Echaves: Survival lessons

CHICAGO, Illinois--“Forget the position title you had in your home country. Otherwise, you’ll be jobless longer than you expected.”

This and many others were the survival lessons I gathered from many Pinoy friends.

They came to the US 18 years ago or later, either to follow their spouses who came ahead to work as nurses, or to simply try their luck in this so-called “land of milk and honey.”

Among the sharers of wisdom were three managers who were actually doing well here before they left. One was a construction manager at a local water district, and another was a group manager at an insurance company. Still another was an accounting

manager at a telecom company.

They talked of the hard life while starting out. The construction manager had a good life in Cebu City, but for almost two years in the US was jobless and so, willingly accepted the role reversal. He stayed home to attend the children while his nurse-wife worked in the hospital.

The two other managers came to the US just a few months apart. Without even unpacking first, they immediately went to an employment agency to find work. They were not lucky the first time around. Their bosses were involved in some irregular practices, so they requested the employment agency for change of employers.

Committed to send money back home, they sometimes worked seven days a week. When opportunities presented themselves, sometimes they moonlighted as caregivers after their day job.

True, there were times when they wondered if they had made the right decision to come to the US. They missed the relaxed life they once had. But they remembered why they came here in the first place--to be able to fully pay up the house in Cebu in a much shorter time, and/or to give their children the option to stay in the Philippines or try out the US.

Because of their work ethic and stick-to-it-iveness, these Pinoy friends are now out of the woods and are starting to lead comfortable lives. They occupy either managerial or supervisory positions in their places of employment, and their children have joined them, grown up and settled down themselves.

Understandably, they share their survival stories with pride, wearing these not just as medals of honor but as badges of courage as well. So they feel great disappointment when they hear of other Pinoys who remain jobless for a year or longer, or worse, give up and go home after just four months of hitting the road in search of a job.

u201cJobs are easy to find here,” they say in unison; “just forget the position you had in your home country.” They also believe that Pinoys, prior to sending their resumes or filling out employment application sheets, should learn to scale down their credentials.

Meaning, avoid flaunting one’s masteral or doctoral degree if the job doesn’t even need a college degree. Otherwise, one will only kick himself out of the competition.

It also pays to take stock of one’s skills, to recognize opportunities and to be brave enough to seize them. One Pinoy friend laments how an accounting graduate refused to apply for an opening here needing basic accounting. Instead she has stayed as a dishwasher in a restaurant, and keeps pining daily for a better job.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)

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