Okay, after my freak-out of Thursday I had something to do on Friday. The UN tests! Wouldn’t it be exciting to work at the United Nations? It’s a temporary job covering the General Assembly from September through October (okay, I just went and read the fine print). My thoughts are if I could get in, maybe I’d make contacts and it could lead to another job. I mean, they’d value a PhD, wouldn’t they?
Here’s the job description:
“The Editorial Assistant/Proofreader will be responsible for thefollowing duties: •Proofreads and reviews meetings summaries and press releasesfor clarity, spelling, grammar, consistency and factual accuracy in accordancewith UN editorial guidelines and terminology. •Ensures that text is formattedto UN Press style and standards. •Rotates in shifts, as needed. •Staysavailable for overtime and on-call assignments, depending on the needs of theoffice. •Performs other related work as required.”
Apparently, everyone who is considered for any work at the UN must pass the Global General Service Test (GGST) as a first step for consideration. There’s plenty of prep and information online so there starteth my adventures for Friday.
I decided against a full out suit, reasoning no one actually hiring would be seeing me. At the same time impressions are everything, so I wore a nice work blouse I’ve been saving for interviews (for three years), and JJill Wearever Collection capris and jacket. These are very light, and don’t wrinkle much. Also, knee-high nylons and dress shoes. The moment I hit the subway I knew I’d be dry cleaning everything again. The toughest part of interviewing/job hunting in the summer is every outfit gets one wearing between cleaning.
I made my way to Grand Central Station, this time by takin the 7 train – a first. Found myself for the fifth time on the corner of Lexington and 43rd next to the Post Office. The weather was muggy, as always, but not quite as hot. The instructions said check in with ID between 8:40 and 8:50. By the time I’d walked the three long blocks to 1st Avenue I felt all water had left the inside of my body and now resided on the outside on my skin. I stopped to buy a large bottle. I also need to find some sort of handkerchief for wiping sweat away. A new quest!
Outside Two United Nations there were people waiting and a marble bench to sit on. Arriving early, I sat and checked my phone. Still desperately dreaming of a last-minute appointment of work. Directly at 8:40 I approached the security desk with my passport. Testing? He asked, Yes. Come back at 8:45. Alright, I returned to my outdoor seat and watched this little scenario repeat over and over again with new arrivals.
At 8:45 I re-approached, checked in and was given a little bar code slip of paper with my name. I have received these at every interview and use them to access the security entrance. I turned from the desk and attempted futilely to swipe myself through the gate. The guard sort of barked at me to get in line. Essentially, they were checking everyone in, but keeping them on the front side of the barriers, occasionally having to shout at people blocking the entranceway. All of this was in the black marble lobby of the building; a typical NY entrance with people rushing in through the rotating doors, swiping through security barriers and making their way on to the elevators.
I think the female guard was being trained because the male guard was instructing over her shoulder and she seemed to have a lot of questions. For the next 20 minutes I watched the other test-takers arrive and go through the same confusing process of what to do and where to stand. They had passports from different countries and spoke different languages. Once a woman employee came breezing in and seeing us stopped in her tracks. She asked the guards if something was going on. No, just testing, and she laughed at herself and continued in. I guess test-taking day isn’t that frequent. At the same time, there were an inordinate amount of people arriving with children. Noticing the woman next to me spoke French I tried “Est-ce que prenez votre enfants aux travail aujourd’hui?” She pointed out there must be a daycare in the building. Ah!
My French is rusty, (clearly, see above) but my roommate told me she had a friend who works at the UN and they give him language classes for free. Wouldn’t that be cool? All the job adds require applicants to speak three of the six required languages of the UN (Arabic, English, Chinese, French, Russian, or Spanish). For this temporary job they were being a bit lenient.
One woman arrived who wasn’t on the check in list and they told her to wait in the line until the invigilators arrived. (I learned a new word! Invigilator. Basically, someone who proctors exams.) At 8:00am two young people arrived from the elevator and we were finally instructed through the security gate. Much like an airport security, with an X-ray and conveyor belt. The male guard loudly told everyone to take any medal off their person, but he didn’t actually tell us where to go. At this point I was the first in line so I put my bag on the belt, eyeing him for approval. He nodded, and when I asked if I needed to put my water bottle, ticket and passport on the belt he replied, “only if you want to.” He DID have a sense of humor. I winked at him for this and went through. All of this is still in the lobby of the building you understand. Which was becoming very cramped. The woman who’d been told to wait was turned away. I surmise she hadn’t followed the instructions of the initial invitation email which required confirming by July 4th.
Now we were crowding the other side of the barriers, I could see the regular employees as they swiped in. Standing next to the security guard dressed like policemen (as opposed to the ones in suits) I noticed that as each employee swiped in their face appeared on a screen, so he could make sure they matched. Finally, we were ushered on to the elevators and directed to our testing sites. Unlike the law firms I’ve been visiting lately the interior of this place was not meant to impress clients. These were the offices where the work gets done. Bland beige walls, and crumbling tiles. Next to a secured door marked “Office of de-colonization” were the doors marked “testing”. We checked in to our assigned computer seats after leaving all personal effects on a table in the back of the room. I was first, so had a bit of a wait as others took their assigned seats. Each of the two invigilators took a room and gave us our instructions and we began.
There were no surprises as I’d looked it all up online and knew what to expect. I started with verbal reasoning as that’s my strongest suit. Mostly these were a series of business e-mails with multiple choice questions deciphering reading comprehension. “Which e-mail offers a solution to the problem?” etc. Not too hard. Next, I did Numerical Reasoning, which is NOT my strong suit. A lot of it was figuring out the logic of tables or graphs, but when it comes to doing percentages (what is the difference in percentage of sales between 2014 and 2015?) not so much. I ran out of time on that one and didn’t answer the last three questions.
The final section called “Situational Reasoning” and you need to figure out the best way to respond to the questions according to the ethics and codes of the UN. “You have been assigned an urgent project and your colleague approaches you needing help with her not so urgent project. Do you: A) stop your project to help her? B) Call the supervisor to see which you should do? C) tell her you will help her when you are done? D) Tell her to ask someone else.” I think I did well on these, although some were a little gray. One regarded a colleague talking to a reporter with unauthorized information and I could have gone both ways with the answers.
I was the second one finished. I had found two typos in the test and rather than tell the invigilator (last time I’m using that word, promise), I marked them out in the after-test survey. Chance to win or lose brownie points.
Now free for the day, I made my way home to shower. The night before, overcome with anxiety, I had snapped at Vincent and my errant older son. We have been depositing money for food in his account while he’s on the Study Abroad. When I saw him last Saturday he hadn’t spent any of it, as he hadn’t known about it, which was great because now he had a financial cushion. On Thursday Vincent told me he’d now spent all of it on video games. I immediately called and chided him. He has no understanding of money, even though he’s been working and spending his own for a month. This time I tied his expenditures with my chances in NYC. That if he overspent he risked my having to give up this dream and come home. Which is of course me expressing my own fears and laying it on him unfairly. I know it was an overreaction, but I think it worked and he vowed to be more conscious with his spending.
In my panic Skype with Vincent I’d expressed the same fear, that how could I possibly get an apartment when I don’t have a job, and even if we used his salary to apply, what if I never got a job and then I had a twelve-month lease, and we ruined our credit, and illness struck, and everything is lost, etc. Vincent has enough faith for both of us as he kindly reminded me several times in text on Friday. Taking him at his word I noticed an awesome sounding (no pics) one-bedroom apartment in Kingsbridge so I decided to go exploring and put my energy towards getting an apartment. (I am extremely actional, I always must be doing something.) I wrote the realtor on the site twice. No answer. Then I made my way up to 238th street for the second time this week. Once again, I walked around the neighborhood, and then found my way to the listed address. It is a fantastic old brick building in a large block divided into eight sections. The center is a lush garden with little memorials, and it’s right next to Fort Independence Playground Park and the Jerome Park Reservoir. It’s also surrounded by residential houses. The directions were a little hard to follow, and the neighborhood has the steep staircases like in Europe.
When I got home I sent out inquiries to another agency listed on my block. This guy, Fabian called me this morning. He had that typical New Yorker negative thing going: “you’re not going to find nothing like that” – when I told him my price range. So, I told him I’d already seen several listed on Streeteasy.com. “Oh, those can be scams, etc.” Finally, he texted me and I e-mailed him the apartments I’m interested in seeing. I feel like I have to start somewhere, but not sure this guy is the right place.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I am telling myself that next week I will start working. Definitely. People will be back from their vacations, things will need to be done, and they will need me to do them. The little voice that’s telling me it’s all because I’m too old I am squashing. I am replaying the wonderful support, faith, and comments I’ve received from everyone whether they know me or not. I WILL start working next week. In a real job. As a temp. As an extra on a movie set. It. Will. Happen.
Cheers, and thanks for your support.