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Becoming a runner is an ideal way to get a foot in the door of a variety of industries. It is an entry-level position, usually the most junior role in the company, but one which provides great scope to learn about different aspects of the business in which you are employed. Runners may work for film, television or broadcast companies, for restaurants, casinos, law offices and financial institutions. The common feature of any runner position is delivery, be it of goods or information.
On a film, television or video set a runner is basically there to do whatever is asked of them by other, more senior members of the production team. They could be called general assistants. Their tasks could include everything from making the tea and generally keeping the set clean and tidy to delivering equipment, conveying messages between team members, looking after studio guests, answering the telephone and hiring props. If appropriate they may also be asked to drive vehicles on set and between locations.
Runners in a restaurant are auxiliary waiting staff, assisting the waiters and waitresses with the delivery of food to customers. Runners do not take orders from customers, they convey food orders from the kitchen to the table when it is ready. They also assist the wait staff with clearing of tables and help kitchen staff maintain cleanliness.
Clerk runners work in casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments. They assist croupiers and callers in the efficient running of their games. Activities that clerk runners may be required to undertake include taking bets, announcing winning numbers to a group of patrons, calculating and delivering winnings and, occasionally, taking charge of the game and dealing or calling numbers to customers.
An office runner delivers messages, both oral and written, for financial insitutions and law offices. The position shares many duties with a general office assistant, such as sorting and distributing mail, and maintaining paperwork. A runner, however, is also specifically designated to transport valuable or sensitive information, such as stock certificates and bonds between brokerage houses and other financial institutions, or confidential legal documents.
Personal attributes for a runner
Enthusiasm for the industry in which you are working and a willingness to turn your hand to anything asked of you are the primary qualities you will need to work as a runner. Good communication skills and the ability to interact with a wide variety of people, both staff and members of the public, is essential. Organizational and team-working skills are also a must.
Dirk Huds has been a writer/editor for over six years. He has worked for bookshops and publishers in an editorial capacity and written book reviews for a variety of publications. He is currently studying for his master's degree.