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“You’re the best swabber in the universe!” – Experiences of an arts temp at the COVID testing site

Temps working the COVID-19 testing centre
  • Written byArts Temps
  • Published date 17 December 2020
Temps working the COVID-19 testing centre

Following the phenomenal work completed by the COVID Task Force and a cohort of arts temps, UAL successfully organised 3,322 self-administered Lateral Flow Device tests for staff and students over 6 days.

We caught up with one of the arts temps who worked at the testing centre, first year BA Advertising student Roxana Harcovei. She told us what it was like working at the testing site and about her experiences as an arts temp.

Roxana working the COVID-19 testing site

Firstly, you must have had such a busy week, tell me what it was like working at the UAL COVID-19 testing centre.

It was a great experience, but they were long days! I worked all six days, full time. It was my first experience working a full-time job, but it was good to prove to myself I can be patient and work those long hours!

Before the role started we went through mandatory training, which covered both customer service and clinical training, like how to keep ourselves protected and how the tests actually worked. There was also an NHS nurse there to check everything was working properly and that we were working safely.

It all sounds very secure, what were you doing at the testing centre?

I was working as a Processing Operative, which means that I was working directly with the staff and students advising them on how to administer the tests and then recording their results. I was cheering them on, “you’re the best swabber in the universe!” you know trying to keep it light because it can make you feel a little anxious taking the test.

The test then took 20 minutes to develop and it works like a pregnancy test, so you get one or two lines depending on whether it’s positive or negative. We’d then record the results and the students and staff would get notified of their results by text message.

It was scary when you got your first positive test but you just have to reassure yourself – we’re constantly sanitising, we’re in full PPE and we got tested twice a day each day. It was a relief at the end of the last day to get my final test result back and see I was negative.

What was it like being part of such a big operation?

This is the first time I’ve worked in a customer facing role. When I was in Romania I worked in the client relationship department of an advertising agency which I guess has overlapping skills but I’m never been part of something like this!

It was also interesting to observe how the managers adjusted and how the test centre worked to be more effective and strategic. For example, on the first day no one really knew what to expect, but as the days went on things like flow of traffic and the use of booths was adjusted to better maintain social distancing and move people through more quickly.

UAL's COVID-19 testing centre

I guess as a first year this must have been your first experience at UAL meeting so many people, after a term of blended learning?

Yes! That was a great added bonus. I met a lot of people, many of them had been working for Arts Temps much longer than I have. For instance, I was speaking with a third-year student who has now been working for Arts Temps for three years, it was great to hear about her experiences and get advice from her. We’ve actually connected on social media since then, so it’s been a great networking opportunity too.

What other types of roles are you looking out for on the Arts Temps jobs board?

I would love to work more on events, when we can! I love networking and it would be great to work at industry events to get more of a feel of it.

It would also be good to get some experience in work related to my course, I want to work for one of the big advertising firms here in London, so it would be great to get some copywriting experience, Similar positions at UAL come up quite often on the jobs board, so I’m looking forward to applying for those but I’m excited for when there will be opportunities in other companies.

Well good luck with those applications and we look forward to talking to you more about your future career development with Arts Temps!