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Guidelines For Temping

August 7, 2006

So my new gig is working as a temp at the world headquarters of a major telecom company here in town. I work on what is called a “corporate campus”, i.e. a women’s prison…..the difference from a men’s prison being that you are allowed to walk around from building to building. There are 14,000 employees, 14 parking lots and more buildings than my undergrad university had and after 2 days I am o so clear about why they have such a high turnover rate. O the things I do to get to South America!….But never you mind, I’m a pro at this whole temping thing. I’ve got it down to a science.

Day 1: Come in ready with proper temp bag which contains the following:

1. a clock radio (to make corporate america bearable from 8-5),

2. a book (sometimes they can’t figure out what you are there for right away),

3. an apple (to replenish your energy after you shake hands with 30 Jennifers, and 20 Toms)

4. lubricate, Lubricate, LUBRICATE!! bring chaptstick (to rehydrate your lips after all that smiling (nobody likes a cranky temp), lotion, and eye drops to help while your body adjust to those corporate temperature gages…..your new manager is going through menopause ya know)

The first day also usually includes finding the restroom, the coffee pot, the cafeteria, and how to not lock yourself out of the building. It is also critical that a temp determines who not to piss off (i.e. figure out who your supervisor is, surprisingly this is not always as obvious as it seems) on the first day…..but it’s ok, your just a lowly temp, you probably won’t see them much anyway. The key to being a good temp is to work effectively….but temper your efficiency. Strive for staying under the radar. You have to make yourself useful enough to validate your presence, but not so useful that you make everyone else look bad or run out of things to do. Don’t get involved with people who work there, and certainly don’t indulge their office drama…..come in, do your work, and get the hell on.

This is a delicate juggling act that I manage by balancing my online time. Some jobs are 15% work and 85% surfing the web, and other jobs are 99% work and 1% surfing the web. One must learn what is expected of them and meet that bar exactly, working too little will get you the infamous “well….you know how temps are” title which will make your agency less likely to place you, and working too much will get you a shitload of work without the payoff of regular jobs like health insurance, 401K, respect.  But if you only remember one thing, remember this……….if you let them they will work you like a packmule, after which they will cheerily congratulate you and tell you that the assignment has ended, followed with a “Good Luck”, and a “Fuck You Very Much”.

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One comment

  1. I have been playing the temp game since graduating college in May of 2007. I finally got a temp to hire position and was there for 6 months. I got laid off with one day’s notice. I replaced that gig with another temp to hire position, and was laid off from that job in the middle of a Monday afternoon.

    So I hear you loud and clear when you describe the client’s parting words: It really is a “Fuck you very much.”

    You forgot to mention one thing though: They will assume you are stupid and ask you questions like, “Do you know about tabbed browsing?” or “Can you cut and paste.”



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