Reality Check(ing account): the highs and lows of job hunting

We have found gainful employment! The fun’s over, kids!

The job-finding process was in some ways fairly straightforward, in others frustrating and disheartening. I’ll summarise the situation per jobseeker.

Ailsa

Before: Teacher of Foreign Languages

Now: Resource Consents Administrator at Auckland Council

I began and quickly stopped looking for school-based jobs on the grounds that I just couldn’t commit to completing the school year. The final term ends in December, by which point we will probably be somewhere in South East Asia awaiting a return flight to Lyon. So, I applied for some cafΓ© jobs and to 2 or 3 recruitment and temping agencies. At first the idea of working in a cafe appealed- interaction with customers, always on your feet, maybe some stories of colourful regulars to regale my flatmates with over dinner. The problem is that without barista experience, you’re banished to “the floor” and thus earn the lowest possible wage. This wouldn’t matter so much somewhere like Lyon, where the cost of living isn’t atrociously high, but in Auckland where prices are comparable to London it would mean getting through the month only just and with little saved for future travels.

So I turned to more recruitment agencies, and 2 hours after applying was invited in for an interview. Incredibly, the lady who interviewed me was a former pupil at the high school deep in the Suffolk countryside where I completed my teaching induction year- she even recognised the name of my referee and former mentor! Things went pretty quickly after that: the following day she called me and suggested putting me forward for an admin job at the city council, who invited me for an interview the next week, and then offered me the job, starting the next day. 

I’ve now been there for 2 weeks in the City Planning department, looking after applications from the public asking about planning permission, organising meetings and distributing minutes. I feel very much like a character on Parks & Recreation, and have to say I’m really enjoying it! Sitting in front of a computer all day is definitely a bit of a downside (especially while summer is still in full swing), and makes me miss the non-stop rushing around of teaching, but it’s great to do something different and expand the IT skills (fairly non-existant before this). I love organising meetings and answering emails (strange, I know), and being given stationary, being told to take breaks, and being the last person in the office when 5pm rolls round makes a big change from some of the less desirable aspects of teaching.


My morning commute into the big city 

Adrien

Before: Hydrogen car engineer 

Now: Windsurf instructor

Adrien also tried fervently to find a job in a cafΓ©, for the same reasons as me and also the flexibility of hours and potentially only sticking around for a fairly short term. However, he was unfortunately turned away from a couple, having not had 2-3 years of experience, and therefore completely unprepared for making coffee and sandwiches. Now, I really don’t mean to sound like a snob, and I know that making coffee is an art and has to be learned carefully- but couldn’t a smart, resourceful engineer probably learn the ropes in a few days and get better and better from there? Just a thought… but I suppose in this economic climate employers aren’t desperate for workers and need to rule out applications somehow. 

Then, last weekend we were at a volcanic-created lake while I tried out my SUP board and combined yoga with SUPping- a challenge for the balance I can tell you- we noticed a windsurfing rental/instructing team by the water. Adrien went over (fortunately and totally coincidentally sporting a t-shirt with a windsurf on it, demonstrating his true love for the activity), asked if they were looking for instructors, chatted for half an hour about French windsurfing spots with the owner, and came away with a trial session the following day! The trial consisted of proving his worth on the board- in other words, showing off his mad skills- and in other other words- the greatest interview in the world.

 

SUP yoga- you win some, you lose some

So now while I join the commuters from the peaceful and suburban North Shore going into Auckland, sit at a desk and photocopy plans for developments, Adrien dons his shades, slaps on the sun cream and heads to “work”. The only downside is that the work is a bit irregular and doesn’t make up full time hours by quite a stretch. So, the search continues to either build up more hours around these ones, or find a full time position elsewhere. 


Adrien hard at work

Thanks for reading! Next up: finding a flat. More on that (similarly bumpy ride) to come! 

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