Advice from a temping sponge
“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity” – Winston Churchill
This quote rings true in the world of temping. Even what may seem like a basic temporary role can make a large impact to a company and even your own career. Sometimes temps take a role with the hope of it becoming permanent, however that’s not always the case and there are so many other benefits that come from temping. A temporary role lets you try a role without committing fully. It is also an invaluable opportunity to find out what you don’t want or like, which is just as important as finding out what you do.
I temped while travelling on a one year working holiday visa in Canada, as I only intended on being in one place for short periods. I also wanted to take a career break and to be able to leave my job at the office each day, so I could fully appreciate all that the country had to offer. I knew that I could’ve earnt more in a waitressing role, because of their tipping system. However, I also knew office based temping roles would give me more opportunity to learn and develop professionally and would be more beneficial on my resume when I returned to New Zealand in a year’s time.
I signed up with an excellent recruitment agency in Vancouver (Expert Recruiters – for anyone planning to head that way) and registered for temporary work. I was offered my first assignment the following morning and was asked if I could head there as quickly as possible. It was a 1-3 day reception assignment to cover illness at a government department. Whilst I was grateful for the work, it was very mundane, involved hours of travel on public transport and ended up only being for a day, as the employee I was covering for returned the next day. On the positive, it was a great introduction to a Canadian workplace; I got to explore a new area, met some lovely people and proved my commitment to the agency.
My next assignment was a 2-week administration role within the communication department at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. This role was extended further due to prolonged illness and continued even after the staff member I was covering returned. I was given additional responsibility and exposure to new tasks. I learnt a lot in this role as it was completely different from any role I had previously worked in, and it was outside of my comfort zone. I answered a variety of high volume incoming calls and got a good understanding of a call centre type environment. I was lucky enough to stay in this role for the remainder of my time in Vancouver, which was a 6 month period.
Advantages I gained during my time temping included: first hand insight into a variety of roles in different sectors, gaining new and transferrable skills, making new connections and friends, building a professional network and list of references. It also highlighted what I didn’t want to do again. When I eventually returned to New Zealand and was offered a role as a Consultant specialising in the recruitment of Office/Business Support roles, it also gave me a greater understanding of what different office roles involved.
My advice is to be a sponge when you’re in any temp role, even if it seems boring or unchallenging, soak up everything you can. Use it as an opportunity to find out what you enjoy most in a role. Treat temporary roles as you would a permanent role, because you never know where it may lead or when you might be asked to provide a reference from one of these assignments. A great attitude to have on a temporary assignment is to aspire to leave the office better than when you arrived, or possibly to never leave at all.
“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.” –Katherine Whitehorn