The Temp Job Tour of Duty

There are many people who go through life without experiencing the joys that temporary work can bring you. In some ways that statement can be taken as a joke and in others quite serious. As a young adult with no less than 6 previous jobs, all of them part time or temporary, I feel like I’ve experienced pretty much all of what the minimum-wage brigade of temporary workers experience. Although now my current temporary job is rather well paid in comparison, most of my previous jobs have not been office-based and air-conditioned.

I began my journey into the world of “urrgh, I need money” at age 17 when during college I took an after-class job cleaning the school’s art department. The job was cleaning in a very loose term, since the company seemed happy enough to hire a bunch of students and leave them in a messy studio for two hours with no real supervision. Most of the work could be done within an hour and then we were free to do what we wanted. “What we wanted” often included fights with clay, dancing the waltz with waxing machines and playing flash games on the computers.

£5 an hour wasn’t enough for the ambitious younger me (though I to this day have no idea what I spent my £300 monthly wage on) and so I jumped at the chance to take up the role of potwash at my local garden centre’s restaurant. This would turn out to be one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. I’d be elbow deep in kitchen grease, old food and discarded tea bags (sometimes only an hour in) and often working non-stop for the entire seven hour shift. I pulled my old apron from the cupboard the other day and five years later it still smells of grease.

Luckily university and a little thing called a Student Loan came to my rescue and I spent my first three years of university blissfully avoiding any form of work. It was when I started my master’s degree that suddenly the need for money returned. Having to pay my way though my degree and my living expenses drained my (scary adult) bank loan very quickly and I was forced to take up cleaning once again, this time for the halls around my university’s campus. I’ll spare the details but highlights included cleaning poo from a floor, disposing of used tampons stuck to a duvet and attempting to discover what in a student’s room smelt like stale haddock.

Finishing my degree I returned home and back to the temp agencies. After doing one more shift of pot washing (and reminding myself to never do it again) I found myself doing data entry in a pretty draining 37.5 hour week for moderately good pay, most of which I used to pay off the loan I took out during my masters. The few hours a day I do get to myself I generally spend fruitlessly applying for jobs online (this sort of links to my previous post). I have no time to write anymore, so my portfolio dwindles and dwindles. This, added to my “non journalistic” background means that I’m fast getting stuck in my temp job.

I’ve rambled a bit but the point remains, temp work is a necessary evil it seems, and one that most students and graduates have no choice but to embrace in this current job market. I have to admit, having the money is a pleasing thing. It’s the keeping it that’s the problem I’m finding at the moment.

(written on a train between Peterborough and Nottingham).

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