MORE THAN I CAN CHEW

Looking for a job in Beijing

To come here was a tough decision. I doubted my decision of giving up my long accustomed life back home. I was awed by the uncertainties of future in Beijing and the disbeliefs of my competence racked me. Nonetheless, I came here on November 10, 2002.

Life here can be real tough. Without enough money to pay for things I need, I will have to live with a poorer standard of living than at home, for example, sharing with my roommate a cold room in a one-story house without an indoor toilet in the winter.

Beijing is different from Harbin. It’s a national city, if not an international one while Harbin is just a regional city. I hear Chinese people down the street in Beijing speaking every language and dialect known in China. Sometimes I may sit in a corner on a bus and be amazed, wondering if I’m really in China because a Chinese man who presses his cellphone against his ear talks a total foreign tongue, neither English nor German, it’s an unknown Chinese dialect no other people than himself on the bus can understand.

Being in a national city means I have more opportunities than in a provincial city. The bad news is that I may have more than I can chew.

It’s the second week I’d been in Beijing that I decided the adjustment to a new invironment was enough–I needed a job desperately. I sent numerous resumes through 51job.com, chinahr.com and zhaopin.com and printed dozens of copies of my application letter and resume and sent them out to my potential employers by post.

I still remember three of those job interviews.

The first one appeared to be a success for the immediate offer of the job. My job would involve translation in the fields of communications and set-top-boxes, something attached to the top of a TV set to receive paid programs.

I balked at the second interview. I crossed from the western to the eastern part of Beijing after changing several buses. When I got there, it turned out to be a PR (Public Relations) company that had something to do with The Oracle. The first interviewer was a formidable young man wearing a dark business suit. He told me that his was a medium-sized PR company hiring dozens of people and the successful candidate would deal with translations of PR materials.

After he left the room, a woman came back to test my spoken English. I told her that I might have come to a wrong place to look for a job because I didn’t think I was good with people which were an essential part of a PR position, otherwise PR would make no sense. I did not bother to take the following written test designated for each applicant. I came out of the impressive, imposing building, sighing. A company full of sexy women and big men is not my place. I’m happier with a much smaller company with a relaxed working atmosphere or a larger one without the dressing-yourself-up routine. Let me just think. Actually, I am not sure I like a large company because I’ve never been in one and don’t have an idea of it.

The third company, a translation firm, was extremely small and amazingly young. It’s not only that it just got started, but its boss was also a burgeoning one. I am sure we were born almost the same year and we should be friends, not employees and bosses. After a short spoken test and a long written test, he decided to hire me. But I had decided I would not accept a job offer from a company with a few girls looking like university kids under a young, novice boss. I left the young company, envying the young man’s position of being am employer. I’m also young, what am I?

Things did not happen as expected. Jiang, the man who had made his immediate offer of the translating position, seemed to be reconsidering his “rash” decision when he made a follow-up phone call right after I left his office in a corner office building, telling me to do a test of translation. Later on, I did another test. I failed all of them. The translation of contracts regarding Set-Top-Boxes was more than I could chew.

There are at least two kinds of open positions in Beijing when I look for a job–one that I’m worthy of and the other that I’m not.

3 thoughts on “MORE THAN I CAN CHEW”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *