Temporary temptations; Nothing lasts forever, and that's just the way temps like it.; CONVERSATIONS


Rodricko "Ricko" Zamorano is the temp's temp.

After just 18 months of continuous work as a temporary employee in Sonoma, Calif., he was recently named 1999 National Temporary Employee of the Year by the American Staffing Association. That's no small accomplishment in a burgeoning industry: The association reports that 90 percent of companies use temporary help services and that the daily employment of temporary workers (from "ditch digger to CEO") has increased an average of 11 percent per year over the last five years.

Zamorano was honored because he both typifies and is atypical of temps across the country, says Timothy W. Brogan, the Virginia-based association's public information manager.

While he exemplifies the "hard work and dedication of all temporary employees throughout the year," the 35-year-old Zamorano, who is working his way through law school at the University of California Berkeley, also has kept his assignments longer than the average three to five months. In that sense, Brogan says, Zamorano represents a growing trend within the industry: choosing temporary employment, with its flexibility and variety, as a career option.

Zamorano, a paralegal, has held positions in numerous fields, from the foreclosure and bankruptcy department at a mortgage firm to Sonoma Valley wineries, where he poured wine in tasting rooms. These days, he's actually working at FirstSearch Employment, the Sonoma temp agency he originally signed up with. For Zamorano, his experiences all add up to a well-rounded life, not the aimless, at-loose-ends existence temping was once considered.

Why were you selected for this honor?

Geez. I think it was due to my versatility, my willingness to stick with a job and put my best foot forward. Also, my professionalism and doing it all with a smile.

What skills did you bring to the temporary employment world?

I've educated myself in the engineering field, the legal field and the art world. I'm pretty well-rounded and people-oriented.

Finding temp work is not just a matter of knowing how to type these days.

Exactly. You're able to incorporate all avenues of your prior learning, and it translates well into either short-term or long-term positions.

Why did you choose to be a temp?

One reason was flexibility. The other was being able to learn different personalities and jobs. It allowed me to stay sharp.

How did the wine-pouring job rate?

It was very relaxing. It's not like work to be with people who are having fun. It's a little different than foreclosures.

Why did you want to experience all of these jobs?

One, it's a great networking tool. And two, it helps to find a field that feels comfortable. While we're in school, or job searching, we'll get with a company and then find it's not the field for us, and you've already expended maybe anywhere from two to four years of your life.

As a temporary employee in the "new economy," have you replaced any full-time workers?

I think yes and no. I'm more likely to be assisting an individual to catch up or reach a deadline. Or maybe it would be a job that falls between two departments.

Have you sensed hostility from full-timers?

I haven't experienced any negative factors. I just try to go in and do what's requested. If you go with a positive attitude, it may translate into maybe more of an acceptance.

What is the down side of temping?

I think it may be just that sense of job insecurity. And maybe the commute.

What was your worst commute?

One of my longest was probably about 25 miles in each direction. Depending on the traffic, that took up to an hour and a half.

How has being the National Temporary Employee of the Year affected your life?

I've actually been on the local news and made the local and county papers.

What will you do during your reign?

You know it's a running joke with friends, that they'll say, "How is Miss America today?" I do intend to do some volunteer work here.

Do you ever feel as if you took an overly wayward path to finding a career?

Definitely there are times when I wish I remained focused. But other times, I'm glad I've taken my time. If you have one focus and you get to where you want to be, you live your career, and then I don't think you're as personable. All the time I took definitely made me more well-rounded.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad