Sunday, January 13, 2013
Thank you for reading all of this it means a lot. If you have advice or wisdom I'd love to hear it.
I have a very strong sense of instinct and by the beginning of October began applying for so many kindergarten positions in Germany. I would have stayed in Russia until contract end in July but that inner voice was speaking… . You probably figured out from my page that I am half German and speak the language. I have been Germany four times within three years.
As of today I have applied to approximately 20 bilingual schools/institutions and this is how it has gone:
Place I: Positive skype interview, a couple of positive emails quickly responded to. Recruiter tells me what a potential employment package would look like. I respond asking her how much room there is for adjustment, a positive email and I kindly ask for feedback no matter what. I never hear from her again.
Place II: Positive Skype interview, she asks about salary expectations and I tell her I am flexible but also share what I was earning in Russia. She says to contact back in two weeks once ‘the accountant comes back.’ I wait two and half weeks. Send a positive email asking for an update, even if it is not favorable for me. I never hear from her again.
Place III: Strangest off the cuff interview. I get a call on my mobile at approximately 12:30 at night, there’s a three hour time difference so I try to shrug it off. This person is manic asking me how certain I could come to a certain city, can I prove my German language proficiency on paper (yes) but how….she suggests I just have something forged in Russia (what?) The phone cuts out unexpectedly. I email her assistant the next day to schedule a better time via Skype. I never hear from her again.
Place IV: School asks for me to get my degrees certified by state government. Offers no assistance , has no contracts so I find that person myself. Mind you I am working full time holding up the English language sector of my kindergarten solo. I ask the school to confirm if this is the right step. I never hear from them again.
Place V: Sends me an email informing that there is a vacancy but can I “speak German like a real German” (WTH) I say yes and ask when they can do a Skype interview. I never hear from them again.
Place VI: They like my qualifications, I’d be a good fit but either I come to the city and figure it out 100% for myself or I can get lost. At this point I have only applied so I have no idea what the place really all about. I request a skype interview. I hear from them again when they tell me my application was not successful----but we never had an interview! I like this place, they aren’t pretending to be nice or blowing smoke up my ass.
VII: Finally a real break. I’ve been sending out applications/inquiries for more than two months when a school contacts me for an interview, the first skype interview is very positive and they request a second. I love this persons’ upbeat personality and the prospect of taking over her position when she moves on to another role is enticing. ‘ I would hire you now, but you need to come in for a site visit.’ I am lucky that I am able to leave Russia for three days, this gesture will end up costing 1000 dollars but that seems like a small price to finally secure professional security. When I arrive in Germany she calls and everything is still going to plan. I quickly leave the airport change into my professional clothing, hair/makeup and catch the U-Bahn to the school.
The school environment is nice, the kids very sweet and I meet my prospective teaching assistant. Within a few minutes of meeting me she says to me that I look much older than my age. Who says that to someone they just met?! Let alone who someone who at that point had been traveling several hours, was biologically set four hours ahead, had waited in Moscow for hours and had swollen feet? Truth be told she was the most obese person I had ever seen in Germany (not ethnically German)---would I ever call her out on that. No, that would be mean and unprofessional. I let it all slide, she would be my subordinate and not the person who hired me.
I met the upbeat person in person at last, and her face changed. I was dressed nicely, prepared to the nines (I had immigration papers with me!) and ready to show what I could do. What in the world had happened? Did I not look the way she wanted? In Germany your resume/CV almost always includes a professional picture so what was the deal? The three days go on, the kids are great but teaching with the assistant and the main teacher can be downright depressing…they make almost no effort to be upbeat or treat me as a welcome guest. What is worse is that I overhear myself being talked about in German by the teaching assistant.
Before my trial has finished I speak with the director who informs me that I am a plan B. I am stunned. All that time, all that money and my hopes on high. Two weeks later I get that email: I was a ‘fine candidate’ but they decided to go with someone else. The first time in my life I send a polite and succinct feedback email: with the next international applicant do not bother to tell them they would be hired after a site visit and tell all staff to assume that *all* visitors speak German it insults the intelligence of the guest to assume otherwise.
By this time I was jaded but decided to give a set of schools one last go. Sure I get some rejection or no space for new applicant emails and that is ok.
Place VIII: I am about to give up and on the verge of tears everyday when this place contacts me. Two interviews via skype are amazing. I speak with the administrator and two teachers and mid December things seem to be moving forth quickly. There will be the bureaucracy of getting my qualifications approved for a state government but I am fine with that and they are too. A week passes and I am told that THEY WILL TO HIRE ME once the state gives final approval. As I would under any circumstances I provide them with more supplementary paper work, references etc. Eight days before Christmas I send an email asking for an update and/or if they need anything else…I don’t expect a response until after New Year if not two weeks after. Last week I send an email inquiry because I heard nothing since the 17th. Not a single email has been received. What in the world is happening? My hope is once again hanging on a string----couldn’t someone at least be courteous enough to take the two minutes to write “we don’t know yet” any response even negative would set me free to try again or give up on German prospects for now.
…For the last four months I have been here, interviewing, putting forth my best effort and the ignorance and the rejection sucks but the fact that so many people don’t feel the need to take the five minutes to write an email or be truthful hurts the worst. Now, I know that someone reading this must be thinking in a the sort of mind frame more suitable for a large company or a multinational---why should undesirable prospects be contacted? It’s not possible and so forth… Well we are not speaking about that sort of work environment, these schools at most have maybe 20 employees. This is a caring and nurturing profession, I am a responsible, caring professional (with a MA in Education) I feel I deserve not be constantly left hanging or led on.
I consider myself a relatively strong person but yes last week Thursday when there was still no word, I cried and cried. I am not working at the moment… and in a troublesome family environment (previous blog) I desperately want to get back to what I love…
PS. I had another, my last scheduled interview, at 2:00 AM Friday…they said they’ll be in contact shortly.