When I was a kid, I never had a summer job. I worked all summer, but I almost always kept that job during school, until I graduated university. I’m no stranger to seasonal work, though. One winter I took a job as seasonal help with the LCBO at Christmastime. The hours were long but not exceptionally demanding, the staff was great, the money was pretty good, and the customers were amazing. It was a rewarding experience, and though I only worked for the LCBO for a few weeks, it offered several useful skills, including SmartServe Training, handling cash (which I hadn’t done a lot of until that point), and other retail skills which I was able to use in subsequent part time and full time positions.
Later, I worked as an occasional teacher with a couple school boards. While that’s not generally considered seasonal, teaching gigs tend to dry up in the summer.
I know that not all seasonal work is like this, but it is the season. So what are some of the pros and cons?
Work of most kinds does not look bad on a resume. When I was applying for work fresh out of school, there was no reason not to include my seasonal work at LCBO, especially since I had subsequent work at Brewers Retail (now The Beer Store), and it was appropriate to my situation. If you’re working seasonally, include it. It shows that you’re hardworking. You can also learn valuable skills. I learned about managing my till, how to handle credit and debit transactions, and lots of customer service skills.
It’s not always great. Often it isn’t. But sometimes it is. Sometimes temporary work is rewarded a bit better: occasional teachers make slightly more than a full time teacher would at the same level of experience, because 12 months of salary is paid over 10 months (assuming I recall correctly, and only in Ontario). But if you need a little extra money, this isn’t a bad strategy.
Hate this job? It’ll be over soon. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s something.
What are you doing next week? Next month? In four months? With seasonal work you may have no idea. Sometimes it’s a good stopgap, but you don’t want to rely on it if you have regular expenses.
If you’re only going to be a few weeks, there’s not much of a cause for training, so you’re likely to be performing duties that require little to none. Manual labour, for instance. It may be hard, but it may not require much skill.
The market for seasonal labour tends to include the disadvantages, so employers may be inclined to take advantage: poor wages, no security, few protections… It can be dangerous in many ways. Protect yourself.
Seasonal work is just that: seasonal. Don’t count on it for anything, but don’t discount it, either. It can help you with future opportunities if you pick it carefully, and it can also help a person through a hard time. Know your rights, and make sure that you are being compensated.