By Sarah Graham
In my last article I encouraged you young, adventurous and energetic young masses to finish your undergrad degrees and go away travelling as a form of professional development. Apply for that visa, pack that bag, and go explore – you can temp your way around the world!
But some of you were wondering – what is a ‘temp’? How do I become one in the first place? And how do I become a good one?
A temp is someone who gets sent in to fill a short term role. You register with an agency (most major cities will have them), go through an interview process with them which includes you demonstrating your skills, strengths and preferred career path, and they find you a job! The agency will tell you where to go, who to ask for, and you will turn up ready to assist. They will bill the employer you are working for and take a cut for themselves, however in my experience this was still always better money than bar or café work.
So, what should you do to prepare?
1. Get the goss:
The agency will give you as much information as they have before you get there. At the very least, they will likely be able to name the role you’ll be undertaking (eg. receptionist, etc). So, once you know the business you’ll be working for (and what you’ll likely be doing), Google the company you’ll be working at so you understand the basics of their business.
2. The night before:
Find the office and exactly how you are going to get there, and look for a cafe close by to have breakfast in the next morning - that way, even if there are bus or train delays, you won’t be late!
3. The morning of:
Have breakfast and a coffee or tea (whichever you prefer) in the café you have selected. Many offices provide coffee, tea, or even breakfast – but make no assumptions on day 1 as you will not able to nip out for a coffee if you need one!
4. Final preparation:
Are you in a new country? If you are, do a bit of research on local names online (imagine me, answering a phone in Ireland and trying to find someone called Padraig in the staff directory – took me 5 minutes to figure that one out and the person on the other end of the line was amazed anyone wouldn’t know how to spell that name).
How should you act when you arrive?
- Relax! As a temp you won’t be performing brain surgery. Keep smiling - greet your new supervisor with a friendly, relaxed smile. It is likely that you have been called in because they need some help and are a bit overwhelmed, so try to keep your nerves to a minimum – they need you to be calm, supportive and professional as they may be a bundle of nerves themselves!
- In my experience, if it is a short term assignment to assist with a project, there is likely a pile of paper lying in wait for you somewhere which you will be alphabetizing and scanning. It will most likely be time-consuming work that is quite simple.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Usually the person giving you the work will be very happy you are there – like an office superhero essentially – and will be happy to spend some time ensuring you understand your task. However, if you aren’t sure about their preferred methodology for you to execute the task, a great question to ask is “is there a way you would like this to be done, or are you happy for me to do it the way I think will be fastest/most accurate?”