After a time spent responding to job announcements, I finally decided to accept the fact that sustainable development is a niche field where most available jobs are only on the hidden market and put myself out there.
Luckily, living in Paris means lots of conferences open to the public on the subject of sustainable development. I signed myself up for one, and even though I tried to arrive early on the day of, I inevitably got lost.
As soon as I took a seat next to two normal looking women, the introductory speaker began the conference. Despite trying to smile and introduce myself, I was met with unfriendly vibes.
Conference at the Ministère de l'écologie, du développement durable, et de l'énergie.
I spent most of that first session thinking about how stupid conferences are for networking seeing as if you sit next to two unfriendly people you basically just waste the entire day.
The conference broke for lunch, and I broke down in tears.
I fought the urge to simply go home, and accepted the fact that I was a big networking failure who hadn't even networked enough to find a group of people to eat with.
I began searching the near by restaurants for vegetarian options. Walking into an overly crowded pizza place, I saw the lady who was seated in front of me during the conference.
I took a second to gather up my courage and then asked, “vous étiez à la conference, n’est pas? Je pense que vous étiez assise devant moi,” (Weren’t you at the conference? I think you were seated in front of me).
“Ah oui tout à fait! Voulez-vous manger avec nous?” (Yes I was! Would you care to eat with us?) she replied.
I was in!
I had a very nice lunch with the lady and her colleague, but somehow only managed to get the contact information from one of them.
After lunch, I took a seat elsewhere in the amphitheater and this time was able to converse with my neighbors, also getting their contact information.
While I wasn't a complete failure, I wasn't exactly a networking super star either.
Hopefully I'll get better as time goes on, although so far each new conference has been just as stressful as the last.
It doesn't hurt that some conferences are held in beautiful buildings such as this one (Hotel de Lassay).