Maybe you're about to graduate into the real world with little or no work experience. Or maybe you're feeling clueless about what career you should pursue or what type of organization you should work for. Or perhaps you just plain need to earn some money to pay for school, rent and food.
Whatever your particular circumstances, temping -- doing short-term work assignments for a temporary staffing agency that matches willing workers with employers that need work done -- can probably help you as a college student or recent graduate. Why? Because temping, while not the perfect solution to all of your problems, does offer a considerable number of potential benefits where your career is concerned.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Temping
If you work as a temp, whether for a few days, a few weeks or even a few months or years, you will:
- Gain practical work experience, either in your chosen industry or a different field.
- Make some money -- more than $10 an hour on average, according to the American Staffing Association (ASA), an industry trade group -- and often receive basic benefits like health insurance as well.
- See your chosen field, or a different one, from the inside instead of simply reading or talking about it.
- Get a glimpse of different companies and organizations, and see firsthand how they function.
- Meet people who will actually get to know you and evaluate your work performance, just in case a full-time, permanent position opens up in the company you're working for. Some 72 percent of temps are offered permanent positions with the companies they temp for, the ASA reports.
- Learn new skills on the job, as 70 percent of temps do, according to the ASA.
- Receive formal training in new skill areas, as 90 percent of temps do, the ASA says.
You'll also have a flexible schedule -- since you can choose when and how much you want to work -- and be able to demonstrate your adaptability, your capacity to learn quickly and your ability to hit the ground running on the job.
There are potential downsides, of course. You may not get the type or number of work assignments you'd like, and at times you might feel like a second-class citizen surrounded by permanent employees who know you only as The Temp. You might also find yourself in the middle of political battles between permanent staffers, as in the case of one temp who was assigned to do absolutely nothing, literally, all day just so one permanent staffer could prove a point to a colleague. (The temp never did figure out what that point was supposed to be.)
But if you like variety and challenge, and you're interested in gaining new skills, new networking contacts, new experiences and new career insights, temping will likely be a good fit for you.
How to Get Started
To get going on your temping journey, check out the Monster job search, or look in your local yellow pages under headings like Employment Agencies or Employment Contractors -- Temporary Help to find temp firms in your area. Then call one or more of them to set up an initial appointment. (Note: Their services will be free to you as a job seeker; the employers using the agencies pay the bills.)
Typically, each agency you contact will have you fill out an application and submit your resume. You'll then participate in an interview with a company recruiter who will attempt to pinpoint both your skills and areas of interest. In many cases, you'll also take a battery of tests, particularly abilities and skills assessments, so plan on your meeting taking at least a couple of hours.
Once the recruiter has an idea of the types of assignments that will be a good fit for you, you'll be ready to start gaining the experience you need, exploring that industry you want to learn more about or making some money to pay the bills -- in many cases, all three!