What part-time job to pick up as a second job.
October 29, 2010 9:37 AM   Subscribe

What's the best part-time job on the side that I should consider?

I'm about to enter my late twenties and I've worked at my company since I graduated college. They pay pretty well and it gets better the longer you stay.

Unfortunately, as much as I've whipped myself into shape, financially speaking, over the past year or so, I haven't saved as much as I would ideally have liked to.

I'm really into saving now and doing all the things to prepare a good foundation for my future. I've decided one of those things is to get a second job on the side to supplement my current income.

I've done software support and am now currently a marketing writer/project guy at my company (transferred a few years ago).

For my second job I'm thinking about working at a restaurant, retail, basically anything but fast food. However I'd like some input from the community as to what awesome or at least tolerable 'second job on the side' you've had or currently have. Any input is greatly appreciated!

(FYI...I've considered doing some freelancing (I do Sales RFPS, product flyers/materials, adobe captivate presentations/script writing, some customer stories etc. but wasn't sure if this is something I could translate into freelancing easy enough.)
posted by modoriculous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you're going to work retail, work somewhere that you can tolerate the store and the employees now already. Don't, for instance, go work at Gymboree if screaming kids and haughty moms are not your thing.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:41 AM on October 29, 2010

Restaurant work is really hard. You'll know within a day of it whether you like it or not.

I'd say that being a cashier at a mallish clothing store would be easy, with relatively decent pay by comparison to the amount of effort you have to put in.
posted by Citrus at 9:45 AM on October 29, 2010

Retail - it is EASY to pick it up right now before the holidays with tons of opportunities for hours.

I'd go to a place that you like and already own some of their clothes so you don't have to invest in stuff to wear. (They'll give you a discount, but a lot of your paycheck can go to it.)

They pay ok - it isn't waiting tables but it is easier. You'll be on your feet a lot though.
posted by k8t at 9:46 AM on October 29, 2010

If you're going to go the restaurant route make sure you aim high. Basically look around until you find a place you can't afford to eat at, then work there. Failing that, find someplace that serves a lot of booze.

Retail is hell.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:47 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go apply to retail stores THIS week. They'll start training people in 2 weeks.
posted by k8t at 9:47 AM on October 29, 2010

Work retail at a place you already spend money. I've worked retail in grocery (Whole Foods) because hey, I already eat food, and the discount is useful; and bookstores, because I buy books, and the discount is useful.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2010

I loved restaurant work and did it as a 2nd job well into my 30s. It's very lucrative for a job you don't have to think much about outside of work.

And what Panjandrum said is true. Look for a place that is owner-operated (not chain, even a small chain), serves alcohol, and has entrees in the $15-25 range. Go higher and you might find it's more demanding than you want in a second job; lower, and you won't make enough money.

Also, there will be late nights, so do consider schedule as you're inquiring about jobs. If you can't get up early after a late night at the restaurant, you'll have some problems with the routine.
posted by Miko at 9:58 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite retail job was at Barnes and Noble because 1/3 of your days you were at teh cash register (boring and annoying), 1/3 you were reshelving (easy and you can browse the store - offers a lot of down time on the clock) and 1/3 you were helping people at the info kiosk (easy and people were usually impressed with your "knowledge" in helping them find a book when it's really just google searching through the store's databases of bestseller lists, recent realeases, etc.)

You make mad money at the right kind on restaraunt but you gott be on the move constantly. I'm going to go against teh person that said to work at a fancy restaraunt because there's often more people to tip out to at the end of the night (such as a food runner, bartender, expediter, busperson) which cuts out of your take home and they often have more imposed "rules" such as each waitperson being limited to 3 tables at a time which doesn't let you accumulate money as fast. Also with fancy restaraunts, the clientele can be a lot more picky and in some instances a lot cheaper tipping "the help".

The best type of restaraunt to work at in my experience has been a neighborhood bar / restaraunt tpye place (like a pub). You get to know the locals, the hellraisers, they tip you well, usually you'll be running your own food and possible bussing your own table so you don't need to tip out as many people (and I've often come across bartenders in these types of places who also refuse to take wait staff tip outs because they tend to make more than the wait staff to begin with), alcohol is a big check booster, the food is usually more common and thus harder to fuck up and they stay open later so you have more hours that you can work.

Avoid chain restaraunts. In fact, the only chain restaraunt I'd work at would be fast food.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:05 AM on October 29, 2010

Please excuse my typos.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2010

Bookstore work was a lot of fun for me, but I ended up making no money, because I used up most of my salary at the store. So, in retail, the corollary to "work somewhere that won't drive you crazy" is "don't work where you're addicted to the product."
posted by bardophile at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I did restaurant work on the side. It was physically draining, but it was entertaining and kept me working. I wouldn't take a side job where you have to motivate yourself, because you'll likely be a little tired or distracted. The challenge in getting a good second job at a restaurant is finding a place whose evening shifts start after [5 pm + your transit time] and end before [9 am minus transit time minus 8 hours of sleep minus 1-2 hours to decompress after work (it's really hard to fall asleep right after a restaurant shift)], or where you can work only on the weekend.
posted by salvia at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2010

I worked a full time office job a few years ago (similar work to what I do now, actually) and I worked nights serving at a very nice restaurant. I love the restaurant. I still do. But I hated working there (so exhausting). I, also hated retail (made me feel like a zombie-slave), as it was all I worked during high school. YMMV.

Hilariously enough, I am in your exact position right now. I'm trying to save up a bit more, but my cash flow isn't the highest. So I tried to think of all the things I was good at, and then I searched my local craigslist. Turns out that I was just hired (as of yesterday) as a transcriber for a market research company. It's not the most glamorous/high-paying work, but I know I'm good at it. I know that I can work from home, and that they pay more than minimum wage, which is better than most retail jobs can offer.

Maybe you can check out transcription?
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2010

Oh, and I forgot to mention:

As far as transcription, I can set my own schedule. On day I'd like to work, I can work as little as 2 hours and as much as 8-10 hours. I can also pick days I'd like to work and not work, with as little notice as a day.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2010

I used to work part time at The Container Store and loved it. Now's a good time to apply there for a seasonal job. (As someone else mentioned, now's the time to apply everywhere for a seasonal job. You can always try something and if it doesn't work out, you can leave after the holidays. Container Store stays busy in January and keeps seasonal folks through then, but things taper off in February.)

Pay is good for retail, everyone is fun and nice, they treat employees well, you get a great discount, etc. If you're near a store, I totally recommend it.

Like all retail jobs, there's a lot of time on your feet, sometimes it's crazy/exhausting, and sometimes you get an unpleasant customer. But all in all it's great!

posted by hansbrough at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2010

In college, I always made sure my part-time job served a purpose other than the money, since time management with working and studying is such an issue. Looking to exercise more? Find a job that gets you moving, be it serving in a restaurant or loading packages in a warehouse. Need alone time? Think about consulting/writing work you can do from home. Want free food? Restaurant. Discount on essentials? Grocery clerk. Since it's a part-time job, look for perks that can come with it.
posted by shortyJBot at 10:54 AM on October 29, 2010

I never thought about it this way in the past, so I sorry if I offend anyone with a "it's about the $" comment.

If the main objective is to build up savings and do something tolerable, I don't say why you won't consider doing freelance writing within your current area of expertise. I'd be certain that with 1) your experience and 2) you must have samples, that you can easily earn that you would earn at a retail type job in an hour or so.

Why not spend a few hours sending email letters to companies that do similar work, something along the lines of "I am a freelance writer that specializes in X, Y, Z ...here are my skill sets/things that I can do, blah blah blah." You can find these lists of companies that do simialr types of work by using google "[type of industr] plus "email" (you may luck out), or use linkedin to search within your industry, etc.

Then don't write anything unless they pay a certain amt per hour, project, whatever. But I'm not kidding, whatever you make per hour, double or triple it for freelance type work.
posted by Wolfster at 10:58 AM on October 29, 2010

Do not do retail or restaurants.
Seriously, both retail and restaurants have about a 75% chance of being overly stressful Sisyphean exercise in hair pulling.

What do you do then?


Go for the most non-chain like pizza place and start driving for them. A chain place has greater odds of being stressful while you are in the restaurant, but delivery has a nice built in release valve for that because you spend a good chunk of the day in your car, with your music (or audiobooks!), going at your pace.

I've had a few college kid part time minimum wage jobs, a few adult person full time decent paying jobs, and everything in between. Out of all of them, pizza delivery was the most tolerable. I kind of wish I was still doing it instead of this job I got a college degree to do.
posted by cirrostratus at 11:01 AM on October 29, 2010

If you do any sort of delivery job make sure you're not paying for your own gas.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I got a job at the bar where I used to go on weekends anyway, thus adding to my savings in two ways: 1) with the second paycheck, 2) by decreasing my entertainment expenses because I got in free and got cheap/free drinks when off the clock.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2010

cirrostratus nails it: Pizza Guy is, as I tell my kids about ten times a year, the best job I ever had.

I worked the counter at a more-expensive place in St. Paul (the Green Mill, FWIW), and started driving after a couple of years. Avoid the very bottom of the market: the kind of people who ordered an $18 pizza and then were willing to wait almost an hour for it still tipped pretty well. We had plenty of part-time drivers who would only come in for like three hours of the peak ona given night, and leave the long, boring day shifts for the guys who really wanted it.

Other specialty-food places can be good, too. Scooping ice cream at a Haagen-Dazs was good because you could trade ice cream for stuff from other stores in the mall, but that summer with bursitis in my right (scooping) arm was pretty awful.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:00 PM on October 29, 2010

"(FYI...I've considered doing some freelancing (I do Sales RFPS, product flyers/materials, adobe captivate presentations/script writing, some customer stories etc. but wasn't sure if this is something I could translate into freelancing easy enough.)"

Freelance writing has become significantly easier to get into since the creation of online content brokers like Constant Content and Demand Studios. Once you get the hang of the system and desired writing style, you can probably make more per hour than you would at a restaurant or retail job (unless you find a job a place with relatively high tips or commissions, respectively).
posted by Jacqueline at 7:00 PM on October 29, 2010

A lot of retail places hire temporary staff over the holiday period. You could do this to find out whether you can stand the work in the longer term.

Otherwise, yeah I think retail sucks unless you are in a specific store/environment where you really love the product (tea shop, chocolate shop, bookstore, tech shop...)

In the past I've found tutoring to be quite good for picking up extra money. You can run individual or group lessons on whatever you are an expert in. Technology classes for older/inexperienced people can be lots of fun - teach retired folk how to use email, for example.

I've also thought that one could earn a shitload of money offering to come to the home of people who have just bought a computer, and get it all set up for them, install simple software (virus checkers, word processing, etc), set up their email, etc. It would take about an hour, people like my mother pay $200 for someone to do that for them, and then you leave your number so that if (when) they need troubleshooting ("I shut down my browser and don't know how to get it back!") you can earn even more money from them.

You'd want to advertise around places where older people go (doctors' offices? supermarkets? libraries?)

The most fun part time job I ever had was dressing as a giant penguin for a tourist centre. They also hired me out for birthday parties and that was awesome. If you can clown or do card tricks, or something, you could probably do birthday parties on your own.
posted by lollusc at 7:14 PM on October 29, 2010

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