Thursday, June 14, 2007

Part-time v. Full-time Work

I'm not a big fan of part-time work. At least not for me. Certain kinds of part-time work seem to be a part-time salary for a full-time job.

I ran a youth offender program on 20 hours a week as a contractor at $10 an hour---a terrible arrangement because I had to pay all my own taxes, had no benefits, and still had the expectation of keeping a program running as if there was a full-time staff member present. I quit after 3 months.

I had come to the youth-offender program from two years of teaching including one year in which I was salaried at 2/3 time (for teaching 4 of 6 classes) for a whopping $13,700/year. Because teaching high school was so new to me and so overwhelming, I didn't realize that it took me more energy to prepare to teach 4 different classes than it did for someone else to teach 6 classes that were the same. And I didn't realize that I should have objected to substituting for other teachers during my prep periods, even though it was a requirement of my contract. I could chalk these examples to being young and naive, but I hear about these arrangements fairly frequently. By the time I got to graduate school, I had given up on the idea of part-time work, and just worked full-time.

I think this particular challenge originates when a company or institution only finds money for a part-time salary despite the fact that the job and their expectations are for full-time work as with the youth-offender program and teaching. But these arrangements can also be driven by employees when they aren't clear of their own boundaries For example, someone tries to scale back at work and takes a part-time salary with the expectation of less hours, only she works close to the same amount of hours for half the salary. How Part-time is Part-time, Really, is the experience of a doctor who goes to part-time at....get this...40-50 hours a week.

I've certainly had part-time arrangements in college that worked within my schedule for 10-20 hours/week because my expectations were clear and so were those of my employers. Outside of college? Not so much.

Just something to think about. If you want to share part-time arrangements that work or don't work, please post in comments.