How I went from running a coworking space in Mexico to getting my first remote marketing job in English
Fun fact about me: I learned the colors, shapes, numbers, to sum and rest, and basic things in life in English, which wasn’t my mother tongue. My mother tongue is Spanish, by the way. (También escribo en español a veces).
I started speaking English when I was 4 years old. Do the Math, it’s been 28 years since that. I learned to read in English before I read something in Spanish. I can perfectly express anything in English, I might make mistakes, of course, but I do those in Spanish too haha.
And then, for 25 years, I didn’t think about the possibility of using my English to get a job overseas. I graduated, started working, and learned a lot. But always in Spanish.
Then, something switched in my mind.
While running a coworking space, I noticed there were a lot of people that were working remotely, and that moved from place to place while keeping their job.
This was 4 years ago when remote working wasn’t that “common.” And if you’re wondering, we didn’t even think about remote workers when we opened the coworking space. We were super naive.
So I started thinking about it. Maybe I could do it, too!
First, my English is pretty decent. Second, I could use it to get a remote marketing part-time job or freelance gig. Third, getting paid in dollars (or a foreign currency) would really make a difference in my life and I could get rid of terrible freelance gigs (not being ungrateful but really some clients are very difficult). Fourth, I could charge less for my services or apply to lower-paying jobs just because living in Mexico is cheaper than many other places where companies were hiring (I have mixed thoughts about that now, but that’s another topic). Fifth, I could use that money to survive (!) and to invest more in the coworking space.
My first problem was that I didn’t know where to start looking for remote marketing jobs. I googled a lot and I made a list of websites where I could frequently check if there was a new job opening.
Another thing I had to go through was knowing what kind of jobs matched my skills. I had always been a generalist and, in many cases, I noticed companies were looking for people with very specific abilities… or with a crazy amount of abilities.
This was also an opportunity for me to really think through what I was looking for and to reassess my skills and abilities.
One day I read that women are less likely to apply for jobs where they don’t have ALL the credentials while men are always confident enough to do that even if they just know one or two things on the list.
I hate that.
Back to the story.
I decided to go for content creation positions. I’d always loved creating content, and more specifically, I loved writing.
Now, it’s one thing to write in Spanish and a completely different to do so in English. OF COURSEEEEE! But at the moment, I was so inexperienced, I was like YEAH, OF COURSE, I CAN DO THIS, HIRE ME NOW.
In retrospect, this is what made it the most difficult to land a job.
Almost every skill can be translated from Spanish to English but writing in English, well, I really had to be good at it to apply for those content marketing positions.
Once I figured out where to look for opportunities, and which were the job openings I cared about, I had to learn how to apply for them.
I had always worked as a freelancer or ran my own company. I had never applied for any job in my life. I didn’t have a CV. I didn’t know how cover letters worked (I’m still not sure, tbh). I didn’t have a portfolio. I wasn’t thinking about a “personal brand” or what I even had to do to prove I was qualified for the jobs I wanted to apply to.
It’s a bit cringy to think now about the applications I sent at that time. I hope those people have already forgotten about me. 😂
That was another hoop to jump.
I prepared my CV and portfolio with things I had already made, wrote cover letters that took me hours (hoping that they could explain why I was applying to jobs in English with a portfolio in Spanish), sent mails, applied to some positions. And nobody replied.
I mean. NOBODY.
Not even a nothankyougoodlucknexttime.
It was super hard for my overachiever personality.
I was coming from a place of “success.” In Mexico, I already had some frequent clients. I was running successful workshops. I had a kinda thriving coworking space.
And yet, nobody was interested in even interviewing me.
Big lesson of humility right there.
How could I prove I could be as good in English as in Spanish when I had never done it in the first place? How could people trust I could get them results in a language I had never used in a professional environment? And more importantly, WAS I GOOD ENOUGH? #ImpostorSyndrome
Looking back, I can’t believe how stupid I was to think that people would just trust me because I said I could do something.
I decided to create some content in English, which is something I should’ve done from the beginning, of course. I revamped my CV (for the 100th time), and I updated my portfolio with my new content in English.
And the applications started again.
This time, at least I got some replies. They were all negative, but at least something was happening.
And then, after being consistent with my applications, someone was interested enough to interview me.
Just having one interview took me around 4 months, if you’re wondering.
I did terribly. I was nervous. This was the first time I was being interviewed!
But something saved me.
I sent my portfolio to this person (because I had forgotten in the beginning🤦♀️), and they liked what I had written. I made them laugh, apparently.
I got the gig!
It was a startup that was building an app than then pivoted to a travel blog (?). And this was when I started building my portfolio in English with “real” work.
I worked there for around 2 years and fell in love with remote working. I closed my coworking space and then got a full-time remote job in marketing at a Dutch company.
Today, I create content in English every day. I work for a company that has a global presence and I speak, write and read in English almost 90% of the day (9% in Spanish, 1% in German-ish).
There’s no big lesson here. You just gotta be consistent.
Switching from working in your native tongue to another language, even if you’re proficient, is hard. Not only are you competing with people that are as talented as you, but you’re also competing against people that are native speakers.
Luckily, there are a lot of open-minded companies out there that think that diversity is an advantage and that, sometimes, people just need one opportunity to really show what they’re made of (and they’re almost always made of pure talent).
Being bilingual (or being fluent in more than two languages) is a BIG advantage.
I remember in that first job I got that I started translating posts to Spanish and it increased the traffic to the site in a big percentage! This was something nobody else could’ve done since I was the only Spanish speaker on the team.
Just by speaking English and Spanish, I can communicate with a ton of audiences in the world! And it’s not just about that. You have two ways of understanding people, you’re more empathetic. Normally, you adapt better, you think faster, you solve problems in better ways.
So here’s to all those bilingual marketers that have made the jump!
We’re just making the marketing world a better and more diverse place.