Thursday, July 21, 2011

I never thought it would be easy...

but I didn't expect it to be this hard.

So, this is some kind of letter to the void. Or maybe someone can offer some insight?

 It has been two years since I am in this country. Two years in which I have been repeatedly looking for a job, and if I get one more rejection letter I think I will collapse. Already writing those motivation letters makes me feel a bit sick. In the meantime I haven´t been sitting at home doing nothing. The first summer  I spent here, I did an internship at a small animal clinic. I was happy. I learnt a lot, and I was only excited to realize that I have to learn even more. It became clear that I would need to master the language (this I knew, but it just became evident).

After this first two month internship, I went on to a second internship for a big animal nutrition company. I spent six months living in a farm and I loved it. I had to babysit cows giving birth, take samples on the days prior and after parturition and generally be in the barn which I love. I was also involved in other projects, for instance one that dealt with what kind of tastes cows like better.

It was a good experience, and I wonder if I should have stayed, but the major downside was that it was quite far from the boy and we would only see each other on the weekends (this after being "long-distance" for a year and a half). We were dying to be together. If you see a map of The Netherlands, I was in the South East, very close to the border with Germany, and we are now on the opposite side of the country.

Via Google maps
I had also been waiting for a certain dutch course to start at the university, that would finally allow me to improve my language skills. And so after my appointed 6 months at the farm, I came to live with the boy. I started my language course, and I briefly worked as a volunteer at a small animal clinic again. During these period I had been applying to jobs at clinics, with no luck. So when the opportunity came to work at an international company, in a call-center environment I took it. I stayed there for about 9 months. We were planning our wedding, I was still looking for jobs every day (haven't stopped) and applying all the time, but we realized that I needed more experience to be competitive.

And so I stopped and I started another internship, this time at a laboratory at the Veterinary faculty doing research. The reasoning for this was that since getting a job as a vet was so hard I might as well try in research, since I also have a Biology degree.  As is the situation in all medical professions, there are more doctors than needed, even when there are strict numerus fixus policies in place. The other day we read that for 1 vet that retires, there are 16 young vets waiting or so. So That is where I am now. I have applied to many PhD positions, I have applied within the biomedical, food and pharmaceutical industries. I have applied to clinics, I have applied to technician positions, I have applied to advocacy positions in medical related NGO's and to communication positions in Biological related organizations. None of the above has worked.

 I speak fluently 4 languages, and I understand quite a lot of some others. I have lived in different countries. I have 2 university degrees, from European universities. None of this seems too matter. Sure the positions that would be more "suitable" for me are in the East of the country, where the agricultural activities are concentrated, but it is too far too commute every day. I dream of specializing in Epidemiology/Infectious Disease/Public Health and working within government or international institutions. But I also love the clinic. I am open to the possibilities. What has become clear is that in research, they prefer people who have precisely studied biochemistry or molecular biology (even if I studied all the concepts and am familiar with the techniques). The clinical veterinarian market seems to be oversaturated, we read that even paraveterinarians have trouble finding jobs and internships.

I really do not understand why my profile is not adequate for the industries I have applied to, since they train you anyway, and the knowledge that you require and apply is very basic. And for technical positions, well, they prefer to hire technicians. I have even been rejected for being overqualified, which makes me wonder if getting a PhD would make things even worse, but that's a whole other subject. We have looked "out of the box" too, for example teaching at international schools. But it turns out (and I understand) that for teaching you need a degree on top of the university degree on your field of study. Same goes for working at a daycare. All the positions at the Zoo in the Education department are volunteer-based. I have obviously thought of going back to school, but at this moment of our lives it would be spending money and I want to be able to contribute to our household, plus, sometime soon, we would like to start a family.  The few recruitment agencies specialized in internationally educated people only have openings for marketing and financial related positions, or IT. In the meantime I haven´t stopped taking Dutch classes. I just finished the "advanced" course, and I am starting the next level in September.The language is so hard, that I feel my level is still kind of basic, but I am slowly getting better.

So we are hanging in there, the boy has been very supportive all along, but some days are just too hard. I feel worthless, hopeless, useless. I feel destroyed inside. I feel like I wasted my time for... 9 years at the university, for nothing. I feel like everyone is better, because SOMEONE is getting all those jobs I am applying for. I always thought we should fight for what we want. I was taught that if you do what you love, if you do your best, the opportunities will come, that it was possible to love your job, to do what you like, that you should not limit your dreams. Maybe I am living in fantasy-land. Maybe it is stupid to keep hoping to work in my field of study.

When do I fix a deadline? Until when should I wait? When do I go on and take some office job, unrelated to anything I ever dreamt or wanted. I wish I had a magic ball, I wish I could see the future, I wish someone would tell me when or how this will end. I wish I could know that if I wait long enough I will get there. Or that no matter how long I wait, it won't happen. I do not mind working a "different" job, though there is a part of me that feels it would kill my soul, and I feel like I am dying a bit already. What also scares me of taking an unrelated job, is that that would mean  less experience in my field. It feels like if I do that I would be doomed for my whole (professional) life. But this is real life. This is growing up right? Any thoughts?


  1. Hi Amanda! This is my first time at your blog and I could not pass by without leaving a comment, because in so many ways I feel the same you do. I do have a job in my area... The thing is, I am a webdesigner at a small company that is based in Lisbon (I'm portuguese) wich is 240 km apart from home. That means I only get to spend the weekends with my husband. Before we got married, a year ago, it was hard but now it just keeps getting harder. In the end of the day you just wanna lay down in your bed with your loved one and escape from all the stress of the work day. We just can't do that. A part from that, even though I can not say I'm unhappy at my job, what I really love doing is graphic and interior design, and the more I get away from those areas I think I am reducing the chances of going back doing it. But, as we are facing such a big financial crisis in my country, I may say I should be happy just for having a job in my area. But I'm not. Some days being apart is just too overwelming. We've considered other options, such as both of us moving to the city, but as the husband works in forestry area, it would be hard for him. Here is where we really want to live, no question about that. Sometimes I feel it makes no sence and I should just get any job close from home, even if I had to work at a boutique... and we'd be together, fighting together, and I'd keep looking for jobs... but then... all those thoughts about getting an unrelated job cross my mind, as with you...

  2. Oh God such a long comment! Let me just tell you about the other side of the story: I'm happy, really happy, as I think your are too, even facing all those frustrations. Having someone that special in your life that really supports you is the best thing. I try not to complain too much because that just makes me bitter. And I take joy in every little thing life gives me.
    I force myself not to give up and made a plan: I want to become a freelancer, so that I can work at home or wherever I whant to. As it is quite crazy doing that from day to night I created a blog to show my work (and selling crafts me and te husband make) and started doing some pro bono graphic design projects, so that I can began conquering some future clients, and have some work added to my portfolio. It's made of small steps, but I believe we can do it. (Pass by if you can! www. Have you considered a part-time job just to ensure some income and then start something on your own, since looking for a job looks so hard? Even if you have to do some pro bono like I do to conquer some regular clients. Don't know if that is legal around there, but... hey, just a thought. Here there are many freelace vets, like the one that takes care of my two kitties. Wish you all the luck! **

  3. Dear Ines, thank you so so much, reading you really helps. And like you say, yes, I am also happy, and thinking about the options. I have a friend in Spain who started working freelance like you describe. I have to figure out if it is legal here, and also how they manage to do the blood analyses and that kind of think. I will definitely come visit your blog. Good luck with everything, and we will figure out a way, I hope :)

  4. That is so incredibly frustrating - I wish I had some words of wisdom to offer, but I really don't. I have a masters in epidemiology and I do air pollution research for the government, which has worked out pretty well for me, but it's not always an easy degree to get a job with either. The skill set that they teach you is not necessarily that specific, so it helps to go in with a specific goal in mind and work towards that.

    Do not think that you are "less than" because other people are getting those jobs. They are getting them because they have some connection. That's how most people get jobs. Of course you don't necessarily need to have a connection to get a job, but I think through your internships you will find your way in.

  5. Dear Nina, thanks for your input. It does help to read others' experiences. And you are an epidemiologist, so cool :) Let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best.

  6. Ah, definitivamente somos hermanas...
    Te entiendo muchisimo. Yo tuve mi crisis hace exactamente un año, y si a vos te cuesta encontrar trabajo, imaginate a mí, con Yo tengo un titulo en Derecho (dos, bah, abogada y procuradora) y estoy terminando un LLM, tengo experiencia laboral, de tribunales y de campo, hablo 5 idiomas y entiendo otros 2 más, tengo recomendaciones de gente importante que ha trabajado conmigo y siempre me falta 5 para el peso. Los unicos trabajos que me ofrecen son el Sudan o Somalia y de voluntaria (pago, pero sin aportes, etc). Y no quiero. Eso ya lo hice, siento que ya pagué mi derecho de piso, que ahora tengo hijos y alguien a quien amo y de quien no me quiero separar. Algunos me dicen "bueno pero hay que hacer sacrificios"y yo contesto que sí, pero que algunos ya no. El 25 de agosto va a hacer 10 años que me recibi y no estoy donde creí que la garra, las eternas horas de estudio y la dedicación me iban a llevar.

    Pero como dicen los Chinos que crisis es oportunidad de ver aquello que de otro modo no hubieramos visto, esto me hizo ver y buscar tambien otras opciones. Y eso me llevó a descubrir que ¡Oh sorpresa! Hay otras cosas que podrian hacerme feliz y que no tienen que ver con el derecho internacional, comencé a verme en otros roles, en otras profesiones, en otros crafts. La idea misma me parecia alocada al comienzo, hoy son cosas que pienso con más seriedad. No sé qué va a pasar, en qué terminaré trabajando, sí he decidido que voy a ser feliz de cualquier manera. Y digo "decidido"porque he dejado-conscientemente y al comienzo con esfuerzo- de asociar mi trabajo o mis estudios con lo que soy. Durante muchos años yo sentí que eso me definia, hoy siento que soy más que eso, que esa es (o fue) una parte importante de mí pero que hay otras facetas mías, inexploradas por falta de tiempo hasta entonces, que por ahi vale la pena explorar.
    Quizas te vendria bien dejar de postular por uno o dos meses, tomarte un tiempo para pensar qué querés hacer, cómo seguir, quizas trabajando en una oficina, en un call center o en lo que sea. Algo que te de la tranquilidad del ingreso economico, te permita interactuar con otra gente y te permita replantearte las cosas. Quizas vuelvas con mas energia a lo mismo, quizas cambies de rumbo, pero es bueno darse a uno mismo el tiempo de explorar los propios deseos.
    Un abrazo, y si un dia queres que charemos por skype, avisame!
    or otro lado, a nivel personal soy mucho mas feliz ahora que lo creí que iba a ser jamás.

  7. Algo que se me acaba de ocurrir: pensaste en el periodismo especializado? Hace poco The Economist, por ejemplo, estaba buscando biologos y quimicos para escribir articulos cientificos, e imagino que habrá otras publicaciones por el estilo tambien....o podrias empezarlo freelance o desde un blog...

  8. Marcela, muchisimas gracias. Desde la primera vez que te lei supe que eran muchas las cosas que teniamos en comun. Y tienes razon, pensare en todo lo que dices. Muchos saludos. Y si, a nivel personal, igualmente estoy super feliz, si en algun momento hasta llegue a pensar que iba a vivir mi vida siempre independiente y estaba contenta con ello, los novios nunca me duraban mas de 2 meses jaja, y tampoco fueron tantos ! Hasta que todo cambio :)

  9. jajaja a mi me duraban 3 meses maximo ...y tampoco fueron tantos jajaja

  10. Ay Amanda,
    El mal de todas las que empezamos una vida en este país. Este país es exigente en cuanto a profesionales se trata. Y las prioridades siempre son para los mismo holadeses o personas más jovenes y con poca experiencia. Lógico. Son más baratos. Con esta reseción, el mercado (parece que tuyo y mio) están díficiles.
    Al igual que tú, lo supe desde antes de venir. Sabía que dejaba mi nombre y apellido, mi historia, el poco reconocimiento que me había construido. Sabía que venir aquí era Un Nuevo Nacimiento. Estaba preparada para enfrentarlo, pero despúes de tanto tiempo, despúes de rechazos, después de tanto vacio profesional, ni siquiera el "juntos lo vamos a lograr" de mi novio me alienta en los días difíciles. A veces simplemente quisiera ser felíz sólo siendo ama de casa, eso haría las cosas más simples, pero las ganas de ser alguien siempre vuelven. Y como tu, también creo a veces que vivo en Fantasilandia, porque quiero una vida normal, que me satisfaga profesionalmente, y que la gente que conosca tenga los mismo intereses que los mios. O por lo menos parecidos.
    Si encuentras la bola mágica, esa que te diga si la espera valdrá la pena o mejor no sigas esperando y ocupate en otra cosa, me la prestas! También quiero saber que será de mi!
    Un abrazo fuerte... que no anima mucho pero al menos no estamos solas!

  11. Hola Ley. Si, es dificil, pero como dice Marce, estoy aprendiendo que somos mas que una carrera, o sea que lo que estudie no me define, o al menos no es la unica de mis facetas. Claro que hay dias, y dias, y definitivamente me encantaria poder escoger. Siempre dicen que uno con sus acciones y pensamientos positivos moldea la realidad, yo a veces lo que siento es mucha impotencia porque la situacion se me sale de las manos. Pero he decidido ser feliz, que eso si que se puede decidir y encontrar y buscar esos momentos en lugares inesperados. Y bueno, tambien he estado considerando seriamente en hacer un master, pienso que teniendo un titulo holandes sera mas facil (aunque sobre el papel no deberia de ser necesario puesto que tengo hasta un documento oficial de las dependencia de gobierno que regula la profesion que ratifica la equivalencia de los estudios). Pero es como tu dices, los prefieren holandeses y con un nivel mas basico, gente que no va a buscar crecer (eso no lo invento yo, me lo dijo directamente un reclutador).
    Seguiremos intentando, animos con todo, creo que el chiste es no vencerse nunca, seguir creyendo.

  12. Pues si, las historias se repiten y seguiremos intentando. Para mí fue cómo pasar de la princesa del cuento a Cenicienta... Pero cada día escribimos nuestras propias historias y estas cada día cambian, sigue adelante!

    Un abrazo.

    1. Sí, seguiremos intentando, que lo de darse por vencidas, la tenacidad es algo que las mexicanas llevamos bien dentro.

      Me encantó tu comparación de Princesa a Cenicienta. Supongo que también has visto los chusco-videos de Andrea Viveros?

      Es de esas situaciones que mejor que llorar, reírse. (Y seguir esforzándose)


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