Friday, January 28, 2011

How I Got My Job (Part I)

{In which I describe my job-searching process in Taipei, Taiwan}

I finished teaching English as a TA at NTHU (a university in Hsinchu, Taiwan) in mid-August, and I spent the next two weeks enjoying myself and hanging out with people all over Taiwan. It was great, but my parents were worried about my plans for the future (well, more like the lack thereof). All I had was a vague idea that I wanted to try living in Taiwan for a bit (I'm sure many of you are wondering "WHY????" but that's not the point of this post. Maybe I'll write a "Why I Want to Live in Taiwan" post later or something.)  It was a step up from having absolutely no desire to do anything at all, so maybe that's why my parents didn't forbid it. Still, they weren't — and still aren't — fond of having their oldest daughter bumming around in Taiwan when, theoretically, she could be going to medical school.

I knew if I got a job in Taiwan I'd have a more legitimate reason to stay. My parents also insisted that I do something about finding employment. So one night near the beginning of September I created an account at (a Taiwan job search site) on a whim and pasted in some information from my resume. I then applied to four openings, which made me feel productive enough to turn to other activities.

The next morning, I took the bus to Hsinchu to visit my friends at NTHU. As I was walking through the campus, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. "Hello?" I said. (I still can't get used to answering the phone with "Wei?" as everyone does in Taiwan.) After the lady on the phone was reassured that I was who she was looking for, she told me the name of the company she works at (which I promptly forgot) and told me that she wanted to interview me. That day, if possible. But I was in Hsinchu, so we settled for Tuesday afternoon. I probably should have given more thought to my first-ever full-time job interview, but it hadn't quite sunk in yet. Isn't job searching supposed to be, like, hard work?

I barely thought of the interview while I enjoyed my delightful stay at Hsinchu. We stayed up til 5am playing cards, and — after a mere couple hours of sleep — I woke up early for breakfast and for the trip back to Taipei. I got home around 11am, filled out paperwork for the interview as quickly as I could, then went to sleep again because I was so exhausted. I woke up barely in time to change and go to 7-11 to print out the forms, then managed to be 7 minutes late for my interview despite taking a taxi from the MRT stop instead of walking. (Note to potential future employers: I am not always like this, promise! I did pretty well in college — I successfully interviewed for several research and part-time job positions and received multiple offers. Consider this one instance a lapse of judgment brought on by the heat of the Taiwan summer. ;P)

This is the room where I had the interview:

  Small Conference Room

Quite a cozy little room - nice painting and table, cool lighting, awesome glass-serving-as-whiteboard. But at the time I didn't quite appreciate it as I was mostly nervous. Not to mention incredibly sleep-deprived. The combination of nerves and fatigue meant my attempts to answer questions in Chinese were rather stilted. I racked my words but came up empty when I tried to say that I managed the filing system in one of my part-time jobs at school. Lab work would have been nearly impossible for me to describe in Chinese — thankfully they didn't mind having me speak in English, or I don't how I would have gotten through the interview.

In total I talked to four people that day, and in my befuddled state of mind I felt kind of bad that they were all taking it so seriously. All I could think of the entire time was "how soon can I get home and SLEEP?!" and, slightly more charitably, "I feel so sorry for wasting all these nice people's time!" Needless to say, I was not feeling my best. My youth and lack of experience were painfully glaring to me — I felt like I was just pretending to be a responsible adult job-seeker and they were just playing along. The strangest part was that they actually seemed to like me a lot.

Before I left, the HR manager told me they were interviewing other candidates and would contact me in two or three weeks. I was relieved I would have more time to play and avoid adult life. Well, mostly I was just really happy that I got to go home and sleep.

Continue to Part II

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