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Anyone worked as a part-timer through a temp agency?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by aschaefe, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. aschaefe

    aschaefe New Member

    The major metro where I'm interning this semester (my last in college) just offered me a 35-hour per week part-time position on the sports copy desk (where I've been interning) through a temp agency. The desk chief wasn't too clear on what the exact benefits are, but he said there's some limited 401(k) health and (maybe) dental. It'd be about $25k per year, or $490 per week. I'm interviewing Friday for a full-time, non-sports copy editing/design job at a 27k circulation daily on the outskirts of the same metro area Friday. This job would have full benefits. Unless the latter paper really wows me, my preference, just from a work standpoint, would be the major metro. Anyone have any experience or advice with this?
  2. Bill Brasky

    Bill Brasky Active Member

    I have never heard of papers going through temp agencies to find people to work on the copy desk. For obit clerks and receptionists, yeah, but not copy deskers. Seems odd.
    About 10 years ago, I did some temp work. The deal with them was that you got paid by the temp agency for a certain period (six weeks or two months, something like that), after that you were working directly for the employer.
    Personally, I think you're better off with the full benefits job, unless the money really sucks.
  3. aschaefe

    aschaefe New Member

    Also, how will working as a part-timer as opposed to full-time affect me as far as opportunities for advancement? It would be a difference of five hours per week, but would people looking at my resume in the future think less of me for working part-time as opposed to full and if so, how much less?

    As far as the money goes, like I said, the temp job would be about $25k, and when I asked this board in another thread how much I could expect to make with the full-time job, people said $25-28k. I'll found out for sure on Friday, I guess. Of course, this could all be moot if I don't actually get the offer. But considering they called me back the day I sent in my stuff and want to interview me for five hours, I think I've got a good chance.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    It's journalism. Unless they're paying him Albom money, the pay's gonna suck.

    It's just how much suckitude he wants and whether it's for bennies or not.
  5. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    The temp agency connection sounds really odd, but I guess it's possible. All the jobs I've gotten through temp agencies have been light industrial work, like making washing-machine parts and assembling Hickory Farm gift boxes.

    I wouldn't sell the smaller paper short. Bigger papers are gutting themselves left and right these days (Tampa, San Jose, etc.). Smaller papers, in certain markets, are far more stable and profitable. It's good to have options right out of college, but don't assume bigger is necessarily better.
  6. aschaefe

    aschaefe New Member

    I should also mention that I love what I'm doing at the big paper now, and could definitely see myself doing it happily for a while. By contrast, I picked up a copy of the smaller paper to prepare for the interview, and the front-page story was about a shed burning down. I'll certainly give them a chance to impress me with the interview, but right now the big paper leads by a wide margin in terms of my interests.
  7. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    That's awesome. Sounds like typical hyper-local Gannett to me.
  8. mdpoppy

    mdpoppy Member

    Both companies my parents worked at used their fair share of temp workers and, if a higher-up position opened, the temps typically had the first crack at them.

    Heck, my Mom was a "temp" for five years before moving up. Funny thing is, if they didn't need her to work, they would lay her off for a week. She loved it -- claim unemployment for the week and get paid more since her last two jobs paid much, much more.

    Enough of the rant ... I don't think it should affect you that much if you want to move up. But note that you're just that much easier to axe as a temp.
  9. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you like what you're doing now at the metro, and that you've already all but made up your mind.

    But if you do take the metro part-time job, go in with your eyes open. Make sure you realize that, although you will be working at the paper, you will not be working for the paper. You will be working for the temp agency. What you will be in, essentially, is a slightly-more-secure-and-regularly-timed, but-still-a-freelance, or-contracted, position.

    This can be a good thing these days. You will not actually be on the paper's budget. Ergo, you will probably not be a target for a layoff, because when the bean-counters start counting, they won't start with the beans that you're among. They'll be considered separate, different piles of beans. But be cognizant of your place going in.

    You need to realize -- and this is a biggie connected to what I wrote previously, and easier said than done -- but you need to understand that you are not truly part of the staff. They are making no real, official commitment to you. This was always a sore spot for me -- one of my own doing -- during times I freelanced for writing, or the one time I had a temp job at a paper. I did it first to break in, and then when I'd been out of work a few months and needed a job, and I was always treated well. But..part of what I love about newspapers is the being a part of it; and I never truly felt like I was unless/until I was officially hired.

    But if you're fine with the set-up, and know that you'll always be fine with it (because, face it, it may never change; things are bad at papers, and really, why should they hire you if you're doing the work anyway?), then this could be a great opportunity. Especially if it's the type of work you want to do for the long-term, anyway.

    If that's the case, there are two other things to make sure and do -- preferably before you accept the metro job. First, check with both the temp company (the agency) and the host company (the paper) and make sure of and be clear about just how temporary this job is. (Is it long-term, but seasonal? Only for the duration of the school year? Is it anticipated to start over again each September? If so, will you likely get a call-back? Or, is the job truly indefinite, or what? How/when will I be paid? What is covered, and expensed, etc, if anything, and how?).

    It sounds like you're trying to do some of this, but be sure to dot the i's and cross the t's.

    Then, once you address the particulars, try to feel out the newspaper about the future, and if/when a staff position of a similar level/responsibility might ever be available. Try to get a sense of whether or not you would be considered among the top candidates for such a spot.

    Major metros often go outside for things, trying to get the very best. That is changing somewhat because of budget issues and the need for papers to just go with what they've got.

    But that brings up another possible issue: Would the paper fill a sports desk opening simply by moving someone -- a staff someone -- with probably more experience and seniority than you who needs a safe place in these turbulent times -- from in-house (maybe even from another department) rather than hiring you, or anybody else, into it?

    I'm probably bringing up too many possible scenarios here, but the point is, it behooves you to try to find out just how much they like you and might be willing to commit to you, even if you might have to wait awhile for it. You should sort of do an interview of them.

    Of course, you could think you'd be OK, and fine and happy with everything at the metro regardless -- I did that once -- and just decide to deal with the future when it happens, too.

    I just wanted to put some things out there for your consideration.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Were they staff part-timers? Or real free-lancers/temps? Easiest distinction is probably made via the bylines.

    Honestly, it seems like the freelancers are safer than the staff members these days, for obvious reasons having to do with the costs of salaries, benefits, raises, etc.

    And in the original poster's case, it sounds like the temp agency, not the paper, will be covering the costs of him.
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I guess you're right about that, buckweaver. Unfortunately.

    God, I hope things change for the better -- whatever the format -- at some point in the not-too-distant future.
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