Scrumptuous Food and Interviews All Over the Place

I had a good day! Today, I went on two very different interviews but got some very positive responses. Last week, the overall feel was “you have a great profile and we’re interested in you but… we don’t have $, or we’re currently not looking for PR/Comm./Social Media.”

It’s only been one day, but the tone of interviews have been decidedly much more interesting this week. My first interview this morning was for an interim organization. I ended up taking 1 hour and a half of exams (… and here I thought I would be done with exams once I graduated from university XD). They were very difficult too! The interim org. tested my Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel skills. The lady who interviewed me warned me that they would be very challenging but not to worry. Apparently they don’t expect anyone to do very well on these. They just use them to get a feel of candidates’ abilities. Thankfully, the French and English exams weren’t too stressful.

The lady called me back later to tell me I did well enough on the exams and that she had a potential employer for me. The company in question is situated on the Champs-Élysées (read: veeeeeeery nice part of Paris), does business consulting, and needs someone to act as an administrative assistant to 12 junior consultants.  Turns out they recently stopped looking since they had not found an appropriate candidate, but the lady who interviewed me thought they would be interested in me.

I stopped at a small café to grab lunch with an American friend (those tests made me ravenous!) in between my interviews. Funny enough, I met her through my dad. Her dad is the owner of the store my dad bought his motorcycle from. They ended up chatting about their kids and were surprised to realize that both of their daughters were not only in France, but in Paris… a few emails later and we’re having lunch near the Rue du Bac métro station.

Check out the salads we had for lunch. My friend was pleasantly surprised to find it was much more interesting than you average ceasar salad and mused that she might just start eating more salad in France =]

Om nom nom French salad

Yes, those ARE potatoes and Emmental cheese you see in our salads!

My 2nd interview was for Contract Live, a start-up that offers mid-size and larger companies contract management software. At first though, the idea doesn’t sound super exciting, but the team is great! After chatting with them today I feel like I would truly enjoy working with them. They are very open-minded and open to taking risks in communications and e-marketing, an absolutely dream come true for a comm. person (usually companies are afraid to take risks to stand out and would rather stick to more traditional, less productive means of PR/e-marketing.) Their vision of what they want comm. to be for their start-up would enable me to take risks, develop my skills and have something impressive to show for all my work once Contract Live becomes more well-known amongst businesses. They would pay me a little less, but this opportunity would be much more fulfilling on a personal level as well as much better for my professional development.

I’m supposed to hear back from then soon regarding whether I got hired so stay tuned!

Good News!

I’ve got some good news! My job search is finally gearing up and moving along =]

The Silicon Sentier Le Camping start-up recruitment event last Saturday really did end up being very helpful. Not only did I meet many interesting people, but I’ve already also scheduled 4 interviews. The first one was this morning. I was surprised how well the interview went. The CEO of (awesome website you guys should check out by the way!) was very kind and said that she was impressed by the way I carried and expressed myself last Saturday. She seemed very interested in hiring me but does not have the budget to pay for anything other than an intern–and in France, you have to a student in order to be an intern (blah administrative stuff!)

Either way, it was very kind of her and made me feel much better about my prospects. Maybe I am going to be able to find work here that is at the same time interesting and allows me to continue to develop myself, but also allows me to be financially independent.

She also introduced me to the CEO of Black Divine. He created this start-up in order to be able to work on several projects at once. In short, it’s a start-up that’s got a whole bunch of other start-ups under its wings, enabling them to share resources and know-how (a very intelligent, interesting setup!) I’m not sure whether I’ll be hired to work for Black Divine, but I was very excited after this interview and can’t wait to hear back from them!

I’ve got 3 more interviews in the works for this week and early next week, so I’ve still got other opportunities if and Black Divine don’t work out. Some of these start-ups are very interesting too. I’m really glad I have several possibilities. It’s good to know that people are interested in my skills and that I may be able to work on something I’m actually passionate about, or at the very least interested in. I’ll give you guys more info about the other start-ups as well as updates about my interviews as I go through them.

Dream Job: International House Activities Coordinator

All this talk about living life to the fullest and finding a fulfilling occupation has made me kind of pensive lately. I’ve been dreaming up all kinds of ideal careers! Here’s the first one I’ll tell you about.

I volunteered at my university’s International House (i-house) this morning. It was tons of fun. I got to chat up students from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand… you name it! Today was the first day of a whole week preparing international students for their first semester in the U.S. and it got me thinking… I could totally work at a place like this =]

I love meeting people from all over the world, speak 4 languages, am used to dealing with cultural differences, have tons of experience working with foreigners and am used to planning sight-seeing trips/taking care of reception both for friends of mine who fly in and for interns placed in the Bay Area by AIESEC San Jose.

I drove all the way down to San Diego to take care of AIESEC reception for our Dutch trainee, Jeroen (first from the left)

AIESEC and my own love of traveling and making friends with people from the world over have prepared me for this kind of occupation pretty well…

Let’s look at the perks

  1. Meet students from all over the world (and make friends =] )
  2. Motivation to learn even more languages!
  3. Do work that is much more fun than being stuck in a cubicle all week long
  4. Plan and go on trips all over the Bay Area
Now for the cons
  1. Probably doesn’t pay very well
  2. Long hours
  3. Work on weekends
  4. Event planning (?)

Yeah… I don’t especially enjoy event planning, but I think I should specify. I don’t like to plan big, professional, time-consuming events (like the alumni mixer AIESEC San Jose put on last fall) but smaller-scale events for foreign students are different. Those are more laid-back and I’m used to setting them up so it shouldn’t be a problem.

All things considered, this would be a super-fun job! Now I have no illusions… the i-house’s coordinator was running all over the place and seemed pretty stressed out this morning. She was getting ready for a long week of activities! She also seemed very happy though, like she truly enjoys her job. Maybe I should interview her for a blog post–yeah?

I guess what I need to figure out now is whether there are “i-houses” at universities in Paris!

What do you think? Would I make a good international student activities coordinator?

Why I’m Moving to France, Part 2

There’s actually a second reason I’m moving back to France this September: I want to prove to myself that I’ll be able to thrive as well there as I have here.

Moving to my country of origin isn’t as scary as relocating to a completely new region where I don’t speak the language (like I did when I first came here), but it’s still intimidating. I’ve been away for more than thirteen years. This means I don’t have firsthand knowledge about general things such as how to get an apartment or what French university grads like to do in their leisure time and, even more importantly, how the employment system works in France. I have no idea how important different things such as university grades, language ability and cover letters are weighed when comparing potential hires, or what I should do to make myself stand out as a desirable candidate.

Can you find little Anne-Sophie in her 1st American class picture?

I know things are different there; they run on a different system. For example, graduating from a prestigious university is pretty much the only way one can hope to reach the higher rungs of management in France. Furthermore, start-ups, which are a great way to learn and develop oneself quickly on the fly, are not very common in France because of a cultural aversion to taking risks. This aversion to risk is probably the reason I’m so intimidated to throw myself back into France and flail around for a bit until I create a strong, secure footing for myself. Back to start-ups: I have loved working with start-ups in the Bay Area for several reasons (which will probably have to take another post, but here’s a shortened, concise-ish list O;] )

  1. Start-ups can’t afford to pay experienced professionals so they love to hire motivated, bright young things like me
  2. This allows affore-mentioned inexperienced, motivated, bright young things to stop making photocopies and dive right into meaningful work that actually yields visible, tangible results (very fulfilling =] )
  3. Diving right into this work with little experience is a great learning experience: you’re not watching a more experienced manager or executive do work–you’re DOING this work and reading everything you can to make sure you learn quickly and do it well!
  4. They often don’t have enough people to do everything so you get to dabble in anything you have the time and interest to

In the interest of stopping this post from “tangenting” into a post about the merits of working for a start-up (I definitely seem to be going on a lot of tangents today!), I’ll stop this list here. Take my word for it though, if you’re fresh out of college and looking for some good experience, work for start-ups–I’m definitely going to try to continue doing so! I’m disappointed that there aren’t many in France (although it seems this may be changing slowly), but I’ve been fortunate enough to nab an interview with one so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Let’s sum all this up before this post turns into a novel. I’m intimidated and afraid of the frustration and tough moments I’ll run into, but I know this challenge will be worth my time. Not only will I gain personal strength from this experience, but I will also become more resourceful, learn to make myself more marketable, and get to reconnect with my native culture.