Opportunities come, and opportunities go. Especially moving abroad. I moved to Spain without knowing where I was going to live or work. Here, it’s like shaping an entirely new life. You have no previous connections to people, whereas in Florida I have relationships stemming all the way back to childhood. This type of situation requires a lot of proactivity, discernment, and clear communication.
Imagine the visual of holding a rope with your hands. You first pick up the rope (opportunity). Then you let it slide through your hands. Your grip is firm with it, but not too much so. Letting it through your hands is where you’re figuring out how it feels – you’re discerning the situation. But when the opportunity doesn’t seem right, don’t waste time. Don’t hold a death grip on it, as if there are no other opportunities. Just drop the rope.
If you want to make enough money to keep living here, you just have to put yourself out there in as many ways as possible. Send 20 emails to companies in a row with your resume; advertise for private English classes online; print out papers to post around town; and see what opportunities come up each day through peers on Facebook. And when an opportunity pops up, jump on it. Figure it out. Ask questions like: 1) How far away is this business from my house? 2) What does the compensation look like? 3) What are the expectations? Just as the opportunities easily flow in, wise people easily throw them out, too.
Take an interview I had this week, for example. On Thursday, I received a phone call from a woman with broken English. She said something about someone wanting 4 hours of private lessons a week in English. It was for someone else, and I didn’t know why should would be calling me then. But their availability aligned with mine – great!. The lady asked me meet her colleague the next day in-person. Sure, why not. I travel along the Metro, taking a 30-minute trip, and find their address. I hop on the elevator to meet them on the second-floor. I shortly learned that this was not 4 hour of independent lessons – this would be working for the company, using their methodology, and receiving feedback from the company.
The company’s signage was non-existent. I interview with the Irish colleague in a poorly-lit room, where the only element differentiated it from a room in a house was a whiteboard on the wall. He asks me a few questions about my teaching approach. I would talk for about 30 seconds, then he would cut me off, saying, “But you need to think about this…” then go into a 2-minute segment on the psychology of teaching. He talked about 80% and let me talk 20%. Poor interviewing techniques. While we were talking, the lady that initially called me the day before would enter the room, just stand there, then randomly walk out. I would ask questions like, “How is this company structured?” and “Help me understand how this company works?” He would give short answers that were short of convincing me.
During one of his rants, I internally processed, “Enough is enough… this doesn’t feel right. Four hours teaching a CEO and his secretary is cool, but having to work through these people is a no-go.” At this point, I knew I didn’t want to work here. But now how do I communicate this? Now, or later? There was no point in waiting to tell them I didn’t want to do it. But what words to use? Thirty minute into the interview, they came out something like this: “I apologize, I may have misinterpreted the situation. When I received the call yesterday, I thought this was a private teaching opportunity and not working through a company. Since I can only legally work 20 hours a week with my student visa, I would prefer to not work for multiple companies and complicate my working situation.” I am sure there were a lot of sorry’s and umm’s in between those words, but that was the gist of it. I stopped talking, waiting for his response: “Oh, umm, I didn’t expect that. That’s a pity.” He then talked about how working for two jobs would not be an issue, but I was set on my position. I thanked him for his time, and he was kind in thanking me for coming out to him. He told me to keep the company in mind if I wanted to work for them in the future.
Just as opportunities easily come, when it’s time to let it go, do it as quickly as possible. I didn’t want a phone call I had to make hanging over my head all day. Walking out of the company, knowing I was clear in my stance, and that I wouldn’t have to go there again, was a breath of fresh air. Easy come, easy go.