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Is a Part-Time Job Right for You? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Lakshmi Hutchinson

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As a result of COVID-19, many people’s work lives have been turned upside down. If you were let go, had to put your education plans on hold, or were suddenly left without childcare options, you may be wondering if a part-time job in the nonprofit sector is the right move for you. It’s important to think through what you want out of part-time work, and whether it will be the right fit.

1. Does this work for my schedule?

For many people, a part-time job—whether as an employee or an independent contractor—is attractive because of the flexibility. After all, if you have to look after children, or take college classes online, a full-time position may leave you stretched thin. But there are still a few things you should ask yourself:

  • Does this job have a fixed schedule every day? If you have an unchanging weekly schedule, this type of job would be perfect for you. However, if you take classes a few mornings a week, it might not work out to have a part-time job that could overlap with coursework.
  • Will you need to have a quiet workspace available at all times? If you have kids at home or if your live-in partner is working remotely too, your home may be chaotic at times. Although the pandemic situation has made employers somewhat more empathetic to working parents and people living in cramped spaces, a job that’s heavy on phone or video communications can be a challenge in these situations..
  • How might COVID-19-related changes in public transportation affect commute times? Challenges may apply to on-site roles too! If you need to take the bus, for example, there may be limits on ridership, which result in longer waits. Make sure to take that into account when working out your schedule. 

2. Can I manage without a full salary and benefits?

Obviously, if you’re considering a part-time role you are aware that you will likely (but not necessarily) be taking home less money than you did before. The potential lack of benefits can be the toughest part in making a decision about part-time work. 

  • Take a hard look at your budget and see how long you can manage on a part-time paycheck. If you currently work full time and are considering dropping down to part time (as many women have had to do during the pandemic), this is of course a greater consideration for you.  
  • Carefully consider your healthcare. Some employers do offer health insurance to part-timers who work less than 30 hours per week, but many do not. And in the case of independent contractors, you’re on your own. In that case you will have to buy your own health insurance unless you qualify for Medicaid. Before making any decisions, look into what it will cost you to not have coverage through work. 
  • Will you be able to manage without certain benefits? In addition to health insurance, there are other full-time benefits (like retirement plans) that you will not see with a part-time job. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them, so you understand what you may be missing. 

3. Could this lead to a full-time role? (And does that matter?)

One final consideration when deciding on a part-time role is whether you would be interested in it becoming full time. For some people, the reduced salary or lack of benefits may be temporarily worth it if you see it becoming a full-time career. But if there’s no guarantee that it could lead to something full time, would you still be interested? For others it may not matter, and the continued paycheck and flexibility may be enough to make part-time work an attractive option. 

In uncertain times, any job can seem welcome, but it’s always good to do your homework and consider the pros and cons of part-time work and whether it will be the right fit for your situation. And remember, you can find part-time opportunities on Idealist!

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Illustration by Marian Blair.

Lakshmi Hutchinson

Lakshmi Hutchinson is a freelance writer with experience in the nonprofit, education, and HR fields. She is particularly interested in issues of educational and workplace equity, and in empowering women to reach their professional goals. She lives in Glendale, California with her husband, twin girls, and tuxedo cat.

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