...because no one is going to pay me to study. Temp or part-time?
January 29, 2008 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Temp work 101: Is temp work just a part-time job on my own terms?

Graduated. Moved to Boston. Taking the LSAT in June.

I decided that a full-time job could too easily turn my life into work/commute and not leave me with the time I need to study (or the time I want to enjoy the city before law school). I have the savings to only work part-time until July and don't know what advantages (if any) doing temp work has over a part-time job with the same duties.

My questions for current/previous temps are:
1. How much control do you have over your schedule?
2. Is the pay predictable (frequency and amount)?
3. How accomodating are temp agencies placement-wise to those reliant on public transit?
4. If I have good employment history in a specific field will a period of temp work adversely affect future job prospects?
5. Any health insurance/benefits typically provided?
posted by doppleradar to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. None. You MAY have a choice about what job you pick, and hence what schedule, but the hiring manager is not interested in accommodating your needs.
2. Yes. Temp agencies are very reliable about pay (in my experience) and tell you up front how long the assignment is and how much you will be getting.
3. See #1. You may have a choice of jobs, but don't bet on it. Usually the agencies are nice; they do want to place you.
4. Not at all. If you're temping in the field you are going into, it might actually help you. Also, it shows a work ethic and pumps up your resume with diverse experience.
5. Nope. MAYBE if you work with the same agency for over a year, but this is typically not a benefit.

It might be hard to get a part time (i.e. reduced hours each week) job, but you could work for a few weeks and take a few weeks off. Temping is perfect for that.
posted by tk at 5:13 AM on January 29, 2008

You can also sign up to be a substitute teacher with the county school board. You will have to go through the full application process and background check, but you will be able to choose the schools you want to work at and the days you want to work. The work day starts early and ends at about 2:30-3:00 p.m. Where I am they pay $90 a day, $45 a half day for substitutes with bachelor's degrees. No benefits, little respect, but a very flexible schedule if that is what you need. Some people I know work every day of the week as a sub (they eventually want to be teachers and are doing it for the experience), some only will work at one particular school so they get called less often.
posted by 45moore45 at 5:18 AM on January 29, 2008

TK is right about temping in general, wrong about Boston.

1) Most of the temp agencies here don't really "do" part-time. They're filling in office and skilled labor jobs on a temporary basis, but people want someone who can work 40 hours. Now, 40 hours may be "short hours" compared to law, and if you're OK with that, you're golden. Places hiring temps don't like paying overtime.

3) Many of the temp agencies do understand the absurdity of owning a car in the city, and though your jobs may be limited compared to a car owner, you can still reach a large portion of jobs and they'll place you.

5) Health insurance is mandatory in Massachusetts because of laws passed recently. My temp agency offered insurance, and while it's expensive, it's cheaper than the full cost. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also has programs to help get people insured.

2 & 4 were right on the money.
posted by explosion at 5:38 AM on January 29, 2008

Seconding explosion's comments re: Boston. I temped there for years between touring and other obligations. Most gigs are on the T or the Commuter Rail, and almost all of the law firms are at Downtown Crossing/Government Center anyway if you're looking to temp within your field.

The additional advantage of Boston is that it has a lot of smaller boutique placement firms. I recommend giving Cunney & Jospe a call: They're small, independent, and have more integrity than I've seen in most agencies around there. Avoid the big places (OfficeTeam, Adecco, etc.) like the plague.
posted by mykescipark at 6:21 AM on January 29, 2008

I worked as a temp in Boston from November 2006 until August 2007, when I was hired full time temp-to-perm.

In direct response to your questions:
1.) I had very little control over my schedule. Perhaps your skill set is in higher demand, but I took pretty much whatever the agency offered me in administrative assistant, publishing, data entry, and receptionist positions.

2.) Pay, in administrative assistant work, was consistently between $10 and $13 per hour through the two agencies I used.

3.) I had no problem finding positions accessible through public transportation. As long as you're on a major bus line, the Red Line, or the Green Line, you'll be golden.

4.) You've got a good reason for temping and a good work history in your field. You'll be fine--especially since your tenure as a temp has a definite end date (when you enter law school, I assume).

5.) In my experience, health insurance is only available through temp agencies after working X number of hours for X weeks or months. When I qualified for health insurance through my primary agency, it was offered at full price. While this was prohibitively expensive, I did qualify for Commonwealth Care (one of the levels of Massachusett's lower-cost state programs).

Feel free to contact me via MeFiMail for more specific information.
posted by kwaller at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2008

Best answer: There is at least one agency in Boston for convention temps. AP Conventions, part of a bigger company I think.

Anyway. The nice thing about Convention temping is that you can work days that you want to, and work a lot one week and then not at all the next week. They also usually expect that you are taking public transportation. You might also enjoy catering work. Or just trolling the "gigs" section of Craigslist.

In general:
1. How much control do you have over your schedule?
You have control only that you can accept or decline an assignment. But declining an assignment can make it seem like you don't want to work, and they may not ask you next time around.

2. Is the pay predictable (frequency and amount)?
It isn't in frequency. It is in amount. And you usually know how long an assignment will last.

3. How accomodating are temp agencies placement-wise to those reliant on public transit?
Fairly understanding.

4. If I have good employment history in a specific field will a period of temp work adversely affect future job prospects?
No. There's probably no reason to even include it. You have a perfectly good reason.

5. Any health insurance/benefits typically provided?
Not usually, when it is you are close to full-time and have been for a while.
posted by Mozzie at 9:01 AM on January 29, 2008

A temp job is only on other people's terms and on other people's schedules and gives you virtually no control except to say 'no' and be completely unemployed.
posted by Kololo at 12:12 PM on January 29, 2008

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