Five Tips for Finding a Job in Spain

Spain is a popular destination for both college graduates looking to travel and gain experience, and those searching for an adventure or change of pace. Many come to this country to teach English as an auxiliar de conversación (AKA a North American Language and Culture Assistant). They fall in love with the culture, the lifestyle, or simply make a life for themselves and don’t want to leave. For citizens of the EU, this process is much easier. For the rest, finding a job in order to secure a work visa can be a long and difficult process, especially post-pandemic.

There are a fair number of teaching jobs available, especially for those who are licensed teachers or have had their degrees recognized in Spain. However, finding a job in another field can be challenging. To help you with your search, here are my top five tips for landing a job in Spain.

1. Create a LinkedIn Profile 

You might not think of it, but when looking for a job in Spain, the first step is to set up a LinkedIn account. Fill in all the required fields, search for friends to connect with, and scroll through the news feed to find advice that might help further shape your profile page. The app is a great way to both advertise yourself to potential employers and to network with other working professionals.

LinkedIn is one of the primary ways that both employers and prospective employees connect in Spain, especially in big cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Make a profile that sells you and your skills. Remember, at the end of the day, LinkedIn is a social media app and you should cater your profile to capture potential employers’ attention as they’re searching for candidates.

Tip: Keep it professional! LinkedIn should not be treated as normal social media.

2. Network ‘til You Get Work

Make as many professional contacts as possible. This can be in-person or through LinkedIn. Attend social events and chat with people there to start making connections with people from different fields. These events can range from pub trivia to morning yoga in the park to art classes. Whatever your interests, be open, friendly, and make an effort to get to know at least one or two other people in attendance. On LinkedIn, an effective way to network is to send a request to connect with any and everyone in your field. This builds a web of contacts on the app which can help you to find jobs and also helps potential employers to find you. 

3. Build Your Skills and Buff Up Your CV

It’s also important to continue working on your CV and professional development while you look for a job. Hone skills that might help you. If you’re thinking about teaching, for example, consider getting some certifications. Likewise, if you’re looking into translation, consider offering your services for free, especially to local nonprofit organizations. As you continue to build your professional profile, make sure to keep your CV up to date and try to include details that set you apart from the competition.

4. Send Your CV Everywhere — and I Mean Everywhere

Send out your CV, not just to jobs that you want or jobs you think you might fit, but to any job remotely related to your field. If it looks interesting, apply. You never know where you might find an opportunity! And don’t be afraid to apply to that dream job, even if you feel like you’re not quite experienced enough. If you don’t get it the first time, you can always apply again in the future with more experience. In fact, your continued interest in the company could be a point in your favor!

Tip: Nowadays, most companies will expect to receive a CV via email rather than in-person or by mail.

5. Persistence Is Key

Most importantly, don’t give up. Be persistent and don’t get discouraged. Finding a job takes time. It’s perfectly normal to be rejected multiple times, especially if you’re looking for a company that is also willing to sponsor a work visa. Spain is one of the EU countries with the highest rate of unemployment, especially among young people, so don’t feel like a failure if you don’t find a job right away. Be patient, take it one day at a time, and keep trying!

Looking for a job in any country can be a long and arduous process, and that is especially true in a country such as Spain; with high levels of youth unemployment. However, you can get a leg up on the competition by creating a well-developed LinkedIn profile and remaining active on it. Additionally, you can use the platform to network and connect with other working professionals and potential employers. Keep building your skills and improving both your resumé and LinkedIn account. The more knowledgeable you are, the better chance you’ll have of landing that job. Above all, persist. Don’t give up, because the next job you apply for might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. 

Sarah Perkins Guebert Winning Wednesdayby Sarah Perkins Guebert

Meet Marcos González the Picture Perfect Traveler

Marcos, hospitality professional, at Gaviota State Park in CaliforniaMarcos González and I have a lot in common. We’ve made reverse journeys across the Pond. While away from our home countries, we have lost loved ones. I founded Dreams Abroad while teaching in Spain. In my latest interview, I speak with Marcos, a traveler who swapped the North Coast of Spain for the West Coast of the States.

“Come home to paradise, come to Asturias.” This is the slogan of the principality’s tourist board. A green and pleasant land, this is northwest Spain. A rugged coast and majestic mountain range crown Asturias. The fare is of the hearty variety, made to satisfy the appetites of those accustomed to working outdoors. It’s Marcos González’s native terrain and while pandemic-enforced absence makes the heart grow fonder, he has embraced a new life in California as a hospitality professional.

You come from Asturias, land of fabada asturiana and sidra. What dish or drink do you miss most from your home?”

I miss many, but mackerel is one of my favorite ones! Undeniably, I do love cabracho cake too. It’s like a paté made with rockfish and it’s delicious. I am lucky to be from a country and a location with a rich, delicious, and varied gastronomy.

If somebody is planning a Spanish road trip, what are the unmissable things to see and do in Asturias?”

First, they need to hire me as a guide… kidding! Asturias is small but you will be surprised by the number of beautiful places that we have. Definitely, Oviedo is a must. Covadonga, Llanes, Somiedo… everywhere there is something beautiful to visit, from waterfalls, lakes, castles, caves, and beaches.

How much does being based in California (where over a quarter of the population speaks Spanish as a primary language) help you with adjusting to your relocation?”

Well, it’s nice to be able to speak my language. Nonetheless, I am fluent in English, so I don’t mind speaking one or the other language. I have lived in the UK and even in Ireland before, so the language is not a problem for me. The problem is for the poor Californians who have to understand my accent!

On your Instagram page, you describe yourself as a traveler, explorer, adventurer. Where was the first place you traveled to both in and outside of Spain?”

Good question… the first time that I went out of Spain was to Ireland. I loved it. In Spain… I would say Barcelona, I think it was the first city out of Asturias that I visited as a traveler.

Which country have you enjoyed exploring the most?”

I must say that I have loved exploring all of them, but I think France is my number one! I love France. As I used to live in Andorra, I was in France all the time! 

What has been your favorite individual adventure?”

I would say my trip to Hawaii. It was somewhere that I went by myself as a traveler and I had so much fun! Visiting Hawaii was a beautiful experience full of adventure. Kauai conquered my heart!

You work in hospitality. How did your accommodation react to the pandemic?”

Now I am a food and beverage manager, but I was a hotel manager in the past. We have followed all the protocols and we have been open and busy all the time. I haven’t taken any vacations since March 2020 and it doesn’t seem that I am traveling any time soon. Despite there being a pandemic, I have been working more than ever. I just wished that certain guests could have been more understanding and easier with us. Some people have been extremely rude and aggressive toward us during all this time, forgetting that we are doing our job and putting our lives at risk.

An open road in the desert in California

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the hospitality industry?”

I love the industry. My advice is to be ambitious and enjoy what you do. You should take advantage of the industry to live in different countries as I did. 

Which one photo that you have taken do you like looking at and why?”

There is a photo with my dog in Asturias that I love. First, because I love my dog and Asturias. Second, I took it when I started getting interested in the photography world.

When will you return back to Asturias to see your family?”

I don’t have plans yet. I am vaccinated and they are too, but I think that it’s risky. With everything that has been going on, I won’t put my family at risk. I can wait until I feel it’s safe. Sometimes, deciding not to visit someone is the greatest proof of love, don’t you think so?

We want our interviews to be as comprehensive as possible. After reading them, we hope you have got to know our interviewees as well as if you were introduced to them in person. Dreams Abroad targets the aspiring globe-trotter. Working in education and hospitality are gateways to travel. You can follow in my footsteps and in Marcos’. If you want to move, we hope our articles give you a little push in the right direction.

While Marcos is committed to securing residency in the United States for work purposes, his heart remains in Spain. Marcos looks forward to the day he can fly back to Asturias to reunite with his family. In the meantime, Marcos is traveling locally around California. He particularly likes visiting beaches and national parks such as Big Sur and Bodie State Historic Park.

If this interview has sparked something deep inside, make your way over to the Resources section of Dreams Abroad. Here, you’ll be able to explore our VLOGS where a colorful collection of characters like Marcos the traveler showcase what is important to them. This is also where you will find Recommendations that reveal the sites we like to turn to and enjoy reading in our spare time.

by Leesa Truesdell

Applying for a Student Visa to Teach English in Spain

Sarah at the Jefferson Memorial while applying for her visa in SpainFor many recent US graduates looking to teach and/or travel, teaching English abroad in Spain as a language assistant is a fantastic way to gain experience, boost a resume, and see the world. There are many programs available to those who wish to teach in Spain, and all of them require obtaining a visa in order to stay in the country for more than the 90 days permitted as a tourist.  

Most teaching programs enroll their language assistants in an academic course so that they can apply for a student visa, which is much easier to obtain than a work visa in Spain. The process of securing a student visa in Spain can be overwhelming and confusing, so to help you better understand the steps, I’ll explain them here. For further information, visit the DC consulate website.

As you’re applying for your visa in Spain, keep in mind that this year some regulations have changed due to the pandemic. For example, you may only arrive in Spain fifteen days before the start date of your program when coming on a student visa. Be sure to stay up to date on these restrictions and any changes to consulate policies before starting the process.

How Do You Get A Student Visa in Spain?

So, what do you need to obtain your student visa?  First of all, the program you’re teaching with should provide a letter verifying enrollment and stating your income, proof of insurance, and the start date. This letter alone satisfies many of the requirements for the student visa and is invaluable. Be sure to make copies of it!

National Mall and Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

Next, you need either a state or FBI background check. Choose whichever you feel is easier, but start this process early! This should be your first step after you’re accepted to a teaching program. After receiving your background check, you will then need to get it certified with an Apostille of the Hague. The apostille proves that your document is legitimate in certain foreign countries (Spain is one of these). 

The background certification process is an easy but time-consuming ordeal. You will need to mail the background check to a government office in order to obtain the apostille. Where you send your document will depend on what state you live in, so you’ll need to look up the appropriate office to send it to. If you’re confused, I recommend emailing a Spanish consulate or the study abroad department at your college or university. If you studied out of state, you can contact a local college or university for help.  

Tip: When arriving in Spain, certain programs will request a notarized and apostilled diploma as proof that you have completed your studies and graduated. It may be helpful to apostille both the diploma and the background check at the same time. To notarize your diploma, simply head to your nearest library! Many libraries have a public notary that can provide this service.

Proof of Health

In addition, you’ll need a doctor’s note on their official letterhead within ninety days of your departure date stating that you’re in good health and not carrying any infectious diseases. This must be completed in your state of residence, or it will be considered invalid. Many doctors have never done this before and some do not have an official letterhead. At the very least, make sure that they include their name and address at the top of the letter. Additionally, the letter must be in both Spanish and English. This seems complicated, but your physician can simply copy the text onto their official letterhead and sign and date in both languages using an official translation service.

Facing the Embassy For Your Student Visa in Spain

You also need to print and fill out two copies of the application for a national visa in Spain. When you turn in your paperwork, you must provide copies of all the above documents, as well as your physical passport, a copy of the picture page of your passport, and a passport-sized photo. Ensure you scan the important pages of your passport, because you’ll be without it for several weeks while the embassy processes your visa.

The embassy requires a fee of $160.00 paid either in cash or by money order made to the embassy of Spain. This is a hefty fee, so check and double-check all of your paperwork before you turn it in to avoid repeating it. Finally, you’ll need a self-addressed and prepaid US express mail envelope from the post office. This is how your passport and visa will be returned to you. As you cannot turn in your application without it, this is a very important step.

Visa Checklist:

  • Apostilled background check
  • Two copies of the visa application
  • A medical certificate in both Spanish and English
  • The letter provided by your program
  • A passport-sized photo
  • Your passport and copy of the picture page
  • A prepaid, self-addressed express mail envelope from the US post office
  • $160.00 fee
  • Copies of EVERYTHING, both for yourself and the embassy
  • (Optional) A copy of your airline ticket

The Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., which Sarah visited to apply for her visa in Spain.

Follow Up For Any Regional Procedural Differences

Spain has many consulates throughout the US, so check online to find out which one you need to go to. Some require prior appointments, while others, such as the DC embassy, allow walk-ins, so make sure to check beforehand. Certain consulates may accept mail-in applications due to the current situation. Usually, you must go to the consulate in your region and turn in your paperwork in person. Budget for plenty of time for the consulate to reply, especially if the nearest one is not in your state.  

Once you’ve turned in your paperwork, you’re done. Now you just have to wait three to six weeks for your visa to arrive in the mail.  Good luck and see you in Spain!

by Sarah Perkins Guebert

Training at Police Academy After Teaching Abroad

Ryan Gomez during Police Academy training

Ryan and I met when he called my office looking for information about his visa paperwork for his 2018-2019 Language and Culture Assistant position in Bocairent, Spain. It was the first and last time anybody asked me this type of question while working in this position. Fortunately, it wasn’t the last time I heard from Ryan. While we were on the call, I was able to take his contact information and we soon became Dreams Abroad colleagues for life. Ryan said goodbye to both FSU and Tallahassee, and hola to a place in the Spanish sun. Two years passed since Ryan left to teach abroad. Let’s have a look at what Ryan has been up to since he left that August on his Iberian adventure to Spain. After settling in and readjusting back to life in the States, Ryan has an update on his past year.

How has life been since moving back to the US and starting work at the Plantation Police Department?

“I’ve been back in the US for over a year now. I think it’s safe to say I’m back in the swing of things. From the day I moved back home, I had been putting all my focus into getting hired by a city, preparing for the Police Academy, getting through the Police Academy, and now trying to learn how to properly do this job at the Plantation Police Department. My life has been very focused and goal-oriented over the past year. I’ve been able to have some fun with my friends in between (you know… before the whole COVID business), but there’s always been something in my schedule with a strict deadline.”

How was the Police Academy and training?

“One of the cool things about this job is that the training never ends. There is always something to work on to better hone your skills. It’s one of the factors that drove me to this profession.

Physically, the Police Academy helped put me in the best shape of my life. We were doing physical training every day. I could’ve filled buckets with all the sweat, haha. The defensive tactics training we received was a little outdated, but it was a good foundation for helping to get comfortable going hands-on with another person and learning to control your breathing and adrenaline. We received a ton of firearms training as well, which was pretty cool because I had only fired guns a handful of times before the Academy.

Ryan with his class from police academy

BUT, even though learning about fighting and shooting was a lot of fun, it was always stressed to the cadets that our ability to communicate and de-escalate is our greatest weapon. Talking to different types of people in various scenarios is something I get to do every day at this job.”

What are your aspirations after you finish up at the Police Academy?

“My Academy class had only three weeks left before COVID-19 hit us. It ended up taking another three months to graduate… which really sucked. Regardless, when it was all said and done, I finished 2nd overall in the class. I even received the Academic Excellence award for having the highest GPA in the class. Woohoo!

I’m currently in Phase Three of Field Training. The Police Academy was a controlled environment. This is the real deal. The streets don’t wait for you to get over the growing pains of learning a new trade. My only aspirations at this point are to get through field training and learn how to do better at this job. The veterans tell me it takes about five years before you actually feel like you have a firm grip on being a police officer. I’ve been a cop for  21 eleven-and-a-half hour shifts… I have a LONG way to go.”

How has living in Florida been during COVID-19?

“Living in South Florida during COVID-19 has been a disaster. Everything I like to do to unwind has been shut down. Beaches closed. My gym closed. Bars closed. Sports are coming back a little bit but were gone for months. Concerts canceled. There might not be football this year! Meeting new people in 2020 was never a thing. I can’t wait till we get this election out of the way in November so life can go back to normal. I don’t even care who wins at this point. Only in America can people politicize a pandemic.”

Ryan in Spain with friends before going to police academy

How has your Spanish helped in your new job?

“Practicing Spanish definitely took a hit during my time in the Police Academy. Most of the time and energy I used doing Rosetta Stone and watching telenovelas was spent studying for the Academy. Nevertheless, my current level of Spanish has helped immensely on the job. I’ve used more Spanish in the past six weeks than I had since moving back to the US. I can’t conduct a long, confusing investigation, and can’t really tell when somebody is lying to me in Spanish… but I can do basic communicating. I understand like 60% of what is being said to me. Being able to speak another language has helped keep me, and fellow officers, safer in at least two dangerous situations up to this point. I’m excited to continue learning. Spanish might save my life someday.”

What do you miss most about Bocairent, Spain?

“The simplicity. The mountains. The eight-hour nature hikes. The cheap alcohol. The sound of people speaking castellano around me. Giving blind trust to strangers.”

Ryan in Spain before going to Police Academy

Did that experience help you become a better person? After being back, do you still feel the same as you did in the quote above?

“I’m a better, more holistic person as a result of my experience abroad. No doubt. And yeah, I’d say I still feel the same as I did in that old quote. Having patience and being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is a vital part of my job now. Eight out of every ten people I talk to on the street are lying to my face. Even though I know they’re giving me the runaround and wasting everyone’s time, you have to take them for their word and let them communicate their side of the story across.

It takes a lot of patience. And I can’t think of any other profession where you can see a drowned toddler, a woman with a swollen face defending the guy who beat her up, and a drunk dude driving 98 in a 40 with two babies and an AK-47 in the backseat… all within the same shift. We come across countless uncomfortable situations and have to be professional through it all. My time abroad has helped me better manage my emotions.”

How did the experience change your outlook on life?

“My outlook on life has become simpler as a result of my experience. Thanks to the Police Academy, I’m in the best shape of my life. I have a great family and a small, solid group of friends. I have a career that challenges me every day. Plus, I drive a 2020 Jeep Wrangler. And once the country opens back up, I can start having hobbies again. Life is great!”

Has it impacted your relationships at work, home and all of the above?

“For sure. I’ve been a genuinely happier person since coming back from Spain. I think that good energy rubs off on everyone.”

Ryan with a group of friends

Do you plan to visit your school and village in the future when travel gets back to normal?

“The first thing I’m doing once I’m off my probationary period (one year from my swear-in date) is booking a two-week vacation to Spain. I want to see my family again. Also, I want to visit some of the places I didn’t get to see last year. And of course, I have to make my grand return to Bocairent and see all my friends from school. The auxiliar who was assigned there last year didn’t end up going. I’m literally the only one to ever show up. That’s why I will forever be a legend there, at least in my own eyes.”

Ryan Gomez is one example of our team members who have returned home and changed their careers. He’s a part of our Dreams Abroad alumni network and will be forever. For more information on how to join our team or share your story, reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

by Leesa Truesdell

Interested in Travel, Go! How Traveling Changed My Life

cateCate lived and worked in Madrid, Spain for two years. Soon after returning to the US, she had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of State. Her first two-year post is in New Zealand. She is exploring both the north and south islands and living a life she never even could have imagined. Her new position has opened up a world of opportunities and she is enjoying her Dreams Abroad.

What have you been up to since leaving Dreams Abroad?

“While still living in Spain, I applied for a job with the State Department. I accepted my position last July after a grueling seventeen months of going through the bureaucratic paces. I am currently at my first post in Wellington, New Zealand, and will be here for another year and a half. It has been an unbelievable journey to get here. I know for certain that, had I not lived and worked abroad, I never would have gotten this amazing opportunity. Travel changed my life and it is always a fantastic investment in yourself.”

Wellington New Zealand Changed My Life

What is your best Dreams Abroad memory ?

“I could never choose. My two years living abroad completely changed my life. There were so very many moments that I’ll never forget. I think that my most potent take-away from the whole thing is the pride I have in myself for walking right over my fears and getting on that plane.”

get away with a friend

What are your plans?  

“My plans are to keep this job until they force me to retire and thereby get paid to live and work all over the world!”

What would you say to someone interested in traveling abroad (to teach, work, study, or just to travel)?  

“Do it, do it, do it. I visited Europe for the first time in my fifties. I felt absolutely terrified and, frankly, that’s why I did it. Before visiting, I felt so frustrated with myself for letting fear get the better of me. If you feel interested in travel, go! If you aren’t interested in travel, you really need to go! There is no education, no way to better broaden your mind and open your heart, than travel.”

travel away

by Leesa Truesdell

Getting Back Abroad

After a year in Madrid full of surprises, twists, and turns, Ellen Hietsch is back in the US for the summer. We checked in with her to see what she has been up to these past few months. Her adventures include a West Coast job, moving out of her childhood home, and applying for a student visa during what we like to call “Visa Application Season.” Read on to learn more about her adventures and her next steps.

Where in the world are you this summer?

Berkeley California San Francisco Skyline summer update travel abroad
Exploring Berkeley

I have been all over the place! First, I arrived at my childhood home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A cabin fire had broken out on my plane home and I subsequently had a canceled flight. Once I made it back, I was home for three weeks before leaving for Berkeley, California, where I’m currently writing this. After my time in Berkeley, I will return to Carlisle at the beginning of August. Once again not for long. My family is moving to upstate New York (like… 30 minutes from the Canadian border upstate New York) in the middle of August. This is also where I’ll be until I return to Madrid. It sounds chaotic, but I honestly prefer it this way. After a year constantly on the move in Madrid, the last thing I want is to be sitting around in one place for three months

Are you working or studying this summer?

In Berkeley, I am working as an RA for Summerfuel College Admissions Prep program. There are students from all over the world. When I’m in Carlisle, I’m going to be busy with my family’s move, a whole lot of networking, and (the always dreaded) Visa Application Season.

Why did you choose to work in Berkeley this summer?

Originally, I had been interested in working for Summerfuel’s Barcelona program, but it was full by the time I was aware of the opportunity. I chose Berkeley instead because I had never been to California before, but it always fascinated me! If I stay in the US for my master’s, I would love to get it on the West Coast. Summerfuel has been great for getting me to think about opportunities that may exist there. Part of my job involves supervising participants on college tours around the Bay Area. I’ve found a few campuses that have piqued my interest.

Does what you’re doing now with Summerfuel fall in line with your main interests for your career?

Yes – I want a career in international education! Summerfuel has been interesting because I have gotten to explore it from the side of foreign students coming to the US for the first time.

Are you applying the skills you developed while abroad in Spain to this job?

The San Francisco skyline

Definitely. After working with students in a Spanish secondary school, the 19 teenage girls on my floor seem like nothing. The patience I developed while working as a language assistant has also been vital. It’s helpful in that it helps me pause to think about cultural differences that could exist between the students and me. It also helps in simply not blowing up if they won’t stop talking during our floor meetings. I also consider my own experiences of being nervous while away from the US, and am sure to check in with the girls to make sure they’re doing okay.

Are you planning to go abroad again?

After some unexpected scares at the end of my first year in Madrid, I can finally say YES (well, given that Visa Application Season goes well, but I feel confident)! I will be attending a Spanish language school program in Madrid for the year, in hopes of leaping towards fluency. In the meantime, I will get 20 work hours a week on my student visa. I am applying for part-time work in international education and doing private English lessons in the meantime. This will keep me floating until I find something more permanent.

Getting Back Abroad

After speaking with Ellen about her summer plans, transitions, and the steps she’s taking to get back abroad, it’s clearer to me than ever that the roller coaster that is living abroad prepares you so well for anything in life. After you’ve been through the day-to-day stress of life in another country and experienced unexpected hurdles there, they always seem easier to tackle back home. Living abroad has a way of showing you that you are more capable than you’d ever imagined. That’s something you can take with you anywhere.

by Emma Schultz

Berkeley California San Francisco Skyline summer update travel abroad