France Life Stories Motivation

The Struggles of Landing a Job at Roland Garros

Okay so I go from being a Summer Tennis Instructor and yelling at kids to pick up tennis balls for three years to working at Roland Garros. That’s right, I’ve graduated to Ticket Taker/Usher at the French Open tennis tournament I used to watch on TV every year. But whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t you ever think getting that job was a walk in the park. My job at Roland Garros was probably the most complicated job I’ve ever had to fight for.

One day in 2012, a Parisian friend I had met at the University of Paris told me she worked at Roland Garros and that they’re always on the lookout for flexible students who speak English – Hello, Damon Dominique, nice ta meetchu.

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS GOING TO BE A ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW

So before I knew it, there I was in the waiting room filling out the welcome form before my interview. They had told me to wear a suit, but 1) why do jobs that don’t require formal attire require formal attire at interviews, 2) I don’t even have a suit, and 3) even if I did have a suit, would I have brought it to Paris as I studied abroad? No.

So I sit down, look down at the info sheet, and guess who can’t even answer Question #1? Damon Dominique can’t. It said “CDI” or “CDD?” Uh, what? Luckily, I had my BlackBerry (okay this was 2012 people), so I googled that ish right away. Since I was intreviewing at a temp agency who places hosts/hostesses at Roland Garros, they wanted to know if I would be staying with them even after Roland Garros and the answer to that was N-O, I’m up outta therre after Roland Garros.

So everything is going great at this point – I know what CDI/CDD means, I breeze past the English test on the back of the sheet, etc etc. – that’s until one by one, other Roland Garros hopefuls started filing into the agency until all FIFTEEN of us were seated around a large table – in other words, this was a group interview…in French. How am I supposed to compete with all these super trendy, super attractive Parisians, when I now just look like a schoob with a goofy American accent in comparison?

The interviewer begins by saying she’s looking for people who are “souriant, accueillant, et dynamique” (smily, welcoming, and dynamic). I kid you not, there were at least five people in a row who said, “”Well, I’m…I’m souriant, accueillant, and hmm…dynamique.” Let’s just say, I didn’t see any of them at the actual tournament. After introducing ourselves, talking about each of our past experiences, and why we should be hired, we had to pass an oral English test. Easy-peesy.

YOU GOT THE JOB! BUT NOT REALLY…

So the interview’s over now, and they tell us to call back the next day. I followed directions and called back the next day and I hear “Your application has been chosen ; you’ll be contacted shortly.” I wait the proper, unwritten rule of “one week” and then I call the woman who interviewed me saying I haven’t heard back from anyone. She sent me the email of someone else, then that person sent me an email of someone else, then finally I submitted my availability to another completely different email address. Again, I don’t hear back for another week, so I resend the email. Whaddayaknow, still don’t hear back, so I email the first lady who had interviewed me and she responds “You’ll be contacted two weeks before the event.” And guess what ? Wasn’t contacted. I email again and a woman responds “I regret to inform you that you have not been chosen.”

Aaah haiiiiiiiiiiiiil naaaw! I dropped everything I was doing, stomped directly into the agency, found the person in charge of Roland Garros, and said “Hi, I’m here to give you my availability” and thirty minutes later, guess who walked out that agency with a schedule with tons of hours and a training date? MOI.

But the feeling of “ahh finallllly” was soon triumphed by a feeling of “oh crappppp” – my briefing date conflicts with one of my University of Paris final exams. The next day, I go back to the agency and this is our feisty conversation:

ME: “Hi, I need to change to one of the other training dates, please. I have a final on the 23rd.”

HER: “I’m sorry, but that’s not possible.”

ME: “I thought there were two other training dates, no?”

HER: “Yes, but yesterday, I gave you a training date and that date is final. I’m not going to change it for you.”

ME: “I can’t even change it if I find somebody who’s willing to switch with me…? I have a university final exam on the 23rd and I cannot miss it.”

HER: “No, sir, I will not change your date.”

ME: “Okay, well then that’s a problem and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

AWKWARD TEN SECOND SILENCE AS SHE TRIES TO RID ME FROM HER DESK, BUT I DON’T GET UP

ME: “You said you were looking for English speakers…I’m from the States.”

AWKWARD FIVE SECOND SILENCE AS SHE LOOKS AS HER COMPUTER

HER: “Your training date is the 24th, here Dominique.”

Literally all she had to do was click a button.

Ah, French bureaucracy at it’s finest.

BUYING A SUIT FOR NO REASON

The next few weeks pass, I buy a suit (specifically for the job) like I was told in the interview, and go to the training only to have two new problems. I provide two security checks as requested, one for the Roland Garros accreditation and the other in case of damage to the uniform…

PROBLEM 1) Uniform? But I thought I just bought an expensive suit cuz that’s supposed to be the uniform…

PROBLEM 2) The security checks I provided weren’t even checks, but remittance checks…which okay this one really was my fault…I didn’t have any more checks, and just took the first thing the bank gave me that said the word “check” on it cuz, whatever I’m just bad with finance, okay ?

So to recap, I got the job after a group interview in France, then after a month of emails and phonecalls, they said I didn’t get the job, then I stomped into the agency and got the job and a training date, then I was about to no longer have a job when I tried changing my training date, then before I know it, I’m working at Roland Garros on opening day.

What a fun and not at all stressful experience!

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathieulebreton/7173201525/sizes/o/in/photostream/

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  • monicamutale

    Hi Damon – sounds like quite the struggle! What was your work experience like?

  • omg “ah pardon mais c’est pas possible” SO FUCKING FRENCH lmaooooo

  • Yasmine D

    omgg I’m a tennis coach for younger kids as well but maybe now I’ll try to get this job once I’m studying in Paris in a few years ahahha

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