What happens when your desire to live in Spain drives your professional choices and career preparedness? Danny was faced with the decision of staying in a comfortable job in teaching, or looking for work elsewhere, even if it meant a lot of legwork on his part.
Like Claire, he began taking steps towards his dream career by seeking out opportunities, which eventually led to a job in publishing. Danny now combines his love of language (and dinosaurs) with his native tongue as a textbook editor for Anaya Publishing.
Your Name: Danny Latimer
City and Comunidad: Madrid, Madrid
Job Title: Editor, Anaya Publishing
Why did you initially come to Spain?
I came to Spain from Wichita, Kansas by chance and coincidence. I have to admit that initially I didn’t know a whole lot about Spain or the amazing culture and people it had to offer. I had just finished college and was interested in learning Spanish, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea of going through a study abroad program because I had recently graduated. I was ready to start making some money and didn’t want to have to pay to learn a language – I wanted someone to pay me!
One of my best friends had a coworker (whom I later became great friends with!) who was doing the Auxiliares de Conversación program. We got in contact, and after hearing a bit more about the program, I knew it was for me. I applied, was accepted and soon after booked a flight to Madrid. I didn’t speak Spanish when I arrived, so the entire experience has been an amazing adventure.
How did you transition into your current position?
After working as a Language Assistant for several years, the novelty of it all started wearing off, and the stressful summer months were always looming ahead. I was incessantly debating what to do: go home, try to find a summer camp gig, try and bunker down and count pennies for the summer.
I had fallen in love with this country and knew that I wanted to stay, but didn’t know how to go about finding a job outside of a teaching program. I originally studied communications and music, so I couldn’t even go through long and tedious process of homologación (validating a foreign university degree) to become a teacher.
So, I sat down and thought about what I could do and what advantages I had to offer. My Spanish had improved drastically, and I had always like reading and writing, so I decided to try my hand at editing. I looked up freelance editing jobs on the internet and worked for pennies to gain some experience. From then on I offered my services to odd jobs and companies that needed a native English speaker to help them. Slowly I acquired a random collection of articles that I had edited, written or helped create content for, and I soon started applying for anything and everything under the sun that I possibly could.
One of those positions was for a publishing house looking for a bilingual editor. They asked for years of experience that I didn’t have – but that didn’t stop me. They eventually called me up one day and asked me to come in for an interview. I must’ve somehow charmed them into liking me, because they offered me the job after several interviews.
What was the interview process like?
I’ve been on several interviews with various companies, both large and small. It’s always a bit nerve-racking. One thing that you never truly know until you get there is what language it’s going to be in. I can hold my own in a conversation in Spanish and I can clearly and professionally convey what it is I want to say in an interview in English, but I like to go in prepared. It’s a bit of a grab bag in interviews here. Sometimes they’re entirely in Spanish, sometimes entirely in English and sometimes a mix of both. I remember one company I interviewed for was in English for an hour and just as I thought it was wrapping up, had a second hour of interview left in Spanish.
Setting the language thing aside, I think that the most important thing you can do in an interview is be confident and do your research! So many people go into interviews blindly and don’t research the company beforehand. Always prepare several questions to ask the interviewer instead of sitting there like a bump on a log and shrugging your shoulders when they ask if you have any questions. If you can sprinkle in a few facts about the company that you’ve researched – even better! The person interviewing you doesn’t know you and you’re just a name on a list, you need to stand out and make them remember you. Go in there with confidence acting like the job was made for you – sell yourself!
How are you legally working in Spain?
I think the majority of Americans living and working here legally have either traced their ancestry back to a European country and gotten a passport or have done a pareja de hecho. I did the latter.
How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?
One of the things that I enjoy about my company is that it is completely crazy and chaotic at times…but in a really good way. We don’t have to dress in suits and ties or work in a stuffy cubicle filled environment. The head bosses mix with the rest of us and we’re all in it to achieve a common goal. When it’s time to get something done, my boss and I roll up our sleeves and get what needs to be done accomplished. The pay definitely isn’t as good as in the US, but I enjoy the perks of working for a Spanish company. We leave early every Friday, we have shorter summer hours and right off the bat we have a month of vacation.
I have to say that one of the many reasons that I love Spain is because they have found an amazing balance of respecting your professional and private life. Life isn’t all about money, it’s to be lived and enjoyed.
What has been the hardest part of working or starting your own business in Spain?
I think after you get over the initial problem of getting your paperwork in order, the hardest part is getting the interview. My advice for anyone searching for a job here is to apply for anything and everything you possibly can, regardless of your experience.
Don’t just look on job site search engines either: figure out what it is that you want to do and look for the companies that do that here in Spain. Always send your resume directly to the HR representative there with a personalized message and cover letter.
Any advice for non-EU citizens seeking a job outside of teaching?
One important thing is to put yourself out there and work odd jobs in the field that you want to get into. It’s all about networking. A lot of people here discourage doing internships or volunteering, but I disagree whole-heartedly. Do them and get the experience – don’t be exploited, but know that even the majority of internships in the states aren’t paid either. They’re meant to gain experience and to get to know people.
Also, try to meet a native English speaker working in the field that you want to get into. I’ve realized that the editing world is quite small and that eventually everybody gets to knows everybody. If you have a contact and have done the groundwork – that will definitely help you get an interview.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?
That my friends…is the million dollar question. What do I want to be when I grow up?! What am I going to do with my life?! Does any of us really know the answer to this question? I think I’m going to quit life and either become an astronaut or a paleontologist. I love outer space and dinosaurs, so those both seem like valid choices…
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 freelance linguistic consultant! If you fit the bill and would like to be featured, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org