Written by Anne-Marie Jennings
Currently working on a contract, I actually received some good news this week. My short-term, part-time contract (which was only supposed to last six weeks) has now been extended another three weeks (which will make my contract nearly four months long)
Working as a short-term contract worker, the instability is probably the hardest part of all. Sure, having no benefits whatsoever can be trying, but never knowing how much longer you will be employed in a particular organization is, for me, always the worst part.
But I suppose, to some degree, we are all contract workers.
Working at jobs for a period of time – whether long or short – until such time that we decide to move on. The decision to move on might come after 20 weeks or after 20 years. but inevitably there comes a point when things must change.
We are all looking for security. For most people, being in a secure position is the one thing for which they are looking. If their job prospects are secure, everything else will ultimately fall into place…
…Or so they believe.
Because that’s what I used to believe as well. I thought that finally getting that long-term job would be the answer. But I now realize that it’s not the length of the perceived contract that makes one’s life what it is, but one’s life that makes the job what it becomes.
In my parents’ generation, many people have worked at the same job (or at least the same company) for as long as they can remember – some even right out of university. In the case of myself and my friends, very few of us have worked in the same company since we left university – nor do many of us expect to anymore.
But in the face of such instability, there remains a silver lining. For every job we take on, for every contract we accept, for every work experience we gain – regardless of the actual length of time – we gain valuable insight and experience that can only serve to benefit us in the long run. Everything we learn, every skill we either develop of hone, every contract contributes to the type of employee we ultimately become.
The trick becomes in finding the job experiences and important skills that will allows us to find the right path to our true calling. In some ways, it is a case of doing the job we have until we get the contract we want – a crude way of putting it, but not that far from the truth.
So many of us have become Jacks of all trades, and Masters of none.
Instability has become our reality. Our society has become increasingly more disposable – why shouldn’t our job market follow suit? We have all fallen victim to change, and that is something that will not change as we continue to move forward.
Sadly, this will make our future contracts that much more difficult – because there will be no room for continuity. No longer will there be co-workers who have every piece of important information locked away in some dusty filing cabinet (or inside their heads) to see how things have been done in the past. We will no longer have the luxury of being able to fall back on what has worked in the past – because none of us will have the foggiest idea what worked or failed in the years before we arrived on the scene.
For me, I sometimes think I feed off the instability. As I have come to realize that nothing lasts forever, I take pleasure in the journey, in learning what can from whatever company for which I happen to be working, and make the professional contacts and/or friendships that will only serve to benefit me in my future endeavours. Although all my jobs are loosely related and focus squarely on my careers goals, every job which I take on brings something new to my resume – and something for which my next employer might be looking…
Because I never take for granted the length of my contract..
After more than 20 years of real world experience, Anne-Marie Jennings could write just about anything – and probably has. Whether Anne-Marie was working as the sole employee of a bimonthly publication in the Arctic, as a Sports editor who also developed black & white film, or even as a Compliance Officer for Canada Post Corporation, Anne-Marie’s jobs have all involved the written word.
Now firmly entrenched among the under-employed, Anne-Marie will provide an unique perspective on finding your true career path – from the viewpoint of someone on that very search for herself. As she provides her insight through her contributions to the site, Anne-Marie is excited to begin the journey – and perhaps in doing so, finding her own way.
To find out more about Anne-Marie and her life in the Canadian North check out her blog
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