Finding a job in Chile – Take 2

mommy_watch_this_medI have mad respect for those moms that choose to stay home with their kids. I’m about six weeks into my unemployment and being at home with little human is a job that requires some tough skin. After about two hours with her inside I need to set her free or she turns into a Tasmanian devil that just rips through our apartment, leaving remnants of what used to be a cozy place to live. Where does all this energy come from, I ask you?

In any case, it’s not so bad. She’s mine and when I think back to the reasons why I actively chose to be in this unemployment scenario, even on the worst days I sit back and think “would I take it all back just to be working there again?” Then I immediately find myself in my “ooooom” place and realize that the best decisions have already been made.

BUT (of course there’s a but … hello – don’t you know me at all by now?)

There are women who choose to be stay-at-home moms (or as I like to say, moms who work inside the home) and there are moms who choose to be moms and work jobs outside the home. I’m one of those moms. See, my career has always been part of who I am and how I project myself. I worked to put myself through college, then did a post-grad degree in a totally different country (NO EASY FEAT) and in between all that, worked my ass off to do the best I could in each and every company I’ve ever had the privilege to belong to. My identity is very linked to who I work for, what I do and what I’ve accomplished in that part of my life. No, it’s no my entire identity, but it’s a good part of who I am and I like that. After all, how can I justify working so hard for something only to regard it as a necessary evil?

So you can understand why I’m about to go apeshit on the fact that I’ve been unemployed this long!

In my head (obviously) I consider the appropriate amount of time to be unemployed to be three weeks. After that you begin to get antsy and it really does a number on your self worth. Finding a job in Chile isn’t easy. This is something I mentioned a few years ago but wanted to write a blog entry about this because things have changed SO MUCH in the past few years! Don’t get too excited because the psychological tests are still a headhunter’s (or HR Manager’s) favorite tool, though I’ve noticed that in the past few years the weight these carry on determining if you’ll be a fit for a certain position has lessened. Kind of like when colleges stopped focusing so much on your grades and SAT scores for admission and started wondering what else you were about. See, they matter, but not as much as they once did.

There are a couple of standard go-to options for job searches here in Chile. The two main sites are Trabajando.cl and Laborum.cl. LinkedIn has also turned out to be a good resource for job postings though they tend to be jobs that require at least 2-3 years of work experience. Also, something I realize now that I didn’t know then is how prevalent headhunters have become for mid-to-senior positions. Most of my experience with these headhunters has come from their searches on LinkedIn and my profile popping up as an answer to all their human resources needs. Of course there is the traditional option of submitting resumes directly via each company’s website but to be honest, I’ve yet to hear about anyone landing a job – even an interview – via that apparently antiquated method so if you’re going to choose that route, do us a favor, don’t hold your breath.

Finally, the most effective way to land an interview here in Chile, or anywhere else for that matter, is the famous “pituto.” How can I describe a pituto, you ask? Listen, you want a job in social media? My good friend’s cousin is CEO at this company and all you need to do is email me your resume and I’ll pass it on to my friend. She’ll then send it on to her cousin, the CEO, who’ll send it on to the HR Manager and – viola!!! – an email summoning you for an interview will magically appear in your inbox before 9 am tomorrow morning. No problem!

Are you The One?
Are you The One?

Notice that I said that’s the most effective way to land an interview. Actually getting to the offer letter part is something you still have to do all by yourself. Interviewing is an art, really, and one you need to be prepared to do over and over and over, then over, again here in Chile. If you’re using a headhunter (and most well-known, and even lesser known, companies do use them) you need to charm him/her. They’re all business and, in my experience, range from the kind who know the client (your future company) and the position like the back of their hand to the waaaaaaaay other extreme –> kind of making it up along the way as the interview progresses. Whatever the case may be, the important thing to remember is that this mastermind who single-handedly picked you as a possible candidate is the very first person you need to charm. If you’re able to do that then you’re more likely to be pimped out to the client as “the one” they just “have to meet.” This is good. You want this to happen. The fact of the matter is that to the headhunter, you’re their meal ticket if all goes well. Unless you’re a total bonehead, chances are you can convince the headhunter that you can get the job done. After all, that´s their calling – selecting talent from a pool of equally talented people.

Otherwise known as "what won't get you a job in Chile!"
Otherwise known as “what won’t get you a job in Chile!”

One thing I’ll never get use to however is how slow the process can be. Even if you’ve interviewed and they’ve decided that you’re simply NOT the chosen one, it seems to be standard operating procedure to just not fill you in on that useful piece of information. You’re left thinking you totally nailed it and are pretty confident the next interview will occur within the week. But that week passes, then another one and another one. At this point you’ve pretty much given up all hope that you’ve been selected but decide to give it one more shot and email the headhunter just to see “how the process is going.” And still – NOTHING. Not even an awkwardly worded email apologizing for the delay in response due to a sick distant cousin that took a turn for the worst and prompted an unscheduled flight to the south of Chile. Just nothing. SO UNPROFESSIONAL and in fact, totally insulting! What the hell do they think I’m going to do?? Freak out about their lack of response on my own personal blog??? I mean … c’mon… I’m not that kind of working woman…. what?

Ah… but in all seriousness, looking for a job in Chile is not for the faint of heart. The Chilean market is fierce and it’s demanding. It’s better now, especially for expats. It used to be that if you weren’t an “ingeniero” this or that, your resume would be tossed aside. It also used to be that you absolutely 100% had to have work experience in the exact same way, shape and form as the position the potential company is looking to fill – no deviations, no excuses, stop asking! I think that with the globalization that Chile has experienced, the economic boom that’s been assisted by external investors and the sought-after companies that are looking to expand into LatAm and seeing Santiago as a fresh and viable option, Chile has had no choice but to open up to outsiders. I’m sorry Chilean workforce, but I refuse to believe you’re another Core Club.

Swinging RopeWhat’s the secret to landing a job in Chile? I don’t know. I’m gliding along the usual ropes in this wild jungle. I’m looking at the websites mentioned above, checking out what’s on tap on LinkedIn, networking and literally making myself available. I think I have a lot to offer (and so do my ex bosses, as all of them serve as professional references – how ya like them apples?) and I’m trying not to limit myself. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that you’ll win some and you’ll lose some. There are some things you’re definitely not qualified to do (hi, spleen doctor, anyone?) but in general, you just have to let go of the inhibitions and send resumes for positions you really believe you can do and do well. If the other side doesn’t think so, meh … let them keep looking for their miracle cure. Meanwhile you’ll be growing hair on your chest and becoming a total pro at this job market search in Chile. I totally feel it!

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Shake, shake, shake …

Poor Chile. What a bad rap it gets sometimes.
As a seismically active country, Chile has its fair share of tremors (“temblores” as they’re called here) and they occur almost every day in any given area. Granted, they’re not all major quakes, but regardless of how “big” they may be, the fact remains that there are tiny earthquakes each and every day here. It’s part of our everyday life and if you are thinking of visiting or living here, you need to KNOW this is an everyday occurrence.

Earthquakes registered by year along Chile's coastline.The latest earthquake was actually a “replica” or an aftershock and it occurred on April 2nd in Iquique, coming in at 7.6 on the Richter scale. The reason this aftershock was considered as such and not a full blown earthquake is because on April 1st the northern part of Chile was rocked by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake … i.e. anything less than that is obvi an aftershock (so it would seem).

Anywhere else in the world the 7.6 aftershock would have been labeled a full blown earthquake and a state of catastrophe would have been issued. Anywhere else in the world, half the city (or more) would be a crumbled mess and chaos would ensue for weeks, if not, months. Back in February 2010, I wrote about my experience living through an 8.8 earthquake here in Chile. The aftershocks of that earthquake were NUMEROUS and the strongest one, if I remember correctly, was somewhere between 6.5 and 7 on the Richter scale.

Like some people back home wonder, you’re probably also wondering: “How can you live there? It’s like you’re constantly stressed out wondering when the next big one is coming! No thanks!”
I’ll use five words to try and explain how this is possible …

It’s part of life here.

Allow me to further explain because those five words obvi don’t provide much solace to anyone wishing to visit – or worse – anyone who finds themselves having to move down here for whatever reason.
Recently an article was published about this same issue and the title is pretty clever considering Chilean’s reactions to so many earthquakes: “Why don’t Chileans run when there are earthquakes?” The article goes on to state many reasons and (if you read Spanish) I think it’s worth a read because it gives you a glimpse of what the culture is like in general in response to a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

In the almost five years I’ve lived in Chile, I’ve experienced more earthquakes than I ever did in the 29 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area (the largest and ONLY earthquake was in 1989) and they’ve ranged anywhere from 4-pointers to almost 9!! That’s a whole lotta shakin’ and through it all I’ve learned that my own reactions have begun to mirror the reactions of true Chileans who have lived here their entire lives.

Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!
Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

When the earth starts shaking here, the first reaction is, simply, wait it out. True story. You sit and wait to see if it’s going to stay tolerable or if it’s going to get bigger. Most of the time it stays within a reasonable range and by adopting this “wait it out” policy, you spare yourself the embarrassment of doing the weird things people do when they freak out. I think this, combined with the fact that Chileans grow up with earthquakes and earthquake drills in school, makes it seem like Chileans are unfazed by earthquakes. That’s not the case. I know that earthquakes are scary and most Chileans will tell you that they don’t like them, but they’ve learned to live with them mainly because they’re part of everyday life here.

Also, if you have to live with earthquakes, there really is no better place than Chile, architecturally speaking. Chile has some of the strictest building guidelines EVER! Need proof? The 2010 earthquake that struck Léogâne, Haiti caused over 100,000 deaths and annihilated a great part of the affected area’s infrastructure. That earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. In comparison, the structural damage caused by the most recent earthquake in Chile (remember, it measured 8.2) a few days ago is minimal in comparison.

That doesn’t mean that Chile hasn’t learned lessons along the way. As mentioned, in 2010 over 500 people died mainly because the President of Chile, Michele Bachelet, and her advisors, didn’t give evacuation orders in a timely manner (most people died in the tsunami that hit post earthquake.) I guess you can say that this time around the dear President (the same one!) and her peeps were overly cautious and as a result, gave evacuation orders almost immediately! Hence, despite Chile’s most recent natural disaster and the destruction it caused, the death toll remains at six.

Don't let them know you're faking it!
Don’t let them know you’re faking it!

So come on down to Chile. Frolic, run and be free. Have a grand time because when the ground shakes (and it wiiiiilllllll) just know that you’ll most likely be ok. Just do as the locals do and you’ll be fine. You know – blend.

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Just keep swimming

What is matronatacion and why should you care?

Actually you needn’t care, not unless you’re a little beached whale like I am these days. However, it’s something that I just recently tried and I thought I’d share my experience with those out there who are looking for information on what it’s like to be preggo in Chile (as an expat). There’s lots of ground to cover on that topic but for now, I’m going to share just a wee bit on matronatacion specifically – or water workouts for (human) preggo pygmy hippos.

Who dat? A pygmy hippo! Cute as a botton. Photo courtesty of Vision O2

[Disclaimer: Now, unless you’re a complete moron, or otherwise desensitized to all things empirically adorable, it’s hard not to notice that pygmy hippos are, in fact, quite cute. This is the reason I use the pygmy hippo as a metaphor for myself and in general, cute preggo ladies. If you’re offended by this, I’ll assume what I asserted in the first sentence of this disclaimer – 1) you’re a moron or 2) you’ve been genetically altered to NOT recognize what is clearly all kinds of adorable. As such, I pity the fool.]

Last week I attended my first matronatacion (water workout) class at MEDS Mall Sport in Las Condes. Actually, this first class has been pending since January, when sweet, sweet, chocolate-covered G gave me eight sessions of these water workouts as a birthday present. Unfortunately it wasn’t until now, that I’m on maternity leave, that I actually had time to trek all the way to BFE Mall Sport in Las Condes for this class.

The class is led by a midwife (midwife assistance and expertise is common practice during most labors here in Chile) and though at first glance it would seem that the purpose of the class is to provide a workout for us pygmys, the reality of the benefits of these classes goes far beyond just providing a cardiovascular, low impact workout for the mom-to-be. The main goals of these workouts are to strengthen the following three areas: ab muscles (for pushing the baby out and, let’s face it, to snap back to pre-preggo shape post popping it out), pelvis (you know, so you don’t break in two when the baby comes rearing its ugly head from in between your legs) and the…ew … perineal area (which is the area that lies somewhere between your hoo-ha and that place they say the sun doesn’t shine. You know, the “money-shot” favored by porno directors the world over.) Apparently mastering these three areas, along with the right kind of breathing and relaxation techniques (in my case, i.e. epidural) make for an “uneventful” and “easy” labor. As such, the midwife that leads these classes believes that working out in the weightlessness that water provides, allows pregnant women to work these three areas successfully in preparation for labor. Other benefits include a healthy, lightweight cardiovascular workout for the mom, enhanced flexibility and increased blood flow to all pertinent areas (wherever those may be.)

Bobbing in the water like little bueys. Photo courtesty of NYT Blogs

Upon further inquiry about water aerobics classes for preggo ladies, I learned that in the U.S. it’s been studied that women who partake in these kinds of exercises are less likely to request pain relievers during labor (i.e. epidurals, for example.) Now, I don’t know if there’s a correlation or not because I don’t know if bobbing about in the water is really going to make me forgo all kinds of medication and entice me to go all natural. I know me and me doesn’t fit in well with the whole 100% natural, granola-esque way of living. I mean, seriously, MORE POWER to those women who do it all natural and for reasons that make sense, even choose to do so submerged in water, but that ain’t me, baby. Here’s where I do see some kind of correlation to the claims: the fact of the matter is that these water aerobic classes are trying. As in any workout, you do repetitive motions so as to “train” muscles and build endurance for longer hauls. I was literally spent and almost breathless on several occasions (not to mention that I of course swallowed water and started sputtering about like an idiot, gasping for air on two occasions…in 4.5 feet of water, mind you.)

The next day was ugly for me. I felt like a burlap bag that had been hit by Bam-Bam’s club one too many times.

Ouch.

It hurt to walk, to lay down, to get up and just basically, to be. As luck would have it, my mom was with me the entire day and though that’s great, she was convinced I was going into labor (which I clearly wasn’t) due to all the pain I was in. The reality is that I’m 8+ months preggo and I spent an hour in a lovely, warm pool, doing exercises I’ve actually NEVER done in my life. Yeah, I was in pain! But it was my first time and regardless of the fact that I hurt the next day, I think it’s worth the pain, if anything because I want to believe it will help build SOME kind of endurance for D-Day. After all, how further off is labor? Aside from the obvious things, I’ll be doing something I’ve never done and be put into positions I’ve never been in. I’ll be out of breath and who knows, maybe even choking and sputtering like I was in the pool. But if my abs, pelvis and that other nether region are stronger and will help me bounce back “sooner,” then I say ok.

**UPDATE**
After writing the bulk of this post, I continued to be in pain after the water aerobics class. Because of this, I made the wise decision of forgoing any further sessions. I’d like to reiterate that it’s not because this isn’t a fabu alternative for preggo pygmys like me to partake in some healthy, active workouts. But the reality is that I should have started these classes at 20-odd weeks and not at 35 weeks. By this time, there is just way too much going on with your larger-than-life body (more than meets the eye, Transformers style!) and a mere lap across the pool – assisted by floaties, mind you – is enough to get your heart racing and make casual conversation virtually impossible.

Just keep swimming, naked little baby. Photo courtesy of Sleevage.com

So the verdict is in. Matronatacion, or water aerobic workout for pregnant ladies, is a fine alternative for a healthy workout… but don’t even THINK about trying to attempt this for the first time when you’re 35+ weeks preggo. You’re heavier than you think, your range of motion isn’t what you remember it to be and your silly little heart will beat way past what you’ll find comfortable. I honestly really liked it and wish I could go back, but to say it was uncomfortable at the stage I’m at would be an understatement.

Besides, the classes I haven’t yet used can be used for swim lessons with the baby pygmy soon-to-come. Visions of Nevermind dance in my head.

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I’m about to slap this day silly

How perfectly unacceptable has my day been? Seriously, from beginning to end (so far) it’s been less than stellar and I’m beyond depressed about it.

Actually only two things make the list:

A window washer guy, pissed at me for yelling a frantic “no” to him so that he WOULDN’T pretty please wash my windshield, proceeded to squirt the bottle of filthy soap water on said windshield, using his squeegee to smear this gross concoction all over it. All.Over.It. Spread, spread, spread … and then he walked away leaving my windshield with a film of dirty, crusty soap water through which I couldn’t see.

So, yeah. That was fun.

Then today my boss and I had a meeting with the Mall Plaza people in a section of Santiago called Huechuraba. Usually in cabs I never tend to put my seat belt on but today thankfully I decided to do so because, oh, about 20 minutes later another car decided to plunge into the driver’s side of the taxi we were sitting in, tossing everyone and everything about, except for me. I was strapped in you see, like a good Californian. I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d be in some kind of accident here in Chile. If you’re a follower on Twitter, you’re then keen to the fact that I live in a city full of asshole drivers and though I know I didn’t have the privilege of living  in LA where the rest of the asshole drivers live, I take what I know … AND WHAT I KNOW IS: Chile has got some A-S-S-H-O-L-E drivers. It’s just too bad that today I had to literally cross paths with one.

And to put the final cherry on top, today my husband hates me. Marriage is hard sometimes, all this cohabitation and getting used to the in’s and out’s of one another. I’ve heard that the first year is hard and I’ve got to say that I’ve been lucky in that I don’t really think that my first year has been bad. But today. Today has been coupled with all of the above. And though I’m sad that my husband just left without saying goodbye (yes, WITHOUT saying goodbye) I know that he’ll be back (after all, his computer is here) and I hope we can perhaps get off on a lighter foot. At some point. I hope.

Great. I just named three things when I thought there were just two. So now I’m more depressed. Oy.

For now I’ve decided that today was less than stellar and so, me and my glass o’vino blanco are going to my room to watch “Pulp Fiction” – newly acquire, but forever cherished.

That movie always makes me feel like a bad ass and I kind of want to act out this particular scene (minus the guns, of course):

Now, I’m willing to bet that this chick never feels like she’s had a bad day.

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Please don’t let anyone die

I can’t bring myself to write a heartfelt blog about the past year which is soon coming to an end. So in true Andrea fashion, I’m going to make a list. To quote Cher in the movie “Mermaids” – “Anything else, is too big of a commitment.” At this point in the blog entry, I’m not sure what the list will contain but I’ll try to avoid putting any grocery items or to-do’s here and I’ll try to focus on things that happened, things I experienced or things I did.

Hmmm.

It’s looking to be a bit egocentric but I’ll try to be objective.

1.) The first thing that comes to mind when I think about 2010 is that it’s been an eventful year for Chile. While I don’t feel any heartstrings pulling about most things related to this country, said strings were pulled in 2010 when I saw the devastation and suffering caused by the earthquake in February. By far the most impacting natural disaster I’ve experienced to date.

2.) I was humbled in Chile more than a few times this year because, you know, sometimes people need it. I was humbled throughout my job search, humbled while I studied in my first year of my Master’s program and humbled by people who truly know how to live a far simpler life than I do. I live in a permanent state of tizzy and knot and I’ve come across several kinds of people who truly live by “little lady, let your mind go and your body will follow.”

3.) 2010 really highlighted my strained relationship with my mom. Theories and reasons exist as to why this is they case, but I’ll refrain from getting into it since it doesn’t seem highly appropriate.

4.) I learned that I could never, for the life of me, be a stay-at-home mom. Hats off to the women out there who wear that badge with pride as I’m sure it’s a challenging (and rewarding) job, but man, that SURELY is not my cup of tea. And no, I’m not concluding this because I had a baby and actually stayed at home, but I’m drawing from my days working from home earlier this year and taking care of a puppy.

5.) Which brings to mind a huge highlight in our family life this year: our first dog . I’ve had my fair share of good times with this lovable ball of fleshy fur and I’ve learned that I’m willing to defend him – tooth and nails – and am willing to tarnish my good name for him. I live in a building of (mostly) idiots who have no idea what it means to run across a Bulldog, and, well, I’m basically the bitch of the building because that’s how I treat pretty much all my neighbors. You f-ing mess with my dog, you mess with me. My mantra is: “You hate my dog, I hate your kid so please get him out of my face.” (Seriously when I drive into our parking area, it looks like a jardin infantil down there. How can I be held responsible for running over a kid’s bike in that state? But that’s six of one and half a dozen of another…)

Obi-wan chillin' in the sun.

6.) I became a U.S. Citizen this year. That’s been rad and I’m glad to call the U.S. my true home. Love you long time.

Paraphernalia from the Naturalization ceremony.

7.) Getting married comes in at point #7 as a nod to my wonderful husband. He has a thing for the number 7. There are certain things I’d definitely change about him if time, circumstance and dimensions weren’t an issue but those things are minor when compared to the wow factor that comes along with being married to him. I’m always beyond amazed that he continues to like me as much as I like him. Besides the best part, which is getting to live with him and being married to him, the wedding itself was fine. There’s one thing we’d both change about that though: we’d go back in time and we would DEFINITELY.NOT. having a wedding again. Oh we’d get married but we’d leave it at the registro civil and that’s it. In and out, done and done. Alas, that’s not how we ended up doing it and now, well, we have these fancy outfits and awesome pictures of an event we aren’t sure we really wanted. See? Even with that I’m more convinced we’re made for each other.

See? Even at the ceremony it would seem I was telling him we should have City Hall'd it instead. He was totally in agreement.

8.) Knowing myself as I do, I am in complete and UTTER amazement that I went back to school and that I did so in a foreign country. My first year of what is ultimately a Master’s in Marketing was difficult for me. Sure, others seem to think that I’m a simpleton for having stated this but compared to what I had seen and what I had experienced, post-graduate school in Chile was tough. Which is why I’m so happy to be done with the first year (which entitles me to a Diplomado in Marketing) and even more happy to say that I finished with a pretty decent grade point average. At least, far better than what I initially gave myself credit for. Along the way, I also made some great friends! Not too shabby.

9.) 2010 was the year I landed my first job living in Chile. It’s a huge multinational company with a very, small, itty bitty operation here in Chile. I’m in the middle of both of these worlds and at times it’s a struggle. The bright side is that I’m learning a lot and the brand is amazing. Another piece of good news is that in March I have a business trip to a yet-to-be-confirmed location in the Carribean!! Ga-ga-oooh-la-la!

For all of the above, I’m grateful. For point #10, I’m sad.

10.) 2010 marks the year when I felt more distance grow between me and my friends back home. I think that in part it has to do with the inconvenience of not being able to simply pick up the phone (my cell phone, that is) and call or text them the way I used to do when I lived back home. Daily life gets in the way and you watch as one hour slides right into the next one and all of a sudden it’s 10 pm and baby’s so tired. I’ve done my best to keep in touch via email and occasional Skype sessions but it’s definitely something I need to work on for 2011. I miss them and no matter how cool and nice and even brilliant the people I meet here in Chile are, I miss my peeps in CA and NYC (not that you guys aren’t cool, nice and brilliant either. Just making that clear.)

2011, you’re less than five hours away. Where did the time go? 2010, how could I have done, experienced and seen SO MUCH in a mere 12 months? I got married, became a U.S. Citizen, started and finished my first year of school, got a dog, survived a major earthquake and got a job – and those are just the highlights!

What then, I ask you, is on tap for 2011, yo? Whatever it is, I only have one request – just one. It might seem extreme, negative, pessimistic and dramatic as it’s the reason behind why I welcome each new year with a sense of anxiety and apprehension. But after 2005, the year when my grandfather, my 17 year old niece and Pope John Paul II all died within three months of each other, all I ever ask of any year is this: please don’t let anyone die.

On that note, I wish you all the THE VERY BEST for the coming year.

...and may the Force always be with you, yo (as well as the wine.)
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White Force, please don’t organize

Something is seriously wrong with Colo Colo fans.

I say this while also adding the disclaimer that my husband and his ENTIRE family are Colo Colo fans.

Colo Colo is a Chilean soccer team; highly favored, winner of a record number of national titles and, in short, is considered by most of the international clubs to be the best Chilean soccer team, period.

Colo Colo is the people’s team. Their most die-hard fans are called the “Garra Blanca” or “White Force” and though this may sound all great and supportive, the fact is that they’re scary. I’ve decided that they are the scariest organized group in Chile. In fact, if they had some inkling as to business, I guarantee they could easily become rulers of the underworld here, probably becoming more powerful than President Piñera himself. Personally, I’m thanking my lucky stars they haven’t yet organized themselves to this extent yet.

Why do I feel this way?

Well because earlier this month I accompanied my husband to my first Colo Colo game ever. Apparently it was some deciding game that may have meant something if another soccer team, La Catolica, would have just lost their game against another team. They didn’t, so even though Colo Colo won their game 4-2, the fact of the soccer matter is that the win meant nothing.

Stadium prior to start of game

This is a picture of the stadium prior to the start of the game. See, I should have known this was going to get ugly when G pointed out that the competing team’s area was way across the field from the “Garra Blanca” and on top of that, enclosed for their safety. Notice that detail above, directly under the billboard advertisement for Cristal beer?

 

G and me hanging out at the game, happy and smiles.

Things got ugly, real fast.

First this ...

Are those flares being waved around by soccer fans? Yes, sweet pea, those are flares. Apparently this is somewhat “normal” for Colo-Colo fans. What, with mere cheering being such child’s play and all. Once I got a gander at those puppies, I was convinced that Colo Colo was the best soccer team in the WORLD. This here is some good PR ya’ll.

Then the above escalated to this...

At this point I’m beginning to freak out. Where are the police? And when things like this happen, all I can think is, WHAT KIND  OF PEOPLE ARE OK WITH THIS?? Who’s idea is this and why is this even allowed??

Ta da! Colo Colo fans as they are, in all their "glory."

It’s not allowed, actually. The police finally did make their way to those bleachers, like Storm Troopers in Star Wars. And in a similar fashion they were dumb and useless. Meaning that, from where I was sitting, it seemed that the fans had the upper hand the entire time. I say this only because what started out with one flare, exploded into many flares and chaos ensued. And also because the police ended up retreating. One second we were sitting in our section, watching the chaos across the way, the next second G was leading me down the stairs and our entire section of the stadium was running out and towards their cars. Literally from one second to the next.

I really had to go to the bathroom right before G decided we needed to run for our lives. I asked if I could go, not knowing that it was the silliest, most insane question I could have possibly asked at that moment. How was I supposed to know? He kept telling me nothing was wrong and that we were leaving because the game was over (despite the fact that I didn’t recall that the game stopped at any point before we ran off)!

Lies!! All lies!!!

In conclusion, I hear that soccer fans all over the world are crazy and totally inappropriate and that it’s not just the seemingly dangerous Colo Colo fans. Since this dreadful game, I’ve heard stories that in Italy (or Germany or something) fans have actually been trampled on and killed by other fans. I hear that Argentinean soccer fans are just as intense – and yes – just as scary.

Call me crazy but fearing for my life at an athletic competition is not my idea of a good time. Hence, my ultimate decision to never again step foot in another soccer stadium, let alone, a soccer stadium located anywhere outside the boundaries of the good ol’ US of A. No sir, I’ll just stick with the snoozeville of baseball games which, as far as I know, seem to be a whole lot mellower.

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Strange things are afoot at Dario Urzua*

Holy son of a motherless goat.

I just had the weirdest experience with the world outside of my apartment.

When I stepped into the elevator to take Obi outside for his evening stroll, I found this flier taped to the elevator wall:


It’s a call to prayer to the entire “community” (i.e. building) in honor of the “Month of Mary.” Said call to prayer is taking place ALL MONTH LONG in November, starting November 8th, Monday to Friday from 7:30 – 8:00 pm.

It was like a Twilight Zone version of the fliers one sees in college dorms. Specifically the dorm where the characters in the movie Saved! would eventually go to college. A call to prayer? All month long? I’m officially freaked out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not freaked out by the notion of praying during the month of Mary (though I AM confused because as a former Catholic school student, I’m pretty sure the month of Mary is in May, not November.) What bothers me most about this is the invasion! In fact, I immediately got off the elevator and demanded to the front desk person “What if I’m Jewish?!” He answered that it wasn’t obligatory. Um, well then … this building has THAT going for it in that we aren’t all forced into month-long prayer with our fellow neighbors.

But seriously, if this were the U.S., this would be so unacceptable, it would border on illegal. In fact, I imagine that in the U.S. the buildings need to first reach consensus to allow such a thing to take place and furthermore, if we were going to be issuing a call to prayer during the month of Mary, we’d certainly have to organize the blowing of the shofar during Rosh Hashanah AND invite everyone to the Iftar meal when Ramadan ends.

I can’t put a finger on why I am so bothered by this but I can describe it as a feeling of invasion and it angers me that a few in the building would feel at liberty to air that in public, in the apartment building where my home is located, without so much as a single thought of concern for anyone else. Why are these few allowed to impose their will on the rest of us who live here? What if I put up fliers stating the Top 10 things that annoyed me about my neighbors each week? Am I free to do that just as they are free to put this flier in each elevator? What’s next? Will I find a rosary and a monthly Missal in my mailbox? “Oh you know, just because!”

What do you think? Am I being overly sensitive or does this reek of imposition?

Oh and the other gnarly thing I had to witness while I was outside was a taxi driver relieving himself on one of the tree trunks of our quaint tree-lined street. Sweet.

Stay classy, Santiaguinos.

[*Dario Urzua is the name of the street I live on.]
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Landing a job in Chile

We all need our lessons in humility; it’s good for the soul and puts hair on our chest. Though I’ve never been the kind of person who’s too big for her britches (in fact, I generally need a dose of self confidence more often than not) there are some aspects of my life that I tend to regard with a level of self assurance. In the past this has namely involved my career and my professional accomplishments. I generally felt secure in what I could do and what I could offer and never doubted for a minute that I could keep accomplishing one thing after another.

This outlook was immediately readjusted when I began looking for a job here in Chile in May of this year and I have since then learned a great deal about the job search process in my new home, all the while learning to reassess my strengths and weaknesses in relation to my career objectives. This year has already been chalk full of lessons in humility and picking myself back up again, rejection after rejection.

Let me rewind and clarify that during this process I’ve been fortunate enough to continue working for the company that employed me back in California, something I’ve referenced on a few occasions in this blog. I’ll always maintain that I am beyond grateful to this company for the opportunities they extended to me, including the possibility to work remotely when I moved to a foreign land (i.e. Chile) so that I could marry and be with the love of my life. I’m sure this sentiment of gratitude will not waver. What unfortunately did waver back in May was my sense of stability when, due to the economic downturn and other reasons I’m sure I’m not familiar with, the company I work for downsized. Suddenly I was in the dark and had no idea if I had a job, who was left at the company or even who would be my new boss (sadly, my former boss was let go.) Ultimately following the massive changes that took place, a level of normalcy was once again reached and I learned that I indeed continued to have a job, (thank God). However that feeling of uncertainty didn’t waver. In fact it began to consume me – how much longer would I have a job? What if the business in Latin America doesn’t grow? What if this market becomes completely incapable of generating income? What if they move the management of the territories in-house? In plain English I realized just how fragile my situation was and though I had years of experience working with the Latin American teams, I realized that in the blink of an eye, anything and everything could change, JUST AS IT HAD FOR MY COWORKERS WHO WERE NO LONGER THERE.

There is no sure-fire way to guarantee job security. G and I discussed that his situation was just as fragile as anyone else’s and he’s fortunate enough to head a department at his company. True, no matter the situation, I could never be guaranteed a job for an unlimited amount of time. However, I rationalized that I could help the cause by securing a job here in Chile. That way, should the worst case scenario someday catch up with me (i.e. unemployment) I would at least have Chilean work experience under my belt. So it was decided and the Chilean job search began.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to face when looking for a job here in Chile.

I’ve used this anecdote on various occasions when describing the general process here in Chile. Take, for example, a fruit stand in search for a tomato seller (yes, someone who sells tomatoes.) The fruit stand will post an ad that specifically asks for candidates with tomato selling experience. They will ask that this candidate have a degree in Botany, specifically with emphasis in Pomology. They will stress the importance of having graduated from X, Y or Z university and they will punctuate their need for someone with experience selling in fruit stands. As a candidate, you will be overlooked if you don’t have experience with tomatoes. Yes, you may have experience with lettuce but hello moron – a lettuce is NOT a tomato! And forget about applying with experience in bananas – banana’s aren’t even ROUND! How could the two possibly translate? How could you know ANYTHING about selling round products when your bag of tricks only contains banana experience? You also need not apply if you happen to fill the tomato selling requirement but have only done so in supermarkets. What part of fruit stand did you NOT understand? Oh you have a degree in Pedology? Yeah, that won’t do.

[I have a real life example to offer you in lieu of this fictional anecdote: G and I were passing by a Chinese restaurant the other day and outside, there were various “wanted” posts offering employment with the said restaurant. One of the posts read “Looking for a server with experience waiting tables. Must have experience in Chinese restaurants.” Chinese restaurant. Not Italian, not French, not Japanese. Chinese. Otherwise, move along.]

Once you are able to find something that somewhat fits your work experience (tomatoes!!) and education, the next step involves the Headhunter. This is the team (or person) that places the ad for the company and proceeds to do the narrowing down of candidates. Narrowing down means calling you in (once your resume and experience has been screened, of course) and asking you the typical questions one expects of a job interview. The frustrating part is that the Headhunter doesn’t work at the company you’re applying with and usually has a very top-line idea of what the position involves and demands. Further, many times the Headhunter won’t even tell you what company you’re being reviewed for until your 2nd meeting with them. It’s happened to me on various occasions that I’ve gone in, met with the Headhunter, didn’t satisfy and to this day I have no idea who the companies were that were looking to hire! In the off chance that you pass the Headhunters screening and you make it to the actual company for interviews, expect a series of interviews (something like 2-4). Also expect, in many cases, having to prepare a case study related to the position you’re applying for (as was my case with the searches I was involved in.) One thing is certain: of all the resumes the Headhunter receives for any particular opening, in general, only 3 candidates pass on to the company itself for further interviewing. So if you make it to that, congrats! You at least beat out a plethora of candidates before you! Note that if you’re a woman, you’ll most likely the ONLY woman passing on to the next level. Rarely have I found myself in the top 3 with another female.

During the interviews, they want to know everything – literally EVERYTHING – about what you did, what you’ve done, what you want to do and how you do it. They want to know about your significant other and they want to know what you do in your free time. They want to know where you see yourself in five years and they want to know what your supervisor would say about you and your working style. They want you to take them through your typical day at work and they want to hear about a time when you faced confrontation and how you approached it. In my case they’ve wanted to know how I would feel working with a team, outside my home, adhering to “office hours.” They also wanted to be sure that I was here to stay and not about to hop a plane back to CA at the drop of a hat. And finally, one of the most shocking things they want to know about you as a woman is if you’re thinking of popping out any kids some time soon … if so, that could immediately disqualify you as a potential candidate.

Somewhere along the lines, either before making it to the company itself for interviews or shortly thereafter, comes the biggest twist of all when it comes to interviewing for jobs here: the psychological assessment. Otherwise known as the “B*tch-better-not-be-crazy” test. I’ve been scrutinized, analyzed and prodded with inkblots (“tell me what you see here, first thing that comes to mind”); color selection (“of these eight options what’s your favorite color? Next favorite? After that? Next favorite? What’s your least favorite?”); drawings (“draw a picture of a person in the rain”); handwriting analysis (“write a letter about anything you want”) and finally, S.A.T. style logic tests that serve to give an indication of your math and problem-solving skills. Needless to say, in the last six months I’ve become a guru of psychological tests.

The verdict is still out on whether or not I’m crazy. However, I’m happy to share that despite the difficult selection process, the daunting psychological exams, the torturous waiting game and the devastation of defeat, I’ve finally landed a job here in Chile – after six months of searching. It’s actually more than a job – it’s definitely a career builder and an important stepping stone to whatever lies ahead for me professionally.

I’ve never been through so many series of frustrating events in my life. I’ve never worked so hard to make something happen for myself and I’ve never learned more about adaptation than I have with the experiences of the last few months. I’ve learned humility and patience as well. It took me SIX MONTHS to find something, with a few near hits along the way that ultimately didn’t pan out. I had to learn how things are done in this system and I had to mold myself to fit into their processes. After all, I’m looking for a job in their market – who am I to parade around thinking that just because I’m American they should be chomping at the bits to hire me? The fact is that they aren’t chomping at the bits to hire me just because I speak fluent English. Chileans are better prepared in universities than we are back home and if you add post-graduation work experience to that, they are BY FAR better candidates than many of us out there. Of course circumstances vary. One could be a recent college graduate, looking for an entry level position and entry level pay and that person may very well have a much easier time than I did. If that’s the case for anyone, awesome!

Ultimately though I think that this experience taught me to truly define what it is I wanted to do with myself professionally, where I want to be now and where I want to be 5, 10 or 15 years from now. It also made me slow down and truly think about the kinds of companies I’d be best suited to work for. Where would I excel and where would my skill set be most valued? I think the wait was worth it because I learned a LOT. I’m excited about this new career opportunity, the company itself, my future role in the company and the compensation offered. Yeah I’ve been dragged through the mud in this process but then again, keeping my eyes on the prize turned out to be the best strategy I could have possibly adopted.

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2010, all eyes on Chile

When I lived back home, I don’t recall Chile ever being in the news (more so, editorials regarding wine and travel).

Yet in the span of one year – even less, really – Chile has been in the news twice: both reasons due to major events that catapulted us to the forefront of world news and updates.

An 8.8 earthquake and now the unprecedented rescue of 33 miners who have been trapped below ground since early August. With these two events, Chile has shown the world its strength, its integrity, its ingenuity and its perseverance.

From the bottom up, in both cases.

But this brief blog is to say, hello there Florencio. We’re happy to see you up top and we look forward to seeing all your fellow miners here soon as well. Thank you Chile. Thank you God. Thank you Minister of Mining, Laurence Golborne. Thank you U.S. for the help and equipment you provided from Day 1.

You all brought tears to my eyes tonight, one amazing and unprecedented image after another.
Who’s just as proud to be Chilean as she is to be American?

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