Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jobs in Paris

I was recently asked about my time in Paris and yes, I worked while in Paris, France. I worked for the five and a half consecutive months I lived there. I wanted to have some money to spend so I took on my usual three jobs game.

A page from the Keel's Simple Diary at Taschen
For some reason I prefer to have part time jobs for a change of pace then one serious job that I feel like I'm slaving away at. I feel like it gives me more freedom and security and it's also a great way to meet different types of people. I went a bit overkill with these jobs though because I just said "yes" all the time to everything. I wasn't sure how long I was staying and wanted to keep my options open.

It might come as a surprise that I found all my jobs through craigslist, landed in Paris with a job contract and secured two other jobs and two apartments within my first two weeks. Yes, having a Euro passport was in my favor but with the internet there's no reason to not land prepared. Through craigslist and other search engines I started to apply and sent out emails to all sorts of jobs. I applied for everything between DisneylandParis and being an Au Pair/Nanny.

View from Sara's Paris studio where I stayed my second week
Money was an issue for me. I knew Paris was expensive and the only way I could go there was with a job ready for me. That was my MO: to get myself back to Paris, I needed to go with a job. The most abundant jobs I found were for Teaching, nannying, serving and office jobs. I catered three resumes to highlight my skills in these three areas and wrote cover letters. This can be a daunting task but once it's done it's a matter of copy, paste and casting a wide net.

Sitting in my kitchen window in Paris on a sunny day
I wasn't picky on the job but to me having a good life meant traveling to the places that wouldn't leave my daydreams. I recently saw this quote on my friends Corinne's facebook wall:
      one day you wake up and realize you'd rather have a good life than a good job.  
Was I nervous that I couldn't walk down the street and check out these places that I was applying for? That I couldn't call a friend ask their opinion on the place? That I didn't know any Paris natives? Hell's yes! Many other comforts were not available to me and many other fears cropped up. But, that's what google maps street view is for and websites. When I received an email reply I would verify on the company website and look for the persons contact info. I would ask specific questions and offer to have a Skype interview.

Housewarming party with Laura, she's behind the camera.
When I started to get responses regarding in person interviews I explained that I was not currently in Paris but I would contact them as soon as I confirmed my dates. Through online communication I was able to figure out that I did not have enough French to get through an office job. That enabled me to focus more on tutoring positions. When I was 17 and took a year off before going to college but I took a TESOL course at King and Spadina. I knew I wanted to travel so that course was education filling, resume building and something I could do anywhere. It gave me the confidence I needed to consider and apply for these jobs. (Completing TESOL gave me additional resources like that I check on every so often)

So the whole Aupaire thing...  
I got my job with a family in a beautiful house. I picked up a wonderful little girl from school and would chat about silly things on the walk back to her house, all in English. She would have a snack and we would do exercises in English, some printed out from online sources, some games that she had done with previous tutors. We would read easy stories taking turns reading the page or if it was a really easy book she'd have to read the whole book. Then I would pick up from where was left off in the Narnia series. Her incentive to speak only English and play word games was 20minutes of Monopoly at the end where we talk about different sentences. We would pack up the game and set it back up, each game lasting a week or so. I worked two days a week at 10€ an hour. For me the wage fit the work and I was happy at the house. A few times the little girl didn't want me to leave and would hide my shoes. I liked that I got to have fun and answer questions, not having strict rules to follow.

View from the Pompidou
So the whole tutoring English thing...   
I was fortunate to find a contract at IPSA that was a full two week contract. I was genuinely interested in aeronautics having made the tough decision in my teens to go to TAC over an aviation school. I still plan to get my private pilot license one day and read articles every so often. That genuine interest kept me diligent in my follow-up emails. Given a very organized plan I was able show up and easily do my job. This would reimburse the money I spent the first two weeks and enable me to set up interview dates with all the other jobs I was in contact with. Once I was confirmed I bought my one way ticket. Completing one contract led to more, I even have an opportunity now to return in January. This job connected me with great people like my roommate Laura, my boss who shared her guidebook and Photos from her trip to Panama, and Felicity who lent me A Moveable Feast, and enjoyed the Lipp cafe with me.

Eating Mille Feuille at Lipp with Jenn and Felicity

So the whole being a bartender thing...  
I was lucky to work at a really fun bar, Cafe Oz. At night it turns into a kind of night club where people dance on tables and bartenders dance on the bar. Sometimes pouring free shots for people, always lighting the bar and jager bombs on fire. The staff dresses up almost every Saturday for a themed night and you never really know what's going to happen. One of my favorite things was cheering on a Sax player who was standing on the bar playing alongside the beats of the DJ,with go-go dancers alongside. Another night, hearing the domino effect of 70 jager shots clicking into each other only to fall into redbull/ozzy drink while surrounded by fire taking up half of the bar was also pretty memorable.

A regular night at Cafe Oz, Chatelet

Working there I know more cocktails and shots then I can count
and have a few tips for being nice to your server:
- It doesn't hurt to say please and thanks
- Do not wave in your servers face
- Just because you're deaf doesn't mean your server wants to be, so stop shouting
- If there's a bell that's rung when tips come in and you're not hearing bells, leave more tips, you will be remembered

Arriving home after vampire/death night


  1. Awesome! Props to you for managing to support yourself in Paris! Juggling 3 jobs can't have been easy! I Aupaired in Sweden last year. I lived with the family so I didn't really have to worry about money so things were easier for me :)

    1. Thanks, it kept me busy, gave me lots to see and do.
      How long did you stay in Sweden for? Got any recommendations?