CEO and Founder of Systems For All MX
This week, we spoke to Verónica, a Venezuelan living and working in México. She has been facing several challenges when paving her career path in the migration field, but decided to turn her attention to helping others on their career paths. She founded a Latinx freelance agency that helps young migrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other disadvantaged groups connect with global job opportunities.
Verónica is Venezuelan, and has just recently turned 26. She studied Migration Studies at Universidad Iberoamericana de la Ciudad de México, and currently works with entrepreneurs, providing operational and administrative support. She is currently building her own Latinx Freelance Agency that operates as a bridge between global remote job opportunities and Latinx young talent. The objective is to close the gap in unemployment among young people, migrants, women, the LGBTQ+ community, etc. The agency recruits potential and top Latinx talent, provides training in soft and hard skills that are considered required in remote and digital work, and places the talent within global job opportunities.
She has a very flexible working schedule, usually dedicating an hour or two to her morning routine, and then starting with work for her agency or other personal projects. Sometimes that means reading, researching, or studying any topic of interest. She usually works between noon and 6pm. In the evening, she usually dedicates some time to working on her volunteer projects, and taking some extracurricular classes, such as French.
Besides her work, she keeps her passion for migration alive by volunteering at the Clinica Jurídica para Refugiados Aleide Foppa, a school initiative to provide legal advice and support for refugees and asylum seekers in México. She is also the ambassador coordinator for Venezolanas Globales, a global platform for Venezuelan migrant women. Last but not least, she joined the UN's Migration Youth and Children Platform as Focal Point for Mexico and Venezuelan Diaspora.
She gives a disclaimer, however:
“Those are not paid jobs. However, I enjoy learning from the experience, developing networks, and most importantly, giving my knowledge and expertise to the global cause I fight for, migrant and refugee's rights.”
She nevertheless likes what she does, and envisions a day when her business grows and is operating independently, so she can have more time to dedicate it to research and/or creating her own immigration law firm with its own foundation to support migrants, or joining another organisation.
Verónica says that her current job does not relate directly to what she envisioned she would be doing after her studies. She would have expected to work with the UN, specifically with the UNHCR, or working in academia.
“However, since I do have my own freedom and capability of decision, I decided to create something that could share some of what I have and what I am with others, especially young migrants. I don't lose faith that one day I will be in the position to do something with the expertise and knowledge I have gathered after 3+ years of studying and volunteering for the migration and refugees cause.“
She has worked remotely for six years already, and as a remote worker, she can be stationed wherever she wants - as much as her Venezuelan passport allows her, she says. She decided to stay in México, as she attended her master programme there, and because there is quite a big pool of opportunities to contribute in the migration field. She does hope that one day she will be able to move to Venezuela again, and contribute from there.
Obstacles in the job market
Verónica says that it has been quite difficult to find a job in the migration sector, and that she in fact has not found anything she would get paid for sharing her knowledge in the migration field. She found that many of the positions she found and applied for present at least one of the following obstacles: she wouldn’t get hired now as she has the work permit in Mexico where she currently lives; jobs require several years of experience that she lacks; either the job description is not interesting for her or she feels like her skills and knowledge are not a good fit for it; salary is not enough.
“And truth be said, as a migrant woman, without economic family support, debts, and a minimum living conditions to maintain, I can't afford to have a minimum salary when I know I can get paid more in other job fields.”
After she graduated, she took some time to rethink what she wanted - was it academia, was it activism, was it something else. She said this gave her some time for self-love and aligning her life. After that, she started her venture, continued studying, and made sure she did not lose opportunities that she could pursue.
Verónica says she experienced several difficulties when searching for a job. Besides obstacles in economic, social, and also mental sense, she strongly felt the lack of support and experience that her academic path gave her. As her studies in Venezuela did not require her to write a thesis, she feels like she does not have enough experience knowledge-wise. She also found that there is a severe lack of support from her academic community in general that would help graduates on their career path.
She still feels like she did not overcome these circumstances entirely. She has been tackling them by going to therapy, putting in double effort when studying while also being a part-time worker, being proactive as a student, and investing in broadening her knowledge. She also had to make some difficult decisions, such as changing her thesis advisor, and deciding to start from scratch on her own research.
To enhance your chances when entering the job market, Verónica advises you to get good mentorship, and take advantage of the academic setting:
“I definitely would say find yourself a good advisor. This person is the one that will not only teach you the best but to encourage you and support you on how to get new opportunities. In addition, do a constant opportunity search. Write and publish those papers. Don't underestimate your knowledge and contribution.”
Verónica would like to see a more collaborative and supportive community in the migration field in general. She would also like to see more attention being given to training young people in skills that will help them apply and get a job, even if they have no connections in the field, and friends or direct references within organisations or companies.
Her final tip:
“Really, follow your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you what you can or can't do. Believe me, you will find a way, you will create your own opportunities if no one gives you one.”