Experience in other sectors and networking with professionals helped German native Susan Akici land her current job in digital marketing at a start-up. She cites strong Spanish skills and flexibility as must-have traits when tackling the job market and Spain’s work culture:
Name: Susan Akici
City and Comunidad: Madrid
Job Title: Co-founder and Head of Operations at iKreate
Why did you initially come to Spain?
To learn Spanish. I wanted to stay for only one year but left after three years, came back, left again and now I’ve been back again since October 2013.
How did you transition into your current position?
Two friends had the idea to start an online advertising agency and they asked me to join the project.
My first job in Spain was in an export company. I had no experience in this industry but speaking English and German helped me to get the job. I worked for a construction / real estate company later and then spent 10 years in Telecom in Marketing and Business Management in different European markets before joining iKreate.
What was the interview process like?
There was no interview.
How are you legally working in Spain?
I’m German and I do not need any special work or residence permit as a European citizen.
How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?
Spain is very different to Germany. Working hours are so much longer in Spain; the salaries are lower than in Germany but you work more hours. And things are much less organized, meetings start late or are cancelled last minute. Additionally, personal relationships are more important in Spain.
In general, it’s a bit more chaotic here but also people are more flexible and creative in finding solutions for any kind of problem.
What has been the hardest part of working or starting your own business in Spain?
Bureaucracy has been the biggest hurdle. There is so much paperwork when you want to start your own business: you have to sign up as autónomo, meaning freelancer, and there is a monthly cost from day 1 when you start your own business. I highly recommend working with a gestor, a Spanish tax consultant, from the beginning to avoid any kind of problems.
Any advice for non-EU citizens seeking a job outside of teaching?
You have to be able to speak and write in Spanish. I remember my first job interviews, I didn’t speak Spanish very well, didn’t understand most of the questions and I never got a yes until I really focused on learning the language.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?
Friends are asking me if I will stay “for good” this time, but that seems to be a long time. For now I´m very happy and the company keeps me busy – every day is exciting, and I’m learning something new all the time. But you never know…
Stay tuned as we feature more expats who have made a successful transition from teacher to trabajador, or check out profiles from past participants. If you fit the bill and would like to be featured, drop us a line at email@example.com