Sometimes finding a satisfying career in Spain can feel like being trapped in the Goldilocks story – some jobs are too many hours, others feature pay that will leave you strapped mid-month. But when you find one that’s just right (plus flexible timetables!), you’ve hit your sweet spot.
Louise found a perfect in Madrid as a community manager and online writer, and shares her story here:
Your Name: Louise Feaheny
City and Comunidad: Madrid
Job Title: Helpdesk Consultant for SMTP2GO / Writer and Community Manager for Moving2Madrid
Why did you initially come to Spain?
I had previously spent a year studying abroad in Madrid and wasn’t crazy about living here. I went back to Ireland, finished university, got a great job… But I wasn’t happy. One day I just decided, “Screw it, let’s give it another go!” and my boyfriend and I packed up whatever we had and moved back to Madrid with our cat. I had spent a few years studying Spanish and since I already knew the city, it just made perfect sense.
How did you transition into your current position?
When I arrived, I started working as an Auxiliar de Conversación. In Ireland I had done an International BA Degree in Media Studies, Spanish and English, so I was eager to find work in that field. I had Social Media Marketing and Journalistic experience from Ireland too, so as the end of the teaching year approached, I started looking for other jobs.
Within a few weeks I was offered a part-time position in a Digital Marketing agency. I was juggling teaching, this position and also private classes, on top of about 2.5 hours traveling every day. The pay wasn’t great and I wasn’t feeling challenged, so I started looking again.
I then found a more creative position with a huge international client, in a Digital Marketing Consultancy Firm. At the beginning, I loved it. The pay was better (not great, but better) and the office was the best in Madrid! I could even bring my dog to work! However, the ridiculously long hours and often lack of weekends started to take their toll and I realised how unhappy the work was making me. Work had become my life butI wanted more.
Eventually I was offered a position, working from home as a Helpdesk Consultant for SMTP2GO, which is an outgoing email service provider based in New Zealand. The pay is great, I get to work from home and choose my own hours, I enjoy it and I have wonderful colleagues, even though we’ve never met face-to-face since we’re based all over the world.
I have also recently started for Moving2Madrid and Guiripreneurs as a writer and Community Manager. Again, I’m part of a great team and it’s a position that allows me to have a life outside work.
What was the interview process like?
For the SMTP2GO job, I applied through InfoJobs, and then had a Skype interview a few days later. For Moving2Madrid, I spoke to Pierre on the Facebook group for Guiripreneurs, we discussed writing over lunch, I wrote a few test pieces and then gradually I began doing more work for the company.
How are you legally working in Spain?
I’m Irish so being from the EU allows me to work here without any restrictions. I’m currently working as Autónoma which allows me to take on extra jobs legally too.
How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?
From my experience, I’ve found that there is a lot of procrastination in Spanish offices. The working hours are much longer because the later you stay, the more work it seems that you are doing, whereas I prefer to get all my work done during working hours, and then finish on time. Every time I left on time, even if I had started the following day’s work, I still felt guilty! The lunch breaks are longer too, and are generally taken a little later than they are in Ireland.
When I was working for Spanish companies, I was earning less than I had in my first job out of university. The cost of living is obviously less, but it was still a little strange getting paid what I was.
At the moment it is great because I’m getting a higher salary, and can also do extra work since I’m Autónoma. However, the Social Security fees, and budgeting for taxes are a nightmare. It’s really depressing seeing the Social Security fees going up after a few months.
What has been the hardest part of working in Spain?
For a while, I started believing that the only job options I’d have here would be in teaching, which is something that I loved doing anyway. But working 9 months a year just didn’t give me the security and stability that I wanted, especially when I’m trying to build a life with my fiancé here, and he’s working as a teacher, too. It took a while to become confident in interviews as I kept thinking that each position would be better suited to a bilingual Spanish person.
The Social Security costs as I mentioned before are a nightmare, but I pay a gestor each month so at least he takes care of my financial records and paperwork.
Any advice for non-EU citizens seeking a job outside of teaching?
Don’t give up! It’s really hard to get frustrated but if you persevere and sell yourself well enough, then you will find a job. Stay positive.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?
Our plans are definitely to stay in Spain long-term. In the last two years since we moved, we’ve gotten engaged (planning to get married in Spain too!), and we’ve added a second adopted cat and two adopted dogs to our family. We’re happier here than we ever were in Ireland and it really does feel like home. In the future we want kids, so raising them bilingual is something that is really important to us too.
I’ve spent the last number of months building up a group on Facebook called “Madrid Pet Lovers” and I do a lot of volunteer work with protectoras and pet owners, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for. Being in Madrid, in the job that I have, gives me the opportunity to love my life.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org