Debbie Schlender-Way temped for over a year as a word processing operator and was ultimately hired in a permanent capacity by one of the companies where she had been on a two-month assignment.
I can operate a lot of different systems: an IBM PC, a Display writer, an NBl, a Lanier, a Macintosh. It was easy to pick up different equipment after a while; you can teach yourself I first got involved in temp work because I was very unhappy in my permanent job. So, I quit and signed up with different services. I was working within two days... It’s a good way to find full-time work. I had three or four job offers within a year at my assignments. When I got married and moved to California, I continued to temp. I was able to find out exactly what a job was all about before committing to it full-time; eventually, I went permanent at an assignment.
It can be frustrating waiting for a client to trust you. First, they watch to see what you can do; sometimes you get bored waiting for them to come around. You also miss the benefits when you temp for some services... My advice would be to sign up with as many services as you can. Be particular about the jobs you take. Don't necessarily take the first job that comes your way. You can always tell a service you'll get right back to them and then check with another service to see if they have a more interesting assignment for you... There is a lot of work out there; so you can afford to select jobs that appeal to you.
Deborah Trotter, San Francisco, California
Deborah Trotter is an attorney currently temping in California.
I worked for a large-size law firm in San Francisco for a few years, but I really didn’t enjoy it. I went to a sjnaller firm where I met people who were doing temp work. When I left that position, I looked for temp work for myself. I don’t see myself working full-time right now... I’m temping primarily because of my child, and I like the idea of taking time off when I need to. My husband works at a big San Francisco law firm, and I have occasionally used his office library on weekends. Even if I didn’t have a child, I think I would work on a temporary basis because I like the freedom and flexibility it offers.
One of the main advantages is the lack of stress. You are not on the fast, or partnership, track. You can pick and choose your assignments. The money is good; I get paid hourly. If I work eighty hours a week, I get paid for all of them; but if an associate at a law firm works eighty hours, he or she just gets straight salary. I also like seeing the inside of a variety of firms; it is a real learning experience, although it is sometimes difficult to get used to the varying routines.
The last place I worked as a temp before my son was born was a major law firm, and they treated me just like one of their associates. I haven t experienced it; but for some, there may be a concern about status and respect from your peers if you work on a temp basis. However, since associates move around a great deal, I don’t think this is much of an issue.
Albert Rego, Mission Viejo, California
Albert Rego is a scientist.
I worked as a temp to optimize cash flow while I was trying to get my own business off the ground. A5 a technical person, you can go in and address a problem from a scientific viewpoint, without worrying about the bureaucracies of the organization. You are also able to work more efficiently; you have the power to make decisions because you have been hired as a technical expert... You also find a certain prestige associated with your position. People do what you ask without question. When you are technically competent, people respect your intellectual expertise.
I advise a new temp to negotiate up-front. Once you are on the job, there is no leverage as to salary, job specifications, and so forth. Also - for tax purposes-go in with your last name as a corporation. Present yourself as a company, not as an individual... Make it clear to the client that you are not dependent on them; they are dependent on you for your expertise. And make sure you understand the parameters of the job, because it is your reputation that is on the line. You have to be competent to be called back. If you are going to make a career out of temping, make sure your service understands your goals up-front; and whether you want to continue to work as a temp or parlay your temp job into full-time employment... they need to know what you’re about or else they can’t help you.