Goodbye Assistantship, Hello Unemployment

Some good news finally. My car still isn’t fixed, but at least I only have 3 days of work left! I work Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and then my second year as an assistant will be over. Technically 7 month assistants work until April 30, but because of the 2 week break (April 12-27), that would mean coming back for one day of work. So I’m doing a few extra hours this week to make up for it. As of 4pm Friday afternoon, I will be officially done!

So what’s next? Good question. I’ll have plenty of paperwork woes to keep me busy for a little while. I’m still gathering all the documents to apply for my CDS vie privée et familiale, I’ll have to send off my passport to be renewed when I get back from Berlin & Budapest at the end of the month, and in May I can start filling out unemployment paperwork. Plus I’ll continue searching for any and every job I can find.

It’s a little strange to keep reading other assistants’ blogs and how they’re preparing to move back home soon. Usually language assistants are temporary workers. They are not meant to stay in France permanently. And that is why my second year as an assistant was not as easy as the first. All of the other assistants will leave this spring, but not me. Once again, I will lose all of my friends here. I will not be going “home” in a few months. I will not be continuing on with graduate school next year. I will not go back to the US to start my real life. My real life is in France.

Except my real life hasn’t actually begun yet. I’m still not sure what to do with my life. But in this land of high unemployment and low salaries, I’ll have to take what I can get. I do enjoy the idea of teaching English since I believe learning languages is the most important thing in the world. But in practice it’s not usually as fun when you have students who just don’t care or who don’t take your class seriously because they know you don’t give grades. Truth be told, I’d rather teach French to Anglophones than the opposite, but I can’t really do that in France, now can I?

Technically, I cannot be an English assistant for a third year as the CIEP only allows two years. I can, however, apply as a recruté local, which is actually the same job as a regular assistant. After the jobs are filled with new assistants and renewing assistants, any remaining posts are filled by recrutement local directly through the académie instead of through the CIEP. I will be sending my CV and lettre de motivation to Grenoble as a last resort, though I would really prefer to have a longer and higher-paying job. I think I’d like to be a lectrice too, except there aren’t many universities around here that teach English and I don’t want to commute an hour to work again…

I’m increasingly jealous of expats who are transferred to France because of their jobs. I would love to have a steady job and income in this country. (Though I’m not so jealous of the fact that most of those expats are paid in US dollars.) I can most likely receive unemployment this summer, but I would much rather work. I would like to not have to worry about money next month or even next year. But it seems like that’s all I do here. I will be so happy when we can stop worrying about paying off our student loans or if we can afford repairs on our cars.

I am really looking forward to finding a full-time job and I’m trying to be optimistic about the future. But it’s a little hard when I constantly hear stories of expats having no choice but to work in the teaching English field. The pay is low or unreliable, the hours are horrible, the focus is usually business (a.k.a boring) English. And whenever I search ANPE, all I can find is soutien scolaire offers, which is basically private lessons at the student’s home and exactly what I do not want to do.

In a perfect world, I would be able to stay home and make a living from my website. But I’m not willing to charge for my language tutorials because everyone should be able to learn, not just people with money. I know a lot of people think I’m dumb for not trying to make a higher income with my site, but I don’t care. I can’t deny people the opportunity to learn languages just because they don’t have a few dollars or euros to give me. That’s so selfish. Languages are much more important than money.

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  • Justin

    Hang in there Jennie. Things will change soon.

  • Justin

    Hang in there Jennie. Things will change soon.

  • Linda

    My son found a job is Switzerland via the Internet. I wonder if their is someway to do that for you–find an American job in France? I have a friend here who teaches English to three judges three times a week. I’ll have to ask her how she found her position.

  • Linda

    My son found a job is Switzerland via the Internet. I wonder if their is someway to do that for you–find an American job in France? I have a friend here who teaches English to three judges three times a week. I’ll have to ask her how she found her position.

  • Karina

    Are you sure about the lectrice position? In France all majors (as far as I know) are required to have English as part of their program, as a lectrice this year I am contracted for 225 hours for the year and only 45 or so of those were in the English department. I work at the CHU with Med students and in the departement d’economie… doesn’t hurt to send off CVs, they usually start making their selection around now. i’m looking for my first “real” job too… sent off my first batch of CVs and will send out some more, its frusterating isn’t it??

  • Karina

    Are you sure about the lectrice position? In France all majors (as far as I know) are required to have English as part of their program, as a lectrice this year I am contracted for 225 hours for the year and only 45 or so of those were in the English department. I work at the CHU with Med students and in the departement d’economie… doesn’t hurt to send off CVs, they usually start making their selection around now.
    i’m looking for my first “real” job too… sent off my first batch of CVs and will send out some more, its frusterating isn’t it??

  • Andromeda

    This is exactly where I’ll be in a year! No chance of moving closer to a university if you found a lectrice position? Good luck!!

  • Andromeda

    This is exactly where I’ll be in a year! No chance of moving closer to a university if you found a lectrice position? Good luck!!

  • poppy fields

    I hope you find your dream job. But while looking, have you thought about passing the BAFA diplôme so that you could work in the colonies de vacances that might be in your region of France? It might be a good temporary solution.

  • poppy fields

    I hope you find your dream job. But while looking, have you thought about passing the BAFA diplôme so that you could work in the colonies de vacances that might be in your region of France? It might be a good temporary solution.

  • Leah

    I feel your pain, I think it’s coming to that time of year again that a lot of us are looking for a job for next year. Like Karina said, I was also going to encourage you to look into getting a lectrice job if that’s something you would really like to do. It really is very different from the assistantship and the pay is definitely better! Even if you had to commute(I know personally what a pain that is), it might be worth it. Good luck!

  • Leah

    I feel your pain, I think it’s coming to that time of year again that a lot of us are looking for a job for next year. Like Karina said, I was also going to encourage you to look into getting a lectrice job if that’s something you would really like to do. It really is very different from the assistantship and the pay is definitely better! Even if you had to commute(I know personally what a pain that is), it might be worth it. Good luck!

  • Milie

    Hi Jennie,I’ve been in a similar situation a few years ago: I had studied languages for years at the university and I didn’t know how/where to start working, in my country – France. I know how hard it is to find a job in France…I finally decided to study marketing, graduated and worked in sales management and training. In late 2006, I moved to Australia and started a new career as a consultant in communication, very different to what I did before, but I wanted to be bilingual one day! Ok, that’s a long story, but I just wanted to say that you can start somewhere, even if it’s not what you were dreaming about, and find your own way, learn, experience, meet people ;-)Visit http://www.cadremploi.fr/ and type “bilingue” in the job search tool bar, you may find ideas, other opportunities. Also, do not hesitate to visit an Apec agency (instead of Anpe), they are specialized in offering positions for highly skilled people (like you). Hope that helps.Bon courage Jennie, allez, allez !!! Milie

  • Milie

    Hi Jennie,
    I’ve been in a similar situation a few years ago: I had studied languages for years at the university and I didn’t know how/where to start working, in my country – France. I know how hard it is to find a job in France…I finally decided to study marketing, graduated and worked in sales management and training. In late 2006, I moved to Australia and started a new career as a consultant in communication, very different to what I did before, but I wanted to be bilingual one day! Ok, that’s a long story, but I just wanted to say that you can start somewhere, even if it’s not what you were dreaming about, and find your own way, learn, experience, meet people ;-)
    Visit http://www.cadremploi.fr/ and type “bilingue” in the job search tool bar, you may find ideas, other opportunities. Also, do not hesitate to visit an Apec agency (instead of Anpe), they are specialized in offering positions for highly skilled people (like you). Hope that helps.
    Bon courage Jennie, allez, allez !!! Milie

  • Au Soleil Levant

    It’s tough to feel like you’re ready for your life to start and yet you’re stagnating. Definitely look into the lectrice idea, sounds like that might be perfect for you! At least you’ll be finished with the joys of the assistantship soon.

  • Au Soleil Levant

    It’s tough to feel like you’re ready for your life to start and yet you’re stagnating. Definitely look into the lectrice idea, sounds like that might be perfect for you! At least you’ll be finished with the joys of the assistantship soon.

  • Zaiming

    Hi, Jennie,I came across to your ielanguages.com site when I tried to search for some French learning materials for one friend who has just started to learn French recently. It is really a wonderful website!!!Really love what you write in the last paragraph about your idea on the website. Bon courage à vous pour le recherche d’emploi.Zaiming

  • Zaiming

    Hi, Jennie,

    I came across to your ielanguages.com site when I tried to search for some French learning materials for one friend who has just started to learn French recently.
    It is really a wonderful website!!!
    Really love what you write in the last paragraph about your idea on the website.
    Bon courage à vous pour le recherche d’emploi.

    Zaiming

  • dw

    Hey there. Random question… when you’re back from Budapest (which is fabulous by the way, make sure you see the Great Market Hall and go take in the Szychenyi Baths!) would you mind emailing me a few of your best photos for my scrapbook? I’m an idiot and my camera got stolen on the train. :(Have fun!

  • dw

    Hey there. Random question… when you’re back from Budapest (which is fabulous by the way, make sure you see the Great Market Hall and go take in the Szychenyi Baths!) would you mind emailing me a few of your best photos for my scrapbook? I’m an idiot and my camera got stolen on the train. :(
    Have fun!

  • Arnold Lozano

    hey, just stumbled upon your site. i almost feel like i’m reading about myself and its stressing me out. i am also finishing up my 2nd year of assistantship in paris and have an appointment for my cds vie privée et familiale. also uncertain about how to begin my ‘real life’… but, its nice to know there are others going through similar situations…

  • Arnold Lozano

    hey, just stumbled upon your site. i almost feel like i’m reading about myself and its stressing me out. i am also finishing up my 2nd year of assistantship in paris and have an appointment for my cds vie privée et familiale. also uncertain about how to begin my ‘real life’… but, its nice to know there are others going through similar situations…

  • The Duchess

    Just wanted to wish you luck with it all, I’ve been there, and I know it can be frustrating and a little scary.I worked for two years as a recruté local through the rectorat in Montpellier, and then fell into a job working with a local estate agency selling houses. I never dreamed that would be something I’d do, but it works for me for the moment (and for the last 5 years!). Hang in there, something will come up. It usually does when we aren’t looking, so just pretend you aren’t looking for the moment!:-)

  • The Duchess

    Just wanted to wish you luck with it all, I’ve been there, and I know it can be frustrating and a little scary.
    I worked for two years as a recruté local through the rectorat in Montpellier, and then fell into a job working with a local estate agency selling houses. I never dreamed that would be something I’d do, but it works for me for the moment (and for the last 5 years!).
    Hang in there, something will come up. It usually does when we aren’t looking, so just pretend you aren’t looking for the moment!:-)

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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