After a promising career start in France, Mélanie had difficulty finding a job in Mexico, where she moved. Empowered by her experience, she just started her business to help new expats there. She tells us about her experience.
« After 7 years working in international finance in big industrial groups, I became business controller. I managed a small team of account managers and was in charge of the financial control of an industrial entity comprised of 120 people, at only 26 years old!
After 3 years in that desk-bound job, I applied to relocate abroad within my firm. I was running away from the routine, I wanted to return abroad before I was 30. I wanted to use my skills abroad, discover a new culture, and apply my knowledge in a new environment.
Since I wasn’t being offered any opportunities abroad, my husband also decided to apply for relocation. He had better luck than I did: one evening, he asked:« What do you think of Mexico? » Totally foreign to me, a new language to learn (so exciting!), I said yes with no hesitation.
So I left my job and responsibilities to go with him. My French friends and colleagues warned me about the risks in Mexico: « 10 murders a day ». In fact, that figure was the only thing I knew about my new country to be.
When we got there, everything was different from what I had ever known. I lost my bearings! I then thought I would quickly find a job after learning Spanish. It turns out I was wrong about everything!
The cultural shock was very violent..Beyond the language barrier, many behaviors and manners seemed inexplicable, illogical to me. I was lost. The difference with traveling, even for a long period of time, was that I was actually living in Mexico. That changes everything. I was supposed to feel at home there, and it was the complete opposite!
There is nothing like a long term “full integration” to truly know a country, and being able to speak about it accurately. In fact, I quickly realized that the so-called 10 murders a day would not be my main concern. Mine was more pressing: finding a job and start integrating!
I thought that integration would not be a problem: I spoke Spanish fluently after 6 months –though with a strong accent -, met a lot of people who invited me to all sorts of celebrations (and in Mexico, everything is cause for celebration), and built friendships through salsa (which I have been dancing for 10 years). Mexicans are extremely friendly and welcoming, we also travelled a lot to discover country. All the ingredients were there for a full integration.
But it wasn’t enough; my professional project was not keeping up. .To think that finding a job in Mexico is easy and quick because Mexicans love the French is a huge delusion and another misconception to avoid. Especially when you have a career plan to follow. I only wanted one thing: to teach them how to work in my field the way I did in Europe, thus allowing them to be more efficient. It was a total failure. And I learned a lot from it!
I went to dozens of interviews in vain. .The accumulation rejection letters and of lack callbacks made me question myself. I finally found out what I needed for a complete integration: understanding and assimilating the way Mexican companies function. To be able to live and work in a foreign country means adapting to its culture, not the other way around!. After weeks of “work” to get there, I finally went on successful interviews and found work in my field. I was then faced with a new challenge: assimilating local managerial practices and behaviors, among other things.
It is that energy that I would like to offer all expats in Mexico. .My goal is to pass on my cultural knowledge in terms of job search, integrating into local society, and starting a new job in Mexico. I created Expat2work for that sole purpose and am now dedicated to it full time. By following a set program, expats will avoid cultural pitfalls. The program targets anyone looking to relocate, or who already lives in Mexico and is looking to have a successful career there.
Having gone through it myself, I offer an accelerated training on the local culture to avoid the missteps expats usually take, for a well-rounded life in Mexico. While mainly focused on each person’s professional project, the coaching I offer inevitably covers aspects of daily life in Mexico (social life, administrative issues, etc.).
www.expat2work.com is now fully functional. It has already allowed me to meet people passionate about living abroad and everything around it. The ultimate challenge today, and not the least, is to make myself known to future expats and those already living in Mexico, as well as to the companies who send their staff there. »
Translated by Florence Razé
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