The part-time job, something of a privilege nowadays, involves working only part of the available working time (according to the crumbling Oxford dictionary perched beside me). There is a stage in your life when you begin your first part-time job, normally around the glorious age of sixteen one begins the old nine to six grind.
The first couple of days are like a blitz of awkward fumblings and confusion. In this new hectic and foreign environment orders are hurled your way, not knowing what the hell you're at you or what you should be doing so you just stand there, terrified to do a thing in case you you cause the entire shop to shut down. Your confidence in this strange setting has completely dwindled, forcing you to doublecheck absolutely everything.
The poor, unfortunate employee who happens to be standing next to you casually and calmly answers your hundreds of questions. "Is it ok if I put paper rubbish in that bin?" "What do I do if a customer is looking for a size that we don't have?" You become completely helpless, a customer who needs to return a pair of sunglasses becomes your biggest nightmare as you begin to ask "why me? There are at least ten other cash desks that he could have picked!"
My first job as a 'temporary sales advisor,' was in the retail sector. I had attended my first ever formal interview in the office. This in itself captivated me; tall and skinny fashionistas counting money, screens monitoring everyone in the shop, bundles of tags and merchandise were piled in the corner of the small room. I perched myself in the swivel chair, fidgeting with my school skirt (seemingly my school uniform was the most professional looking outfit in my wardrobe at the time). I then watched in bewilderment as a tall goddess floated into the boiling hot room, who happened to be the manager.
Every step she took made the fifty bracelets she was wearing jingle loudly. I self-consciously looked down at my bare and barren wrist, seeing only the scribble of the trusty old bic biro reminding me to bring in my P.E gear the following day. Then I endured the inquisition. Have you worked anywhere before? Why would you like to work in fashion? Who is your style icon? Luckily I had done my research and recited the contents of that month's 'Elle' magazine. I had my first ever job.
Since then I've worked in footwear, catering and the dreaded door-to-door sales. Door to door sales was possibly the worst thing I have ever experienced. It didn't possess the regularity of other part – time jobs (ie, regular shifts with a structured pay scheme.) This job involved travelling all over the west of Ireland, knocking on people's doors and letting them know politely that if they don't donate 50 cent a day they will essentially be killing the entire population of Africa. Well, we didn't quite use that wording but with excellent trickery, manipulation and guilt tripping people signed up. Of course it was all above board, we were trying to get people to donate to a well known charity but it just wasn't for me. My co-workers were greedy, materialistic and self-indulgent. I remember standing in a circle in one of those motivational rallies where music blared and we all had to express our dreams and ambitions for the following day. (My only ambition was to have a nice lie in and spend my day watching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon) One particular ambition stuck in my head since that day, one of the women piped up with unbearable enthusiasm; "I want to get rich because money means power." It was at that moment I realised that I loathed every second of the job, every doorbell was pressed with unyielding disdain for what was to follow. I lasted a mere two weeks.
But does anyone ever really enjoy a part-time job? Afterall, it isn't the final destination, it's money for that trip abroad next summer, it's the budget for summer nights out and more than likely it's the money we need to get by in college. I have trundled in and out of work day in and day out, giving it my all ofcourse, throwing big toothy smiles and 'hi, how are yous' in the path of disinterested customers. Whether we enjoy blowing up balloons for kids parties, selling elastic for granny knickers or scanning groceries, at the end of the long and tiring day it allows us to do the above and aren't we lucky to have an income that isn't from the social welfare office? It's easy to take a part-time job for granted, wasting hard earned cash on impulsive purchases such as an ornamental chest of drawers about the size of my hand, all because 'it looked pretty.'
It's easy to forget that in Easter, thousands of Irish people trundled through the bleak shopping centres in search of one of these elusive creatures, handing out perfectly typed and jam-packed CVs to anyone who would take them, proved fruitless. The typical response a student hears today is 'I'm sorry we're not hiring' and out you go, the big toothy smile now completely vanished along with your confidence. From someone who has meandered through the streets in search of the 'part-time staff required' sign, all I can say is just keep trying, the more Cvs you hand in, the more likely you are to get that sweet phone call offering you an interview, then the ball is in your court and it's up to you to dazzle them with your expertise!
One piece of advice I will give is don't wear your school uniform to the interview, for some reason it worked for me back in 2008 when jobs were plentiful but I can't imagine anyone would be so lucky today.