Saturday, 8 June 2013

Planning my Third Year Abroad - Part 3: Getting a Job

Yeah this is basically going to be me next year. Sort of. Not really.
So, after I finish my time working as a language assistant in Bayreuth (about which you can read here), I shall be straight off to start the second part of my year abroad – the French-speaking part. I have to admit that having been learning French for SEVEN TIMES as long as I’ve been learning German, I’m feeling a hell of a lot more confident about the second half of my year abroad.

However, I’m definitely not expecting it to be easy, oh no, monsieur. As I mentioned in Planning My Year Abroad – Part 1 (as well as my reasons why), I chose to get a job. For someone who has filled up nearly every school and uni holiday for the past five years doing work placements, the opportunity to get an internship and thus valuable experience for A WHOLE SIX MONTHS was not one I was going to pass up.

Extremely fortunately for moi, I actually managed to successfully get a job before I'd even finished sorting the German part of my year, and I'm SO excited about it! However, I don’t really want to name it on my blog just in case. Well, not yet anyway. Contracts have yet to be signed and all! However, I will say that I am feeling over the moon at the prospect of doing what I potentially want to do for the rest of my life, in a company that I’ve always dreamed about working for. Seriously. As a little girl I would pretend I already was. The parents loved it.

Anyhoo. My childhood stories aside, some friends decided not to go for the “work” option for their years abroad, largely because they were just scared about not finding anything. I’ll admit, it is difficult, and some of my friends are still yet to secure jobs even though they’re meant to be starting in three months or so. Still, I wouldn’t let that put you off. Everyone finds something eventually.

So, just how do you go about finding a job abroad? Well, I’m not going to lie to you, my dear readers. A lot of people find jobs through contacts. Or their parents’ contacts anyway. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in today, folks. I don’t judge people who’ve found their jobs that way, but I am extra proud of having got mine totally contact-less.

You can sign up to websites and the like, but I don’t know of anyone who actually found a job that way. I have to say that my uni French department has been pretty merveilleux help-wise, and I imagine it’s the case at most unis. It would seem that a lot of companies have short-term positions specifically for British language students on their years abroad, and so said companies then email round the job details to the universities, who then forward them on to us. Huzzah!

OK, so I only applied to one of the ones we were sent, but still. They’re trying to help.

So how do you apply for a job in another country? Well, the chances are you’ll have to write a cover letter and CV in, say French, and then you may have to also send the English versions off too. Often, the foreign companies (quite understandably) want to make the most of having native English speakers, and a lot of the jobs thus involve translation. Conveniently, I LOVE translation. I’m a nerd like that.

Next step: interviews. Um, what? Interviews? Does this mean a trip abroad!?, I hear you think, excitedly. Well, that’s unlikely. I had two interviews – one Skype, and one phone interview by conference call. Skype is generally de rigueur it would seem. Before this year, I’d never been interviewed in either way, so it was really quite nerve-wracking, but good experience nonetheless. Quite frankly, I think the whole applying-for-a-job-for-your-year-abroad malarkey is a really good taster of what life will be like post-graduation. Provided we get there, that is. Eeeeek!

Have a read of my blog about the TORTURE of waiting to hear back from a job interview here.

I can’t help but think that as a joint-language student who thus has to split her year between two countries, finding a job is somewhat more difficult than for single honours students. We're slightly disadvantaged. I know part of the reason I got rejected from the first job for which I applied was because the company decided they wanted one intern for the whole 12 months, as opposed to two for six months each. Totally understandable, really. C’est la vie, eh?

What about pay? I use the word “intern” lightly, as I’m not really sure what the best word to use actually is. Most people do paid work on their year abroad (usually minimum wage, but still), however voluntary work is totally A-OK as far as uni is concerned. Although goodness knows how you’d survive with no income!

I tell you what, I personally find applying for jobs beyond exciting (watch my enthusiasm wane as an unemployed post-grad in a couple of years - damn you, economic crisis!), and it’s been really interesting to do so for another country. You may not get one job (like the first one I went for), but you might just get the next – everything happens for a reason, and I cannot WAIT not only to work in an industry in which I’m already fascinated, but also to learn about working life in another country. It’s going to be hard work, demanding, challenging and full-on, but I bet it’s also going to be exciting, interesting and fun. Year abroad, bring it. 

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 in my Planning my Third Year Abroad series.

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