Yesterday I went to a 4 hour long group interview for a teach English in Japan program. I hadn't slept the night before so was feeling dead on the inside. The presentation they gave was so excruciating, and we had to watch a video about their organization, listen to them explain in detail the history of the company in Japan, the health insurance policies, etc, basically the most pointless stuff. So unnecessary in the first round of interviews! One thing that was interesting was that the recruiters was a Japanese woman with a British accent and an late 30s/40s ish old white American man. Actually that was the only thing interesting about the interview. It took place in one of those huge office buildings in Grand Central so I felt like I was in Mad Men or something but it was a bizarro world Mad Men when I felt more and more suicidal with each minute that I sat there in that board room, thinking, is this really what it's like to be Peggy? Anyhow, there were only 4 other people being interviewed= One was this guy who had this weird Russian (?) accent although he looked Asian and he just sounded and acted like he had Aspergers or some other kind of mental condition. Throughout the presentation he took notes on his Iphone or something but it just looked like he was surfing the web. This other girl was like 26 and had a way of speaking which made it seem like she was talking to a group of 6 graders at all times. It was very weird. Plus she was wearing this blouse that an old lady who grew up in the 50s would wear. One other girl was half British half French and she, along with this chill black American guy, were the only people that seemed normal, although the girl seemed very prissy being British and all. Anyhow, the interviewers acted like they were cult members to that company- they sounded so upbeat and enthused, like omg, it was the best company ever, even though it was just a cram school, like their version of Princeton Review, and we had to watch a video of people working for the company, acting fakely upbeat. I should note that these people confirm every stereotype I have about foreigners who go to Japan to teach English: basically unattractive losers in their 30s who probably have some kind of personality disorder and otherwise can't get jobs in their home country. Even if they didn't seem crazy, I find it really weird that they all looked like they were in their 30s but were at a job where they made $500-$800 take home pay per month after all bills are paid (and mind you, flights to and from Japan are not covered).
So we had to give a 5 minute lesson and I wrote out this somewhat ridiculous dialogue that I made everyone read. The crazy Russian guy had the best presentation I thought, actually bringing in refrigerator magnets to hold up his laminated pictures. The condescending girl's presentation was about how Japanese people can't pronounce Rs so she made a bingo sheet with commonly confused words (like Jelly and Jerry, boring and bowling), which I thought was mildly racist.
Throughout these 4 hours of torture, I thought to myself, I am only qualified to be a writer, and if I had to do anything else in life I would seriously have to shoot myself because I felt so so sorry for the recruiters and for the others interviewing with me, who all were older and couldn't get jobs in their chosen fields. I remembered this girl I met in Ireland who worked for the government for 2 years at a proper job but quit to become a waitress, and then an English teacher in Spain (but only 12hrs/ week) because it was the most soul crushing thing ever, or this Korean girl I met from LA who also quit her job with the IRS, because she was like, yeah, those jobs are really depressing. I thought I would be able to do something like that for money but unless I own the company myself I seriously cannot see myself being motivated to speak that animately or act like an indoctrinated Scientology for any company. The only proper work I could see myself doing is working for the UN or State Department because at least I feel passionately about politics and the work you do for those places actually matter- you're helping people, helping diplomacy, all of that stuff that you can actually feel idealistic about.
At the end, the recruiters took some time to prepare envelopes telling us we were invited back for interviews. I had an inkling none of us would be, because when they came back they were like, "remember, in the video someone said the teachers working for us are energetic and enthusiastic and that's exactly what we want" and basically the entire group was dead eyed the entire time. They told us not to open our envelopes in front of one another, but in the elevator, I was just like, let's just open it, who cares. Only crazy Russian guy did it with me and we were both rejected, which is completely fine, and I even felt giddy afterwards after so little sleep and having to rush to class afterwards.
In short, I would much rather do something like become a cashier or a waitress or be in the customer service industry. I seriously would not be able to do any job where I'd have to act professional and dead eyed and fake the entire time. I just want to myself and not have to sell out my self respect for money. I'm really glad I went to that horrible interview though, because now I have insight into how these kinds of office jobs can be like. As I told Sylvie on gchat later, it's no wonder on Mad Men Don just immediately falls in love with and marries every random interesting girls he sees, or why Japanese businessmen have to go to geishas in Memoirs of a Geisha. There's such a lack of joy in these people's lives, and I wouldn't want it for all the money in the world.
With that in mind, these are my possible career aspirations in life:
That's literally it. I don't mind doing other things while I'm young, like maybe work for an airline since I enjoy travel, or I don't know, a waitress or something. Whatever. Just something not boring. And actually, I'm going to apply to MFA programs for creative writing. Creative writing MFA programs are really hard to get into (most of them take only 10 people per year, and it's like a 4%-5% acceptance rate, worse than med school) but it's largely based on talent and not so much on grades, which is fine by me. Also most of them give you a $10,000 stipend per year with no tuition with is also fantastic. In particular my dream is the program at the University of Las Vegas which is 3 year long and has an international focus and you can opt to do the Peace Corps and have it count towards course work. Plus I would love to live in Las Vegas. I'm going to apply for January 2011, which leaves me with next year to kind of fool around as I wish I suppose. I'm thinking of taking further undergraduate classes abroad, for the experience, and also to boost my GPA. It wouldn't be NYU tuition but it would still be expensive, however my parents would be okay with this since they want me to pursue graduate school and are willing to pay it. Although these would be undergraduate classes they wouldn't have to pay for grad school if I do an MFA so I figure they'd be okay with that. Plus there is my novel to work on and I definitely intend on selling it for a large pile of money.