Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The TCK and the Job Interview

Making the Most of Your TCK Experience When Applying for a Job - From Denizen For Third Culture Kids.

No, my new job is not at the Bodleian, but I did take a summer class there once!
When I'm trolling surfing around on the internet looking for things to write about, I find that, more times than not, the subjects find me, rather than the other way around.  This article from Denizen (Online Magazine for Third Culture Kids) just popped up.  Just when I am less than two weeks from starting a new job, right after I myself had a job interview that morphed from a conversation about my job experience and education to my Third Culture Kid-ness.

As you may know, I earned my Masters' degree in Library and Information Studies more than three years ago (and no, you don't need a masters' degree just to shush people).  The market in my field is about as soft as a marshmallow wrapped in cotton wool, dropped onto an air mattress.  Because of the insidious presence of Google and other search engines, many people question why we even need librarians any more.  City and county budgets are being slashed right and left, and guess who are first to land on the chopping block?  You guessed it.  Us. There are two radio jocks here in Austin who make me nuts, talking about why the heck do we need another bleepin' library, as the city breaks ground on a new, state of the art facility.  (I know, I could turn them off, but now and then they do talk about something interesting).  There is the oft-repeated adage, "Why do we need librarians when we have Google?"  I don't know who said it, but I heard that Google will get you 100,000 hits, but a good librarian will get the RIGHT hits.

So here I am, three years after marching down that aisle to get that coveted diploma, finally, finally having been hired as a real live, honest to goodness, real McCoy, gen-u-ine librarian.  I have worked in retail for the past couple of years, but one of the women at the interview agreed that the best experience for working in a public library is retail.  Another one piped up, "Or a bar!"

Then they told me that their community serves a diverse demographic: there are seventy three languages spoken among the immigrant population.  Seventy three.  Can you sit down and even name 73 different languages?  Beside the usual Spanish, French, Russian, there are Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog (I jumped at that one!) and myriad African dialects, just to name a few.  They have a Vietnamese reading section (in fact one of my interviewers was Vietnamese).  This got me more excited than anything .. my inner TCK snapped to attention.  This was the right place for me.

I told them about my background, and how I always find it easy to relate to people across the spectrum, culturally speaking.  In my retail job I have run into French speakers, Russian speakers, Vietnamese speakers, even Japanese speakers.  I always ask where they are from, hoping maybe to find a common thread.  I hope I don't come across as nosy ... I'm just curious.  I can spot a Filipino accent across a crowded room and will zero in like a heat-seeking missile to talk to them.  I always, always get a smile.  Just thinking about serving this diverse group as a librarian is making my enthusiasm about the job multiply exponentially.

I told my interviewers that because of my constant "being new" experiences, I throw myself into training.  I want to learn, and I want to learn fast.  I hate, hate, hate, being new and not knowing what I'm doing.  I want to put down my roots and settle in as quickly as I can.  As Bethany Clark states in her article, I am also comfortable in new and unusual situations.  I can walk into a job, look around and take stock of what things are going to be like, and adapt like a chameleon.  I'm not sure what made them decide to hire me, but I can't help but think, since it was a large part of our talking points, the TCK angle pushed me over the top.

Three years was a long time to wait, but I have to remind myself that all good things come to those who wait, and it just took that long for the right job to come along.  I can't think of a more perfect fit for this TCK.  And now, my three year long vacation comes to an end!

Stay tuned for some really exciting news from me (other than my new job!) in the next couple of weeks.


Nancy Broussard said...

Another awesome blog/article!

Nancy Broussard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrieCulturen said...

Hi Elizabeth, wow congratulations with your new job! It sounds like it fits you perfectly. I hope you really enjoy it. I worked with immigrants here in the Netherlands and I really felt `at home`. I just love working in a multicultural environment with different languages being spoken around me.
Does your news have something to do with your book? greetings Janneke

Elizabeth Evans said...

Janneke ... mmmaybe? I'm not saying.

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