December 28, 2010 at 7:04 am (Uncategorized)

A little over a month ago I started a job at what I’ll call The Smile Factory, so I don’t broadcast too much personal information.  I absolutely adore working there,  but at the moment it is only a part-time position.  It covers the bills, but it doesn’t leave any wiggle room or money to put in savings.  To make things work, I “temp” when I can on my days off.

For those of you unfamiliar with temping, it refers to temporary employment.  I was unfamiliar with the practice until after I graduated, but essentially it involves registering with a staffing agency that has you complete a series of administrative/editorial tests and then places you in short-term (from one day to several months) positions.  The staffing agencies have contracts with businesses and then you are paid through the staffing agency.  Usually the assignments are reception or administrative work, but occasionally you’ll get work at a trade show or other unconventional setting.

“But Dyan, I thought you were done with the 9-5 world!  Isn’t this what you were trying to leave behind?  How is this any different from your old job, except for the fact that you have to pay for your own health insurance?”  Leave me alone, okay?!  I see where you’re coming from, but there are a handful of reasons why temping is different, and I’ll even say preferable.  Let me explain.

The biggest benefit of temping for me is flexibility.  You tell your staffing agency when you are free/want to work, and they send you on assignments based on your availability.  This allows me to go on auditions, pick up extra hours at The Smile Factory,  or simply take the day off to go wait in line at Hot Doug’s.  There are no guilt trips if you need to take time off, and nobody takes it personally if you have to turn down an assignment.

One of the other benefits to temping, which I found impossible to do at a regular 9-5 job, is that you don’t have to care.  Let me elaborate, so I don’t just sound like a big apathetic jerk.  Every workplace has their dramas- from the passive aggressive notes left when someone breaks the copy machine to the resentment that breeds when a round of promotions happens.  For some people it’s easy to let these things roll off their back,  but it’s difficult when you’re invested in your job.   My blood still boils when I hear about the shenanigans at my former workplace.  (I know, let it go, Dyan, just let it go…)  When you temp, however, you’re just making a guest appearance.  You get to breeze in, do your job, and leave without having the onus of any of the workplace’ neuroses on you.    Did the marketing department get bigger holiday bonuses than the IT department?  You don’t work there, so it doesn’t matter to you!  Petty workplace grievances can really do a number on your spirit, so managing to avoid them can do wonders for your state of mind.

Another nice thing about temping is that you get to meet a variety of new people.  At the very least, it keeps things interesting.  At the very best, you get to network and form relationships where you might not have expected it.  For example, I did some temp work at an ad agency where I worked with some really lovely people.  They liked the cut of my gib, and now they ask for me first when they’re looking for someone to come in.  Last time I worked there they sent me home with a bag of fresh fruit, which was awesome.  I’ve also made friends with fellow temps who I occasionally run into around town at auditions or shows, since the temp scene has a lot of actor folks in it. 

While I can’t guarantee fresh fruit or friendship, I still heartily endorse temping for people who are either unemployed or looking for part-time work.  Especially for those who might not want another 9-5 job, but who still have the skills and don’t mind using them.  Every now and then you get a miserable temp gig (like the time I had to spend all day putting mailing labels on envelopes), but remember that it’s a temp job, and if you don’t want to you never have to go back!


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