Career Development

It’s What You Make of It That Counts

Press To Open Door by Vagabond Shutterbug (flickr)

These past few months I’ve become somewhat of a temp-advocate for all that these agencies have done for me, especially in this economic climate, but a post on Brazen Careerist got the wheels spinning once again. I went into detail with a guest post over on Careerealism a few weeks ago, but I stand firm that any situation is really what you make of it.

I first started temping when I was in college, where I was lucky enough to continue with the same company for three years. At first I thought it was a good idea so that I kept occupied during my breaks from school, so that I could save money for nights out with friends or impromptu road trips. Then I began to realize just how beneficial it might be in other respects. I was working in an office setting, learning hands-on skills and interacting with co-workers. For all intents and purposes, though I was still in college, I was a professional.

After working with this department for a full summer break, I was hired on with the company for seasonal work. When I graduated college, they welcomed me back in a full-time position. In the nine months I was there as company employee, I was promoted twice.

They knew I was continuing my job search as I looked for something in my field, and when I left for a job in corporate communications, it was bittersweet. I had formed real connections there and I was grateful for the opportunities that they had provided me. Six months passed in this new position and while I loved my job, I made the difficult, but right, decision to resign. I was having little luck with the job search immediately afterwards, so I began looking at temp agencies, remembering what that first one had done for me.

I’ve been temping for a little over a year and a half now, and while it sometimes is frustrating and discouraging, while I long to have a full-time position in my field, I’ve found that the positives have far outweighed the negatives.

With each and every assignment, I’ve learned and gained more experience that I can further apply to whatever new position I’m in. I’ve learned about manufacturing, non-profits, and higher education, all the while meeting and connecting with people throughout my community. I’ve learned that I have a high-rate of retention when learning new materials and systems and that I’m fairly quick to adapt to new work environments. I’ve been able to say no when a job doesn’t appeal to me, but more often than not, I’ve taken the position with enthusiasm. And while it certainly wasn’t paid leave, having a temp job allowed me the flexibility to take three weeks off and travel. I had a job lined up the day after I got back.

Most of my assignments are temporary because a person has been on maternity or medical leave and the option for a long-term, full-time position isn’t available; however, I have recommendations from each job and doors have been opened and other positions offered.

Like anything, I believe that temporary work is what you make of it. Are you going into it just to make ends meet? Is a paycheck at the end of each week satisfactory? Or will you view these as opportunities to learn, grow, and experience so that you may apply these lessons, skills, and experiences to whatever else may come along? If the temp agency is a good, legitimate one, they will (usually) work with you to land the placements that you want, and yes, that might even mean a permanent position if it’s to the benefit of both parties.

Temping may not be the best fit for everyone, but in most cases, it’s meant as an temporary alternative, a foot in the door, a chance to develop yourself as a professional, learn about different industries and trades, and get ready to take that next step towards what you do really want.

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