Personality and games

Warning: this is going to be a long one and all views are my own.

It is prime application season for Graduate Programmes. Knee deep in reading lists, cover letters, CV’s and psychometric tests.

I would just like to share my experience with the Unilever Future Leaders Programme, more specifically for their Marketing stream. For those that don’t know, Unilever is the group that makes iconic brands like Dove, Marmite, Knorr amongst dozens of other household names so it is no surprise that their graduate schemes prove extremely popular to graduates and students alike.

This is not the first time that I have applied for Unilever or many of the countless grad schemes that I will be hitting the submit button for this winter.

Graduate schemes in the UK are like gold dust. Why? Working for a household name, getting a 30k salary, support, rotations between business units and sometimes international travel. The average application process for graduate schemes are pretty similar usually starting with online application – online tests – interview – assessment centre. I usually strike out right about the online tests because my numerical testing ability is almost non-existant. Therefore, this year I was happy to see that Unilever had uncovered a new and streamlined approach to their recruitment process (I seem to remember in the previous years, there was a lot of competency based questions i.e. tell me about a time you showed leadership etc.)

This year, the online application was super quick and you can even just import your LinkedIn details – no questions on why Unilever? What can you bring to the table? I think anyone that meets their 2:1 requirement in any discipline will be invited to the online tests.

So getting to the meaty part of this post – how were these online tests different this year. Well, throw your psychometric test practice books out of the window. This is a PERSONALITY test! The test or online games consist of 12 different mini games that are played on this website: http://www.pymetrics.com

Here is a screenshot of the required games:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-10-04

The games last from about 1-5 minutes and are actually surprisingly fun and are supposedly useful in determining your character traits such as “Attention Duration”, “Planning speed” and “memory span”.

Although, I think that it is a innovative and re-invigorating way to recruit, I don’t believe that the pace at which I can press my spacebar is an appropriate measure into whether or not I would make a good marketer.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-12-50

Here are the results: On the left is the official report for the account I used to apply for the Unilever Graduate scheme which shows my top traits

 

 

 

below is a report of another trial that I did as a practice which is pretty consistent so far:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-17-41

However, as we move down the report….

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-26-07

It turns out that I am 100% distracted and slow downed by distractions! Thanks Pymetrics

The discrepancy is seen further in the suggestions of Career paths:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-25-08

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-00-24-30

Law? Front-end Engineer? I don’t know, I’ve always thought that we should really take personality tests with a pinch of salt. We can have bad days and good days – as in days where we can press the spacebar ferociously and days where we might just lag behind and become distracted…

Either way, the 12 games are very fun, don’t take to much time and is definitely a refreshing new experience to the numerical, verbal, logical tests that most companies are still relying on.

I’d say give it a go and please let me know what your career path will be and if you have been successful with Unilever, what did you score?

 

 

From Paris to my parent’s house

The thought of living with my parents again essentially sent a shiver down my spine but I knew that it was the right thing to do. Tomorrow marks exactly one week… One week, back at my parent’s house; one week, without smoking; one week, since I left Paris and one week, since I’ve had a drop of alcohol; one week, since I’ve seen anyone that isn’t a family member or family friend.

Looking on the bright side of things -the highlight of moving home is definitely the food! Home cooked meals, no washing up to do, no grocery shopping to do – just relaxing on the sofa watching Netflix until its ready. On the extra plus side of coming from a traditional Chinese family – traditional Chinese food! Just tonight my mum was wrapping up some sticky rice in lotus leaf (Lo Mai Gai)! Yum.. Dim sum just isn’t the same in Paris.

The only downside however is the constant nagging:

“When are you going to get married?”

“Do you have a boyfriend yet?”

“When are you going to make some money”?

I guess the English countryside isn’t all bad though.

img_1917

 

 

Shot! Shot! Shot! and other drinks..

I have been wondering a lot lately about my life and the people that I surround myself with, and I find increasingly that I am becoming very skeptical of my friends.

When I turned 27 this February, I knew that things had to change. After having done a Languages degree and then a Masters which basically led to a ridiculously badly paid job as an ESL teacher I knew that I needed to turn things around this year.

The thing that I have noticed quite evidently is that my friends are very young. In terms of age, I’d say that most of my friends are around 24, 25 or even 26 so the age difference is not enormous. What makes the difference is the way that we think. Whilst I worry about my future, thinking about what career path I want to take, do I want to get married, how many kids do I want; my friends are talking about how trashed to get, tinder, and the next party to rock up to it.  For a while now I have been wondering why I feel so negatively about my life in Paris and I came to the realisation that it is because I don’t actually do anything.

Outside of work, everything that I do revolves around drinking. My flatmate (yes, the one with the peeing cat) is a manager at a heavy metal themed bar and she works every night from 8pm to 2am and at the weekend from 10pm to 5am and she seems to be perfectly content with her life, she sleeps all day and drinks all night. Even though she is 38 years old! She doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. A few years ago, when I was a student I was the same. I took a part-time job as a waitress and I would work almost every night from 5pm to 2am and then go out for quick drink with my colleagues before staggering home at 5am… 7am.. 11am.. But nowadays, when I have a big night out I almost have the feeling of guilt. I mean from the amount of alcohol that we take in – it definitely takes at least 24hrs to recover. However, I find that my friends are happy to do it over and over again – night after night.

The other thing that I have noticed is that even the friends that have a 9-5 office job also just want to drink. I feel like whenever we meet its always for drinks “Aller, on va prendre un verre sur la terrasse”. Everyone complains about how poor they are so they can’t possibly join the gym or go on a day trip or eat at restaurant but somehow when it comes to splitting a bottle of wine or buying a round of shots – wallets fly open. Why is it that no one asks me if I want to go to the cinema or if I want to go to see the Paul Klee exhibition at the Georges Pompidou or if I want to go for a run. Every single proposition that I have had in the last 7 years is for drinks or to go out. Is alcohol the only way that we can have fun nowadays or is it simply a numbing agent to distract ourselves from pointlessness of our lives?

A day in the life of a poor ESL teacher

8.00am I woke up in my freezing flat to sound of people pounding down the stairs. Yup my thin wall is adjacent to the staircase of an old Parisian building in the 11th arrondissement. I got up to make a cup of tea and saw that my flatmate’s cat had left its usual piss puddle in the middle of the floor so I proceeded to clean that up.

8.30am All dressed and ready to go after a quick tea and 2 sad little knacki sausages for breakfast. I headed to my metro “Charonne”. I headed on to line 9 in the direction of “Pont de Sevres”. I got on to the metro forcing my way in between all the other poor souls heading to work and crushed by the invasive piles of Spring tourists heading to Trocadero to see the “magnificent” Eiffel Tower.

9.15am I arrive at Franklin Roosevelt to pick up my day sheet and get the teacher’s manuel from the staffroom.

9.30am My first lesson was with a shy lady who I had never met before because this isn’t my usual school. The lesson did not get off to good start. She told me that she felt ill today and was not in a particularly good mood. I thought to myself me neither but let’s just get on with it. The topic of conversation today: The Environment. Absolute torture – an hour and half of

Student: “What does it mean “living things?”

Me: “Urghhh.. things that are living… to live… alive.. you.. me.. animals..”

Student: “What does it mean “heat”?

Me: “Urghhh.. Hot: the adjective, heat: the noun. You know the opposite of cold”

11.00am The bell rings, and I breathe a sign of relief.. First torture over, time to head to my next lesson. I sign the sheet and leave the Champs Elysées heading back on to line 9. BOOM.. I’ve gone on the wrong direction of course, I jump off and walk up the stairs and over to the opposite platform feeling like a complete idiot.

11.35am I arrive at my school in Porte de Saint Cloud. Pick up my day sheet. Ok I have 2 more lessons.

12.30pm My student arrives, I’m wondering why the hell do I always end up teaching at lunchtimes don’t these people eat. The topic: “Making new business contacts”. This student a little more happy to share than the last and we spend a pleasant hour and half speaking her job as an accountant at Canalplus.

2pm Finally.. lunchtime. Awkward time. I need to print off the exercises for my private student after my day at xxxx. One of the other teachers has already arrived at the school even though his shift begins at 5pm – I wonder to myself if I am really that hopeless and its not the job but me or he is just overly enthusiastic- who knows.

2.45pm My final student arrives – it is a 14 year old boy. I wonder to myself why I always end up being lumped with teaching the kids when I never signed up for this. We spend an hour and half practising the present perfect. It was almost mechanical.

3.30pm I’m done for the day, at least for my day job. Off I head on the metro again, this time I’m going to Guy Moquet in the north of Paris. I arrive at Moromesnil to change for the line 13 – my most despised line on the Paris metro system. I attempted to push onto the metro but it was impossible. I waited for 5 minutes and was finally allowed on. I got on and ended up squished against a man holding a pizza box and I thought to myself that pizza must be damn good if he is willing to go into paris just to buy one.

4.05pm I finally arrive at Guy Moquet and get up my student’s apartment. She looks stunning today but extremely bored as usual. A 20 year old business student from La Reunion that needs to pass the BULAT test to get to 3rd year in her course. We have a light banter about last week as it was the school holidays and then went straight on to the past paper. I realise that I didn’t actually print off the answers so I ended up doing the test with her. The 2hrs was surprisingly pleasant and I was pleased as I would finally have some cash.

7pm She pays me and I leave her flat thinking my god I haven’t had money since last week, I’m definitely going to treat myself to a kebab, a can of coke and a packet of marlboro lights. And that’s what I did.

All this to say that life in Paris truly is what the French say “Metro, Boulot, Dodo”

 

Francophone errors

Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world. In my almost two years of teaching in Paris, I have found that French people continually make the same mistakes in English. This has annoyed me so much I’ve decided to start writing about it.

One of the biggest errors that Frenchies make is to take words that they read and hear in English that semi-sound like French words but have a totally different meaning and without looking it up or trying to understand from the context, they just take it and try to use it in a total senseless manner.

Today, one of my students was trying to explain to me what he had to done this morning and it ended up with him explaining in a long winded manner that he had taken his son to playgroup and that his son really enjoyed it there – well at least that’s what I managed to decipher from the broken English. What came next was the weird thing, my student was trying to tell me that his son’s play school was between his apartment and his office but he somehow came out with “my son play school enter apartment and work”. Come again ? “my so play school enter apartment and work?” Heureusement, je parle le français !

My second pet peeve is when Frenchies mistake “actually” with “at the moment” and this Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world. (1)is an extremely common mistake. “My actual job”, “I watched the actualites”. No no no no no! Actual = is in fact not at the moment “my current job”, “I watched the news” grrrrr. Connected to that is when people say the new – its always plural! It even is so in French!

And one last one for the road that is rather fitting I think considering this blog post.

Student: “Oups… I do a mizzzztake!”

Me: URGHHHH.. you MADE a mistake.

Bon courage à tous !

 

 

The flatmate problem 2.0

elvis chat qui pisseI live with a cat that pees on the floor all the time. Is that normal? And there anything that can be done about it?

I can’t believe I made another bad decision and decided to live with another friend. And not to mention that damn cat. I really disagree with people who keep cats in tiny apartments. The cat is not even castrated so it howls all the time! Plus the peeing problem, I have no idea how she sleeps in that room.

 

Eurolines – or how to get back to Paris in 8hrs

Eurolines a bus service that runs from Victoria Coach Station in London to Paris Gallieni Station (Metro Line 3). The other bus options are idbus.com which arrives in Paris Bercy (Metro Line 6) or Megabus which arrives in Porte Maillot (Metro Line 1). I always take the Euroline service because it is the most convenient for me in terms of metro line. I came back from Paris with Eurolines about a month ago and have been thinking about writing a post for a while. I usually don’t take the bus if I have  my ticket for the Eurostar bought in time it costs £36 if you buy at least 3 months in advance which is about the same price as a bus ticket with Eurolines.

Gare du Nord
Gare du Nord

Eurostar had pissed me off previously because I had taken the train from Paris to London on the 1st July, I remember very clearly that there had been a lot of problems with Eurostar because of the situation at the border in Calais and Eurostar had cancelled many services the previous day. On this particular day, it was 37degrees which is ridiculous for Paris and Gare du Nord was packed with no air conditionning. When I arrived there, everyone was queuing to go up the escalators where we are normally allowed to go and check in. It took about 40 minutes before we were told why we all had to queue in the immense and disgusting heat and why our train was delayed – due to left luggage apparently. When I finally got on the train I swear it was hrs after and since Eurostar was so late I missed my connecting train and ended up paying for 2 tickets. To cut a long story short, Eurostar insists that the train was only late 59 minutes therefore I was not due any compensation for the delay as within the European guidelines which is absolute bullshit. Eurostar are just going down from all the hotels and shit that they had to pay for cancelling a full day of services.

Anyway, for this reason, I decided to boycott Eurostar and take the Eurolines bus. Now, I have taken Eurolines quite a few times from London to Paris and vice versa and I have never had a bad experience before with Eurolines but it is really fucking boring. First of all, my parents live in Cambridge and I had to take the train to Kings Cross and then change onto the Victoria tube line which isn’t far but because I am retarded I took the right train jumped off thinking it was the wrong one and then jumped back onto the next one. When I arrived at Victoria train station, I dragged my suitcases up the stairs (I can never work out where the lift is). I find the walk to Victoria Coach station really irritating and normally the walk is cut short when you take the escalators through the shopping centre it seems to be a bit shorter but of course the escalators were out of order and there was no way that I was going to lug all that crap up the stairs so I walked around the building, when I finally arrived at the coach station I remembered how annoying it is to get to the International departures. Eurolines requires you to print out an ‘e-ticket’ and then check at the desks located right at the end of the whole station and it is a pain to push through all the people. In the end, I didn’t end up waiting too long for the coach but the people who were waiting with me, I found to be very rude – there was no sense of order to the queue because on Eurolines, there is no allocated seating so it is first come first serve.

When I boarded the bus, there wasn’t too many people yet and I picked a seat not too far from the driver because I hate being at the back and in the middle there are the toilets after 8hrs, it can get a bit whiffy. I was quite happy for about half an hr until some guy decided to sit next to me when there was still plenty of seats available. And I soon realised that this guy was going to be trying to chat to me all through the 8hrs. I’m not anti-social but during these trips I really do prefer to sleep. Plus he was saying all this disgusting stuff like how he had shoes on without socks so he was sorry if I could smell his feet. Who the hell says that to someone? That was super irritating. Fortunately, the bus is not uncomfortable, there is a lot of room compared to a regular bus but I had a big handbag and a backpack that didn’t fit in the overhead storage so I did feel a bit cramped.

The thing about Eurolines is that there are an awful lot of stops, I feel like there is a lot of getting on and off but it does depend because sometimes when we reach Dover, we don’t get off the bus and the passport officers come aboard to collect all the passports and then dishes them out again but this time, we were hurried off the bus by the driver because apparently we didn’t have a lot of time until we had to get into the shuttle to cross the channel. We had quite a long wait as well to board but once we were on the shuttle, we were again allowed to get off the bus. But when we are in the tunnel, I don’t really like to get off the bus because it’s all dark and there isn’t a lot of space to walk around and I am always quite afraid someone is going to steal my things. (My friend had a passport stolen once).

My overall opinion of Eurolines is not a bad one depending on who you travel with and at what time. It takes around 8hrs so you need to prepare yourself for a day of travel. I once did the trip over night and I have to say it is a lot worse than taking it during the day. I thought that I could sleep but nope! you have to get on and off the bus in the middle of the night for passport checks etc, not pleasant at all and it is super dark it is really not safe. If you are travelling alone, it can be annoying so choose your seat wisely because there are some irritating people around. Another experience I had was to sit next to a larger gentlemen and he took up half my seat so I spent 8hrs crushed up against the window! But booking is easy, there is wifi on board that works on and off – just don’t forget to pack your charger in your bag, there are USB ports and you must imperatively print your ticket in advance!