Workin’ 9 to 5

Actually, it’s 6 to 3, with a four o’clock wake up. By this point you might be wondering how one with my spending habits survives two months without any income. Answer: she doesn’t! I really embraced the vacation part of my holiday for the first month I was here, eating almost all of my meals out, buying Christmas decorations galore, not flinching over the $20 cocktails. You know, just the usual, responsible spending habits of a girl on a budget.

I had very casually begun looking into potential job options, starting during my third week here. I updated my resume, put it into Australian format (2 pages!), and googled job search websites. I called recruiters WTT had recommended, and applied to a few jobs here and there online. I spent a day pounding the pavement and handed out my resume to exactly one restaurant. I knew my bank account was only heading in one direction, but I was having too much fun not working. Christmas was approaching, and I knew realistically that I wasn’t going to start looking in earnest until the new year rolled around.

By the time January arrived, things were getting a little desperate. And since it’s me, I wasn’t at the dire stage yet, but was uncomfortable with the shape of my savings account. I had heard through a friend of a friend that the Australian Open was hiring, which I knew from the beginning would be an interesting opportunity, but I hadn’t thought much of it. So I passed my resume along, and next thing I know I’ve got a interview on a Saturday at Melbourne Arena, and by the end of the day, I had the job! On a three-week contract, I would be doing admin work for one of the company’s contracted for the AO20.

For those who don’t know, like me before I started, the Australian Open is equivalent to the US Open, and is the first and most highly attended of the four Grand Slam events, also including the French Open and Wimbledon. Oh, we’re talking about tennis, in case none of that was ringing any bells. The Aus Open is held at Melbourne Park, which includes three arenas and a collection of outdoor courts. The entire venue is transformed into a complete experience, with a kids entertainment area, main stage, countless food and bevy options, in addition to all of the tennis courts and spectator bleachers that are added in. Tennis Australia and the National Tennis Centre operate out of here year-round, so this is really the place to be if you care about tennis, which I don’t.

Since there was a chance I’d be starting work on the Monday after my interview, I raced out to Kmart (which is more like Target than the actual Target is here). As part of the events team, I needed head-to-toe all black, business casual attire, and being on a budget, I stuck to the basics to make five outfits for the week, only splurging on a new pair of Blundstone boots. Turns out, I would go on to work for 23 days straight, so could have bought a few more clothes, and the boots gave me the worst blisters I’ve ever had in my life, but I regret nothing.

The following week was spent on edge because I didn’t know when exactly I’d be starting, so every night I was prepared for it to be the next day. Turns out it was the following Monday, and then we were off and running. I had one week of training before the AO officially started, which wasn’t nearly enough time, but good thing I have the ‘figure it out’ mentality. I learned I would be working in a team of six temporary admins, two of us each in the morning, afternoon, and overnight shifts. We were all in our 20s, all with similar working holiday stories, and had all heard about the job in similar ways. However, because I started one or two days before everyone else, I was saddled with (and gleefully accepted) the most amount of responsibility, information, and workload. ‘Of course she did,’ thought everyone reading this.

It was confirmed in that first week that I would have my shift of choice, 06:00-15:00, so I eased my way from starting at 8 AM for two days, 7 AM for another two, and then 6 AM for the next two and a half weeks. I gave myself a strict 9 PM bedtime, knowing that I had to wake up at 4 AM (which eventually turned into 4:30). I caught the 5 AM train to the city, bought my two dollar 7-Eleven iced coffee, then walked 20 minutes to the venue. This was peak summer, so I got to watch the sun rise over Melbourne Arena, and the early morning rowers on the Yarra River. The work that I did consisted mostly of checking timesheets and payroll, monitoring radios and keys for the venue, and fielding questions from other staff. Ironically, very similar to what I did for the Lair.

During those three weeks I just kept my head down and stuck to my routine. The early mornings didn’t phase me, as long as I didn’t go to bed too late, and when I finished each day, I headed straight home, had dinner, and went to bed. It was exhausting but exhilarating, and even when I didn’t like it, I still loved it. The work itself was pretty mundane, but even being thrown into it with little preparation, I still enjoy the pressure of the events world. I was working with a mix of people, from older Aussies to younger working holiday makers, and slowly got to know everyone I worked with. I don’t care much about tennis, which probably made my job easier. I got to see a few minutes of matches here and there, but for the most part I was at the computer all day, and was ready to get out of there when my shift was over. Which is such a novel concept that you work to live, and when you’re done, you’re done. I realize a lot of that depends on your job and where you are on the ladder, but I’ve certainly noticed a different mentality in the workforce here compared to home.

When those three weeks were up, at the start of February, AO20 was over just as quickly as it had started. The entire venue was broken down, which was shockingly barren, as it is during most of the year. I was lucky enough to have my role extended, first for two weeks, then for another two, and then until April 19. However, with the current state of the world, and what with every event in Melbs being cancelled or postponed, my last day will be on Friday, March 27. This didn’t come as a surprise to me, and I’m still very happy with my working experience in Melbourne. At some point in the next month, I’ll be leaving the city to start my next adventure of finding regional work to complete the 88 required days to be able to apply for a second year here. At least that’s the plan; we’ll see if I’m able to execute that. Stay tuned for more!

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