London's Top PA: Bella Lamplough Shields

"I love learning about the different industries I have worked in, and every job is different. It’s also lovely to meet lots of new people as you change offices".

Bella shares her experiences and views on being a temp and how it works perfectly for her.

What made you choose to temp?
I left my previous job with the intention of changing careers and going to study law. Because of the timings of a project I was running, it made more sense to leave last year rather than continue working up until September when my course was due to start, so I needed to temp for the interim period.

How did you find your first temping job?
I applied to a few temp agencies and came across Bain and Gray; once I joined the agency, they were amazing and have been supportive throughout all my different postings. They also got me my first role really quickly!

What were your initial thoughts about temping?
I was a bit nervous as I was worried about what might happen if I couldn’t land a role; similarly, I was concerned about the gaps between roles. However, I was also quite excited to try out a few different industries.

What’s the best thing about temping?
I love learning about the different industries I have worked in, and every job is different. It’s also lovely to meet lots of new people as you change offices.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of it and why?
As I mentioned earlier, I still find the stability aspect of the job a bit nerve-wracking! However, so far that doesn’t seem to have been too much of a problem – again, thanks to the lovely ladies at Bain and Gray.

You also want to be as helpful as possible as quickly as possible, and sometimes that’s not always the easiest thing to do if there are lots of very particular processes or programmes to work with which are new to you.

How does it differ from previous jobs?
Other than being paid by the hour, it’s not that different! I do think when you are permanent staff you are trusted with more responsibility more quickly, and obviously if you are a temp for a brief length of time, that’s unlikely to happen. However, I have found when my posting has been longer than expected you are treated almost in exactly the same way as a permanent member of staff.

Who has been your biggest professional inspiration and why?
The director of legal at my old company was a great inspiration to me, particularly in my decision to change careers into the law. She was inspiring both as a woman who had reached the top of the tree at the company and also as a straight-talking, straight-thinking lawyer who could hold her own in tricky and tense business conversations.

What advice would you give someone considering temping but worried to take that first step?
I would definitely say it’s worth finding an agency that feels right for you; Bain and Gray have been brilliant and I knew when I met Alice and Hetty at my interview that the relationship would work really well. Also, be brave and take the first step! If you’re struggling to find a permanent position, temping offers you the chance to have a taste of different ways of working and different businesses, all while you are filling up your CV with a range of experience. The same goes for wanting to leave your current career and feeling you can’t just quit your job without something to go to; temp roles can come around so quickly that it’s worth trying to get onto agencies ASAP as work will start rolling in!

What three attributes do you think make a good PA?
A cheerful demeanour, keen attention to detail and a can-do attitude.

What makes your day easier/ what or who couldn’t you live without? 
In every role, there’s always that one person who shows you the ropes and they happen to have been my favourite people I’ve worked with as a temp. Also, taking a proper lunch break! Your colleagues don’t mind and you’re more likely to work hard with a bit of time away from your desk.

When you’re not being one of London’s top Temps, what do you enjoy doing?
I like spending time with pals, whether that’s over dinner, in the pub or just with a nice glass of wine in someone’s garden (at least when it’s sunny!). I also love going to the theatre and the cinema, as well as galleries and museums.