First Person: Part-time jobs aren’t all bad

What I like about my part-time job at a Value Village in south-end Ottawa is the calmness that settles in when we close the store. The timely hits play on the store’s speakers while I listen to my earbuds. It’s just me and the shelves. Well, and the other workers of course. I get to […]
Photo: Kate Playfair
I work three days a week now while juggling my program. I actually really like my job now because I feel I can do it well.

What I like about my part-time job at a Value Village in south-end Ottawa is the calmness that settles in when we close the store. The timely hits play on the store’s speakers while I listen to my earbuds. It’s just me and the shelves. Well, and the other workers of course.

I get to do my closing duties in the main part of the store without a customer asking me for a furniture slip so they can buy it.

When the store is open, my main tasks are to greet and accept donations from customers so we can supply our store with mostly second-hand stuff. There’s a lot of physical labour. It’s retail but we lift heavy boxes and bags.

But there are other tasks I find fun. For instance, I enjoy sweeping the store sometimes and putting things back where they belong. I’m in charge of the housewares section.

And sometimes I’ll actually have a meaningful conversation with my coworker. We might say, I hate this job,” but we also talk about the funny stuff too.

I work three days a week now while juggling my journalism program. I actually really like my job because of how good I can do it now. I enjoy talking to my coworkers and managers because I feel present. Sure, customers can irritate me, but having a part-time job is fun when you’re young. I feel like a lot of us seek to feel valued. Being a part of team who operates a store is a good feeling to have. I know my part is important.

I’m hardly alone.

Jacob Cahill, a pre-animation drawing foundations student, had been working as a lifeguard with the City of Ottawa until he started his program. He’s not working right now, but he can go back to it when the time comes.

“You feel like you’re doing a lot but you’re not,” said Cahill, about his tasks at work. “You just sit down all day, but I also like teaching kids swimming lessons. It’s fun.”

Like many students working, he has his likes and dislikes.

“Of course, the minimum wage isn’t great, but I’m willing to overlook the wage,” he said.” It’s a job, and I have security in it. I even have a pension plan because my job is actually involved with the city of Ottawa.”

But like Cahill, I have likes and dislikes about my job.

I remember first getting hired back in late May of this year. It was exciting because it was my first job being an 18-year-old college student.

I progressed through the summer having many ups and few lows. However, I overworked myself. It got to the point where I was doing my job decently, but my attitude could have been better. Now I’m not saying I was an ass, but I had a talk with my manager around the end of the summer. He wanted to see improvement in me and so I did.

Thinking about that now, I”m glad that this happened. It gave me a wake up call.

For some people though, part-time work isn’t optional.

As inflation increased to 4 per cent in August from 3.3 per cent the month before, this is very scary for students.

Nowadays, Canadian post-secondary students pay, on average, 2.6 per cent more in tuition in the 2022 academic year than they did the year before, according to a Statistics Canada report.

Fortunately for me, I was never forced to find a job. I never had to work two jobs. I started working because I wanted money. I wanted to feel useful for the summer.

And now, it’s October. I’m established at my job. I know what to do and I’m trustworthy. I can even teach new employees in my department how to do their job.

I also feel like most people don’t like closing, but I honestly do.

In the end, this is just a part time job. I have made a lot of pleasure money where I am fortunate enough to not be forced to spend it on bills just to survive.

I have bought things I’ve wanted like clothes, and they make me feel so good. However, I know when I’m quitting. A better way to say it would be my two weeks’ notice or resignation. This is because I’ll be going into an internship for six weeks.

This isn’t a heartfelt, “I’m so glad I’m quitting.” It’s just how I feel. I feel grateful for my first job. Yeah, it’s Value Village, but I’m secure in it. And I’m gaining a journalism education at the same time.

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