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Can you make a career out of being a temp?

July 7, 2011

By Joe Mayne, St. Cloud State

New graduates who try out temp work for companies usually view it as little more than a stepping stone. Even the name, temp, strongly implies that there aren’t many long-term prospects in nonpermanent, contract labor.

But could you actually make a career out of being a temp?

Probably not, at least in the way most people think of it. But that’s not to say that you couldn’t find a specific niche – and even a great career – doing project-specific work for big or large companies. In fact, of all the career choices out there, going freelance is becoming one of the most popular.

Why? Because it combines a lot of the things most of us look for and love in a great job: the potential to make lots of money, generous time away from your desk (if you want), the freedom to pick and choose your assignments, and the ability to walk away from difficult bosses at almost any time.

Of course, there are some downsides, too. For one thing, temp in freelance workers are responsible for their own cash flow and benefits. For another, the workplace usually isn’t as much of a social gathering point when a lot of the actual labor takes place in an empty cubicle, or on your kitchen table. Still, if you’re looking for a career choice that offers variety and flexibility, it might be worth checking out. Infact, I would recommend that, if you’re at all interested in pursuing self-employment, you get in touch with a few freelancers in your area and see if you can shadow them for a day, or at least take them out for a cup of coffee and asking questions.

Lots of new graduates pick up temp work as a way to gain experience and make ends meet, but who says you have to grow into a “real” job? Freelance and other contract employment situations can sometimes offer better careers, more flexibility, sometimes even more money than new graduates could find elsewhere.

Editor’s Note: Leadership Foundation Trustee Joe Mayne is a veteran recruiter and professional speaker. Over the past 15 years, he’s interviewed thousands of candidates, examined countless resumes, and helped students from hundreds of campuses find great jobs. He is a frequent presenter at Delta Sigma Pi workshops, including LEAD events and Grand Chapter Congress. Learn more about him and view other useful career search topics at

One Comment leave one →
  1. KS372 permalink
    July 7, 2011 6:42 pm

    I have been working as a project based temp/contractor for nearly 6 years. I love it. But I did not discover this directly out of school. I had built a resume with nearly 8 years of full time work experience before the opportunity was presented to me.

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