By: Sarah Fisher, Co-ops & Careers Graduate Assistant for 2022-2023
Having a volunteer position or a side job is a great way to supplement your education, position you well for your interests, and fill a gap in your experiences. When I was in graduate school, not all of my interests were being met by my primary job or in my coursework, so I decided to pursue a side job. You might be thinking, “how do I even find time for that?” If you even have one free day in a week, you might be able to volunteer or find a side job. Plus, now that I’m searching for full-time jobs, I have even more experience to draw from and to help me stand out as an applicant.
Who should volunteer or get a side job?
A volunteer position or side job may be for you if…
- You have 8-15 extra hours in the week in addition to your coursework and any other job(s)
- You want to break into an industry other than the one your major traditionally prepares students for
- You’re looking to further develop skills that you learned about in class
What’s the value of volunteering or getting a side job?
Volunteer or part-time positions can often be unpaid or low paying, so what’s the point? The value of volunteering or getting a side job lies in what you will learn from doing the work. This is an opportunity, in addition to any co-ops you have/will have, to learn from professionals in the industry you hope to break into after graduation. It can also help you stand out among other applicants with similar profiles.
Maybe there’s a skill you were hoping to learn more about at your co-op, but the opportunity wasn’t there. With a little effort, you may be able to find a volunteer position or a side job that would allow you to focus on just that. This could be an option for you if you want to change industries as well.
Where do I start?
You can find volunteer positions by searching traditional job search boards as you would with finding a co-op – i.e. LinkedIn, Indeed, Idealist, etc. However, networking is also a great way to identify informal opportunities. By using the LinkedIn alumni tool, you can find alumni from Wentworth who work in companies that you are interested in. They may be able to share with you – now, or at some point down the road – if there is an opportunity to volunteer or work part-time in their office.
You might be surprised, though, how far just talking to your peers can take you. I discovered my most recent side job by talking to a colleague about her past work experiences, expressing interest, and she helped connect me with the hiring team when there was a vacancy.
Play the long game
When networking, it’s important not to ask for a job right off the bat. The purpose of networking is not necessarily to get a job, but to make connections to people who can potentially help you find a job or attest to your skills in the future. Read more about how to approach networking conversations here.