Part-time job tips
October 28, 2008 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me track down a part time job that meets my picky needs.

A frequently asked question, yes I know. But different askers seem to generate different answers, so here's my shot.

I need a job, but with school, I can't swing full time right now. It needs to be part-time. I have certain biases that make most of what I’m seeing very unattractive.

The biggest bias is that I hate the idea of working for a large company. Looking through job postings my skin crawls at the typical corporate speak you see. Even places that more or less match my ideology like Whole Foods and REI are guilty of this. It just makes me not want to work there. I’ve worked at large tech companies before, and I didn’t like it.

I'd much rather work somewhere local, where there is a chance the person interviewing me is the owner, or at least knows the owner.

I don't know how to tend bar, I've never waited tables, and I haven't worked in customer service or retail. I'm not a very good writer (I'm generally pretty dry), I'm bad at design. But, I'd be willing to give any of these a shot if someone thought I could hack it.

Most of my previous jobs have been academic. I have worked with people before, as experimental subjects. I'm comfortable with computers and I can program fairly well. I might not be able to answer every interview question at Microsoft or Google, but I'd probably understand almost every correct answer and why its correct. I'm very good at quantitative and qualitative analysis. My main interests lie mostly in food, photography, travel, technology, and sustainable farming/gardening.

I’d prefer not to be at a computer, but if I am at a computer I’d like my skills to be utilized, rather than doing data entry or some other tedious task. That said, if it’s between data entry at a small company and programming at a large company, I might favor the data entry job.

I'm not looking for a career (though if you have a really good suggestion I'd like to hear it). I'm trying to start my own company eventually, but that will take time to get up and running.

What I would like to know is if anyone has any tips of where I might continue my job search and concentrate my efforts. General suggestions are expected, but bonus points for tips specific to Delmarva. Remember, I need part time.

Ideally I’d be making at least 18k/year before taxes (I realize this might not be possible). Benefits don't matter right now. Right now, the idea isn't to get a little extra income, but to keep myself afloat as the savings dwindle.
posted by NormandyJack to Work & Money (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Craigs List for some ideas and opportunities. Also, you might find some jobs in the good ol' newspaper classifieds. Many newspapers post them online now so you don't even have to purchase a copy.

Also, it's worth trying out for some listings.

You might want to ease your searching criteria to include large companies as they are the ones that usually can afford part time employees that aren't customer service or retail.
posted by nikkorizz at 10:27 AM on October 28, 2008

Typo: "That aren't *FOR* customer service or retail."
posted by nikkorizz at 10:28 AM on October 28, 2008

Even places that more or less match my ideology like Whole Foods and REI are guilty of this.

In my year-or-so at Whole Foods, I never heard corporatespeak except at our once (or twice?) a year whole-store staff meetings. Day-to-day, it was absent. We had a lot of students and musicians in my department (Specialty) - and in the store as a whole, actually - and they didn't seem to have any trouble getting scheduled around classes and gigs and whatnot. But I worked on the retail side, and not in the office, where corporatespeak might be more common.

The upside to working at a large place where you are a cog is that scheduling work around your life may be much easier than it might be if you are The Guy (tech guy, phone guy, whatever) at a smaller place.

(Also, while at WF, I ate cheaply/freely and extremely well, so that saved an additional bunch of money on food costs.)
posted by rtha at 10:33 AM on October 28, 2008

$18k/yr for 20 hours per week is $20/hr. That might be an unrealistic goal for a student looking for part time employment, especially with few skills and little experience. Unless you are situated in a very affluent area, that just ain't gonna happen working for someone else.

So your best bet is to work for yourself!

You said you're a fairly academic and math-oriented person, so the obvious choice is to advertise as a private tutor for high school science and math. Since you're good with computers, you can whore yourself out as an in-house computer repair and upgrade dude (just make sure you like old people and watching progress bars). You can charge $30-$60 per hour for both of these things, and maybe more depending on where you live. Some less savory options include cleaning house ($25/hr), joining a road crew ($18/hr), and house painting/landscaping ($40/hr, but requires an investment for equipment.)

Good luck!
posted by Willie0248 at 10:38 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to be clear, I'm a student yes, but a graduate student not an undergrad. I have a degree. I did work in the "real world" after college too.
posted by NormandyJack at 10:45 AM on October 28, 2008

Private tutoring is a nice suggestion, but depending on your "morals" about working, I'd venture that helping rich kids get into college/get better grades is more "immoral" than working for Whole Foods.

If you're really looking to make the most money, working at Costco apparently pays quite well. Teaching test prep is also a good option if your scores are high. Again, it is corporate. On campus jobs at the library or the computer lab might suit you better.
posted by k8t at 10:54 AM on October 28, 2008

What Willie0248 said--private tutoring is a good deal, especially if your school happens to have a lot of stupid rich freshmen. College prep places like Kaplan will hire part-time, too, although you won't make nearly as much.
posted by equalpants at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2008

An obvious question is 'what's your degree in?'
posted by jacquilynne at 11:24 AM on October 28, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for the suggestions so far.

@jacquilynne - Yeah, that is an obvious question. But, for the sake of some anonymity, I don't want to answer. I'll say its a BS in a field that is usually considered part of the humanities. Lets just say that I'm well aware of the typical jobs people with my degree get, and given that it is a fairly uncommon degree its not going to really help too much in this discussion anyway.
posted by NormandyJack at 11:31 AM on October 28, 2008

Wait a sec, what about graduate assistantships? At the local college, GAs get paid $16/hr and it's a very small school.
posted by Willie0248 at 11:57 AM on October 28, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I was getting more than that as a GA, but special circumstances (nothing bad, just bad timing) preclude me from pursuing that path further (at least for the semester).
posted by NormandyJack at 11:59 AM on October 28, 2008

Best answer: Start your own company and find some freelance programming gigs via the usual sources online and via personal networking. You gave us 5 paragraphs of what you don't want to do - I'm leaning towards that idea that you are never going to be a really good employee for anybody. Some people just need to be the boss. You might be one of those people. 18K a year is one $1500 programming / web development project a month. That doesn't sound impossible as a part time gig.
posted by COD at 12:41 PM on October 28, 2008

If you're a grad student, I strongly recommend looking over all of your acceptance agreements/previous funding statements/contracts/et cetera, as well as talking to your graduate advisor (not your research advisor). This is certainly not always true, but many graduate students are precluded from having outside employment if they've received funding. Some departments look the other way, but some... don't.

Which, in the end, is really just another vote for self-employment.
posted by amelioration at 12:46 PM on October 28, 2008

Work on campus. If you're in the US, you almost certainly qualify for work-study and there is probably a long list of available jobs both on and off campus. As an undergrad I worked about 20 hours a week at my campus Women's Center answering phones, organizing meetings, designing fliers. I loved it. My current job (arts nonprofit) hires grad students through the work-study program and they get to do interesting design/research work that looks good on their resume. We're very flexible about schedules and totally understand that school comes first.
posted by jrichards at 1:46 PM on October 28, 2008

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