February 17, 2009
Lesser known pros of working a second job
By now, we all know that first, second, and third jobs are hard to come by. And that those who take a second job to earn some extra cash have been known to skimp on sleep, social life, and balance.
But I was struck by the refreshing points on working a second job that freelance journalist Caitlin Kelly raised in her New York Times "Preoccupations" column this past weekend. A former newspaper reporter, Kelly says she gave up sending out resumes for full-time work long ago and settled into a career of stringing together freelance writing assignments.
However, the isolation of working solo was driving her batty. So 18 months ago, she began working a retail job one day a week, where she earns under $12 an hour, far less than she makes as a freelance writer during the rest of the workweek.
Not surprisingly, Kelly found that rude, disparaging, self-entitled customers come with the territory of working a retail job. But she also found a few unexpected perks that she did not enjoy during her newsroom days as a staff reporter.
"In journalism," Kelly writes, "my workplaces often felt like rooms filled with balloons, enormous and fragile egos rubbing and squeaking up against one another until, inevitably, several burst with a bang."
But, she continues, "In retail, divas are fired or soon quit."
What's more, for the first time in her career, the measure of her success isn't subjective -- it's concrete:
"In retail," she writes, "numbers win. I've become one of my store's top salespeople, and, for the first time in 30 years of professional life, I know my clear value to my employer. Our individual sales are posted on a wall for everyone to see. I like that clarity. Social capital means nothing here. Our retail sales floor is the levelest playing field I've yet seen."
If you, too, have taken a second or third job in recent months, either to shake up your work environment as Kelly did or because you need the extra cash, I'd love to hear what unexpected pros (or cons) you've discovered: Have you unearthed a new skill you didn't know you possessed? Flexed a workplace muscle you thought had atrophied long ago? Found a preferable corporate culture to the one you came from? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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