Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Temp's Life

Since I got back from my ESL teaching gig in Indonesia at the end of 2006, I have been thrown into the world of temporary workers and contractors. Before that time, I always had permanent positions where I didn't have to fill out timesheets every Friday, and wait for supervisor approval. My current state is shared by many, especially during this unstable period in our economy. I feel a strange combination of uneasiness and freedom: I work for two companies, but have no allegiance to either one of them. It is all about the paycheck and the work experience. If anything, I have learned that I have to make serious changes in my life, so I am not doomed to go from temp job to temp job.

Being a full-fledged freelancer is something else entirely: you are your own boss, you make a name for yourself, you market yourself, you negotiate your own salary, and the money keeps coming in... hopefully. In addition to freelancing, I am also considering careers with much more financial stability attached to them.

Recently, a fellow contractor told me that she overheard a full-time employee at one of the companies we work at saying that we were "not important" and "easily disposable." While I was annoyed by the comment, I also know that a secure person wouldn’t say that. Is he afraid of becoming one of us? Does belittling us give him a false sense of superiority?

While I am thankful that my contracts at both companies have been extended until the beginning of next year, I also know that I can’t get too comfortable. I need to think strategically about my future plans now: will I go back to school to get another degree? Should I switch careers? Will relocating be necessary? I have much to ponder in the next few months.

Do you have any temp stories to share?


monsantosucks said...

TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THE TEMP WORLD! But again, I wouldn't trade in the flexible nature that temp work provides with the permanence of prison sentencing that working for many companies full-time demands.

Personally, I want to build my skill trade in needed fields - teaching, medicine, and socially responsible non-profit work has and will always be of interest to me.

Great blog Pauline!

Ajijaak said...

I understand the temp world as well. It is very frustrating. I feel like so many of us work so hard and then get thrown into things like the temp world.

I finished my MA when I was 24 years old and have worked temp jobs with no benefits since. I had once supervisor say, "I don't know how much of a feminist you are these days, but I am sure you will be leaving us for greener pastures." Yes, I am a feminist and yes I will be leaving you for greener pastures. I have had worked office jobs where people used me as a temp worker. I have learned a lot in temp jobs. I am definitely changing paths right now and won't be doing temp work much longer. Its been challenging and disappointing to all the hard work I have done to work these lousy temp jobs. If I do a PhD, start a nonprofit or do Peace Corps I am going to end doing these temporary jobs. Its not where I want to be and am choosing to change that.

What changes do you want to make other than what you have mentioned here?

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