This is a guest post from Ali Brown.
Two months ago, I wasn’t satisfied with my job. I was a communications/administrative assistant. I’d been with the company almost two years, and it was clear there were no opportunities for advancement.
So, just weeks after turning 26 years old, I took a temp job.
I’m not a risk taker, and I was hesitant because accepting the new job meant giving up paid sick time, vacation time, and health insurance, which my employer paid for, and I have no guarantee that I’ll be employed in January.
But the enjoyment I have after a 10-hour day confirms that I made the right choice. And I’m not alone. Nearly 28,000 people became temporary workers in September, and I don't think it's all due to people not being able to find full-time work. I think it's because in many cases, a temp job is better than a full-time job.
I know no one dreams of being a temp worker, but it might be the best alternative in today's economy. Here's why you should do what I did:
1. Focus on building your resume.
Presently, I work with HTML and XML for a well-known Internet retailer, instead of answering phones and ordering office supplies. My temp job is better for my resume because I’m building skills. The full-time jobwas a dead end. The skills I’m acquiring make me more qualified for full-time jobs I want, at this company or other companies in Seattle.
2. Think of your network in a job, not your longevity in a job.
A temp job where you do interesting stuff with interesting people is better for your network than bad full-time job. Right now, I enjoy my work much more than what I was doing before, so I have a better disposition for meeting people in my professional life.
Studies rarely cite long-term viability as a key component of job satisfaction, but liking who you work with always makes the list. My coworkers are intelligent, highly motivated people who take initiative — and they’re young. Everyone in my department is under 35, including my boss. The company culture is driven and innovative. Ideas are encouraged. The department has expanded greatly within the past year, so a lot of people are new. They are learning what works together, and working very, very hard to accomplish common goals.
3. Get your own health insurance.
When I was a kid, health insurance through my mom’s job was too expensive, so I didn’t have insurance until I was 22, when I started my first job after college.
My previous employer paid for my health insurance, which I think is rare. I knew I wanted health insurance, even if it was less coverage than I had before. I did the math, and purchasing my own health insurance was several hundred dollars cheaper than a monthly COBRA payment.
Now I pay for a plan with a higher deductible and fewer benefits, through the same health insurance company. I don’t have dental or vision coverage, so I’m relying on the glory of being 26 and generally healthy.
4. Shore up finances.
I can defer student loans while I’m unemployed, and save almost $300 a month by doing so. And I can file for unemployment. After this, I will be able to cover rent and groceries, but nothing else. So I think I’ll be able to scrape by for a few months, or I’ll take a retail job with a significant pay cut, while I look for suitable full-time work.
5. Look for stability somewhere else.
The stability of my personal life counters my unstable work life. Having a long-term boyfriend who is supportive helps keep me calm and look at the big picture. My friends, also in their 20s, are trying to find what work they enjoy, and what they want from their careers. We commiserate about working jobs we don’t like to pay the bills, and celebrate promotions or new jobs. Having a sense of community makes a big difference. A supportive social circle counters the weight of looming unemployment.
This is a guest post from Ali Brown.