enough to find work experience in your desired field while you are studying. The jobs we work to pay the bills and get by can sometimes feel like a waste of time. However these ‘meantime’ jobs can be very valuable experiences. Here are five reasons why.
1. Your salary can be put to good use
Retail or office work often pays more than internships or new graduate programs in some industries. Of course this means being able to pay your expenses. However, it could also be an opportunity to save money. When a brilliant unpaid opportunity comes along, you will then be in a better position to accept it. You may even have a bit of cash spare to expand your horizons through international travel.
2. You will get used to the workplace
The workplace environment is very different from education institutions, which are based around the needs of students. Developing confidence in situations where your actions have real financial consequences is an asset you can take with you to any new business. Simply getting used to arriving at work on time for every shift and managing your schedule while working and studying are also valuable experiences.
3. You may gain unexpected transferrable skills
Even if you don’t plan to work in fields dedicated to customer service, such as sales, this doesn’t mean you won’t have use for such skills. Nearly every role involves working with clients to a certain extent, or some teamwork. Being able to provide solid examples of where you have gone above and beyond for a customer, or used your initiative to solve problems, will be instrumental in job interviews for any number of different roles.
Some transferrable skills you might not foresee. For instance a journalist conducting phone interviews may have developed their confidence and the ability to stay in control on the phone during time spent as a receptionist.
4. Casual jobs are often flexible
Jobs taken on by university students in retail and hospitality are often more flexible and understanding about study commitments than office jobs. It is easier to choose your hours, with shift work allowing you to tailor your job to fit your life. You can see examples of this on Student Job itself. This luxury may not be an option later in your career.
5. A job will diversify your schedule
Having scheduled commitments aside from studying enables you to take a purposeful break from guiltily staring at your computer screen, waiting for the words to tumble out. Getting your mind completely off the subject can give you a fresh approach when you return to the task. As long as you leave yourself enough time for your assignments that is!
6. You will meet interesting people
Aside from practical career benefits, a day job can introduce you to interesting people you would never have the chance to meet otherwise. The range of people you will work with may be much wider than those you meet at university, or even those you would encounter in a more professionalised industry.
7. When you do break into your industry you will appreciate it more
There is no point in assuring you that you will absolutely love your ‘meantime’ job. For some it will feel like a chore and you will be glad when the day comes for you to leave. However, the experience may clarify for you what you enjoy and what you don’t, which will help you to make clearer choices about your future.
When you do find that longed for graduate opportunity, you will appreciate it all the more and know how lucky you are to be doing something you love.
Although signing up for a ‘meantime’ job can feel like a waste of time, you will end up being glad you took it on. Accepting work outside of your desired industry or role is not accepting failure, rather it is simply acknowledging that there are many different paths to success.
Elise Britten is a contributor for Inspiring Interns. Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.