2 February 2015

The life and times of a temp

Image: WeHeartIt

As it reaches the end of the week, you get a sinking feeling.

No one has contacted you to arrange an assignment for the following week, and the panic starts to set in. It's not over until it's over, you tell yourself, as you check your phone for missed calls from 'Private number' and refresh your emails for the upteenth time.

It's 4pm on Friday, and your patience wears thin. You decide to get the truth straight out. Is there any work? Should I start considering becoming an - admittedly rubbish - escort in order to pay rent?

It could go one of two ways. Either, JACKPOT, there's been a last minute assignment that's popped up and you can breathe a sigh of relief. OR, there's nothing, and you agree to attend the - shudder - "sit-in service."

As a temp, the sit-in service is the worst. It presents you at your most vulnerable: out of work and penniless. You're so desperate for work that you voluntarily sit in the agency offices between 8:30am and 10:30am on the off-chance an opportunity arises.

Not to mention, "sit-in service" sounds like I'm off to get checked for STDs, which is way, WAY off the mark.

At best, you sit-in (which involves either sitting in reception, or an isolated place like a kitchen, by yourself or with a stranger in the same position. Maybe they think desperation is contagious?) and after half an hour or so, you're assigned. From there, you're given a quick lowdown of what you're expected to do, the finish time, and a map. Then you're off.

However, from my experience, the following happens: I arrive too early, blow some of my non-existent income on a coffee to prevent waiting outside and freezing to death, then sit amongst 6-month old weekly magazines, expected to "go with the flow" and wait around like a lemon.

Most recently, I was sat in a freezing kitchen (it wasn't their intention for me to be a heating-less room, they aren't sadists) reading about 2014’s summer trends and Cara Delevingne's relationship with Michelle what's-her-face. Then an assignment came in, and all seemed too good to be true. I went on my way and arrived 5 minutes later (luckily, it was just around the corner). A minute later, I got a call to say the client had cancelled, and tail between my legs, I returned to the agency's office. But no biggie - there might be something else in the pipeline. However, an hour later I discovered this was NOT the case, and was sent home at half past 10, feeling more useless than ever.

"Maybe next time", they say, with a sympathetic smile on their face. I try not to scream BUT THE SIT-IN SERVICE IS LIKE PURGATORY, I'D RATHER KICK A KITTEN. And I'm not exaggerating - it is like purgatory: you're sat between unemployment and employment for a brain-numbing few hours, with your fate out of your control. Instead of screaming and stamping my feet in frustration, I smile back with an optimistic "Maybe! I don't have anything booked in [insert day here]" and before I know it, I've agreed to return.

And the thing is, I'll return every time. Even if it means getting up early, not knowing whether I'm about to waste two hours idly flicking through magazines and buying overpriced coffee and feeling like I've hit rock bottom. Because at the end of the day: I need it. If I don't at least try to get work, I'll spend the day feeling guilty, thinking: what if?

At least if I sit-in and I'm released a few hours later, job-less, I'll know I've tried everything. You win some, you lose some, right? And don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that agencies offer the chance to get impromptu work for the day because of course it means extra money when you didn't expect any. It's just another unfortunate consequence of being at the mercy of *the man*.

Has anyone else worked as a temp and sat in? Tell me about your experiences and we can share the pain together ;)


  1. Oh Sofie, I really hope you come accross a job offer soon. Don't get discouraged and keep searching!

    If you allow me the mum-advice (if not just disregard this paragraph and feel free to tell I'm not your real mum and I don't get to tell you what to do, lol), think about doing online courses or whatever related to your field while you don't find anything. Something you can add to your CV; you'll feel less like you're wasting time! Finding free resources can be a pain, but there are still some out there. :)

  2. Sofie-Eliza Price4 February 2015 at 09:04

    I am currently interviewing - I have things in the pipeline but nothing is certain :)

    I allow all advice, Mum-esque or otherwise! I struggle to find online courses that are free, and one that I did find - focused on digital marketing - said that I hadn't been selected because there were people *more worthy*/needy than me. Can you believe it?

  3. What the heck, really. o_o

    I've been recommended this page: https://www.coursera.org/

    They have loads of free courses. Haven't tried it myself yet, but it does look good and I plan on doing some marketing or PR courses in the future, since it's a world that fascinates me. Maybe the page works well for you!

  4. Sofie-Eliza Price4 February 2015 at 11:24

    Really! Okay, I'll check it out. Thank you!


Blog Design Created by pipdig