Thursday, May 13, 2004

Battle Station Headquarters.

Battle Station Headquarters. This is what Nicolas recently named my apartment the other evening, he and Matthieu and I sitting around in the middle of the mess, studying for exams and concours and fixing our CVs. Battle Station Headquarters. The messy state of affairs is such: "mes affaires" as in my scattered stuff, and "mes affaires" as in my business.

(A Lesson in Unworthiness)

Even my very first trip to Paris was marked by the advertisements on the metro: The Wall Street Institute. Q: "Do you speak English?" A: "YES! ...Wall Street English!" Just like the woman who had fallen and couldn't get up, this advertisement is a joke.

Much like my interview this morning; I was squarely put in my place (note the native English speaker's use of idiomatic expression). I didn't even know that something called a "group interview" was possible. But at the Wall Street Institute, anything is possible. I found myself in a conference room with five other candidates, all mid-career cross-overs.

Here's a sample:

Candidate 1: "Uhhh...yeah, I went to film school? And I tried to be a director? But that didn't work out very well... so... English, huh." He later asked if there was a 401K plan, and told a story about how he forgot his tie because the phone rang. And then his phone rang.

Candidate 2: "I married a Frenchman, and just passed the TEFL."
Candidate 3: "I married a Frenchman, and just passed the TEFL."
Candidate 4: "I married a Frenchman, and just passed the TEFL."

Candidate 5: "I'm a lawyer, and I only want to work with lawyers, teaching Lawyer English."

More or less, I'm in a room with business people, who, aside from the deadbeat director, have actual experience. I find myself feeling like a five year-old among adults, mumbling about how I love to teach and how, even though I'm younger than everyone*, I have a lot of experience.

The meeting goes on and Wall Street tells us how much better they are than the competition, and how much better they are than we. It slowly dawns on me that I'm here to interview for a position teaching BUSINESS English, and that I don't really know anything about this.

Here's an excerpt from my application, filled out before the meeting:
Q: What is a possible activity to teach the difference between the present perfect and the simple past?
MBA**: Be creative! Put the students in pairs to do a brief dialoge about a past event. For example
(I wanted to show I knew the difference), X: What did you do this weekend? Y: I went to the movies. I saw "Shakespeare in Love." Have you seen it? X: No, I haven't seen it, but last summer I saw his other movie, "Shakespeare's Revenge."

Shakespeare's Revenge? Probably not a good idea to make lame jokes on job applications. But what is Wall Street, or Business English?!

*Never talk about this in an interview.
**My Brilliant Answer.


At 5:56 PM, Blogger susan said...

Apparently, I've been acting similarly wacked out at my job, because my meddling boss sent me this email the other day:

TO: Susan Howson
Subject: Serious - but Private

If you get chance, it might be useful to take this quiz. ( It may be helpful in forming some of the next steps.


Oh I forgot to mention that they think I'm crazy for not crying in the bathroom every other day because I'm a wimpy, weepy girl or I'm on my period. He frequently asks me questions about how I'm doing and says "..and let the inner Susan answer, not the outer, plastic Susan with the 'tough guy' attitude." Emily? Do I have an outer Susan with a tough guy attitude? Maybe I'm just a tough guy! Crapass personality quiz.

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Nicolas said...

Everyone needs to know that Emily is now the star of Wall Street, soon to be renamed Emily Street.


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