May 30, 2013, by NUBS Postgraduate Careers

Temping – a gateway to a world of opportunity

By Beth Cooper

As the academic year comes to an end, the focus on finding a job after the summer dissertation is of increased importance. Much is written elsewhere about graduate opportunities, but what if you have experience? If you have a particular organisation in mind but are not finding the roles matching your work history or perhaps you wish to move into a different area, working as a temp could help you do this.

What is temping?

A temp is someone employed on a temporary contract via an employment agency and working for a third company. Also not to be ignored are temporary opportunities such as maternity leave cover, short-term project work and interim management, should you have significant work experience. All have the potential to open doors.

What are the advantages?

  • You get paid
  • It enables both you and the organisation to ‘try before you buy’. You can assess from the inside what it is like to work for an organisation and whether the role is right for you without the commitment of a permanent contract
  • From Day One, you have access to internal vacancies at the organisation, just as if you were an employee but which often are not advertised externally
  • You can build your network within the organisation to help you get to where you want to be
  • By making a great impression, the company are likely to want to keep you and find ways of doing so
  • Even companies with headcount freezes are able to continue to recruit temps as often this comes from a different budget
  • With a one week notice period, it gives you flexibility should a more suitable role come up

Things to consider

  • You must have the right to work in the UK without needing sponsorship
  • You are vulnerable to downturns (but many permanent members of staff have experienced similar in the current economic climate – the key for both is to make yourself indispensable)
  • It may be worth taking a step down in order to get an opportunity within your target organisation. By shining in your role, you will impress and create opportunities that may not have been there otherwise

The story of a temp – how temping has helped my career

After I finished my Masters and came back from teaching in France, I did not know what I wanted to do and did not want to commit to an employer at that time. With strong retail experience, as well as having taught myself touch-typing, I started temping as a Senior Personal Assistant. Through this I was exposed to the highest levels of the organisations for which I was working. I worked for a small consultancy and supported the consultants on their projects. I worked in a Mental Health Trust and got ‘headhunted’ to join the IT team, which also meant I started running my own business and working as a contractor. This experience helped clarify what it was I wanted to do, as well as helping me gain a breadth of work experience so that when I then applied for a competitive graduate scheme, I found the recruitment process straightforward and dare I say it, enjoyable. I used the temp route again further on in my career when I had decided to have a career break. Walking past an agency, I saw a role at in a highly attractive company. Although it was at a more junior level, I took the opportunity to see what it was like to work there so my ‘career break’ lasted in total a week! Through the contribution I made, they asked me what I would like to do with them, which led me to joining a department that no-one had entered from outside of the organisation in its whole 300-odd year history. That would not have happened if I had not got my foot in the door in the first place.

Want to know more? Make an appointment with the Business School’s postgraduate careers team. 

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