This post was written by an external contributor. Charlotte Whittaker lays out the life-long skills a part-time job can teach you.
It’s pretty common for students to get a part-time job, yet most students tend to view their job as a means to pay their rent without realising the valuable skills they subconsciously develop whilst working.
You may have a part-time job right now; perhaps you’re a waiter or waitress in a local restaurant, and perhaps you don’t think you’re gaining much from the whole affair except a nice pay packet. But the truth is, with every exhausting shift, you’re gaining skills that are not just transferable to your CV, but stick with you for life.
The confidence to take control
Being able to lead effectively is probably one of the most noticeable skills you develop whilst working in the customer service industry. When considering how timid people tend to be on their first shift, it’s pretty incredible how little time it takes for a member of staff to learn to problem solve without having to ask for help.
Having the confidence to offer solutions or instruct your colleagues on what to do becomes second nature to any waiter, barista or retail worker. As you become more comfortable and better at your job, people will see you not as a newbie, but as an equal, and turn to you for help and leadership.
Getting used to responsibility whilst working a part-time job (which probably isn’t that personally important to you at the time) sets you up for leadership roles in your future careers, meaning you will be a pro at controlling any high pressure situation in the years to come.
The ability to control your emotions
Customer service jobs can be emotionally draining, to say the least. Having to confront the British public is something only very few people are able to naturally handle without needing a lot of mental preparation.
However, dealing with angry customer’s complaints over little mistakes you made can, although at the time feel like a weirdly intense guilt trip, help you build a thicker skin in the long run. You learn to take criticism, not lash out in defiant anger and maintain a polite composure.
The same is said for the stressful rush hours whilst on shift; even though all your responsibilities pile up on you, you can’t have a breakdown in front of all the waiting customers. Eventually you just learn to maintain a positive demeanour, which is crucial in a professional environment and day-to-day life in general.
Becoming more diplomatic with people you don’t really like
In school, falling out with people at least once a week is kind of inevitable, but a part of growing up is realising that it’s just easier to stop socialising with people you tend to clash with. In a job, this can sometimes be unavoidable.
There will always be that one colleague who really gets on your nerves, or one person with whom you simply can’t make conversation. Learning to accept the company of those that you don’t particularly like is crucial for whenever you’re on shift together. In time, you learn to be diplomatic and pleasant with those you originally thought you simply couldn’t cope with.
Learning to cope under pressure
Customer service based jobs can be surprisingly stressful as you can often be exposed to a high pressure environment. There can be times where you have a million things to do at once, where you’re left on your own to deal with a seemingly overwhelming problem, or you might just have the added stress of needing to perform well in front of your manager.
Becoming able to efficiently deal with stressful environments prepares you for whatever life throws at you in the future, be it a bad day at work with a very long to-do list, or when the insane amount of adulthood responsibilities seem as though they’re getting too much.
Improving your patience with people
As I mentioned before, the British Public can, at times, be rather difficult to deal with. Sadly, customer service based jobs tend to adopt the “customer is always right” policy which prevents us workers from snapping back at ridiculous complaints or unreasonable requests.
Although at the time this may seem unfair, being forced into politeness actually helps us develop a tolerance for difficult people. You learn to become more patient and build a thicker skin, meaning you are less likely to retaliate defensively, which will help you prepare for possible confrontation in future graduate jobs or day-to-day life.