It’s no big secret that as an actress, i’ve had to work on my hustling skills.
Between every absolutely amazing and awesome acting job, there has been a period where I’ve sat with my head in my hands wondering how I’ll make enough money to pay the rent each month.
But after a fair amount of time of trying different “resting” jobs, I’ve finally found my perfect “i’m-pretending-to-be-a-real-human-whilst-also-trying-to-remain-flexible-for-acting-work” jobs. And that… is TEMPING.
“TEMPING? BUT WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY TEMPING?”, I hear you cry.
Essentially, I take on temporary office work to cover office holidays, maternity leave, or as extra support during a busy period. However, when you’re used to prancing about in ridiculous costumes, doing vocal warm ups in every area of the building you work and stretching on random bits of set, you can forget how normal people in normal working environments behave.
AND SO.. I create this, my guide on How to survive as an Office Temp. Especially if, like me, you feel like an office is an alien planet of which you are entirely fearful of.
- ALWAYS dress smart on the first day. Dress too smart. Like embarrassingly smart. Like you’re a contestant on The Apprentice smart. It’s better this than showing up in jeans (eveeeen if the recruiter tells you it’s casual… IGNORE THEM. “Oh, you’re in jeans. Right. We have a dress code here.” THANKS RECRUITER FOR LETTING ME KNOW THAT JEANS WERE GONNA BE FINE WHEN THEY WEREN’T!) Essentially, it’s better to be too smart and be able to show up for the rest of the week looking awesome in your dress down attire, than showing up on the first day and everyone remember you as that girl who thought it was appropriate to show up to work in vans and cut off denim.
- Get good at making tea. Making tea is the sure fire way to earning people’s trust. If you can make a good cup of tea, and remember the way they like it the next time you make one, you’ll already start to feel like part of the furniture.
- TAKE NOTES. Especially if the computer system looks like it was created in the 70’s (of which on my last temp job, it was. It was horrific. I felt like a hacker.) Take as many notes as possible so that you don’t have to constantly repeat questions. It shows initiative, plus it means you can get your head down and get on with work. The quicker you work, the quicker to 5pm and a cheeky G&T.
- Get out of the office at lunch. If you are not used to an office environment, I can guarantee that by lunch you will need a break from the strip lighting and the scent of stale coffee. So get outside, go for a walk. Rest those square eyes after the hours of screen gazing. Sometimes a breath of fresh air is the boost you need to get you through that 3pm lull.
- Socialize. Nothing says “I’m-the-temp” than someone who doesn’t talk to their peers, doesn’t get involved in the events or even goes for a 5pm drink. It’s awkward as hell, especially if you’re only there for a couple of weeks, but your life will be so much easier if you go to work knowing that you can chat to the people sat either side of your desk.
- Be open about other commitments. I made sure that every employer KNEW I was an actor and would therefore be expected to head off for auditions. I was honest about it from day one, and because of this my employers would usually let me work flexibly on those days (take a longer lunch, make it up the following day, etc, etc.) Honesty is the best policy. Plus, it’s a great way to break the ice as I can guarantee that your colleagues will be so interested to hear about someone who has an entirely different profession. Whether you’re temping to save money before going travelling, or trying to gain experience in different work environments, tell people. It means people can get to know you, and not just see you as “the temp”.
- Take the work seriously. You might only be there for 2 days, but if you take the work seriously, then people will take you seriously too. I’m not saying that you can’t have a laugh on the job, but do some work! They are paying you good money, so show them you’re worth it. And just maybe they’ll ask you back.
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