Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Remember that time when I almost had a mental breakdown at my bank job and decided to give my two-weeks notice? Yeah, I remember that too. After taking a mini Eat, Pray, Love trip for two weeks, I realized that I needed to get back into the working world. I had a close friend who was successful as a temp/contractor, so I decided to take my chances.
Being that banking was the only profession that I knew at the time, getting immediate contract work in the administrative field was slow. But eventually my skill set diversified, and I ultimately landed numerous temporary positions with well-known companies.
I learned fairly quickly that at some establishments, people view temps and contractors as second-class citizens. Sort of like an illegitimate child who shows up at a family reunion. Sometimes the staff can be excellent and show a tremendous amount of kindness to temps. At other times, my former colleagues made it obvious that I was disposable. Recruiters weren’t off the hook either. Some of them could be so charming because they wanted to earn a decent commission ultimately. Then, they would lose interest and disappear until it was time to let me know that my contract was over. Either way, as a contractor I’ve learned not to get too comfortable in a new work environment. Having been told twice that my contract was being cut prematurely, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. I must admit that I've shed a tear when my contract ended earlier than anticipated.
As a contractor, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I’ll apply to all my career endeavors:
- Always do my best, no matter what.
- Be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the workday.
- Keep in mind the greater goal of why I’m needed by a company and exceed their expectations.
- Rely more on myself when at work and only ask questions if I’m not at least 75% sure of the answer.
- Don’t take anything personally.
As a contractor, I’ve learned a lot about patience. In the past, I’ve received calls for multiple job opportunities in one week, and then I’d go a month without working. I’ve been exposed to office environments and job functions that have shown me what I exceed in and who I want to be professional. And at least I can pop my collar and say that I get paid to learn new skills. For those of us who graduated from high school or college during the height of the recession, it’s important to strive to be a Jack/Jill of all trades. Contract work enabled me to build upon my skill set and be qualified for higher paying jobs than I would as solely a bank teller. Most importantly, whenever one contract position ends, I can dust myself off, update my resume, and get back out there.
So you may be asking if I’m still a contractor and yes I am! I don’t want to do contract work forever but my current role is stable, and I can still say that I get paid to learn new skills in a fascinating industry! Now that I’m thirty, I’ve realized that nothing is truly a wasted experience and that every road that I take ultimately leads me to the person that I’m striving to become. If I could talk to my 25-year-old self who was so lost, broken and scared when I decided to enter the world of contract work, I would tell her that she made the right decision. So I’ll continue to slay all day.
Astrid | Contributor