What I Learned as a Temp/Freelancer/Unemployed Person

For about the past year I’ve worked as a temp, freelancer, and unpaid freelancer mixed in with a period of unemployment.  There were good times (experiencing different industries, free booze at seats at a Major League baseball game, etc.) and there were bad times (endless boredom, ever changing schedules, etc. ) but all in all, each experience taught me something new and helped me develop a new skill or two.  I think what I’ve learned can apply to anyone whether you’re employed full time, part time, or not at all.  So here is it…

Advocate for yourself

…because no one else will.  If you’re not having your basic needs met or need someone to help you; say something.  Most of the time (in my experience) your supervisor has no idea what you’re doing because they’re busy with their own work.  It’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure you have the means to do your job and even if you do, it’s ok to ask for help if you need it.  You should also speak up for yourself if you believe you can contribute more.  It really sucks to be in a job where your skills aren’t being utilized when you know they could be.

Always do your best

…even if you really don’t want to.  As a temp or freelancer, it’s easy to think “I’m only here temporarily, it really doesn’t matter if I don’t *insert something you should do*”.  That’s a bad attitude and can come back to haunt you.  The six degrees of separation that exists in the world won’t always work out to your benefit; you don’t always know how other people will be able to help (or hurt) you in the future.  Don’t burn bridges by being lazy.

Roll with the punches

…without losing your sanity.  This was something I really struggled with – working at a startup and then on a freelance contract with no set hours was a huge challenge for me (plus being unemployed and having no idea what to do with myself).  As someone who loves structure, organization, and routine I was exiled my comfort zone.  Even though I hated it, I knew I had to deal with it so instead of freaking out when I had no idea what my schedule would be like for the week (or day-to-day) I just had to accept it.  It’s also very difficult to walk into a new office, with new people, and an entirely different job repeatedly and just “go with the flow”.  But if that’s a skill you can master, in any part of your life, you’ll do just fine no matter what life throws at you.

Keep your head up

always.  This is the most important lesson I learned and one of the most important things to do in any life situation.  Most situations are temporary, both the good and the bad, and it’s important to keep that in mind.  When things are good, be thankful and enjoy them.  When things are bad, persevere and remember that nothing lasts forever (except for when you get glitter in your apartment).  If you feel like you’re drowning – take a step back, take a deep breath, and think positive thoughts.  It can be so easy to think “everything sucks, I hate my life,” but challenge yourself to think about something positive, even if it’s something small.

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