Recently moved to the USA
Thread poster: myst

English to Spanish
Apr 20, 2002

Dear Proz members,

I moved to the United States a few months ago for personal reasons. I have a degree in Translation and Interpretation and came here with hopes of finding a job doing the work I\'m trained in. While I know it is difficult sometimes finding work in this field, I have found it extremely difficult to find work in any field I have experience in. I worked as an administrative assistant and receptionist for a few years in my native country, but since moving here have had no success finding a job. I have sent out dozens and dozens of resumes to companies, small firms, and agencies locally and received no response. I have had only two interview offers since moving here, and from the look on each interviewer\'s face it was clear to me that they had no intention of hiring me despite having more than enough background to qualify me for the job. While both commented multiple times on my \"home land\" and had questions regarding such, neither seemed interested in my qualifications for the job. Both interviews ended without one mention of my degree or qualifications. \"We\'ll call you.\" Neither did. My level of English is excellent, although I do have an accent. I have the feeling that I am being discriminated against on account of being from a Spanish-speaking country. I have no proof of this, but it\'s quite obvious from my experience that this is the case. I am a permanent legal resident of the U.S. I\'d like to know if others who have emigrated from other countries have experienced a similar situation as I have. I am extremely qualified for the positions I am applying for, and I can think of no other basis for discrimination other than my ethnicity. I live in California, where mixed culture is quite common. If things are going to continue to be this way, I may look for a new place to live. Please let me know if you have had similar experiences. If you have advice on how to deal with this problem, please respond to my post.


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 06:44
German to English
+ ...
It seems to be a common problem :-( Apr 22, 2002

I don\'t know much about the situation in the US, but in Canada, newcomers face all kinds of barriers. I have heard so many horror stories, it could make you throw up.

We have this \"lovely\" points system: you need to score at least 75 points (I think) across various categories (age, education, proficiency in the official languages, profession, etc.) just to be called back for an initial interview.

When you look at the list of jobs our country is looking for, you\'d think that, if you are an engineer (one of the top-scoring professions), for example, you won\'t have any problems getting into Canada - and you\'ll probably get your visa. But once you are here, you find out that, even though they granted you an immigration visa, you won\'t be able to work as an engineer - unless you go back to school and complete the entire program all over again (depending on the university, and given the recent hikes in tuition fees, this could cost them several thousand dollars a year). So, many of the engineers, university professors, doctors, dentists, etc. end up driving taxis or running coffee shops. At the same time, our government is complaining about the \"brain drain\", while so many \"brains\" are sitting around, not being able to do the things they\'re really good at.

When somebody asks me about immigration to Canada (and I suppose it\'s pretty similar for the US), I now tend to tell them to forget about it unless they have a firm job offer. Otherwise, chances are, they\'ll be pouring coffees for the next 20 years.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:44
German to English
+ ...
Overqualified? Apr 22, 2002

Hi Myst,

I definitely believe that descrimination exists. However, I can think of two other possibilities in your case. For one, you said that you have a T&I degree - what level of position are you applying for? If you have an MA (equivalent) and are applying for an administrative assistant position, for example, some people might consider you \"overqualified,\" i.e. think that you will get bored in a position that might not be challenging and move on when something better comes along OR that you will ask for too much money.

The other thing I thought of was simply the state of the economy (at least here in the Midwest!) I personally know several people that have been laid off in recent months. One friend said that her company was hiring a receptionist and got inundated with hundreds of resumes, a lot of which were from people who obviously had more highly paid positions before. After that position is filled, they will only hire from within the company for a while until things improve. It is somewhat difficult to get a job right now in any case.

The last thing that I would mention - have you had your resume and cover letter looked over by a native US English speaker? I don\'t know where you\'re from, but in some countries the resume format differs quite a bit from ours - here the paper and certificates aren\'t as important as \"selling yourself\" and convincing the company that you can do the job.

Good luck to you!


PS I would make sure they know that you are a permanent resident - that means you have a green card, right? If companies have to work out visas they might be less likely to hire you, but if they know that\'s not a problem, maybe it will be easier.

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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:44
French to English
Start freelancing... Apr 22, 2002

Dear myst,

I\'m sorry to hear about your experience so far in the States. My advice would be to get into freelance translation and interpreting. It would take time to build up a client base, but it would pay off in the end. You\'d be your own boss and wouldn\'t have to worry about being discriminated against!

To start off as a freelancer, you need: an up-to-date computer, fax machine (or some way of receiving faxes through the computer), e-mail address (no \"free\" addresses like hotmail or yahoo), a brief resume (in all of your working languages) outlining your source and target languages, experience, qualifications, areas of specialization, software (not to mention your full contact information) and samples of your work.

I\'m not sure what the market is like in California, but you could start offering your services locally (hospitals, courts, police, translation agencies). Join various translation/interpreting discussion groups and forums and try to establish contacts with other English-Spanish translators and interpreters. Join the California translation/interpreting association.

It might be a slow start, but once you build up a client base and provide good work, things should be fine.

Good luck!


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