28 March 2015

The thing I miss most about being employed (apart from money, because duh)


Yesterday I experienced yet another question that I didn't know how to answer. Awkward. It was, "How do you do it? Moving from place to place?"

It came after being shown around the office that I'll be temping at next week, from the receptionist who I'll be covering for whilst she takes a week off on annual leave.

Wow, a voluntary week off work, that you're paid for. What a novelty.

But that isn't what I miss most (even though I *do* miss that. And a regular, comfortable sum of money at the end of the month).

What I miss most is being part of a team.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't like change. I like comfort. I like it to the point that sometimes I would rather be comfortable and bored, rather than uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Often, what is exciting to others is terrifying for me. But enough about that.

Being part of a team is definitely something I took for granted at TBS. I've recently discovered that you can be in the most monotonous job ever, but if you have the right people around you, it can actually be fun. It's an uncomfortable fact that you're at work for more hours a day than you are in the company of family and friends, so like it or not, your team are very important. I've heard nightmare-ish stories of bitchy people in the workplace and I can't think of anything worse - as if having to go to work isn't bad enough in the first place! 

I miss being part of a team. I miss having a work buddy. I miss abusing Microsoft Lync and subtly having mini conversations about what time to go for lunch, and despairing over my work load. I miss post-work drinks. I miss work parties. I miss the relationships you form with people you spend up to 10 hours a day with, the inside jokes, the familiarity. Having nicknames for people, saying "good morning" to everyone and them asking how my weekend was because they actually mean it, rather than out of politeness.

In my current situation, I don't stay anywhere for longer than a month. In fact, a month in one place seems like an age. My routine changes all the time. This fact only only struck me as odd when I asked how long the current receptionist had been in the role, and she responded with, "Oh, not long, since last August or so."

Obviously, so much in my life has changed since last August that the idea of feeling like a newbie after 6 months is baffling to me. 6 months? That's like, being at Marie Claire for 6 times as long as I was. That's 12 times as long as I was at Grazia for... 

And it depends what industry you're in, of course. It's become the norm for me to be in places for short periods of time because that's the nature of a magazine intern. C'est la vie. I see it all the time with other interns in features and fashion, and it's easy to forget that some of my friends have been working at the same place since they graduated in summer 2013. Woah

Me? I'm temping for a week as a receptionist in a law firm, then I have a week of freedom, and then I'm at a mag for three weeks, followed by 4 weeks at another.

I guess it's been good for me, learning how to slot into a company as quickly as possible. I've had to quickly learn about office dynamics, scope out the go-to person for useful information, the quickest route home, how to adapt my telephone manner depending on how corporate the company is... Not to mention I've met some amazing, inspiring people on the way.

But it's also very difficult. It's exhausting, having to make that all-important first impression a positive one, sometimes up to twice a month depending on the duration of my placement. And you can multiply that for every manager, partner and work colleague I meet.

I've learned that sometimes people don't even try to remember my name. I've learned that some people, rather than try to make me feel welcome, just ignore me. I've learned that I can be close to someone for two weeks and then most likely never see them again... Not out of choice, but out of circumstance.

The life of a temp/intern can be a lonely one. You're part of a team for a brief amount of time, and then you're gone, onto the next one. I'm very much an all-or-nothing girl, so as much as I smile and try to be a friendly and an enthusiastic employee, I'm weary of getting too attached to anyone, because I know in a matter of weeks I'll be saying goodbye. I remind myself of professional boundaries, and I keep my distance.

So I didn't really know how to answer the receptionist. Quite simply, the answer is smile, keep my situation at the forefront of my mind, and make sure I keep myself busy. The thing that keeps me sane is reminding myself that it is only temporary, and hopefully sometime soon I'll be able to associate myself as part of a team, again.

Until then, I'm team intern (and also team call-up-my-parents-and-have-a-cry-about-it. But I didn't think the receptionist would have been too impressed with that answer...).

Images all courtesy of We Heart It
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