How My Part-Time Jobs Helped Me Explore Careers

As a first-generation college student, I have had to work throughout my entire college career. At some points, I even had two or three jobs while also going to school! This was extremely challenging for me and I often viewed it as a barrier to my success. However, after much reflection, I realized that my part-time jobs have also helped me to explore what it is that I want in a career and helped me to land where I am today. Below is a list of the part-time jobs that I had while in college and some insight into what I learned about myself through them:

  1. Pizzeria Counter Girl: This was my first ever job in high school and I kept it through my first year of college! I loved working there because it meant that I got to eat a lot of free pizza. I worked with a lot of my friends from high school and it taught me the importance of building strong relationships with your coworkers. They made coming to work every day enjoyable and I appreciated a strong workplace culture. In light of recent events with the rising popularity of virtual work, I know that my personality type is not suited for a completely remote position. I gain a lot of my energy and motivation from the people around me!
  2. Tutor: While in college, I tutored a few math and economics courses. I had a lot of mixed feelings about this job. I enjoyed the aspect of building relationships with students and being a part of my regular students’ successes, but I felt a lot of pressure to always know the answer. I learned that I liked to have a supporting role for students but did not like being an academic educator. I immediately canceled any ideas I might have had about being a teacher or professor.
  3. Telemarketer: I saw a telemarketer position advertised while I was a sophomore in college and decided it might be an easy way to make some money right from my dorm room. Within a few days, I knew that this job was not for me. I hated being on the phone all day and found it quite upsetting that I could not make a sale. This steered me away from any sales positions. 
  4. Tour Guide: At the end of my sophomore year, I applied to be a campus tour guide and got the job! I then spent my summer leading potential students and their families around campus. I really liked this job because there was a great energy during a campus tour and I loved being able to be outside and interact with people. I also liked being able to sell the school and tell jokes. This is what got me initially thinking about marketing (where I currently have a career!).
  5. Practice Patient: During the summer of 2019, I was a practice patient for Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences. This was probably the most interesting job I have ever had! Students could use me to practice techniques they were learning in class. This role required me to be silent most of the time and I did not have many responsibilities, which I did not like. I need to be in an environment where I am always busy. 
  6. Server: During my junior year, I knew that I wanted to go to grad school, so I needed a job that was going to pay enough to cover that. Serving became the solution since it worked so well with my class schedule. While this job was extremely challenging, I did like it. I enjoyed spending time with my coworkers and I also found the high-energy environment to be a good fit for me. What I did not like was that every day looked very similar.
  7. Bartender: The natural next step from being a server was becoming a bartender. This required me to work nights and paid enough to cover my living expenses, so it was a great fit for me while I was taking classes. I also really liked this job! There was more of a creativity aspect to it since I was able to make new drink recipes, and I enjoyed being able to build relationships with customers. I also liked the high energy and multitasking element to it. This taught me that I would want a position where I am able to be creative and do a lot of different things.
  8. Graduate Assistant: While in grad school, I worked as a graduate assistant in the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development. I initially applied for this because I had liked working on campus and with students. Sure enough, it was a good fit! The environment of student affairs and higher education encompassed a lot of what I was looking for. I was able to meet a lot of new people and the things I was doing were positively impacting students. There was also a big creativity and collaboration element to the position, which is what I had enjoyed from previous part-time jobs.

Overall, my part-time jobs helped me to discover that I am a people person who thrives in a creative and dynamic environment. I was also able to use my part-time jobs to explore working in higher education, which turned out to be a great environment for me. While I might not be a marketing professional in higher education forever, my part-time jobs have given me the confidence to know that this role is a good match for my skills and interests!

By Julia Sullivan '20
Julia Sullivan '20 Assistant Director of Communications