What I Learned From My Part-Time Jobs in College

By Crystal Cory, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach

During college, I had two vastly different part-time jobs. One wasn’t more important than the other; one wasn’t more valuable than the other. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without having had these part-time jobs.

My first job was at a soil research lab for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). At the time, I was a Biochemistry major, so getting lab experience seemed like a good thing. However, my biggest takeaway from that job had nothing to do with my day-to-day role.

The biggest lesson I took away from my time at the soil lab was to always, always, ALWAYS ask my supervisor questions if I was unsure about something. Some of the experiments I helped with took a long time to run and get results. My supervisor much preferred I ask questions to confirm something, even if I was 95% sure of the answer, than have to re-run an entire experiment over again because I made a wrong assumption. In more than one instance, this saved my butt! I very quickly got over my fear of asking my supervisor questions while I was there.

Another job I had during college was in the Wellness Office on my campus. I ended up switching from majoring in Biochemistry to Human Services, so again the job seemed to make sense at the time. Yet again, the biggest lesson I learned was more than what I did there.

My biggest takeaway from my time in the Wellness Office was to suggest an idea if I had one. While there, I ended up working with the condom distribution program. They had just changed their model from a bowl of free condoms to having different package options that students could pick up. Because it was a new model, and because I’m a millennial, I had the idea to create a webpage specifically for the new program. I suggested it to my supervisor, and she loved the idea! I developed many new skills by building a website, and adding features like a box for students to submit questions around sexual wellness so we could email them back the answers. If I had kept my original idea to myself, the program would not have grown as much as it did that first year.

The two biggest lessons I learned from my part-time college jobs, to always ask questions and suggest any ideas, are skills that I still use today. While one of the jobs is more relevant to my current role, both positions taught me lessons that I still use every single day in my role as a Career Coach. Overall, part-time work can teach you a lot of really useful lessons that you can take with you long into the future.

If you’re interested in getting a part-time job during your time at the U, check out our upcoming Student Job & Volunteer Fair with Off-Campus Employers and explore On-Campus job postings in Handshake. Your future self will thank you!