Life as a Professional Temp
There's something interesting about each workplace
I never had the intentions of considering myself as a professional temp. I had assumed I would work for the same company for a number of years, work my way up the corporate ladder, get as much experience as possible. However, sometimes life just gets in the way - and for me, it was my travel bug that interfered.
I have no ability to lie, and tend to be quite honest in interviews, so if I'm asked about my future plans, I can't help but tell my potential future employer that I have no intentions in staying around for more than a year. Thus - this leads me to temping, where both I and the employer know our relationship is limited.
This does lead to some interesting experiences, going in and out of offices, and being able to quickly pick up on the office drama of each new position. It can also be a bit isolating, as it seems to be once you start to settle in somewhere and some friends, your position is finished. Though I guess that's why temping leads to such dramatic experiences - you're never in one place long enough for the workplace quirks to feel normal.
Battle of the cubicles
My first position was one of my most extensive experiences with office drama, and battling forces determined based on which side of the large cubicle divider you sat. Those on the right side were far more bold with their comments, making snarky remarks just loud enough. While those on the left were far more deceiving and went about their way through secret whispers. I came in as a college intern, to work with another summer student who immediately filled me in on all this drama. We were on the left side, so she was whispering. I can remember waiting until everyone went for lunch to deliver the mail to 'the other side'.
Within a period of four months, during my first insight to office life, I witnessed tears, screaming, the silent treatment, and ulimately one womans behaviour getting her fired.
Another job lost due to bad attitude
A new city, a new job, and the same drama. To be clear however, I again stayed on the sidelines. What else can you do when within your first few days at a new job, you are told how horrible that other woman is, and not to trust her and to make sure you don't do her work, even if she asks?
This position was extreme. I didn't realize I was coming in the middle of another heated office battle. This time a two on one situation. What did this position teach me? Lay low, stay neutral, and even if you have 25 years experience with a company, a bad attitude can cost you your job.
Just another day
Hired Staff vs. Contract Employees
The next set of office drama I ran into was the battle between the contract workers and the regular, permanent staff. When an office becomes full of as many if not more contract workers than permanent staff, things can get a bit heated. Different rules exist between the two groups, I learned there were certain questions and papers I could show only one side or the other. The contract workers got every other Friday off, but yet the permanent staff all went on a mini vacation (two days, 2 hour plane ride) - which to them seemed like a chore because it was a work related conference.... the list goes on.
However, in this position I had a bit of an identity crisis. I was temporary staff, hired by the company itself, working for the permanent staff. So I wasn't a contract employee, nor was I a permanent employee. Although I was invited to lunches, and the Christmas party, I knew I wasn't any part of the company when both the permanent staff and the contract staff had a paid lunch party, and I remained in my cubicle uninvited to either while smelling pizza and eating my sandwich.
Time for a 'real' job?
I would like to conclude with an update on my situation - saying I found a great position, working for a company where everyone gets along, and I'm no longer temping in new random offices trying to play the game and make friends with the right side.
Unfortunately, today started by registering with another temp agency - again because I've relocated to a new city and am ready for a new experience.