On Monday and Tuesday last week, I applied for a load of jobs and went around a load of temping agencies. This was almost entirely a complete waste of time, because almost all of the temping agencies took my CV and filed it into /dev/null. One of the agencies even refused to take my CV, because my most recent experience of office work was in 1997 and that was deemed too long ago, despite the fact that I haven't stopped using a computer since then! Only one of the agencies really expressed any desire to take me on, and I'd made an appointment to come in on Wednesday morning to take a typing test, etc.
Well, I got woken up early on Wednesday by a phone call from one of the market research companies I'd applied to in the summer. I'd left my name and phone number on several places' answerphones, but none of them had got back to me. A woman told me "we're recruiting again, would you be able to come in for an interview?". I said "OK, when?", and she said "How about 3 o'clock today?". So then I found myself with two job interviews on the same day.
The agency thing went well. The girl at the agency wasn't particularly interested in me, and just sat me down to take a typing test and a test on my ability to use Word and Excel. After I'd done that, she looked at my results, and was suddenly very interested. It turns out that I can apparently type at 72 words per minute, and that I am rated as an expert user of Word and Excel. So then she asked me all sorts of questions and promised to find me work. Which was nice. I was only supposed to be an hour in there, but she asked me so many questions that I only just made the train in time to get to the other interview.
So I went up to this market research company in London Bridge, expecting to hate it but thinking I'd be able to stick the job for a couple of months, and found that it was a really nice place. They asked me a couple of questions and offered me the job on the spot, if I could come in for a training the next day. So I did the training on Thursday, and started work on Friday.
This place I'm working is a call centre, and the job I'm doing is market research interviewing. It sounds pretty evil, but I actually like it. There are many advantages:
- I can wear what I want to work. This is a huge advantage, as I've been a student for so long that I don't have very many smart "office" clothes, and I really don't want to be spending my first couple of paycheques on clothes.
- The shifts are extremely flexible - there are three shifts on weekdays and two at weekends, and I can work whatever hours I like as long as I do at least three shifts per week.
- Most of the people who work there are young and energetic - at least mentally!
- People seem to be friendly, but not too friendly - they'll talk to you when you're on break together, but there's no pressure to go to the pub with them or anything like that. This suits me immensely, as one thing I hated about my PhD was the continual pressure to do social things with the work group.
- The job is extremely easy - it's just talking to people and asking them questions. I really like using the phone, and I'm happy to sit and natter to people about their opinions on things. Surprisingly, once people realise you're not trying to sell them anything, they do tend to be willing to answer questions. There's also a lot of data entry, and this too, is easy.
- There's no bloody paper-shuffling - and no chance that anyone will ask me to use a photocopier! Honestly, I hate bloody photocopiers - I hate photocopying almost more than anything else I can think of being asked to do in a job.
Even some of the disadvantages can be turned around to be advantages:
- It's in London Bridge, which is some distance from where I live. However, the journey is quite easy, and because I can do the whole thing by train, it's not very expensive. Also, having to walk for half an hour every day is useful exercise which I wouldn't otherwise be getting.
- Until we're fully trained, they're only letting us work evening and weekend shifts. Which is a pain in the arse, but actually a good thing because working, after not working for so long, is knackering. I come home every day and collapse in a heap (at least until I'm fed), and every day I wake up and think "oh bloody hell, I have to go to work". I'm glad that I'm getting the opportunity to get used to working before I'm expected to put in 8 and 9 hour days.
- The money's not great, but it's enough for the time being. And the fact that it's not wonderful is an incentive to find something better.
- It's not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, but it's actually useful in the sense that I have proven experience of being good at written and face-to-face communication, but no proof of being good at telephone communication. I'm pretty sure that whatever I end up doing in the sense of a career will involve large amounts of talking to people, because this is what I enjoy. So it's useful experience in that sense.
Hopefully this has now answered all of the questions that people have been asking me, but if your question's not on the list, go ahead and ask it!