Friday, May 14, 2010

Tips from a US immigrant

 Dear insansapinas,

Kahit graduate ka sa Ateneo o sa UP, hindi guarantee para makakuha ka ng magandang trabaho sa US.

Ito ay kinopya ko sa Manila Standard para maishare ko sa mga nagbabasa. Sa susunod na kabanata, aheste, ikukuwento ko naman ang kahindik-hindik kong pakikipagsapalaran sa pag-aapply ng trabaho.

Job survival tips for Filipinos in America
I was so naïve. I thought I had completely aced my first job interview in the United States. With just a few credits shy of a master’s degree from the University of the Philippines, almost 20 years of in-flight service with Philippine Airlines, and my exclusive convent school English from the College of the Holy Spirit, I walked into that first job interview with the confident smile of a shoo-in candidate. The job after all, was nothing more than an entry-level position for a small firm. They were lucky to have someone of my qualifications apply for the job. My confidence seemed to be justified. The interviewers were pleasant and nodded encouragingly as I answered their questions. They thanked me most sincerely and promised to call in just a few days. I left the interview pumping my right arm in victory, high-fiving my grinning reflection in the restroom mirror. Immigrating to the States had been the right decision, after all. A couple of months settling in and here I was, ready to conquer the US corporate world. Piece of cake.
I spent the following week waiting for the phone to ring. The next week, I did the same. Could they have lost my contact information? I called. I left messages. Neither one of the friendly managers who had interviewed me was available. They seemed to be in meetings all the time. Then I received the letter. They were very impressed with my qualifications but had decided to offer the position to someone else who was a “better fit for the organization.”
Undeterred, I continued with my job search. I got interviewed by amazingly cordial people but invariably received almost exact facsimiles of the “thanks but no thanks/you’re great and wonderful and your qualifications are through the roof but…” They drove me nuts. I grew nostalgic for the less tactful, often dismissive way applicants are treated in the Philippines. Back there, I always knew where I stood after a job interview. They either liked me or not. No false smiles or feigned interest.
Fast forward to 2010. I’ve been steadily employed for many years, changed jobs a number of times, and picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way. Here’s what I learned.
America is a country that takes political correctness to the extreme. Because you are a minority (your skin is brown and you speak with an accent), hiring managers will bend over backwards not to give you the appearance of discrimination or bias, for which they can be sued. (America is probably the most litigious country on the planet.) They will be exceedingly polite and friendly but they will not hire you, unless the job you are seeking involves mopping floors, taking care of the aged, dishing up burgers, or laboring in the farms east of the Cascades.
If you have dreams of climbing the US corporate ladder, you will need to take two important steps to get your foot in the proverbial door. First step, enroll in one of the colleges or vocational schools in your area. A two-year associate degree from Tacoma Community College or a certificate of completion from Gene Juarez Beauty School carries more weight than a doctorate degree from an unknown university from a foreign country that most prospective US employers have never heard of. It doesn’t matter that it’s the premier higher education institution in your part of the world. They don’t know it, therefore; they don’t trust it.
Second, find a volunteer position where you can gain local work experience. Your goal is to soak in the culture and learn to speak the language the way the natives do. The quicker you get it, the more marketable you become. America is big on fairness and equal opportunity but when you look and sound foreign, employers will be leery about hiring you. The most critical soft attribute that human resource managers here seek is the applicant’s “suitability” for the job. Most things being equal, the individual who most closely fits the culture of the organization is the one who gets hired. If you are familiar with the way things are done here, the American work ethos, the culture, the unspoken rules, your brown skin and accent will cease to be barriers.
In fact, once you’re hired, those things that make you foreign will also be your strengths. In America’s politically correct world, members of the minority are a protected class. Unless you do something illegal or nefarious, your colleagues and bosses will treat you most cordially and very respectfully. You should be magnanimous and do the same.
Belma Villa gained these experiences in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest from 1990 to the present. She published monthly articles as a guest columnist for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington in 2003. She also wrote short stories for a weekly magazine when she was still living in the Philippines.
She is now with the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Manila Standard Today is accepting essays from Filipinos working, living or studying abroad. Contributions should be 800 to 1,000 words long and must contain information about the author including name and location.
Essays may be sent to or

pati yong imbitasyon, kinopya ko para imbitahin ang magbabasa na sumali.



Anonymous said...

yan nga mam,yan ang dahilan.
way way back,before 9/11, i had an offer to work in manhattan ny,pero i turned it down,bat ko naman
tatanggapin?e ang main
purpose at ang priority ko e kumita ng malaki and
not to be in remika,if i really want to be in remika,sana nuon pang bata pa ko dahil
lahat ng relatives namin nandun na maliliit palang kami,
and i dont have the desire to work or live in a kawntri that will treat me a second class nyeeee, anu sila hilow?e dito
around asia i will get the same salary at my tsuper pakong
napapagalitan at my mga staff akong nasisigawan pag
mainit ang ulo ko at madam parin ang tawag sakin?nyahaha
sa remika pede ba arte ko dun?
considering hi-skul lang natapos ko?baka kahit janitress e di ako makatrabaho dun,
heniwet yung offer naman sakin e to work as a reviser sa warehouse nung company (eeeeew jejeje)
together with those TNT's (yuuuuks) at walang chance na maging manager at matawag na madam(eherm) hahaha

Anonymous said...

susme,accent palang at skin colour palang yan huh,e pano na kung kagaya ko di maka inglis ng matino?
pero infurrness mam,sabi nung mga nagiinterview sakin palagi, wow your english is good, bwahaha
lalo na yung mga germans,
nek nek nila,kung sa kanila lang naman mas ok ang accent ko
yun nga lang puro accent pero ang vocabulary very limited nyahaha kaya nga dinadaan nalang sa accent tapos pag diko na alam yung sasabihin ko
sumesenyas nalang ako hahahahaha

Anonymous said...

sus,satin lang naman yang mga skul na yan sikat pero pagdating abroad malay ba nila sa ganyang mga skul para ka maging priority,
based on my own experienced,they doesnt care whether you attend lasalle,UP,or ateneo,
2 sa naging staff ko nung araw taga UP,mga wala ring laman ang ulo nasabi lang na UP, yung isa kasi librarian ang nanay nya sa UP yung isa naman electrician ang tatay,at nung akoy sa
pinas pa tsupi ako palagi pag ang kasabay kong nag aaply ay taga UP,kaya naman nung ako na my post sa company nyeyeye its payback time,puro taga UP ang hinire kot ininterview,at ang nakakagulat whew,pareho lang kami mag inglis hahaha(di naman lahat ganun,mas marami naman taga UP na mahuhusay natyempuhan kolang siguro ungas din kagaya ko hahaha)

Anonymous said...

basta pag ako ininterview, relax lang ako,saka palagi kong iniisip di ako matatanggap kaya di ako ninenerbyos at pag napapansin kong medyo di interesado sakin yung interviewer e medyo pa gago na rin ang sagot ko atleast diman ako ma hire nabanatan ko sya,kaso
kung kelan pa gago sagot ko saka naman ako nagugustuhan hahaha.

mam,thats the reason why also i never never work and im not interested to work with americans(no offense)and with american company,German company are still the best for me,the more
medyo sarcastic ang dating mo, the more my click and they
really dont care about the interview,they care more about the click,so kahit medyo mayabang o sarcastic ang dating mo
mas parang ok sa kanila,
ewan kolang sa iba pero base sa experience ko,ganyan palagi,at lahat ng nagiging boss ko nagiging kaibigan at kabarkada ko kahit pa gano sya ka bitch,at saka the more
na you make sipsip to them,the more na nate turn-off sila.

cathy said...

sa totoo lang , may working visa na ako noon, ayaw ko pang umalis.maraming reasons kaya ako umalis sa pinas pero careerwise, nasa itaas na ako, kaya ko pa namam noong pag-aralin ang mga tsikiting gubat kahit ako mag-isa.

pero talagang parang tinutulak ako dito. kinaladkad pa nga hanggang eruplano. hehehe

cathy said...

noong bago ako, hindi ako maintindihan. tama naman ang grammar ko. pero alam nila pag bagong salta ka. may accent bawat States, pag sumagot ka sa phone na walang accent, alam nila FOB ka. mali rin naman ang mga grammar nila, spoken o written.

kailangan talaga yong labi mo nagkakandangiwi pag salita. hajaja

cathy said...

ilan lang ang interviews ko diyan sa Pinas, kasi the rest, mga recommendation at invitation na ako. Naks.

tapos karamihan, practice ng profession ang sa akin. Ako ang boss.

Anonymous said...

de puger mam, pag ako pala napunta dyan at nainterview e
kahit magpa ngiwi ngiwi ako di talaga maaayos grammar ko hahahahahahahaha at baka
wala pang 1 minute nagsisimula
yung interview e sabihin na kagad sain nung interviewer "thank you thank you,well call you but pls dont leave your number,ill go to the fortune teller to ask your number" hiya tigidig tigidig.

susme sa pinas palagi nalang daw akong tatawagan,.... e dipa naman uso nun cellphone,ay uso na pala kaso isang buong backpack ang lalagyanan,e kaso di naman hiningi o tinanong manlang yung number ko,san nila ko tatawagan????
DARNAAAA, kaZooooooM!

cathy said...

ang amin namang cell phone noon pwede mong ipang hataw.

o di va ako rin nang dumating dito, hirap kung kumuha ng accent. Pinapakinig ako sa radio at manood ng TV.

Anonymous said...

eto nga masaklap mam,nung napunta ako sa south asia kami nung anak ko yung accent namin e accent ng mga bumbay pag nagiinglis, sabi nung mga pinoy na kausap e para daw akong my holen sa dila pag nagsasalita waaaa.
tapos naging concious naman ako masyado,kasi nga sagwa ng accent ng mga indian noh,hirap nga naman intindihin,bandang huli
sabi nagiging worst daw inglish at accent ko,kasi gaya nako nung mga german sa opis mag inglis pati accent waaaaah san ako lalagay?
ngayon nandito ko sa china,wag nilang sabihing ang inglis ko e chinese inglis accent? ayoooo, ofcourse not lah!

Anonymous said...

mam pag ako sinwerteng bigyan ng wish, di pera ang hihingin ko,
kasi madali ng kumita ng pera e,sabi nga ng lola ko money cant buy brain but brain can make money(pero hangang mamatay sya ala syang pera jejeje sumalangit nawa)
ang hihingin ko carbon copy ng utak mo,matagal ng yan
ang pangarap ko hahahaha
sabi nga ng lola ko kung naipapamana lang ang utak o talino,sa dami naming mga apo nya na nangangarap maging kasing talino nya(pero that time mas gusto ko pera kesa utak),sakin daw nya papamana...huh! anung ibig nyang sabihin dun?duh!

cathy said...

ganiyan din dito.

pag punta ko sa east coast dala ko ang aking calif. accent.

noon namang dinalaw ko ang kapatid ko, tinanong ako kung bakit ganoon ang accent ko.

sus ,ginoo. kahit kasi nagtatagalog, may accent pa rin.

cathy said...

ang kaibhan ko siguro sa ibang nag-aapply ay may skills ako na tamad ang mga Puting pag-aralan.

kaniya-kaniyang expertise tayo, kita mo mas nakakaadmire ka kasi magaling ka sa pinili mong trabaho at diyan ka kumikitang maraming pera.

Anonymous said...

waaaa mam, diko po pinili tong ganitong trabaho, wala lang akong choice that time at wala naman akong pinagaralan kaya di ako makapag palit hahahaha.
pero one thing ang masasabi kong advantage ko,palagi ako nakasunod sa uso hahahahahaha
wag lang yung usong mga swimwear hahahahaha.
naku mam,kung makikita mo lang chura ko,laman ako ng
zara,h&m at mango every weekend, yun lang kasing 3 na yun ang
my size ako at mura mga damit at
ang bilis nila magpalit ng designs,mango di gano magaganda kaya lang mura mga pants
and not bad,sa h&m naman maloloka ka kasi talagang napakamura at di sila nagkakahuli ng design
ng zarah altho mas mahal ang zarah compare sa h&m,palagay ko iisa ang kanilang gamit na freelancer designers at talagang
pag nasa garment industry ka nagbabantayan yan ng mga designs at gayahan lang ng gayahan.
pag naman sa LV,Gucci,Prada,Maxmara,D&G,Hermes ka napunta e susuka ako ng pyano ka mamahal e kapapanget naman ng mga designs nila (bitter,cannot afford kamo hahaha)e kahit mayaman ako,pramis diko bibili ng ganun kamamahal na hindi worth e saka bat ka bibili e napakaraming
peke dito na dimo
mahahalatang peke pala kasi talagang kamukhang kamukha pero kahit pa fake di ako nabili ng fake talaga,local brand nalang na mga xing kong kang at puxing kong mga ganung tatak bibilhin ko pero yung mga ginaya pati yung brand name?no way jose.

Anonymous said...

sabi nga dun sa isang nabasa ko sa huffington yung ang topic e... anu na nga yun, yung sabi di importante yung mataas na educ,parang ganun, nababaon lang sa utang mga studyante then after graduation jobless.
yung mga nagcocomment dun,
sabi theres nothing to do with the money daw,ang mahalaga
malawak ang kaalaman,kasi
meron dun sa post na suggestion about getting 2 yrs courses instead of 4-5 yrs courses,tapos my welder pa at mas malaki pa raw ang kita kesa dun sa mga talagang nagsunog ng kilay,my punto
naman pareho,paris nung ako din inggit dun sa mga may pinagaralan at nakakadebate at
talagang kahanga hanga ang mga inglis at talino hahahaha e ako malaki nga kita
ala namang laman ang utak hahahahahhahaha e yung mga my aral at talagang my utak,my kita na my utak pa atleast balanse diba?
hayyyy, sana maimbento
brain transplant para sa mga kagaya ko hahaha.
ang tao nga naman,walang kasiyahan hahahahaha.

cathy said...

naku lee,hindi ako naniniwalang wala kang utak. Para magsurvive ka sa ganiyangtrabaho, may utak ka nga.

huwag mong iequate ang utak sa galing magsalita at magsulat ng English. Iba naman ang kanilang expertise,

Sa akin mas mahalaga yong may common sense at may initiative na matutuhan ang pinili niyang profession.

kung lawyer ka nga at di ka nagpaparactice, mas magaling pa saiyo ang paralegal na may hands-on experience, ang problema, hindi siya makakapirma.

ang magagaling naman sa English ay pwedeng magsulat. yon naman ang advantage nila. ginagamit nila ang kanilang expertise para kumita ng pera.

talagang baon sa utang ang mga students dito kasi loan ang gamit nila.

tapos ang white collar nga, maliit ang bigay kaysa sa mga blue collar.

pero yong mga managerial level naman, mataas din angsweldo pero taon muna ang aabutin mo para magkaroon ng experensiya.

Anonymous said...

grabe, sobrang haba nung tinype kong comment nawala na lost yung connection waaaaaa