• Norma Salas

The Paris Struggle Part II

Hello Guys! I'm finally back with my series about the struggle of settling in Paris. Yesterday was actually my last day in France, and trust me It is a bit frustrating that now I just got it all figure it out, I need to leave, but Oh well! This is life and at least I get to tell you my experience besides a new destination is waiting for me so I'm as well excited.

On this post I am writing about how It was looking for a job from my point of view and some recommendations. As I mentioned before, I arrived to Paris with already a job, but I must go back in time to tell this story. Remember I got my visa in May and I was looking for an apartment, well at same time I was looking as well for a job. I was very specific since my (wrong) idea with this visa was to be able to gain some professional experience abroad.

I have a degree in Marketing from a Mexican University and I went to Community College in New York where I graduated in Global Business, with that said I must admit I was pretty confident I would get something but by now I realize is not that easy. Why's that? well, lets see: Europe is a continent in which you have the “Schengen Area” which is formed by 26 countries and in where there are a lot of benefits for its members, so when I thought "I want to score a job in France", well that means I’m not competing only against french nationals I'm possibly competing against a whole continent (or well, a good portion of it) since as an European citizen member of the Schengen Area, you are free to move to any other member country to legally reside and work.

Another thing I realized is how competitive the education and professional market is. You must know that European education is not a joke, also Europeans are well known for their ability with languages, its not a surprise if they can speak 3-4 different languages fluently. But okay, regardless I was confident in getting something since France (and I could also add Spain) is not very well known for speaking a fluent English or any other language for that matter. One advantage about this visa is that it puts you in the same position as another resident, because it basically grants you with all benefits BUT as I also mention on my first post this visa is basically new so not a lot people know of it.

So okay lets see, I started looking at first on websites like Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn where I created and updated my profile and sent applications to all the available and attractive positions I could find. I was very clear on which kind of job I wanted, I wanted to work on social media and online marketing but as I was looking at requirements I realized it wouldn't be possible, because I truly dont know the french market and my french is not at a fluent level which in this case is very important to have impeccable writing and grammar skills. By the way I must say my level of french is intermediate, I can understand almost everything but it is still hard to speak my mind out. Well, after realizing how hard It could be, I changed my strategy and my new key words on the search bar where "Spanish" and "English" and I would again apply to all the job offers that were attractive to me. I did not get any response. I was starting to get desperate, so then I started looking on Facebook groups for opinions and recommendations. I came across a post from a babysitting agency and so I contacted them, we scheduled an interview via Skype and next thing I know I had a job!!. The agency that I worked with is called Recrelangue but there are many more, these agencies look specifically for native or bilingual English speakers to take care of children after school.

The process with the agency was very simple, I did not have to pay anything for their services and french was not necessary since they want you to speak in English, also childcare experience is required. The agency found the family for me, we had an Skype interview and we agreed on working together and meeting once I was in Paris before my official starting day. I must admit I was not excited about this job, I wanted a career change otherwise I would've chosen the au pair visa, but at least I was on the safe side.

Working as a "nounou" (as it is called nanny in french) you most likely will start and finish your contract with the school year, which in France starts in September and finishes in July, so It worked out perfectly for me since I arrived at the end of August. My schedule was also great since I would still have a lot of time to do some other things or either get another job. I would only work with the family 4 days a week for around 3 hours a day, starting every day at 4:30 pm, so if you do the math yeah that's 12 hours a week. Some of you might be reading and thinking: "I'm a guy, its easy for you because you are a girl and you can be a babysitter" well gentlemen let me tell you something... this is Europe, and there is equity (or at least a better bit of it). There are a lot of guys that also get a job as a nounou, so do not be afraid of applying.

With a lot of free time I kept looking for an opportunity in the marketing area, I kept applying on websites, I went to recruiting agencies, and I even attended job fairs. I must admit I got a better response while here in Paris than doing it remotely on the computer. I got a lot of interviews but unfortunately none with a positive outcome, when it was time for the "visa talk" I explained how the vacances-travail visa works but they wouldn't want to hire someone for only one year and they always made it clear they did not sponsored working visas. (Dont lose faith, Ive heard stories specially from engineers that they had landed a job which has done professional experience and sometimes leaded to a working visa).

Having secured a job and having a (kinda) steady income, gave me also the option of applying for internships but after a few negative responses I found out I was not elegible for this, since in order to work as an intern It is mandatory to be attending a French or European university. This is when after 3 months of looking for that professional position, I decided to stop worrying about it and just decided to enjoy what I had for the rest of my year.

So you might be thinking: "Wow, so how she made it all happen working 3 hours a day?!" Well, truth is life in Paris can be EX-PEN-SI-VE so my part time job wouldn't cover my bills, so I had to kept looking for opportunities. I applied at hotels, restaurants, cafes and other nounou positons. I got good responses but to be honest after my experience in Cancun I didn't want to work in a hotel, and I wouldn't see myself as a waitress or working in the kitchen, so I preferred to stay within the infant care field. Finally I found a family that would need me only on Wednesdays and some holidays. The website I used for finding this family is nounou top which I liked a lot since you have an availability calendar and a map showing the nearest positions. Later on I also found a teaching job at an English school, Kids&Us, which operates as a franchise around Europe and has multiple campuses across France. I had no previous experience in teaching, but again speaking fluent English and my childcare experience is what helped me.

So I had in total 3 jobs that I managed well and that allowed me to cover my bills, have a treat every now and then and still have a lot of free time! If you are curious about my schedule, it was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 4:30 pm- 7:30 pm (sometimes before) Wednesday 9 am- 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am- 1 pm so around 26 hours a week and if you are curious in terms of salary the hour was for me around 10 and 13 euros (After tax), plus in France your employer is entitled to pay for half your transportation monthly pass so I had already the 100% covered. Btw the minimum wage in France is around 1500 euros for a full time job 35 hrs a week.

In conclusion, I have to say if you aren't looking for an specific kind of job, if you have basic knowledge of French and if you speak English and Spanish, It will be easy to find a job within a week or two. If you want to work at a store, a restaurant, bar or cafe it is better to go around your neighborhood or the touristic places and look for the announces on the windows and give your resume on the spot. If you are looking for a professional position I would say fluent french is required, a lot of patience, and that you have a big plus over the rest of candidates as I mentioned some careers might be easier than others. And if you dont speak French or English, It might be a little harder for you but not impossible, remember there is always something for everyone! I would recommend get in touch with latin stores, restaurants or look for an Spanish position, or one that doesn't involve talking directly with the client. If you have a special talent do not hesitate to promote yourself on facebook groups or board post to make some extra money! (cooking, make up, hair dresser, doing nails, carpentry, painting, etc).

On my next blog post and third part of this series, I will be writing about life in general in Paris. If you have some specific question, concern or doubt do not hesitate to ask! Thanks for reading, and until the next one!

-Norma Salas

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