Updated: Mar 10, 2019
By the beginning of November, I was fully dedicated to the job-search. I had no job and no streams of income; the only thing I was relying on were the little savings I had left from my internship, from my grandfather's graduation gift, and from the shifts I had worked at the restaurant.
I would be lying if I said that I was calm and put together 100% of the time. It was weird, since I had days in which I said to myself: "You've got this; don't worry. You're going to be fine", fully believing it and fully convinced that my big break would come soon. On the other hand, there were days in which I had to fight hard not to break down and to keep myself going; endlessly searching for a job - any job at this point - everywhere: networking events, company pages, online job postings, you name it. I exploited every single resource I had at hand: I sent my resume to all the places I could think of, wrote cover letter after cover letter, and I told all the people I knew that I was looking for a job. But up until that point, nothing had come up yet. My inbox was empty and my phone wasn't ringing. My prospects didn't look very promising at the time.
Given the bleak outlook, I started thinking out of the box and considering my options. One of them was to move out of the province (which I wasn't very fond of, since Montreal was my home now: all of my friends were here, and I loved the city with all my heart), to a city where the job market was bigger, such as Toronto or Vancouver. The other option was to stay in Quebec and focus on applying for my permanent residence here, since I met the language requirements and the processing time would be faster compared to other provinces. The job, I figured, would be easier to get once I became a permanent resident. In the meantime, I could get a job at another restaurant or in a similar domain just to pay the bills, while I continued searching for a position in my field and waiting for my permanent resident application to be processed. I remember having this conversation with the Russian girl I worked with at the restaurant that summer (and who is now like a sister to me), and we came to the conclusion that the option of focusing on getting a permanent residence in Quebec was the best one. She was already halfway through her process, and she gave me the contact information of her immigration lawyer. Being the diligent Virgo that I am, I didn't waste any time and booked an appointment the next day.
I was pretty disheartened as I came out of the immigration lawyer's office: the total cost of the lawyer plus the government fees would come close to $5,000 CAD, and I had nowhere near that amount of money at that time. I was barely making it with the few savings I had left. As I was walking towards the metro thinking to myself: "Where the hell am I going to get the money to pay for all of this?", I received an email from a world-renowned entertainment company I had sent my resume to back in October, when I applied for their "Senior Adviser, Financial Engineering and Development" position. The title sounded a bit exotic, and despite my inner doubts and self-critic saying "Do you think you'll be able to do this job?", I went ahead and applied. I never thought I would hear back, given my lovely inner critic's input, but here they were, and the HR person wanted to interview me over the phone later that day. I could barely contain my excitement, since I had been a lifelong admirer of the company and the position was based in Montreal: it was basically a dream come true! Could this be the big break I had been praying for all this time?
Something shifted within me at that moment: after carrying all these doubts about my abilities through all the rejection I'd faced previously, my inner warrior finally awoke and a voice inside me said: "This position is yours. NOTHING and NO ONE can take it away from you; unless you decide to give it away by doubting yourself again". Gosh, I swear that was a revelation! Just like magic, I shifted my mindset to a "winner-take-all" mentality to land that job. If this was really meant for me, I was going to do everything within my power to seize this opportunity. If, for some reason, I didn't get it in the end, it wasn't going to be because I didn't give it my all. I wasn't going to leave anything to chance this time around.
I went home and prepared for the phone interview in the little time I had left. I took some deep breaths and visualized all the things I had done in the past that would make me an ideal candidate for this position. I reviewed the script. I was ready to answer all of her questions. "Bring it on!", I thought. The phone rang. It was the HR person, speaking to me in French. Yikes! I didn't see that one coming. I didn't want her to notice I was startled, so I went along and, to my surprise, I continued the conversation in French, despite the fact that I wasn't very comfortable yet using it in a business setting. However, I clearly saw how those summer months picking up conversation with the French-speaking clients at the restaurant, suddenly came at handy. That piece of the puzzle was fitting in beautifully, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my French language skills were better than I thought.
The conversation went beautifully, and she invited me for an in-person interview with the manager the following week. I was determined to get this position, so I threw in all my arsenal: I decided to show up with a financial model built from scratch for one of their shows. I went on the internet and did some research on the company and their projects in the works. I picked a show that had just been announced and that was very special to me because it was a tribute to a Latin American rock band that I used to love as a teenager. For the first time in a very long time, I was passionate about what I was doing. To me, preparing for that interview was not difficult at all and it didn't feel like an obligation, unlike the jobs I had done in the past. To my surprise, I was actually enjoying this kind of finance! I was in a state of flow as I was wrapping up the numbers that I would be presenting at the interview. I felt confident about the work I had done. I was ready to answer any questions that the manager might have on my model. I even carried out some additional research just for the fun of it. That's how I knew that I had found my dream job. Now it was up to me to nail it.
As I walked into the company headquarters, I immediately knew that this was a place I could definitely thrive in: the atmosphere felt much more relaxed than your traditional corporate setting, there was art everywhere, and huge windows let the light to come in and brighten the huge corridors. There were artists walking past me in athletic gear; some of theme were even in full character with their makeup and costumes on. The cafeteria looked cozy and inviting. The vibes of the place made me feel welcome, and I felt in my gut that this was the dream workplace that I had been waiting for so long. This was definitely my vibe. Feeling this motivated me even more to make a lasting impression.
The corporate attire was also very relaxed, and I later learned that you didn't need to wear formal attire as you normally would in a financial company. The dress code was casual (not even business casual!) I could finally wear all the clothes that I only got to wear on weekends! I was in heaven. The HR person and the manager were also very warm and friendly, and there was a different feeling in the air: this was the first time in which I didn't feel that my interviewers were trying to grill me with questions or to look for perfection in me: they were interested in my experience, yes, but they were also interested in getting to know who I was as a person. I told them about my story, and why I decided to move to Canada. They acknowledged my merit in moving to a new country all by myself, and they were even more interested in my candidacy when I pulled out my lap top and announced that I had brought something for them.
I think I was the only person to show up at the interview with my lap top and a financial model on one of their shows built from scratch. Their eyes were wide open as I opened my model and started talking about my research. As I was explaining what I had done to both of them, I could see how impressed they were about the initiative I took by doing all of this. Like I said, I wasn't going to leave anything to chance. As they wrapped up the interview and told me that they would contact me again for the next steps, I felt in my gut that I had done a great job and that I gave my all. Regardless of the outcome, I was very proud of myself, and I left the building with an indescribable sense of accomplishment.
The HR person contacted me a couple of days later to invite me for a final interview with the director. They wanted me to go even further and to build a 20-min. presentation on the model I had just presented. "A presentation on a model?", I thought. "I will probably be done talking about it in 5-10 min. How am I going to fill the rest of the time?" This was another challenge I had to surmount, but somehow I got divine inspiration to talk about why the strategy of pursuing this type of show made sense. Again, I was in a state of flow as I was doing further research. I was playing with the graphics; I was having fun putting the presentation together. I couldn't believe the divine timing of this interview: in my darkest hours, this opportunity felt like a gift sent from heaven.
The day of the interview with the director finally arrived. I woke up that morning with a focus and a winning attitude like never before. I was playing "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons on Spotify over and over as I was heading to the company. The beat of the music gave me an additional boost. I felt unbeatable. The dynamics of the interview were very similar to my previous one, and the director seemed pretty friendly as well. Both her and the manager liked what I did, and as I walked out of the interview room, I felt whole because, again, I knew I had given my all. Now it was just a matter of waiting for an offer or a rejection letter.
As I walked home that night after such an exciting day, I looked up at the sky and said: "God, you know how hard I've worked to be where I am now, and how much of myself I've given to this dream. If this is where I'm meant to be, I know that you will make it happen. If it's not, I'm ready to accept whatever it is you have in store for me. If I get a "no" from this company and if it comes down to scrubbing floors to keep myself afloat, so be it. I fully surrender to your will."
They say miracles happen when you fully let go and surrender with a grateful heart to a greater power. I was about to find out how much the universe loved me.