So, I’ve been home for just over a month. And it already feels like a lifetime.
Day in and day out, in Port Alberni. Cooking, cleaning, and bookkeeping for my dad. Not exactly keeping in pace with the chaos and vibrance of W. Africa life. A very hilly walk to the grocery store a few times a week is about as exciting as it gets.
So I’m working on my escape route. I have been saying all this time that when I returned home, I would reapply with MSF, and that with my newly acquired French skills, plus 10 months living and travelling in the region, there was no way I wouldn’t get in. I was so sure.
But I was wrong. Because I applied. And I interviewed. But I still didn’t get in. The rejection letter just landed in my inbox this morning, and I’m a little crushed. Frustrated, disappointed, and, well, just plain sad. I thought I was doing this whole thing right! I made my sacrifices and pushed myself hard to get on and stay on this path; I thought I was heading in the right direction. But apparently this extra experience only made me interesting enough to get that much further than the first time around, but not enough to get all the way. It’s now my professional experience that doesn’t seem to be sufficient; it’s good, but I need more of it.
They say they want 2 years, but I guess they don’t really mean that. Or they mean that only when you’re a mechanic, an engineer, or an electrician. But when you’re an ops manager, handling everything from staffing, to storage, and expenses, with all the executions in between, then 2 years isn’t enough experience with “personnel, finance, and supply management”. Good to know.
So now I’m here, completely out of place in my old Canadian life (though was I ever really “in place” with it?), and trying to figure out Plan B. I’ve been reading that this is totally normal, and that working overseas in international development is actually extremely competitive, but I somehow still have a hard time believing that, especially considering that I hardly know anyone else who has even thought about it, aside from those I met who are already there!
Maybe it’s my own fault for assuming that this would have been enough; that 2 years of soul-selling, plus another year of soul-searching, would have somehow added up to worthwhile. But either way, I need another option. And of the three tracks available (gain more experience here, go back to school, or somehow break through the professional-experience-barrier and get hired with another international aid agency), only one of those sounds like something I’m willing to live with. School is really not something I’m against, but it seems silly to go back and not gain any hard skills (my apparent shortfall), without knowing that it will lead me directly into an opportunity. It seems like an easy way to put off the inevitable “inadequacy”.
So I’m back to the drawing board. Continuing to search the international development job boards, with a greater sense of urgency, and casting the net a little wider (aka with the bar a little lower), hoping I can find something, anything, that can use my skills (because I have skills, damnit!).
I know it’s not the same; my bits and pieces of experience don’t add up to being able to land overseas and know exactly what I’m doing. But it does mean that I have the ability to figure it out. Fast. I am SO ready for this. I just need to figure out how…
Wish me luck, guys!
2 thoughts on “Back to the drawing board: making a new plan”
Might be worth looking at the UN volunteers program – if you can do a year with them you would be in a better position but of course there’s no guarantee- http://www.unv.org/
Amazing, Graham! I have a profile with them established, but this is a reminder that the contact info is out of date!! Thanks so much!