Job Search Series – Núria’s Experience

I arrived to Pasadena with the intention to start working as soon as possible, but I knew I would have to wait a few months, so I actually really enjoyed the time that I couldn’t work. During the 3 months that I waited for the work permit, I didn’t take the job quest seriously, I updated my curriculum, read some articles and made some online courses (all of them through Coursera) to be ready when the work permit would arrive, which was right after Christmas. It was then when I started my new full-time job, which was “looking for a job”. I had finished a PhD in Astrophysics a few months before, but I was looking for a job outside academia, and one of the difficult things was to decide what I wanted to or could do. I finally decided to try the data world. A new country and a new field implied new strategies, and I had several ones (some of them worked better than others…) but I’ve summarized them all here:

Apply for job offers:

This was the obvious option, where I applied to the job offers posted on the Internet. After applying using job offer applications, I usually tried to complement the applications with an email to the HR department presenting myself. I found that it was a better way to receive an answer, although in the end, I didn’t receive many…

Contact companies that I would like to work with:

I used LinkedIn and email to contact companies and present myself even though they weren’t offering any job position. I got some answers, including an interview.


Using the MeetUp application, I attended some events related to the field I wanted to work in. The goal was to meet with people in the fields that may interest me, to learn from their experiences, make contacts and receive advice. Even if you are going to the event not specifically looking for a job, it was a good way to learn about other people’s experience and it was also fun to meet new people.

Job fairs:

I went to a couple of job fairs. I think it’s good to help you understand the demand and to directly talk to the human resources people from the company. During the nonprofit job fair done at the Pasadena City College and organized by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, I had the chance to meet the HR woman from the company I ended up working with.

Pasadena Chamber of Commerce:

I contacted them through a boot camp they organized (and that I heard about through the CISC newsletter) and they were really helpful in giving me advice and putting me directly in contact with people who were hiring (this is how I got my job!). I would strongly recommend to attend their events or contact them asking for advice: they were really helpful in my case and they know a lot of the companies established in the San Gabriel Valley.

During the two months that my job quest lasted, I had some negative answers, a lot of unanswered emails and some positive answers that led to my final job.

The whole process that led to finally get my job started when I attended the Get Hired, Stay Hired Bootcamp organized bythe Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. With their help, I contacted the company I finally worked in, and the selection process was pretty fast. They answered almost immediately to the first email I sent and they asked me to answer few questions, mainly they described some situations and problems related to my future role and I had to answer how I would act and solve them. After I sent these questions back, there was the nonprofit job fair, which is where I met the HR responsible. She told me that she was about to call me for a phone interview, but as I was there, we did the short interview there, which mainly consisted of technical questions about my last job, my expectations for the new one and my work permit status (luckily, I already had it!).  We were both very happy, and she scheduled a phone interview with my future supervisor. It happened a few days later, and we talked during half an hour about my experience, what I could bring to the company and again, what were my expectations. He also took the time to answer all my questions, and he walked me through what would be my role, the team I would be working with and what they were expecting from me. I had a very positive feeling and right after the call, they scheduled an interview on site and they asked me to do an exercise. They sent me a dataset and asked me to extract all the information I felt relevant, and to present it the way I felt it was the most appropriate. The day after, I went there to have the interview with my supervisor and two other members of my future team, where I also presented the results from the exercise I did the previous day. It went really smooth and I left with a really good feeling that was confirmed a couple of days later, when they called me with a job offer that I took immediately. After a few months working there, I realized that I was supposed to negotiate the salary, but I thought it was fair, so at that time, I didn’t even think about it. Now, I don’t know if I would do it differently, maybe I would consider to see if they were open to negotiate the salary. 

The job was in Monrovia, very close to Pasadena, and I couldn’t be happier about the people and the job, and I’m really happy and proud of how everything worked out!

For me, the process of looking for a job was difficult and I felt really lost a lot of days. The most difficult part of it was the fact that I didn’t know if what I was doing was right or if I was losing time when writing to people who never answered. But now, when I look back, I realize that in the end, everything worked fine, that I was lucky and that the key is to be patient and to knock to the right door at the right time. Of course, every field needs different strategies, and every person works better with a different one, but with the experience that I had I would say to keep trying and to ask for help, advice and to try to make connections.

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