Things I have learned from working as a Temp that are actually valuable life lessons

The Temp in its natural state

The Temp in its natural state

Being a Temp is like always being the new kid at school.

Some of you may recoil at the thought, but not me. I love a challenge.

I was often the new kid, as an Expat Brat who moved around a lot, and so I was fortunate to already have many of the social skills needed for this type of situation. (Yay me).

I think we can all appreciate that in any life experience you have (good or bad) there are things to be learned (even if that thing is, don’t lick that hornets nest EVER again, or…don’t pull that Stingray’s tail – I’m looking at you Steve).

And while I have moaned and blogged about the Temping lifestyle, there are actually some valuable life lessons that I can take away from the experience, things that will stay with me when I get my dream job and on the career path that I am destined to have Owner and Operator of a Large Chocolate Factory run by Oompa Loompa’s, ruler of the world, Film and Television Mega Star.

Lesson: Be Nice to Everybody, they may be a Temp today, but who will they be 3 years from now?
Really, you should be nice to everybody straight off. I know people who do things the other-way-around to me. They don’t like anybody until that person does something that impresses them/chanegs their opinion of them, whereas with me, everybody starts out as a potential new friend, and if you do something to piss me off…run.

There are some people who will see you (as a temp) as the person at the bottom of the food chain while you are a temporary member of their organisation. They call you “the Temp” or don’t even really acknowledge your existence. But the funny thing is, I know plenty of successful people who, when I mention that I am currently Temping, say “oh yeaaaah! I temped for a while.” Not all of the succesful peeps you see around you started out on top. Tom Cruise was a bellhop, the guy who founded Wendy’s used to work at KFC and Richard Branson sold records out of his car. So just saying.

Also, it’s important to be nice to everyone ANYWAY because you never know who could be a new friend, future contact or will generally just bring hilarity to your world. The girl who’s job I covered in January stayed friends with me and signed me up for her Trampoline Dodgeball team (oh hey Denise!) and the place I worked 3 weeks ago has provided me with two new hilarious friends I went for drinks with last week, So suck it, mean people.

Lesson: If you can google, you can do almost any job mildly successfully.
I have learnt so many Administration skills since I began working as a Temp, and there were times where I would have no clue what I was doing at the start of the day, but by the end of the day, I was a pro. If you have google and two brain cells to rub together, you can work most things out. I get that some tasks take experience or prior knowledge, but really? This is an information rich era we live in, and there is plenty to be said for biting the bullet, and figuring shit out for yourself.

Lesson: There will always be a douchebag
Similar to the first lesson in this post, it doesn’t really matter what office situation you are in, there is always going to be a douchebag. I’ve worked in offices with 300 people and offices with 5 and there is always, always someone who pops up on your radar as being a first class dick. It’s like they went to the University of Dick-en-ham and studied advanced Dick-ish-ness with Professor Dickknob and graduated magna dick laude. Dicks.

My advice when dealing with these types is to just smile and seem as stupid as possible. No really. It infuriates them. Where are the spare staples? Staples? What are those? I’ve never even heard of such things, could you describe them for me/do an interpretative dance/act them out? *BARKS* Fax?! *As the dick stabs helplessly and angrily at the fax machine* “Fax? Oh no I wasn’t showed how to do that sorry.” *The Temp suddenly becomes very busy at re-organizing the envelope drawer.*

Lesson: Every Office is it’s own delicate ecosystem and has its own politics, try to stay out of it.
Office drama is so funny to watch from the outside. It is a wilderness within four walls, and while it seems like I am muddling my metaphors here, I hope you’re getting what I am trying to say because I’m pretty sure ecosystems have politics…right? *Throws the Whatever sign in the air and flicks hair.* What I really mean is, don’t get involved. People will try to recruit you if there is an office rivalry, and it is easy to get sucked in. But as a Temp, do you really care? You’re outta there in a week and on to the next. That’s what I thought. But it sure is fun to be an observer.

Lesson: A lot of people with “real” office jobs seem to spend an awful lot of time on Buzz Feed.
No matter how busy people are, or claim to be – there is always (apparently) time for hilarious cat videos and 21 reasons chocolate is better than vanilla.

SO what did we learn today? Be nice to the Temps, don’t minimize your screen when we walk past (we know what you were doing), don’t get involved, when in doubt, google it out, and if you’re a dick, try not to be that anymore.

Things I wish I knew before I did my Masters of Creative Writing AKA you should have spent your money on shoes

Hey Past Paris, how’s it going? So adorable that you just turned 21 and that you’re finishing up your Bachelor of Arts degree. It’s a miracle you passed every subject (hey…a 51 is still a pass OKAY) and that they’re ACTUALLY going to let you graduate when you were supposed to. All those last minute assignments you handed in (some that you began the DAY they were due and were mostly just made up sentences that you hoped made sense because lets be hungover…you drank 7/7 days of the week) were totally worth it, and now, because that 3 years went by in a flash, you’re thinking you’ll do a Masters Degree because you aren’t quite ready to join the real world? That’s sweet, and a great idea considering Australia has this Higher Education thing where you don’t have to start paying back your student loans until you make over a certain amount of money (don’t worry – you’ll flee the country before that happens/at this rate – you’ll never make more than that minimum amount anyhow!).

Except a Masters today does not hold the currency it used to, dear old past me. They’re handing those out like free condoms at the walk-in clinic, and by the time you’re twenty two, you’ll have yours, and everyone will assume you’re a genius in North America (because they make them do like four year degrees or some shit) but we all know you’re just a chicken who applied for the program the day it was closing, and who nearly didn’t make it because you forgot your passport, so you had to use your feminie wiles (and your tears) to convince the dickhead at student services to process your application.

And that Masters in Creative Writing (dear god why didn’t you do something like marketing or business-y so you could actually find a real job?!) is going to be a great talking point… but here are some home truths:

More Valuable than your Masters, is the Interning you do:
The Master’s contact hours I had were a joke. 7pm-9pm Monday-Thursday. Sure there was a lot of writing involved – but I did that ANYWAY because I love writing. SO to fill my time (and feed myself) I got a job doing shitty admin (this is what  has led to more jobs in the future, so thank you universe!) and got stuck into interning for free at a Television Production Company 3 days a week.

This is where I discovered my true passion and the career path I had vaguely known I wanted all along. Turns out  I am a WHIZ at juggling people on set, in a production office, PR people, people I need to get things from (like permission to film for free on a set) 20 year old reality “stars”, major networks and crew. Turns out I thrived on the drama, and learn’t more in 8 months interning (and then being hired and paid!) than I did from sitting in a classroom analyzing the screenplay for Scar face.

Get used to Temping/Retail while you look for that foot in the door:

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Truth be told, had I stayed in Australia, I would have worked on a bunch more shows by now. The production company I interned at loved me (the feeling was mutual!) and they would have found me another position (in research or production). But I knew I’d get stuck in the Australian industry. And hot off the press from a breakup and the completion of four years in one place (I get claustrophobic when I stay still too long) I decided it was now or never to try somewhere new. And so I found myself in a new market, starting from the bottom all over again, networking and having to re-make contacts. SO retail and Temping is what pays the bills and allows me to keep trying to be as fabulous as I can be. It isn’t glamorous but I am damn thankful for it, and it is pretty crazy who you may meet when you’re in a new office/talking to customers. If you are genuine and people are interested in you – they will do what they can – you’ll be surprised to discover who wants to help you/the connections they have if they know what you are trying to do.

You need to learn how to use multiple coffee machines/how to effectively stack a dishwasher:

A run-on from the Temping thing. Mostly what I’m asked to do in a day could occupy two hours out of eight. Answering phones, creating a few fedex orders and crafting a couple emails. Mainly you’ll be unstacking/stacking the dishwasher and making yourself fancier and fancier coffees (mainly due to boredom and or your secret mad scientist sensibilities and not due to your love of coffee).
Maybe you should have gone to Barista school and not got a Masters. Just saying. You’d probably be making more money by now.

Mostly what you’ll write is your blog:
Without those deadlines and people breathing down your neck, it’s going to take a lot of will power to finish projects. Sure you’ll go through writing frenzies, but to actually complete something… yeah not so much. But adorable that you thought you’d be a novelist by now. Uhhhh-dorable. *sobs*

People who did boring degree’s will have way more money than you and/or actual grownup lives:

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That girl in the year below you at college who was studying chemical engineering that you stalk on Twitter and Facebook? Yeah. She just bought an apartment, is engaged, has a pet bulldog and makes 5x more than you did last year (yeah but her tax rebate was probably nothing so HA!). If you wanted to be rich you should have listened to your parents and done a degree with the name of a job in it (hey… Writer is a job…).

The good news is, you’re chasing your dreams and will probably not hate your job (when you get one) and will not just be living for the weekend.
The bad news is, while you’re chasing those dreams you’re going to be eating baked beans on toast at least 3 nights a week.
Yay for Creatives. *Hugs self tightly and rocks*

People are impressed you did a Masters of Creative Writing, because they always figured themselves a Writer… but it’s not going to get you hired…yet:
The number of times interviewers have been impressed that my Masters is in Creative Writing… well it’s a lot. The number of times they’ve been so impressed by the fact that I hold that degree and thought “we need to hire this ridiculously awesome girl!!” is not many. Scratch that. Maybe it’s none. (Pretty sure the interning thing is what has gotten me hired in the past)

There is a difference between people being impressed/jealous of the degree you got, and the way they figure that that degree equals revenue in their business/justifies your salary.

I’m sorry, I thought this advertisement was for an amazingly hilarious Australian girl who grew up in Hong Kong, can stack ALL of the dishes in one tray. is really good at Facebook and can make you an exquisite blend of hazelnut latte and hot chocolate. No? hmmm. That is strange. Anyway while i’m here i’ll just drop off my Resume…

You will probably think a lot about doing a more relevant degree/PHD:

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There is no way in hell I can afford international student fee’s here in Canada, so if i plan on getting further education – it’s back to Australia I go. And while that wouldn’t be so bad, I’m not sure I could handle being a full time student again. I may not be rich now, but i’m hella richer than I was as a student AND my parents were still helping me out at the time.
But I have thought about it. Two guys I’ve dated in the past got their MBA’s and people are doing the PhD thing now. I feel like, if I hadn’t done my Masters right after my BA, I would have appreciated it more (although moving off campus made my results sky-rocket and put me at the top of the class!)
But knowing me, i’d probably just want to study something fun and creative again, like, get a Masters in Stand up Comedy, or a PhD in Blogging.

 

I don’t live my life with regrets, and not for a second would I change my Masters degree, because I loved it, met some awesomely inspiring people – and got to do what I love.
I think i’d just make sure I had less lofty aspirations. Cos… like… I’ll be 25 in a month and I haven’t won an Academy award yet…

But there’s still 30 days!

OK GO.

Temping, Prositution of the Corporate world

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Temping:

temp [tɛmp] Informal
n
a person, esp a typist or other office worker, employed on a temporary basis
vb (intr)
to work as a temp

Turns out Temping is better paid than retail (not by much, but enough for me to go buy those Croc boots which I swear aren’t ugly, just give me a chance to show you) and because I continue to be ignored by the world of Full Time work in an industry that I am dying to work in, I decided to give Temping a go. Since the beginning of the month I have taken on four different assignments, 2 x 1 day assignments, 2 x 1 week assignments, and learned about a whole new world that I never knew existed.

The world of the Temp.

Let me give you a little run down.

The world of the Temp is a place ungoverned by your average 9-5. You wake up at 7.30am with the hope that at 8am, someone (Pimp) will call you and tell you they need you at XYZ location, and the dress code is *blank*. You slap on some make-up, make sure you vaugely know where you are going and sprint out the door. On the train you wonder again what you are doing with your life, but the other part of your brain says “this is the last job, I promise you. We’ll get the money and then move to Florida.” You get to the destination, you make small talk, find out what the client (John) likes and what they need. You settle down, close your eyes, and daydream you are somewhere else (like at a real job). When it’s all over, they thank you plenty of times, and you shuffle out clutching your time sheet. You buy yourself a couple of drinks to try to forget the disappointment in your mothers eyes.

Temping is the Prostitution of the corporate world.

But you know what? I don’t hate it.

My first two assignments were in Film and Television production companies, and you bet your Chihuahua’s left nut that I worked it like I was on the sinking Titanic and had to get my third-class ass on a lifeboat. The one day gig was a bit of a bust, it was a monday and quiet as hell, but the week long gig yielded fun, a bit of professional networking with an awesome Aussie guy who took my resume and some new surprising friendships with girls my own age who worked in the company. Turns out some of them had been in the same boat as me and some of them even got their jobs after temping first.

Actually, when I started to look into it, Temping seemed to be one of the ways a bunch of people I know got their full-time jobs. They’d go for an assignment and the company would say, you know what, why don’t you stay on, or, why don’t you give us your resume to take a look at. It was kind of like a pre-interview. And hell with the number of resumes and cover letters I have sent off, any chance of getting into ANY company as more than just a name on a piece of paper is a big bonus.

So why did I always think there was such a stigma attached to Temping? I couldn’t even tell you. Maybe there is, but now that I’ve joined the ranks I just don’t care. The job market is so tough out there, and lots of people who want to do what I want to do are stuck in menial jobs, frittering away their youth and talent.

I’d rather wake up each day with the fresh and exciting opportunity of meeting someone that may assist with opening a career door for me, than be marking down sweaters for the third time this week.

End Rant