Making Two Jobs Work

By Mark Grzeskowiak

I believe that the key to holding down two jobs at once is having a good working relationship with the secretaries at both places of employment.

A few years ago, I graduated with a degree that added another acronym to my name, but didn't lead to secure employment. Jobs in my field were hard to come by, and the competition was fierce.

Fortunately, the situation wasn't hopeless. Even though there weren't many full-time jobs in my profession, there were many employers willing to offer me part-time employment in related fields. I did the math, and figured that a paycheck based on two part-time jobs (and some freelance work on the side) added up to the equivalent of one full-time job. But there were some issues:

  • I had trouble managing my time. It wasn't a problem on the job, but outside of work. Whenever one of my employers needed someone to fill a shift, I made myself available. If a freelance project presented itself, I took it on. Work occupied me on the weekends, when friends were arranging get-togethers. And it occupied me on weeknights, as I rode the subway to my second (evening) job and sometimes watched, with envy, others on their way home. It's very easy to burn out in that type of situation.

  • It was difficult adjusting to being treated differently. In a workplace that's mostly full-timers with some part-timers, the part-timers are treated differently. They're not really treated as part of the team, and they're often not in on the in-jokes. Communication sometimes suffers, with the full-timers in the know, and the part-timers left out. It takes some time to get used to, and some initiative and persistence to solve.

  • As a part-timer, it's more difficult to handle mistakes and setbacks. When you work full-time, you have a supportive network of coworkers to help you through problems that affect on-the-job performance. But when you're a part-timer in a department of full-timers, sometimes that support isn't there. In my case, the lack of support made me more critical with myself about errors, and it made me blow errors out of proportion and become inordinately stressed about them.

  • Finally, I realized how important it was to always have a good line of communication between my supervisors and me. There's nothing worse than arriving at work, only to find out that your shift has been cancelled. This brings me back to the value of maintaining a good relationship with secretaries.

    From a practical, day-to-day perspective, secretaries tend to be much more aware of what is going on at a workplace than their supervisors are. From the latest gossip to the location of missing equipment, they know everything. More importantly, secretaries can make you feel like you're part of a workplace that you really aren't part of. It may seem like a small thing, but that little sense of belonging helps to overcome the insecurity that often accompanies working two part-time jobs, especially if neither of them is permanent.

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