Post by CISC member Diana
I have been in America for about 5 months and here my husband is studying for his Ph. D. in Civil Engineering. As soon as I arrived, I began the application for my work permit, and it took approximately 3 months. Those months were very difficult for me since in Honduras I always worked and my work was my passion. Back there, I had managed to open my own business consultant company, and suddenly I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life, to keep my family of 3 together (we have a 4 year old daughter). So I had to quit my job and leave my small business that I was just starting to come and join my husband.
One of the first experiences I had related to finding a job was when I had the honor of attending a talk by Barbara Avouac about how to make an “elevator pitch” and other general job searching advice. However, I left the talk a little discouraged as I realized that it would be very difficult for me to get a job oriented to my specialty as an industrial/quality engineer, which is my dream job. But also from that talk I remembered that it is very important to network, to meet a lot of people and especially to make the best of opportunities such as volunteering, since they can open many doors.
Soon after, I heard of an opportunity during the English classes I am taking. One of my classmates told me that she worked in a retirement home, and I asked her if I could work there as a volunteer during my free time, while my daughter went to pre-school. So she gave me the address. After a couple of weeks I decided to go there and when I arrived I told them that I wanted to volunteer because in my country I volunteered and worked for various social projects. But they told me that they did not need people as volunteers, instead they asked for my information. The next day they called me to have an interview with the manager and he asked me if I was interested in working there, not as a volunteer but as an employee. Since initially I was going to do it voluntarily, it was much better to be able to do it as hired staff.
We do not have to be afraid to work in completely different areas from our prior experience and now I’ve been working as a caregiver for almost two months. It might not be my dream job, but it helps to keep me busy and, especially it is helpful to enter the U.S. labor market and to get recommendations from direct employers.