Remember a few months ago when I was experiencing the blues about not really feeling further ahead than I was when I first arrived? The lack of work was really starting to get to me and I was having a hard time seeing a way out. Well, I used that situation (and the free time) to start looking for work. And, guess what? I found a full-time job!
I regularly scanned the cultural jobs websites, in addition to others, and started applying for anything/everything that was remotely related to my experience. I also took the initiative to sign up for Pôle Emploi, the national unemployment centre, which I found out I could do even if I had part-time work. I didn't qualify for any benefits, but they enrolled me in a skills evaluation course (which I will no longer be able to do).
With a few applications scattered out there, I was receiving some rejection letters, as one would expect, and then there was a phone message. A professional choir in Burgundy was looking for a chargé de diffusion, or a concert-seller, and they were interested in my profile. In all honesty, I had seen their ad back in February and had disregarded it because of the "sales" part of the job (they usually want someone who already has established connections) but when I saw the job posted again a month later, I thought maybe it would be worth checking out more closely. When I read the job description in detail, I thought I actually might be a good fit.
So, the phone message led to a phone call and then an invitation to an interview in person. It was quite a long distance (almost 500 km each way), but I had heard something about Pôle Emploi helping out with the costs of getting to interviews, so I did a little research and found out that they would cover my gas and tolls for the trip! The first interview went quite well and I had a good feeling about getting a second interview. The invitation to come back a second time arrived and then I was seriously scared; the possibility of getting this job meant a whole lot of change, including Jean-Marc having to give up his job and changing regions, moving etc. After many phone calls with friends and conversations with Jean-Marc (and a little pole on facebook!), I decided to give it a shot, although I would have to pay for the trip myself (I maximized my Pôle Emploi help with the first interview).
To be honest, the second interview went well until the end. I left feeling let down and upset (for reasons I won't get into here) and I drove home thinking that I didn't want the job. When I arrived home, Jean-Marc said that they had called to offer me the job that evening. Mixed feelings about the whole thing, the implied changes, the negative feelings at the end of the interview, and a whole lot of issues were spinning around in my head and I needed to talk it out and weigh everything carefully, knowing that saying "yes" would mean opening up the dam to a whole lot of life changes.
And then, I accepted. A full-time job in France for a foreigner does not come easily - and especially one related to choral music - so it felt like something I couldn't turn down.
So I'm going to be the concert booker, calling up presenters, directors of festivals and theatres, and building and maintaining relationships with them in order sell them concerts for their seasons. I will travel throughout France, and eventually abroad, around one week per month, and I will also attend all of the choir's concerts in order to meet and greet the presenters and VIPs. I've never had this direct of a sales job before, but I have friends who do this work so I know what it's about. I think it's a bit of a role-play and I just need to figure out what the parameters are. Of course I also hope to do it in a way that is true to me!
In addition to the selling, I will also help to produce a festival that they host every summer in August and help the group with its regional activities and presence.
It's all very exciting and scary.
The first two months are the trial period, during which they will give me free housing and Jean-Marc will stay in our apartment and keep his job (just in case...). If we do make the move, Pôle Emploi will help pay for our moving costs and Jean-Marc will qualify for benefits because he'd be quitting his job to follow me for my work. The president of the choir said that he had some connections for Jean-Marc to help him get work.
The choir is based in Burgundy, in the medieval village of Vézelay, which also happens to be a pilgrimage stop and a UNESCO world heritage site. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, but the countryside is very beautiful. At the very least it will be an inspiring place to work!
So, in two weeks I will head out and jump into the deep end of a job which has been vacant for a few months. It's sure to be a steep learning curve! Before I go I have to wrap up all the bits and pieces of my teaching (I have to leave mid-contract, which is not the best position to be in), and get to the farmhouse to give it the once-over before the rental season starts.
After 3.5 months of relative inactivity (although somehow I felt very busy), life is about to pick up the pace just a little. Or maybe a lot.
Monday, April 18, 2011
So I went to the Mairie today to pick up my carte de séjour - only 7.5 months after applying for it! - and saw this cute little brochure. It's a regional guide to where you can buy food products directly from the producers. It's got everything from fruit & veggies to eggs, meat and dairy, as well as honey, escargots and wine. Each section lists the individual addresses and days/times you can visit and buy on site. In the back they have tucked in a little map showing each town with pictograms of the types of products available. It's so cute! And what a grand effort to get all the information in one place.