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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2002

Full time oft tough balancing act


Staff writer

For three young women, working as temps matches both their career plans and their private lives.

Hiroko Wakimoto began a career working as a full-time employee at a German manufacturing company in Japan. She later worked at a Vienna-based tour agency for two years, where she acquired a strong command of business English. She switched to temp work upon her return to Japan, as she wanted to pursue both her university studies and work.

Married at 29, she now works as a temp through Adecco Career Staff at a major American bank.

Though she temporarily worked full-time in between in the fashion industry to fulfill her dream of working in public relations, she found that her married life soon became affected and returned to the same job at the bank, where she works as a secretary to a director and a staff of 20.

Now 33, she said her current work environment is very comfortable, giving her also time to take care of household chores.

"Many of my friends are either overworked as full-time employees or bored with monotonous part-time jobs. With my current job, I can enjoy the best of both worlds," she said.

Tomoko Nagata, 29, said that her boss gives her a great deal of responsibility and new challenges even though she works as a temp.

Through Pasona Inc., she is on her second year working as a secretary to a marketing director of a foreign medical instruments manufacturer.

Her day starts with a meeting with her boss on the day's work flow.

"Schedule management, conference setting and preparing presentation materials are my main duties. Coordination for a major academic meeting in October has been added to my tasks recently," she said.

The job is an exciting challenge for Nagata, who studied at a U.S. college after graduating from junior college in Japan.

"It's very busy, and the job requires quick action to cope with everyday occurrences, but it's an excellent opportunity to gain new experience and upgrade my career," she said.

Nagata started her career working as a full-time employee at a Japanese firm.

"At that time, 90 percent of my time was spent in work. Though I wanted to spend some time studying or for hobbies, it was impossible due to many hours of unpaid overtime," she said.

"With the present job, I am able to maintain a balance between work and my own time. Pasona also provides counseling and various other assistance services so that temps can receive consultations and advice about their career or everyday work issues. That gives us a sense of security."

Mika Ueno, 27, became a temp in the pursuit of a job she wanted all the time.

While working full-time at a leasing company, she studied in the evenings and on weekends at a school to become a CAD (computer aided design) operator, to acquire the skills, hoping to one day become an interior coordinator.

As her husband, whom she recently married, also works in the field of interior design, Ueno thinks her career change is also good in the sense that the couple will keep having a common topic of conversation.

Now working as a temporary CAD operator through the job agency Act Technical Support Inc., Ueno produces construction-related plans at a major Japanese firm.

"In an industry where work experience is one's most important asset, having a chance to work at such a major company is one of the advantages of working as a temp," she said, adding that she also has opportunities to learn new software in her job.

While she enjoyed working at her former company in the leasing business, she felt that something was missing.

"Everyone was very nice, and the work was interesting. But it didn't seem that people were pursuing their dreams," she said.

"If I would have stayed another year in that company, my salary would have gone higher, which would have made it even more difficult to leave from an already comfortable environment. I thought it was a good time to switch," Ueno said.

She is preparing to achieve her dream by taking interior design-related courses on her days off, such as those for acquiring an official license for colors.



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