Part Time Work: The Case for Multiple Jobs
I was in high school when I got my first part-time job in a fast food restaurant. After high school and upon entering college, I found part-time work as a gas station clerk and also signed up for several internships. After college, that part-time job became full-time. But I couldn’t stop there. I took on an additional part-time job as an adjunct instructor at my alma mater, and then another at a grocery store. When I finally landed my first full-time job out of college as a legal assistant, I just couldn’t seem to shake my usual trend. So I kept my part-time job at the grocery store, and I also fill in at the gas station as needed. Oh—and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m also a freelance writer.
I know what some of you are thinking, but hear me out:
I am hardly the only one who works multiple jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics observed an increase of two percent in the number of Americans working two or more jobs. With the constant uncertainty of the economy, who can really blame them? Unemployment and underemployment are at an all-time high. Most college grads just starting out quickly come to realize that jobs are not only hard to come by, but they also don’t pay what the grads thought they would. Many entry-level jobs come with a salary starting between $18,000 and $20,000 per year. Therefore, in order to make ends meet, supplementary income is a necessity. Still others take on additional occupations simply for the enjoyment, or by accident like Ericka Harney.
I first met Ms. Harney at a networking event this year held by Cake & Whiskey magazine, where she was catering the event with chocolate truffles.
I had been making truffles and candies for over 15 years, she says. I started doing holidays and birthdays for friends and family and in 2010, some friends demanded that they start paying me for the truffles I was making.
Harney sold nearly 300 dozen of the decadent chocolate treats during her first holiday season. Little did I know that this was just one of several jobs she has. In addition to being the owner of TruffleDiva.com, Harney is and has been an adjunct professor since 2006, teaching fundraising, philanthropy and communications courses at three different colleges. She is also the owner of Cause Head Consulting, a business she started in 2009 after finishing the first year in her Ph.D. program.
I felt from my volunteer work and from my classmates that I should be serving in a more advisory role to nonprofits, said Harney. Since its launch in 2009, Cause Head Consulting has served over 30 nonprofits and small businesses with a variety of services.
Having a part-time job(s) has its benefits: the obvious being extra income. That extra money can be used to:
- Pay off debt
- Save for emergencies
- Achieve other financial goals a little faster
Besides that, a part-time job is often more flexible than a full-time job, thus making it easier to work around a busy schedule. Taking on a part-time job also diversifies your income. If you happen to lose your full-time, you’ll have something to hold you over. Harney knows this all too well. Up until a year ago, her full-time job was as an Associate Director of Development at a national organization. Due to budget cuts, she was laid off last September.
While my businesses were not making me a full-time income at that point, says Harney, I was extremely grateful that I was consulting, teaching, and making chocolates.
One of the most important advantages however is learning a different set of skills. Expanding your skills is essential in any profession. The customer service skills you learn working for a retail chain could be invaluable in your career. The organization skills you gain from waiting tables can come in handy down the road. Working a part-time job also opens the door to other networks. The more people you meet, the better.
But, there are also downsides:
I constantly get asked a stream of never-ending questions like, Are you still in school? and Why are you still working here? often by the same people because they can’t quite understand why I would stay at these jobs once I finished college. Then there comes my personal favorite: But when will you ever have time for a husband?
Yes, I know— extra work means less free time. Because I have no spouse or children, I’m pretty free to spend my time as I please without answering to anyone. I feel that since I’m in my 20s this is my time to work hard. I do work a lot, but I also do my best to make time for me—traveling and spending time with my family and friends.
Should something or someone become another priority in my life, then I may choose to slow down. Harney said she seems to have a similar problem, especially now since she is a little older,
I feel that being a female business owner, in Kentucky, and in my 30s does not agree with convention when it comes to relationships, she said. I’ve been told that it is intimidating to men and this used to bother me, and while many people, both men and women, may not agree with having multiple jobs or are intimidated for whatever reason, I have come to accept this as not my problem. It is theirs. I do my work with a smile, remain humble, and I am happy. I keep trucking along . . . and if that means I’m single at the moment, that is just fine.
Having more than one job can also be stressful:
There are times when I have to remind myself why I work as much as I do. It’s imperative to at least try to stay balanced and to keep a healthy diet. But, staying balanced can be difficult at times. Harney admits that this is her greatest challenge,
I strive to stay constantly organized — to be able to reprioritize each day with a list of deadlines, task lists, and records, and I throw in a load of laundry and do a load of dishes in between, she said. When friends and family offer to help you with something, take them up on it. We don’t go through life or work totally alone.
Part-time work offers endless possibilities if you give it a chance. It has certainly benefited me in terms of extra income as well as varying my skills and contacts. Says Harney,
If I could change something, I would have done this sooner.