You have a job now! You can pay your bills! You have a reason to leave your apartment! Now you just have to go — and keep going for a really long time.
This is not my first part-time job. Back in high school, I worked at a local arts/crafts/party/Halloween store (it was eclectic to say the least) a few times a week.
And I hated it.
On December 26th, all holiday ornaments were 50% off. It was non-stop middle-aged ladies getting huffy with you for not wrapping their new digs daintily enough, even though there are about 30 more other customers waiting in line behind them. And I’m sorry, even if they are 50% off, you’re still buying over $100 worth of Christmas ornaments, so I’m already not your biggest fan. Don’t test me.
I’m about to enter that world all over again, and I know I’m not alone in this pursuit. Plenty of my fellow graduates are also paying their dues in crappy part-time positions. But this time, I have experience up my sleeve. Today, I know a thing or two about how to survive:
First, understand that some people just suck. If someone treats you like trash, do not take it personally. Unfortunately there are just those people out there that will forget that you are human, too, that you make mistakes, and that you’re also just trying to get through the day without too many mishaps. I can guarantee that these people have never been in your position. They’ve never worked in retail or as a server – if they had, they wouldn’t be treating you like garbage. Keep that smile on, no matter how fake, and remember that the customer is always right… until they leave the store and you can rip them to shreds when you catch up with your co-workers later.
Training will be over soon – just make sure you ask a lot of questions. I am an introverted person. Not only this, but my introversion is coupled with self-consciousness and an overall shy demeanor. Sucking it up and just asking a question is not always the easiest for me. If this is a problem for you, too, I’m sorry to say that we both just need to get out of our own way and ask the questions we need to ask. The worst part about part-time jobs is the beginning – when you are lost and have no idea what you are doing yet and customers are waiting on you. Once you know everything, all you have to do is show up and do mindless work for $10/hour. So ask questions and get the hard part out of the way as soon as you can.
This job should never be a source of stress. It’s only a part-time position that means nothing in terms of your more distant career goals. If it is causing you too much stress or taking a toll on your personal happiness, it’s really not worth it. I would suggest pursuing other options.
Make friends. You are likely to find yourself in a similar position as a lot of your co-workers. Test out your sense of humor on them and see who you’d like to hang out with. You may never actually hang out outside of work, but your shift will go by quickly with a friendly face nearby to talk to. Plus, it will be easier to ask them to cover for you when you need it, rather than asking total strangers, who can just blow you off.
Always look ahead. This is especially important in the art of asking for time off. If you want the good days (i.e. the holidays) for yourself, then you need to have a plan. Get those requests in early, because they’re going to go fast. Don’t get suckered into working Black Friday unless you really need the money and also have a death wish.
Remember that this is not what you will be doing forever. Your lousy part-time job is simply a filler, a temporary money-maker. It is not a reason to stand still – be wary of getting too comfortable. Keep searching for your dream job and for opportunities that might help you to get there. If this job is keeping you from doing something you really want/need to do, quit, I tell you, QUIT! You can always get another one if/when you need to. In the meantime, keep looking ahead and focusing on the bigger picture. This job is minuscule in comparison.
While I am not necessarily excited about starting this new job, it does have some perks, even beyond just paying my rent and gaining some extra cash. I truly believe that working these kinds of jobs, like retail or waiting tables, makes you a better person.
For one, you become a lot more understanding of the person who is trying to serve you when you go out. You’ll come to know that it is a lot more difficult to be cheery and hospitable when they are swamped, but you also know that they are trying their best. You understand that tips often make their living, so you try not to be stingy. You learn that a smile goes a long way, and that everyone appreciates someone who is understanding and patient. Don’t be the person that I’ll bitch about to my co-workers later. Just don’t.
If you have any part-time position horror stories, please share them in the comments below and also grace us with any other tips you’ve got for getting through a crappy job. We’ll make it through together.