Taking on temporary assignments can be a way for college students and new grads to do their own testing -- with respect to their career plans, at least. By working for a temporary employment agency, they can test-drive potential careers, while saving time and money on the wrong ones. A Career/Company Test-Drive
Chances are you've heard of temping, and you probably already realize that it's a good way to make a little extra money and perhaps learn a few new skills at the same time. But what you may not know is how empowering temping can be for a college student or recent grad. It provides the rare chance to try out jobs in specific industries and companies without a long-term commitment.
"The joy of temping is that both the temp service and the employee are using each other to each's gain," says Phil Blair, executive officer of Manpower Staffing Services of San Diego, the third-largest Manpower temp-firm franchise in the US.
Students can temp to gain exposure to a specific industry-related skill set -- for example, marketing, venture capital, law or banking -- or to get a foot in the door of a specific company, according to Blair. "Meanwhile, the staffing agent is getting an opportunity to have a very bright and articulate candidate represent his or her firm in an important assignment that needs to be filled," he says.
Save Money, Time
Temping can be financially lucrative, too. In addition to the immediate cash you pocket for your temping efforts, you might also save yourself money in the long term, possibly tens of thousands of dollars, by temping your way to the conclusion that you love or loathe the career path on which you chose to embark.
A common case in point: Many college students or recent grads who temp in a law firm for a summer "immediately change their majors away from law," says Blair, thereby avoiding $50,000 or more in lost law school tuition, not to mention the heartache and misery of a bad choice.
Conversely, some students and grads who temp in law "fall madly in love with it and know they've confirmed what they want to study and devote their career to," says Blair. Thus, a little validation via temping might make those law-school tuition or loan payments easier to stomach later.
Temping Brief by Nature
Best of all, temping is, well, temporary by definition. So a bunch of temp assignments on your resume won't turn off prospective employers.
"College students can temp without any kind of resume penalty, because they aren't expected to stay in one position for a long time while they're in school, and the career exploration upside is huge," says Anna Ivey, author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions.
"And these days, even recent college graduates aren't penalized for temping for a while, because it looks more professional for people to do their homework on different careers and niches by temping than to accept a series of ostensibly permanent jobs and being faithful to none," Ivey says. "Employers would much rather see a serial temp than a serial job-hopper, even if the actual job experience ends up being the same on both types of resumes."
Get Started Temping
It doesn't take much to get started in the world of temping. You can search for temp jobs on Monster, as well as crack open your local Yellow Pages and start contacting local temp agencies. And don't be afraid to be picky.
"When searching for the right staffing service to fill your needs, asking to be sent on a specific skill-oriented assignment or to a specific company is very appropriate," Blair stresses. "And search through the staffing firms until you find the one whose customer list meets your needs."