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Who Is Temping? Overwhelming Growth of Temping…

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Maybe the more appropriate question is who isn't temping? The overwhelming growth in the temp industry has radically changed the image and expectations of those individuals who are labeled temps. Here’s just a sampling of people who are finding that temporary work has definite advantages.

Working Parents

More often than not, these are working mothers (two third of the temporary population are women) who find that the flexibility of temporary work suits their hectic schedules and allows them to meet family responsibilities. In between car pools, scouting, Little League, and home life, temporary work is an excellent way to enjoy a career and care for children and a spouse. Some parents work two or three days a week, some more, some less, again, when you temp, the choice is yours. Even more convenient is the ability to take off for children's vacations, whether during the school year or summer. Some working mothers tell us that knowing they can be home if a child is ill and not feel guilty about missing a day of work is a real sanity-saver.

Some women report that by working as temps, they feel that they can "have it air without burning out". Elaine Cartwright reserves every Thursday and Friday as her work days to temp.

Students and Recent College Graduates

Temping was not traditionally a safe route for recent graduates, yet the eighties have made this path not only a safe one but almost a trend. Today, graduates are opting for temp work as an answer to several employment dilemmas. It is an opportunity to explore industries and specific companies, and get an all-important foot in the door at their ideal employer. Very often, competition is high at choice organizations for entry-level positions; but an individual who comes in as a temp not only gets to test the waters for himself or herself but has an opportunity to show a firm what he or she can do. Temporary positions can and do lead to permanent employment, but the choice is yours. Students also like temping in order to build some credible business experience apart from typical college-held jobs, such as lifeguarding, and cashier. Says one graduate.

I built an impressive roster of work references through temping. When I went on the interview for the job I really wanted and could say my references were from two big-name ad agencies (both from temp assignments), I knew I had the job.

Valerie Jacobsen temped while getting her MBA at Indiana University. Jacobsen used her temping experience almost as if it were a corporate internship.

The people I worked with saw beyond my typing skills. When they asked me why I was temping, and wasn't I overqualified for the work I was doing I didn't hesitate to tell them my background. I also told them I was there to see the inner workings of a successful company, and this type of firsthand experience can't be taught in business school.

Jacobsen s assigned employer kept her on for an eight-week, July through August, assignment. "Originally, it was just for three days; but we liked each other. I got to do some interesting things like preparing budgets and checking over financial reports."

Reentry Women

Many women are returning to the workforce, either by choice or from necessity. The easiest and fastest way to building confidence and skills is through temping. A woman who has been out of the labor force for as little as three years has a great deal of technology to catch up with. Returnees who haven't worked for many years are often nervous and anxious about reentering the workplace. Temping is a way to ease the trauma of the career experience: Facing a job is a little less terrifying if it is only one or two days a week, near home, and sounds like something she wants to do. As a temp, a returnee can brush up on old skills (rusty, but not completely forgotten) and, more importantly, learn the fine points of the automated office. One returnee reported to us that she learned word processing while on an assignment.

I sort of taught myself at someone else's expense. When I first started working, using a complicated copier was scary enough; but electronic mail was a complete unknown! I temped and learned a little at a time. I never would have made it if I jumped right into a full-time position. Temping gave me confidence and skills.
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