What I Learned Working as a Temp for Six Months

By the time I graduated from Arizona State University, my life was pretty much planned out. Four years of extracurricular overachieving (campus radio, booking concerts, internships, etc.) had paid off in a big way when I received an offer for my dream job at a record label. I was greeted with an income, full benefits, a 401K, unlimited coffee, and a purpose. I had often lamented during my time in school that I would be far better utilized as an employee than a student.

Current college students, take note: Enjoy it as long as you possibly can. 

I spent seven years working, learning, and bouncing around to a few different roles in an industry that is constantly changing. I moved across the country to New York and back west to California, chasing opportunities that seemed like they could evolve where so many of the jobs in my business had become obsolete. I began to hit some bumps in 2014, starting with the revelation that my job of three years was being moved to a different office 400 miles away. Though I was offered a chance to transfer, I decided to stay behind and take a new role instead. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was only a contract position with no benefits or growth. So 10 months later, I was on the hunt again. I finally landed at a place I had hoped would be for the long haul, but it ended up being unbearably toxic. I was anxiety-ridden, completely fried, and disillusioned by my life's work. Without a job lined up, for the sake of my health, I felt like I had no choice but to quit.  

At first, it was actually kind of great. I had been working nonstop in some shape or form since I was 17 and always longed for a break. I did some traveling, took lots of naps, and dwelled in coffee shops among the screenwriters of Los Angeles. I took on a few freelance gigs and continued to interview for something permanent. Weeks turned into months, and opportunities came and went for one reason or another. I sent out countless résumés, and found roles that I wanted and some that I didn't (but fought for anyway). I was offered a couple positions that were great, but the pay wasn't. I was in the precarious position of being middle management level — too much experience, yet not enough. 

I was unable to claim unemployment since I left my previous job voluntarily, and my savings were going quickly. Of course, I started to panic. Up until that point, everything in my life had proven that when you work hard, you reap the rewards. This was the first time that wasn't happening. Despite burning out, I still knew that I wanted to stay on track with my career, but I didn't want to rush into another bad situation. 

As far as "in the meantime" roles, I felt pretty limited. I hadn't worked a retail or restaurant job in a decade, so I wouldn't even know how to sell myself as qualified. It's surprisingly cutthroat in a city like Los Angeles, where a lot of people need flexible day jobs in order to pursue acting and other creative endeavors. I also didn't want to take a full-time office gig and lie to a company about being all-in while planning my exit.

In other words, I was stuck.

I had worked in some pretty big offices, and we always had temps circulating for different projects or absences. I figured a temp role would keep me afloat, offer flexibility, and be more in line with the 40-hour-work-week life I had grown accustomed to. I scanned the job boards and, while I assumed I would have to go through one by one, I noticed a lot of those opportunities came from one agency. I met with the team there and discussed my experience and expectations. Within a week, I had my first placement as a data-entry clerk at a real estate company.

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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris