UBC Day 03: Something with which you struggle.

I am not bilingual.

As a professional communicator working in our nation’s capital – our nation’s BILINGUAL capital – I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve taken some French classes, but in the end I do not have the opportunity to practice it daily so I’ve not come very far. I struggle with the issue of bilingualism as I’ve lost a number of really cool career opportunities because of my uni-lingual status. (Unless you count being able to speak Starbucks!) I would often get frustrated as I’d see opportunities go to someone who had less communications experience but spoke French. The biggest offender? The Federal Government.

Years ago, I had set my sights on getting a job within the Federal Government. Time after time I was called in for their screening test, invited for an interview and then set off for language testing – despite being forthright on my lack of French. Still, I diligently did the testing, slightly improving as the years went on, but never enough to make the cut. It was tough to repeatedly hear that I was the best candidate – if only I spoke French. There are many things in this world that you can BS your way through… but a language isn’t one of them.

Ever hear the saying: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

That was me. Then I smarted up.

I am not bilingual.

I will never work for the Federal Government.

And when I took a moment to actually think about it, I really didn’t want to work for them. It turns out that my struggle with French was really a struggle to let go of a career path that I was no longer interested in. Once I let go, I discovered a plethora of opportunities that were perfect for where I did want to be.

One thought on “UBC Day 03: Something with which you struggle.

  1. Really enjoying your UBC series, Ny! And I have my own “I’m not bilingual” comment. As you know, before we had kids, Mike and I were seriously considering moving to Ottawa. So I started applying for jobs. Much to my dismay, I discovered not being bilingual doesn’t just limit government jobs…it limits all jobs in Ottawa-based healthcare. I received many calls asking me just how limited my French was because I was perfect for the job. Public Health even went as far as querying if I thought I could “wing it” and present to the public using ready-made French presentations (tempting…but, no). The flip-side is that I’m very much in demand in Windsor due to the shortage of reputable experienced dietitians here. So I pretty much have my pick of jobs (no bilingualism required). My current employer is the most supportive I’ve had in any workplace…in light of that, I suppose it all worked out in the end for me. But I still miss Ottawa.

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