All of our Work in Spain series participants have one thing in common: they agree that connections are everything when it comes to getting a job in España. Jacqui, a Midwesterner turned sevillana, took her study abroad months seriously, working for a small international educational company and pitching them a product. They helped her obtain a work visa and develop international education programs for US teenagers.
Eight years later, she has successfully started her own business as a linguist and translator.
Your Name: Jacqueline Davis
City and Comunidad: Seville, Andalucía
Job Title: Head Linguist, JD Lingua Language Services
Why did you initially come to Spain?
I initially came to Spain to study abroad. I finished my undergraduate degrees in Marketing and International Business here and did an internship with a small company with international programs.
How did you transition into your current position?
I worked as Director of International Programs for a start-up company for about five years. I was very interested in the field, and was able to gain an incredible amount of experience at a young age. Eventually though, I decided that the position did not suit me as it entailed infinite responsibility and often left me working overtime unexpectedly. I decided to go back to school and obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and decided to start my own Language Services business.
What was the interview process like?
My first formal position developed from a series of project ideas I had during my initial internship. I was interested in running international student programs through the company I was interning for, and we decided to partner with another local company and create new projects under a new joint venture start-up. So, I never had a formal interview but rather would say that my five months of interning served as the interview process for the new position.
How are you legally working in Spain?
I obtained a Work Visa when I was offered the position of Director of the new company. It was a long and grueling process which is not easy for any company to do, let alone a small company. It took us almost two years to actually get the visa.
How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?
In my last position, I definitely earned less than I would for the same work in the States. Unfortunately, I worked at least as much. I was offered more vacation time than I would have gotten back home, but was overwhelmed with responsibilities that I wasn’t usually able to take advantage of that time.
In terms of cultural differences, I was often frustrated by co-workers not having work done on time and not always taking American regulations for the student programs seriously. In my current position, I work for myself and make my own hours, so I’m able to take advantage of my flexible schedule to travel quite a bit. Now, my job is basically the same wherever I go.
What has been the hardest part of working or starting your own business in Spain?
Spain is still much more about “Who you know” than is the States, so networking is very important.
Any advice for non-EU citizens seeking a job outside of teaching?
Get into and explore your field however you can. It will be so much easier to find opportunities once you have contacts in the industry.
Also, find out what makes you a unique candidate in your chosen field. Once you get outside of teaching English, it’s generally no longer acceptable to use “Fluent English” as your main selling point. It is certainly useful in many positions but will probably become more of a side note outside of teaching. If your Spanish isn’t amazing, work on that; a language barrier is only going to hold you back.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?
For now, my plans are to continue to grow my business and enjoy the flexibility it offers me. I do think that Spain will always be my home base!
Check out Jacqui’s webpage at www.jdlingua.com, and stay tuned as we feature more expats who have made a successful transition from teacher to trabajador, or check out profiles from past participants, one of whom started her own business, another who works remotely for a UK-based business, a start-up employee, and a textbook editor! you fit the bill and would like to be featured, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.