In December 2016, I found a job teaching English online to Chinese students. I applied and waited impatiently for a response. I was convinced that this was it for me. The perfect job. I had the degree. I was a writer. There was no better job.
I made it through two series of interviews without any problem. The interviewer was impressed at my background with Media and writing as well as the fact that I had driven to the office the day before to ensure I didn’t have any issues finding the place.
Unfortunately when it came time for training, the interviewer (aka the manager of the teaching center) was NOT who I needed to impress.
The day after my interview was over, I received an email with a list of items I needed to purchase because the business had a dress code. So I headed to the nearest mall and purchased formal-wear in blue, black and white (colours that the business required).
Excited about my new job, I chatted to the sales lady who seemed to share my enthusiasm especially about the fact that this was not a call center job. I confided in her that I had been so worried that I would end up in a call center because it was so tough to find jobs.
Now remember, at this stage I had only been out of college for one month but sure, I was young and naive. I didn’t know much.
I turned up to training, uncomfortable in my formal clothing and slightly nauseous. I hadn’t slept the night before and was exhausted.
And that was when I met her. The head trainer was a no-nonsense (and possibly no patience) woman. She was tough and demanding and assured us that not all of us would make it through training let alone the second day.
I was scared but I still felt pretty confident. Hello, girl with years of writing experience? English was practically the only talent I had.
But as they laid down rules after rules, I started to have doubts. I was about an hour into training when I phoned my mother in tears. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure.
Let me go over some of the rules for you: 1) You must use make-up (understandable as you’re on camera), 2) you have to use the colours required by the business, 3) you absolutely cannot take toilet breaks until it’s your designated time and 4) you cannot tell the students “no” or that they’re incorrect.
This last thing drove me crazy. When we practiced our lessons, I was marked down for things I did wrong but never given any guidance on what I could have done right. It was just “don’t do this, don’t do that”.
Looking back it was clear from the get-go that the trainers didn’t like me. It sounds petty but I remember the trainer asking me what did it mean if a girl had her a good head on her shoulders and then shouting the question back at me when I was unable to articulate my answer properly to her.
At the end of the day, they called me into the office and told me that they didn’t think the job was for me. I was too quiet, too much of an introvert. They told me to go try something else and I could come back when I had more work experience.
I was emotional. I teared up. I asked them if they needed me to complete the rest of the training (there was an hour left) or if I should leave immediately.
They assured me I could leave immediately. I thanked them for their time, said goodbye to the other trainees (who didn’t believe that I was leaving and thought I was joking), cried a bit in my car and drove myself home.
I was sad that I didn’t fit in but I knew if I had, it would have been a disaster. From what little I did see from the work environment, it looked awful.