Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Ooh, It's Temp-ting

Did I mention that I'm an intern?

Oh right, you got that.
Well, as an intern, it is par for the course that you make roughly enough to take a zone 1 tube and buy half a sandwich each day.

It is also likely that, like a resting actor, you will find yourself with the odd week or two inbetween internships with nothing to do.

The first few times this occured, I found loads to do. By which I mean I spent more time than necessary watching Loose Women in my pajamas, and realised that I was slowly morphing into a forty-year old housewife.

When it got to the stage where I was actually starting to take on the shape of the sofa, I realised that it was time to move on.

And I started a new, healthy relationship: Temping.

Temping, I have discovered, is a Purgatory-esque land in between a permanent job and an internship.

The obviously benefit is that, shock horror, you're actually being paid. My, was I proud the first time I received the payment receipt - "you mean...I do work, and people give me money? What is this promised land?"

But, as with an internship, you are on that strange periphery where you go in to work every day and yet aren't really relevant to the company. That slightly first-day-of-school feeling when you try to remember all the names of the people you've been introduced to? A common practice in temping. And even worse is when people just assume that you should know everyone off the bat.

"Intern (or, sorry, 'Temp'), could you pass this on to James please?"

"SURE!" [Bright smile.] "And he would be...?"

And even worse is finding your way around. As an intern, it is accepted you are new, and thus you get the perfunctory Office Tour (apart from at the dreaded online mag I interned at, where it took them most of the week before they showed me where the loo was). But, as a Temp, you are suddenly catapulted into a busy environment where no one has the time to hold your hand. Probably because they're too busy requesting cappucinos from the interns...

The best example of this was my recent experience of temping on a reception desk at an advertising agency. I was having a great time doing pretty much what I do interning, i.e. greeting the visitors, answering the phones and playing on the internet. I had been there for nearly a week when the other receptionist had the day off, and I was asked to help with a meeting-room setup.

Sure, great, I can handle this - plonk some biscuits here, chuck some tea bags in there, and voila! I'm a temping mastermind.

Only one problem...I had no idea where the meeting room was. In fact, having been basically confined to the reception desk for most of the week, I barely had any idea where the rest of the office was. Tricky when trying to negotiate a large service trolley and a small office.  Never one to back down easily (unless I'm asked to carry a TV), I set on my own merry way.

It's all about the process of elimination, right?

There were three meeting rooms.

Thank heavens for the Office Manager, who gently steered both me and the trolley in the right direction, or else I probably would have ended up setting the tea pot up in the bathroom.

Ah well, one small blip in a role where I learnt about as much as did in any of my other internships. And in return: the sweet smell of money.

Seriously, try it. It's temp-ting.

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