When I was in college I got a part-time job at Best Buy as a merchandiser, stocking shelves and unloading trucks. I sold a few things (sort of by accident), and interacted well with the customers, so one thing led to another and the sales manager offered me a job on the sales team. About 30 minutes after I accepted, he came back and asked,"By the way, do you want to be full time?"
I was 19 years old and a college student. I had no idea what working a full-time job meant. I agreed, mostly because I wanted to make my new manager happy, and the hours didn't seem all that different. I soon realized, however, that I had overextended myself.
I don't want you to make a blind decision like I did. Here are some things you should know about the differences between full-time and part-time jobs.
Depending on the company you work for, the line between part-time and full-time employment can be different. Most companies will require full-time employees to work somewhere between 32 and 40 hours per week. This number is important, because it tells you how many hours you're guaranteed on a weekly basis. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sets the benchmark for full-time employees a little higher, at 35 hours a week.
Like having a flexible schedule that revolves around your life? You can kiss that goodbye with a full-time job. As a full-time employee, most employers will require you to be available most, if not all, of the week. Trying to fit 40 hours into night and weekend shifts is difficult.
Full-time employees may get paid by the hour (just like part-time), or they may receive a flat salary. This is not usually something that can be negotiated with an employer. The difference between hourly and salaried (exempt) employees is that hourly employees are paid overtime (1.5 times their hourly wage) for any time worked over 40 hours per week. However, you'll find that many full-time employees are paid a little more than their part-time counterparts. It wouldn't be unusual to see a pay increase with your role change.
This might be the most confusing, and certainly the most paperwork-heavy, part of your transition. Full-time employees are usually offered a compensation package, which includes things like: insurance (health, dental, life), paid time off (vacation, sick), retirement (401(k) plan) and other company-specific perks, ranging from reimbursements (childcare, fitness, education) to stock options. It's important for you to understand exactly what you're being offered. Don't feel weird about admitting you don't know what something is. The person at your company who handles human resources will be happy to help.
This really could go either way. Some people see part-time employees as less expendable, because they often make less money, and they don't receive benefits. Others say that full-time employees are more highly trained and aren't as easy to replace. What is safe to say is that neither offers significantly more job security than the other.
If I had thought harder about these five things, I can't say that I would have made a different decision about going full time, but it would have been great to be more informed. I would have taken the decision more seriously, for sure. And I would have taken advantage of more of the benefits of being a full-time employee (other than the bigger paycheck).
As it turned out, once I accepted the full-time position, I got promoted to supervisor within three months. Unfortunately, school ended up taking a back seat because I was unable to find an appropriate balance between work and school. I ended up having to leave the company to go back to school and finish my degree - which brought me to a full-time position at Snagajob.