When you’re fresh out of college, temp work can serve as a ready source of cash as well as a great opportunity for gaining new skills and possibly landing a permanent job.

You may think a temporary job will have little value in your long-term career goals, but excelling at a temp job could prove beneficial to your future career in many ways.

First off, you should treat it like a full-time gig. The biggest mistake you can make is to treat the job as a throwaway, even if you’re only taking the assignment as a fill-in until the right opportunity presents itself.

You never know how a temp job could help you in the long run, so “consistently aim to go above-and-beyond in carrying out your assigned tasks, whatever they may be,” says career coach and professional resume writer Jan Melnick.

“Always offer to do more, fill in for other colleagues and assist staff in ways not expected or required. In short, make yourself professionally visible and indispensable,” Melnick says.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s critical that you use every day as an opportunity to demonstrate value to the organization. Even if you know this particular job will end, think of it as one more investment in your future, says Kim Lockhart, regional vice president of the temporary staffing firm Spherion Corp. in Chicago.

“All too often, people take their position for granted after they are hired,” Lockhart says. “But if a temporary worker truly wants to distinguish themselves from the competition, it is critical that they be a good team player.”

If you leave a great impression with a wide group of co-workers and supervisors while working on a temporary assignment, you’ll boost your network of people who may be able to connect you with other job opportunities down the road.

“You never know what contacts you might make, the connections you’ll develop and the references you can build by giving it your 110-percent best effort,” Melnick says.

Also, take advantage of opportunities to pick up new skills and enhance your marketability.

“If you fail to make the most out of your temporary assignment and view the completion of each temp assignment as simply a paycheck for that week, you will never forward the progression of your career,” Lockhart says.

Basic mistakes like showing up late, not getting along with co-workers or not completing assigned tasks on time could blow your chance at landing a full-time job.

Finally, be sure to leave a lasting impression. Managers may see a lot of temps come and go over time, so it’s key to stand out amongst the pack.

“Write and mail a thank-you note to every manager after every temp assignment,” says Kevin Donlin, author of “51 Ways to Find a Job Fast — Guaranteed!” (Guaranteed Resumes, $14.95). “If you mail a thank-you note to the boss after a temp project well-done, you’ll take a huge leap towards getting that full-time job.”

Even if the temp job doesn’t lead to a job in your specific field, it can lead to full-time hours, at least until you find your real job. That’s the scenario Heidi Thompson took advantage of after being hired as a part-time holiday employee at the Abercrombie & Fitch in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

“You have to establish yourself as someone who wants to be there and someone who wants to work,” says Thompson. “It sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many people who get temporary jobs before Christmas aren’t exactly the most motivated employees.”

Thompson says she didn’t think she was doing anything special while folding clothes and assisting customers, but it was enough to get her noticed.

“I asked if they needed help in the spring, and they said they’d call me in January,” Thompson says. “They called a week later and offered me about 20 hours a week.”

Buy "Calling All Grads" Kindle eBook. Job tips for college gradsThis article was excerpted from the new eBook “Calling All Grads! Turn a Degree into a Job,” edited by careers writer and editor Marco Buscaglia and published by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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