Thursday, October 1, 2009

I can speak French?

It's nearly 5 a.m. and I can't sleep. Besides the fact that I "may be coming down with something," my mind is going at full speed, churning with French adjectives while my stomach does a similar dance as it moves from queasiness to fluttering over my conflicted feelings of hunger and excited anticipation. You see, I haven't been completely open about what's been going on in my life lately mostly because what's been going on seemed so mundane, boring and depressing. Ever since I returned to Paris, I've been struggling to find my way out of a big, messy confusion over what comes next. I think I'm at one of those profound moments in my life where I need to make some big decisions about the direction I want to take, and I haven't been very successful with sorting through my thoughts adequately, nor eloquently. But, within a matter of hours, it seems, some things happened that gave me the boost I've needed towards regaining the composure and confidence I'd lost in all my messy introspection.

I didn't mention this before, mostly because I was scared of the possibility of failure and then the subsequent explanation of failure I'd have to provide, but the day after I flew back to Paris, I interviewed for a part-time office job that I had learned about through a friend while on vacation. It was for a short-term contract that started in mid-September and ended just before Christmas, and it was right up my alley both in terms of my expected career path and timeline. It also seemed like a job that would provide the perfect scenario for our situation: by the time Gui received his green card, my work contract would be expired and we'd pack up our things and make our move to the US, all the while, I'm working and we're saving a bit of money for the big move. Well...I didn't get the job. And, although the rejection had nothing to do with my qualifications (so I was explained), I was very discouraged and demoralized after receiving it.

I spent some time afterward rethinking everything - pondering my life and its meaning, my career path and its direction, and analyzing every step I'd taken that had gotten me to this point: jobless and insecure. My apathy reached the point where it was rubbing off on Gui, and for a few days I convinced myself that perhaps I was tainted goods, no longer cut-out for the real working world in which I was once a fearless contributor.

However, having amazing friends and family, as I do, my apathy was greeted more and more with reassurance and faith, and I was convinced to pick myself up, shake myself off and get back to hitting the pavement. So, I worked on my CV and for the past week or so, I checked Paris job-banks daily - sometimes twice or thrice daily - for any job that caught my interest. At first, I was a bit disappointed with my search - it seemed every job that appealed to me and matched my qualifications required a fully bilingual candidate. And, although my French skills are far beyond what they were when I did this whole job-search thing the first time around, I'm still far from fluent (oh, how naive I was way back when I thought 6 months would be enough time to master the French language). Still, I sent my CV and lettre de motivation out to the few posts I found requiring an English-speaker, and I hoped for the best. After a few days, I started getting anxious about the lack of responses, but I trudged on with my daily routine of scouring the web for anything at all enticing to my newly-determined self. Then, on Wednesday, I received a late-afternoon phone call from a company I'd submitted my profile to last week for a job I wasn't exactly head-over-heels for, but still curious about. They asked me a few questions relating to my schedule preference, my education and background and my salary requirements. Then, they asked me to come in for an interview today. I was stoked about the interview, if not equally so about the possibility of a job, but there are a few things about the position that make it less than ideal. The most notable is that it's a part-time job with no possibility of ever becoming full-time. Nonetheless, I regained a bit of lost confidence from receiving the call and went about my day. Then, just before bed on Wednesday, Gui and I were talking about how the job-hunt was going, and I decided to open up my computer to get his feedback about some postings I'd seen earlier in the day. We came across an interesting ad that I hadn't seen before for a position that really intrigued me. I was a little worried about sending in an application since the job was posted back in mid-September, but I got over it and stayed up until after 1 a.m. fine-tuning my CV and LOM before clicking the send button. To my surprise, I awoke this morning to find I had missed a call from the job's recruiter, who was contacting me not more than 10 hours after I'd submitted my application. But, as refreshing as it was to be contacted so quickly, I was less than charmed about returning a call to the very French-speaking recruiter. After replaying the message about five times to catch all the details, I jotted down a few things to say in French, took a deep breath and pressed talk.

My call was answered and after explaining who I was and why I was calling, I politely asked if it would be OK to continue the interview in English. I knew that asking to do this could jeopardize my candidacy, but I explained that although I can understand and speak quite a bit of French, I don't feel like I can adequately express myself in a professional manner. To my surprise, my request was met with the explanation that although the job would be conducted almost entirely in English, working and living in France requires that I learn the language, so it would be to my benefit to continue in French. This was followed by a reassurance that my niveau of French seemed quite impressive, so much that I shouldn't be worried about not being able to express myself. And, with that, I pulled up my theoretical boot-straps and impressed even myself with how competently I was able to articulate my qualifications and communicate my interest in the job. When it was all done, I had secured an interview and could barely recall that the whole thing had been done in a language I thought I barely knew. I was thrilled!

I'm not sure if things will go as well for me during the interview, but I've accepted the fate of both possible outcomes. I realize that this could end with another rejection and then the admittance of said rejection, but really, I'm fine with that - it's just life. More than anything, I'm taking away from this small success a renewed positive perspective about what lies ahead. I feel like I've awakened my inner businesswoman and reminded myself of my worth. Knowing that the direction I'm taking demands confidence, optimism and above all, patience should help me stay on track and endure the inevitable bumps I'll come upon while navigating down this road. Wish me luck!

12 comments:

Crystal said...

good luck hun and be sure to post about the result of the interview. I'll keep my fingers croised for you today :)

(strangely enough, my word verification is "distress"...not sure what that could mean...)

misplaced texan said...

The internet must be picking up on why I can't sleep and my stomach's in knots. Creepy. ;)

I'll definitely update after the interview...thank you for your well-wishes! :)

Justin said...

Fabulous post! I am so proud of you for having hung in there and given it a shot. I am glad the person pushed you to continue in French, it is a good experience and you were able to prove something to yourself. Hooray for positive turn arounds! I will keep you in my thoughts for your second interview and will be sending tons of positive motivation and good thoughts your way. *hugs*

Mathieu said...

Nice to see that you're back on track! Finding a good job is often tedious (and frequently demoralizing!), but perseverance always pays off. So keep up the good spirit :)

Congratulations for your interview!
*crossing fingers for you today*

VeronicaT said...

This was no small success -- that was huge!! Doing a phone pre-interview in French isn't easy! Congrats on getting over your insecurity slump.

I'm sure you'll find something perfect for you, and you'll look back at all the worrying in a few months and realize how silly it was :-)

Janelle said...

Bonne Chance!

Kalee said...

Good luck with your interview! I think it's great that you proved something to yourself, not just about finding a possible job, but by conducting the interview in French!

Susan in Lille said...

That is fantastic!! I am so impressed with your being able to conduct not only an interview in French, but to do it over the phone. Wow...the phone is so hard for me!! Nice work, and bon chance avec le interview (yeah, last words is in English...I know...)

misplaced texan said...

Thank y'all for your comments. Your kind words and support mean more to me than you know, so merci beaucoup!! :)

Emily Marie said...

Bonne chance my dear! Rejection always hurts - even when you didn't even really want the job! I think I've probably had about 20 interviews in the past 2 years and I think I learn something new each time.

I've just begun the hunt for a job in the states for the new year and for once I'm nervous about doing interviews in English!

I'm sure you will find something but I am sending good vibes your way :)

Lindsay said...

Uff! I totally hear you. I moved to Germany with my husband a year ago and my ego went all topsy turvy because I don't speak German and couldn't find a job. And then -- hired! I start soon.

Good luck with your interview- I know you'll do great.

Lindsey said...

Good luck friend! Knock 'em dead!! :)