Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don't know.
What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?
So many faces all around and here we go,
I need this job Oh God, I need this show.
I was in London this week but the only way that I knew that is because people kept
mentioning it. I wasn’t there for London (this time) I was there for the Search Associates London- January Recruitment Fair 2010. In December I gave my school in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia notice that I would not be returning in August for another teaching year. You can probably figure out the implications of that on your own but I will lay it out there for you anyway. I need a job.
What is not working in my favor is that there are 500 other slobs in the same position that I am in and about a 100 schools looking for teachers to teach in all four corners of the world. But I am getting ahead of myself. Back to my arrival in London.
London clean, orderly, and expensive! I have never gotten through customs so quickly and easily and I only had about a 30 second wait for my bag (which was my timing more than organization but made me happy nonetheless). At this point I am batting a thousand in the London-like-a-pro contest. Then I made a severe tactical error. I took a cab to my hotel. You may be smacking your head at such an amateur move and you would be justified. I forgot to take into account that the cabs in the UK would be slightly more expensive than in Mongolia. What would be an 8$ fare in Mongolia was 80$ in London. Oops.
I arrived a day and a half early because of the wonky flights in to and out of Ulaanbaatar to Moscow. Three flights a week. One on Wednesday, Friday and Monday. I had to be in London actually doing things on Friday which left Wednesday as my only option. I did have one interview on Wednesday evening but aside from that I was left with too much time to obsess with preparing for the interview. What were they going to ask me? What was I going to ask them? I may not have been perfectly prepared but I was able to work myself up into a respectable panic attack.
God, I hope I get it, I hope I get it!
How many people does he need? How many people does he need?
God, I hope I get it! I hope I get it!
Teachers are friendly. The registration for the fair was interesting because if you saw someone with the nametag on (which was pretty much everyone) the conversation started. What do you teach? Where are you now? Where are you trying to go? Then of course there were the tense minutes in the hallway waiting for interviews where you would talk to the person who was waiting for the school across the hall. A false sense of intimacy perhaps but I can think of worse ways to start a friendship.
Look at all the people, at all the people
How many people does he need?
How many people does he ...
Of the whole weekend the interview sign up was the most bizarre. I had gotten written invitations for a bunch of schools and that meant I had an automatic interview with those schools but I still had to go up to their table to schedule the time. Which became difficult as the process wore on and both my and their schedules started to fill up. I also waited in line for a couple of schools that I was interested in who hadn’t sent me an invitation. I had to go up with my resume and basically in 30 seconds convince them that they should interview me. Intense. But I got my interviews (my situation was helped by the fact that there were a whole lot of special needs positions and not a lot of us at the fair). It was crowded, chaotic and just plain confusing.
I really need this job
Please, God, I need this job!
I've got to get this job!
The Interviews began. I am not sure that you have ever had 27 interviews in about 36 hours but I can honestly say that I don’t recommend it. I am not sure that I will ever be able to make a good impression ever again because I am pretty sure that I used up my entire lifetime' s worth this weekend. The fact that all of them took place in a hotel room was just another level of surreal to layer over the whole experience. Interviews are just weird anyway. You are trying to be yourself and not just say what you think that the interviewer wants to hear. Is telling the recruiter that you work best with primary kids when asked stupid or just honest? I said it but almost immediately had a brief but intense mental debate with myself on the honest/stupid issue but really wasn’t able to resolve it before the next question came.
God, I really blew it, I really blew it!
How could I do a thing like that? How could I do a thing like ...?
Now, I'll never make it
I'll never make it!
Not everything went smoothly, of course. There was a lot of rejection. Not being married took me out of the running for 3 of the schools. It is cheaper for schools to hire like that and couples tend to last longer. Of course finding the combination of jobs that you need as a couple is much more difficult. Not having a ton of experience took me out of several others. A few I didn’t have enough secondary experience (which I couldn’t really argue with). Out of the 21 schools that I interviewed with 10 of them told me no for various reasons. Seven of them didn’t give me any sort of indication of where I stood. I was half hour late for my interview with the International school of Dusseldorf, I completely blanked out when asked about various reading strategies that I employed in the classroom in one interview,
God, I think I've got it, I think I've got it!
I knew he liked me all the time
But offers did start to come in. Or at least hope. I was called back for five different schools. I was shortlisted to the final two a couple of times before losing out. The sheer relief that I felt after that first offer was not to be believed. Oh, thank you God, I am going to be employed next year even if it isn’t my first choice schoolI would be near tears from a particularly difficult rejection (the schools that I REALLY wanted) when I would get an offer and then be high as a kite. I hardly know what to do with myself so I just keep interviewing until 6:30 at which point I am done for the day and collapse into a heap. But the hard part was still to come.
I've come this far, but even so: It could be yes, it could be no.
How many people does he...?
I really need this job
Please, God, I need this job I've got to get this show.
Monday and the waiting game began. I had four offers to consider (one unofficial) and had been told by a few schools that they wouldn’t be deciding until next week. I was not going to gamble but still there was more. Before making my choice I had to wait for three other schools to let me know if there were going to be other offers to consider. And then there are all the factors to consider. What was the actual position offered? Health insurance, cost of living, savings potential, size of the school, number of host country students, salary currency, the list seemed to be never ending and started spiraling out of control in my head until I was dizzy, sick to my stomach, and so tightly wound that I was barely coherent. Fortunately there were a hundred other people wandering around in the same condition. I just got an offer from this school? What do you know about that school?
And in my case, do I really want to go somewhere difficult again? Just as an aside any math person out there who wants to put together all the variables and make an algorithm that will give you the mathematically best answer would make a killing. I would have paid an embarrassing amount for something like that and I suspect that there are others in the same boat!
But in the end it came down to a choice between a school in Singapore and a school in Germany. I went back and forth, weighed the options and in the end leapt with instinct as usual. Which is why I will be teaching at the International School of Dusseldorf starting in August and for the foreseeable future. I think the fact that I have a hundred dollars of books on Germany in my cart on Amazon already should give you an indication of just how excited I am about how the whole thing shook out.