Working for the Weekend

 

BLOGLast week I worked my first shift after a long four months of summer vacation (those of you who’ve read my bio know that I work part time at an independent grocery store). Now that I’ve been working there for a little over a year, I can genuinely say that I enjoy and appreciate my humble, minimum-wage job. But I didn’t always carry such a positive attitude towards part-time work.

Initially, I thought the job hunt would be stressful and lengthy. I had so many different concerns ranging from my lack of fluency in French to my limited qualifications, that I nearly gave up searching before I even started. But with a little encouragement from friends, I decided to bite the bullet and distribute some CVs. Fortunately, my experience was not at all what I had feared. Within an hour of dropping off resumes, three different establishments agreed to take me on and the managers I spoke with seemed to care very little that I wasn’t fluent in French – the extent of their concern revolved around my proficiency with numbers and prices. Now, that’s not to say that French isn’t an absolute must at some establishments, it really varies from place to place. But don’t let an inability to speak French deter you from working in Montreal. As a side note, I wouldn’t suggest giving the impression that you’re more fluent than you are either. I really can’t see that ending in anything other than embarrassment.

While we’re on the topic of honesty, I want to stress the importance of being upfront with prospective employers. In the past, I’ve been encouraged to be less truthful about my availability and priorities. But having since experienced the ensuing repercussions, I wouldn’t pass on that particular tidbit of advice. In fact, being misleading really doesn’t benefit anyone and could just cause your employer to expect too much from you. During my interview for my current position, I was pretty candid about my limitations as a student and it definitely worked in my favor. My manager knows that I’m a full time student from out of town and understands what that entails. As a result, I don’t feel anxiety about having to ask for time off to accommodate exams and holidays.

Once you’ve secured your job, your next most pressing concern is probably the challenge of balancing school and work. So to those of you who may be hesitant to add yet another item to your already demanding list of commitments, my advice is this: if you’re good with time management, the balance won’t be difficult to maintain. Contrary to popular belief, working can be a useful tool for stress management. For me, being focused on a non-school related task completely takes my mind off of whatever it is that’s stressing me out, whether it’s a group project, a looming deadline or a fast approaching midterm. Also, let’s not forget that going to work is the most legitimate excuse you could possibly conjure to take an extended study-break.

 

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