One of the things I do on a casual basis is temping for work and income.
As you can understand, being an independent consultant is difficult and a struggle at the best of times. There comes a time when you have to bite the bullet and pick up casual work when you can get it.
So I swallowed my pride and called a local recruiter and asked to meet her so that I could introduce myself. With her connections, I wanted to find work that was relatively easy to do, quick to learn and could afford me the anonymity – and the freedom – of doing a job that had nothing to do with corporate learning and development. This meant general administration, data entry and receptionist work.
Imagine my surprise when my first job was to be the receptionist at the front desk of the Synchrotron.
My recruiter called me up and apologetically asked if I was interested in the role. Interested? I JUMPED at the chance.
“Do you know what it is?” she asked.
“Of course!” I exclaimed. “It’s Australia’s one and only high-speed particle accelerator. It speeds up electrons to a beam which is a million times the strength of sunlight and this beam is used in various research programs to explore things that usual x-rays, microscopes and other machines can’t see!”
“Okay, you got the job,” she said. “Obviously you’ve got some interest in it.”
A couple of weeks ago, I did my first job there and I LOVED IT SO MUCH that I asked to be on their books so that I could be their back up when they need me. The recruiter passed on that I had made an impression and were quite happy to have me back again. *fist pump*
(Since then there have been other temping jobs because I recently found out that employers are looking for “mature older senior women” (I’m classified as one now) because apparently, they’ve better customer service skills. It’s weird my age and not my qualifications are a focus, but I’m not dwelling on this and instead, taking advantage of it).
What did I like about the role?
First of all, I met people whom I would never have otherwise met – EVER. They are simply not in my line of work. Even though I started out as an organic chemist myself, nowadays, I struggle to even meet anyone from this field. On the day, I met scientists, researchers, students on tours had come along to see this amazing facility which is the only one of its kind in Australia.
Second of all, it got me out of my usual comfort zone and thinking about learning and development; or where my next consulting gig was going to come from. It afforded me the mental break I needed and admittedly, the small amount of income was also some relief.
In this job, I could work with relative freedom and ease making sure that people who came here had a seamless experience with meeting who they needed to meet. No one would ask me a question about Learning and Development or ask me about social networks or social media. Instead, I was the one asking all the questions in the form of social chit-chat and finding out about the GREAT work and research projects these people were doing. It made my work seem not insignificant…but different. Theirs seemed larger, more impactful and of major benefit to community, society and the world. I was in awe.
What wasn’t to like?
Thirdly, the job was made easy because of the excellent performance support tools and checklists that the receptionist had left for me. Everything was laid out that I could follow step-by-step and it made me realise the importance of having these processes and procedures clearly defined. There were actions to be taken to set up the reception area in the morning and closing up in the afternoon; as well as how mail was handled; security procedures and fire alarms. I also made my first sale of Synchrotron knick knacks when a couple of science postgraduates came in and wanted a souvenir of the place. Overall, my temping experience has been thoroughly positive and rewarding because I come back home satisfied with what I have achieved that day and which is as simple as making sure everyone is welcomed to the Synchrotron.
Now, I’m looking forward to this temping role that has entered my life and I proudly can say that I’m the receptionist (albeit back up) for Australia’s premier science facility.
My Synchrotron Snap Story
Tour of the Synchrotron
Research at the Synchrotron
This blog post by Helen Blunden was written in Melbourne, Australia and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.