Thursday, February 16, 2006

Valentine's Day and other business meetings

A few weeks ago, I had my six-month follow up at ANPE (the official unemployment agency). Only it wasn't a meeting; I and about fifteen others were shocked to learn that we were there to take a secretarial competence test. In French. Ha HA!

So I added and subtracted, skipped the fractions (I completely forgot how to multiply and divide them and as soon as Steph reminded me, I smacked my forehead - but it's been fifteen years since I've seen a fraction so I'm not too broken up about it), answered some logic questions, breezed through reading comprehension and tried to remember my conjugation. Then I sat at a computer and attempted to answer questions about how to be a secretary in French. Now I really know what vocabulary I'm missing. If I couldn't understand a question, I just skipped it. The whole thing reminded me of the competence tests you take when you apply at a temp agency in the states. But in French. Ha HA!

Meanwhile, as I was waiting a couple of weeks to meet again with the counselor and the psychologist (apparently to tell some folks that they aren't meant for this line of work), I was putting a whole lot of thought into the whole "getting a job here in France" thing. That's when I read a post on Pat's blog about what she does for a living and I thought to myself - why can't I do the same thing? So the project I'm working on is eventually to be in business for myself. I've been researching like a madwoman and have been spending every waking moment thinking and plotting to make this little project in my mind a reality.

So Monday I went back to get the results of the test. Considering I left many questions blank, I did pretty good. All of the questions I did answer were correct (Ha HA!) and the big surprise was that I scored a 16/20 in French - Ha HA HA!

Since I was there anyway, I took advantage of having an ANPE counselor there in front of me and told him about my little project. Both the counselor and the shrink psychologist were extremely supportive, and I walked away with even more info and contacts of where I need to go to get a business license and fun stuff like that.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day, and we celebrated by going out for dinner, which is becoming our little tradition. I buy my own flowers, I don't need jewelry, but nothin' says lovin' like "you don't have to cook tonight!" We went to the restaurant around the corner (which was ok, not as good as our favorite place in Troyes, but I'm sure we'll go again one day) and I spent the entire dinner talking about my business plan. I'm so romantic, huh? This isn't something that's going to materialize in one month or even six months - I've got a lot of preparation ahead of me. But Steph was so good and let me blather on about start-up costs and potential marketing strategies. He's such a keeper, this one.

So in the middle of all this empowering yet frantic activity, I got a phone call yesterday. Turns out ANPE was putting my name forward for a temp bilingual gig and was calling to ask if I could forward my resume to the client. I actually had a really nice conversation with the woman, and when I warned her that perhaps my French may not be quite up to the level the client needs, she said that they already had turned down one candidate because their English wasn't good enough, so in her opinion, the English is really more important. Well I seem to have the English down (well, we'll see what Spellcheck has to say about that, but anyway...). The resume has been sent on so I may have a regular job after all.

Which would be a lovely way to pay for some of my start-up costs. Ha HA!

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