A college grad learns contingent work can open the doors to a promising future

As my college years were winding down, the thought of finding a job I would want long-term was daunting. Choosing a permanent lifestyle is easier said than done. I’d always fantasized having a glamorous future as a marketing marvel for a well-known company, featured in Time magazine, and knowing every trick of the marketing trade. The reality was I wouldn’t be starting that way and would need to make smart and sensible decisions to get myself there.

Finding My Way

In college, I wanted to leave the biggest bang I could before it was over. But there was too little time to meet infinite amounts of people and study infinite amounts of information. Now, how do I know I am making the right long-term decisions for myself?

Temp work was the luckiest discovery I ever made — that’s when I realized my decisions now still do not need to be long-term. Each short-term job I take will help me get to my ultimate goal. Each one helps me gain more confidence in my creative abilities and in how much I can accomplish over a short period of time.

Since finding my first temp job in marketing, I have taken my assignments very seriously — I landed my first even before finishing my last semester at college. As I become familiar with how strategically staffing firms approach contingent work, I now realize it is a logical and often necessary, way for people like me to transition into the correct, long-term, career path. The obvious reasons for this include helping those with little experience gain skills, and find work quickly. But most important, being “temporary” creates a state of mind that encourages us to want to scrub every Excel spreadsheet like it’s a proud work of art, proving with each project and assignment that although we are short-term employees, we are developing into the best candidates for a long-term opportunity. We temps are technically replaceable, but the harder we work and more projects we take on, the less the company is reminded of that, and satisfied with us.

As much as I have appreciated growth opportunities staffing firms and contingent work offer, it may not sound as attractive or necessary to my peers. But when you get to try out a company and a position, the benefits are ample. Here’s how staffing firms can help.

Like a Career Change

I suggest staffing firms approach their candidates as if they are soon-to-be college grads and make it obvious that they understand how intimidating it is to change career paths; making the transition as painless as possible. Spend time coaching temps on what clients are expecting from them as contract workers in general along with the specific job duties. The rest is up to the individual, who must challenge him or herself in terms of workload and creativity. Encourage your temporary workers to offer support for every company event, project or presentation opportunity that arises, because that is what enables people to continuously develop in their long-term careers.

Not everyone knows all the right people in all the right industries. Temporary work has fostered more of my creativity and hard work than college ever did. Similar to college, I find myself struggling to form relationships and doing everything wrong until it is right. Likewise, there are people who can be great teachers and help in this process of discovery. Teachers notwithstanding, I also choose to learn everything I can about my assigned company’s products and every step in the marketing process. All because it relates to the field I chose to be in and where I plan to set up camp. All the work I do for clients as a temp are leading me to a promising career!