I'm Pretty Damn Sure I Want This To Be "Temp."
September 1, 2011 12:39 PM   Subscribe

So now that I've bought myself a day, help me decide: is this gig worth it in terms of long-term work/life balance?

THE SITUATION: I'm temping right now, and I've just been offered a temp-to-perm position. The "temp" part is six months, and then we decide whether to go perm. The thing is, I already know that any permanent job I want is in a field that is NOT the one I'm in now. However, I don't know about any other impending offers, so I'm leaning towards taking this.

THE PROS: I would have a boost in pay rate, and overtime. This would go a long way towards paying down some debt I've been carrying for 10 years -- in fact, it may MORE THAN HALVE it. That debt has been a huge, HUGE emotional millstone around my neck for a long time. Also, this is income that I know I've been offered -- the temp agency hasn't heard about any other option yet, and in this economy this is nothing to sneeze at. This also would mean continued health insurance for another six months.

THE CONS: I would go from having an 8-hour day to an 10.5-hour day, at a time when I'm finally starting to re-visit one of my personal passsions and want the mental energy for that. Right now I'm 9-5; this would be 7:30 to 6.

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THAT CON: A friend of mine has suggested that I try taking a car service to work every day, and that WOULD help with the morning commute (I wouldn't have to change what time I woke up, and that REALLY helps); I WOULD be able to afford that, and still have a considerable increase in income from what I'm doing now.

THE PLAN: I'm leaning towards taking this, with the understanding (which I keep to myself) that I will turn down the permanent position if they offer it in six months -- because I don't want a permanent job in this particular field. This would purely be a "make money fast and get out" move. The hours, coming right when I'm gearing up towards something in my "out of work" life, are what's giving me a little pause.

THE VERDICT: Well, that's where you all come in -- does that sound like a wise move? What am I not seeing?

posted by EmpressCallipygos to Work & Money (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think anyone can tell you what the right answer for you is, but I will tell you that when I paid off all of my debt (other than my mortgage) a few years ago, I felt a thousand times less burdened. Based on my experience, I would almost certainly take the job, but again, YMMV.
posted by Maisie at 12:44 PM on September 1, 2011

It sounds like a good plan. I agree with Maisie, anytime I've rid myself of debt has been an enormous weight off my shoulders.
posted by empyrean at 12:48 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

What would be keeping you from continuing to look for a better job while taking this temp-to-perm gig? It's only permanent if you let it be. If you find that it sucks, then slog it out for the six months and then turn down the permanent position. Or just quit and go back to temping.
posted by Etrigan at 12:48 PM on September 1, 2011

As someone who screens resumes every once in a while, I will say that a 6-month gig sends up a bit of a red flag (especially if it's coupled with multiple 1 to 2 year gigs). Just a thought to consider, though the short-term profit of the temp job may be worth it to you.
posted by litnerd at 12:49 PM on September 1, 2011

Hey, in 6 months, things may turn around for you opportunity-wise, and you can keep looking for jobs in the meantime. Even with a permanent position, there's nothing stamping it as "FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE", if it's unbearable you get out.

Paying down debt quickly would surely be worth a defined (and relatively short) period of long hard work.
posted by lizbunny at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2011

Litnerd, you've prompted another question which I'll email you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on September 1, 2011

Do it! Paying off your debt by half would give you the flexibility in the future to change your career field and/or work on your personal passions without as much financial pressure, which is always a great help when you are being creative in any way.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 1:00 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can do anything for six months. The pros outweigh the cons.
posted by rainydayfilms at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Couldn't the Empress just drop the six month gig off her resume assuming she got something else?

I'd go for the paying off debt route myself. If I could halve my student loans in six months it would be the greatest thing ever, greater than chocolate and rock and roll.
posted by winna at 1:05 PM on September 1, 2011

Don't worry about the phrase "permanent job." There's no such thing. Especially not anymore There's just a job without a definite maximum date. Take the job, pay down your debts, and stay exactly as long as it makes sense for you to do so, whether that's 3 months or 6. or 12.
posted by tyllwin at 1:05 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just realized -- not only would this keep me around Manhattan long enough to take the 6-week "introduction to event planning" course I noticed today, and thought may be a good move for me given my background -- it would also enable me to afford to pay the tuition for it.

As well as the tution for the other writing courses I saw and drooled over.

I'm gradually feeling more comfortable with this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on September 1, 2011

You'll be fine.

Most successful 20-somethings I know have held multiple short-term jobs and gigs to the point that when I meet a white-collar 20-something who's been in one job for more than 3 years I wonder A) if something is wrong with them or B) if they work for the coolest company ever.
posted by jander03 at 1:13 PM on September 1, 2011

Most successful 20-somethings I know have held multiple short-term jobs and gigs to the point that when I meet a white-collar 20-something who's been in one job for more than 3 years I wonder A) if something is wrong with them or B) if they work for the coolest company ever.

I'm 40-something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most of the time people are told to take on a 2nd job in order to pay off debt. You're sort of taking on a 2nd job, but it happens to be in the exact same location in the exact same chair that you're sitting in in your 1st job.
posted by k8t at 1:18 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll have my 4-year anniversary with my company this October. It's not the coolest company ever, and I don't think there's anything wrong with me. I just like stability. And the economy sucks.

EmpressCallipygos, upon further review and evidence, I think this sounds like a great plan! And if Event Planning is your projected career goal, good luck and my sympathies (said without an intention of sarcasm or condescension)! It's wearying life, but can be very rewarding.
posted by litnerd at 1:21 PM on September 1, 2011


Okay -- there is now a complication in the plan.

THE COMPLICATION: before I got this temp offer, I was sending out resumes for permanent positions; one of which is a position that sounds like it'd be a step towards my DREAM job (the position is: assistant to the president emeritus of the theater program at my alma mater). At the time I spoke to the temp people this morning (they "interviewed" me this morning), I told them that I'd been sending out resumes, and if this one specific person called me for an interview, I was definitely going to go.

Guess who, RIGHT NOW, just called me for an interview for noon tomorrow.

So this may very well be a moot point after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2011 [5 favorites]

Good for you! But remember that it can take forever to go from phone interview to job offer to hire date. I would move forward with the temp job and if the better one comes through then take it but in the meantime make that extra $$ and pay down that debt!
posted by dawkins_7 at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with dawkins_7. I would go to the interview tomorrow at noon and then accept the temp-to-perm job as though it never happened. If the interview comes through, great! If not, still great!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:48 PM on September 1, 2011

So now the question is: when I call the temp-to-perm gig tomorrow, do I say, "yes, oh and by the way I've gotten an interview for the other job I was telling you about," or do I say "yes" and then shut up?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on September 1, 2011

do I say, "yes, oh and by the way I've gotten an interview for the other job I was telling you about,"


You do not tell them a thing about other awesome job. You're a temp. Would they tell you if they planned to eliminate you? Nope. You'd just show up and they'd be all sorry go away.

You owe them nothing except working hard when you are being paid to be there.
posted by winna at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

winna's right. You don't know anything about the other situation yet-- it may not work out for various reasons. And you never need to feel bad about quitting a job, IMHO.
posted by tuesdayschild at 2:12 PM on September 1, 2011

"yes" and then shut up?

This is the thing to say.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:38 PM on September 1, 2011

You say "Yes, and I can start next week."

Also, be sure you know what "assistant" entails. Sometimes it means you are the right hand of the guy at the top of the ladder, and sometimes it means you are fetching his coffee. So just make sure it really is a step on the way to the Dream Job.
posted by misha at 6:00 PM on September 1, 2011

Oh, pretty much ANYTHING THAT IS NOT IN FINANCE is "dream job" at this point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 PM on September 1, 2011

(Not to disparage finance as such. But when you're from a THEATER background, and you've been working in financial firms for ten years, you just want OUT.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on September 1, 2011


a) interviewed with DreamJob, which turned out to be more like ReverieJob. Not quite what they pitched initially, but still something I'd rock at, and be interested in. I'm just not quite as convinced I'm "holy shit perfect fit" as I was before. But I'd still take it, because this has all taught me that I'm really, really not happy where I am and need to change.

b) I did take the 6-month job. My temp agency sensed that something may be behind my hesitation and asked me to shoot straight, so I said that the thing that I was most concerned about was whether I would be able to handle the hours. "But," I said, "the only way to know for sure is to try and see." They appreciated my concerns and appreciated that I was going to try anyway. I've promised MYSELF that at the end of a month, I'll check in with myself, and see if I can hang in another month or if I"m miserable. If i'm miserable, I'll quit; if i'm not, I'll go another month. And I"ll just do that every month until the six months are up.

c) In the meantime, I will continue to send out resumes and applications closer to my field. One of the other admins here is a LinkedIn zealot and has been helping me punch that up -- I've also thought to reconnect with some people I knew at old jobs from AGES ago, and have sent them all out invitations and will try to mine that networking. One of the people I've connected with, too, is the woman who USED to be at my temp agency who was totally magic, and who is now at a different agency but still calls me now and then. I also plan on contacting her and saying "Look, I need permanent work that won't make me slit my writsts. You're good at advice about that. Help."

So that's where we are. But this is all poiting a big red flag in the ground and telling me I REALLY need to make some kind of a big change, because I am not happy with the way things are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:45 PM on September 2, 2011

Not sure if anyone's still reading this, but --

I've been in the job for about a week now, and it's starting to look....a little different than advertised. So this is a new question.

...Namely: is it a bad sign if one of the other admins is starting to act like I've definitely taken the job, and am HER assistant, and is trying to pressure me into buying a blackberry with my own pocket money so I can be reachable after office hours?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:08 PM on September 8, 2011

...Namely: is it a bad sign if one of the other admins is starting to act like I've definitely taken the job, and am HER assistant, and is trying to pressure me into buying a blackberry with my own pocket money so I can be reachable after office hours?....

Sounds like someone needs to be put in their place. And that someone isn't you. Or else...back away, back away, back away. This came lead nowhere pleasant.
posted by litnerd at 5:56 PM on September 8, 2011

To be fair: she didn't mean it like that. She was thinking that the MegaCorp would reimburse me, and I had to remind her that "yeah, but I'm a temp and I don't think my AGENCY would," and you could tell she sort of thought, "oh, yeah, right". The big bosses are off traveling for 3 weeks, and things may change when they return, so I'll hang in until they're back and see if that helps.

And I don't mind being the under-secretary if she sticks to that kind of arrangement, rather than switching back and forth between "oh, it's your responsibility to take care of the calendar" and "oh, but let me see a draft of the meeting agenda you typed up for your boss and approve it". I have no problem having her have all the decision-making, and I just am the backup who just knocks out tons of typing and expense reports and lets her handle the phones and such.

She's also kind of acting like when you've just started dating someone and they're already talking about introducing you to their mother. It's a bit...unnerving. (Fortunately, I've had a few interactions with the actual boss and he seems chill.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2011

Coming in with a very belated follow-up and marking this resolved.

* That "dream job" I interviewed for never called me back for a second interview, and turned out to not be what I thought it'd be after all. I've been applying for a lot of other things since then.

* I dealt with any further hints to purchase a blackberry/upgrade my cell phone with a furrowed brow and "let me check with my temp agency" and not mentioning it again. Nothing ever came of it.

* Finally: the company I'm in is currently undergoing a big shift in staff, and the people I am working for are affected -- and my own status may be amended. The other secretary said she'd see about keeping me on in some kind of capacity, and I took the liberty of saying "you know, if it would help to cut me down from 11-hour days to 8-hour days, I'd have no problem with that whatsoever," and she said that it may indeed help at that. So this may have ultimately resolved itself without my having to do a damn thing. I love it when that happens.

But all of your advice helped me do some good thinking about the kind of job I want and the kind of hours I want, and what my boundaries are, and that's really helpful.

Leaving this as a testimony to "take the temp job anyway because you never know what may happen and at least you're getting money in the meantime" and "use it as a way to learn what you DON'T want, which is as helpful as knowing what you do want." Thanks, all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on October 5, 2011

And yet another follow-up -- a month after that follow-up above, another secretary quit, everyone looked at me and said "well, we've been trying to figure out what to do with you anyway," and offered me a full-time job as her replacement. My first day was in early December, and it was the hours I wanted - and I didn't have to get a blackberry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:21 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Background check question.   |   My mother never told me to stand up straight. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.