Friday, July 31, 2009


Unlike in the USA, where a history major can end up working in pharmaceutical sales, Brazilians are employed in professions that succinctly match the field of study stated on their diploma. Just last month, the government finally revoked a law that forbade those without degrees in journalism from working in the press (slight infringement on freedom of speech, no?). A step in the right direction, but well rounded candidates (with conflicting job title degree) are still a long way away from getting past HR.

Herein lies the problem for me: My professional and educational background haven't matched since I held my diploma. And, well-rounded (with no experience in the field), got me hired 90% of the time in the USA. So when presented with those "cocktail party career questions" in my new homeland, I usually mumble a few employment examples and say coyly, "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up." It usually is a neat (as in clean break, tidy) way to end the discussion. Aside from professions that require serious training (medical field, mortician...), my list is aplenty (random order):

1. Analyst, Finance Industry (Goldman Sachs, believe it or not. Back when we had to wear pantyhose every. single. day. ick!)

2. Waitress (in times of get cash quick)

3. Cleaning Lady (okay I was 14 and my dad paid me 40 bucks to "clean" his office)

4. Assistant Director (Pace Wildenstein, no less! Hierarchy issues. Assistant Director has to change Director's office light bulbs.)

5. Babysitter (again another childhood position but good training for the future)

6. Importer of Handmade Wooden Combs (Don't ask, but was lucrative at the time)

7. Temp (just that, a temp)

8. Bartender in Germany (Drunk Germans)

9. Fit Model (not sure why I got hired here. Measurements off. Got, um, fired!)

10. Wholesale sales representative for line of handmade rugs and furniture (borrrring)

11. Fashion industry entrepreneur (2 boutiques in NYC, line of clothes, name it. got swept off my feet by Brazilian on white horse, sold out and moved countries.)

12. Yoga/Pilates/Ballet instructor (still dabbling in that one)

13. Domestic Manager (wife and mother in fancy terms)

I think I will stop at the most challenging (number 13, too), domestic manager, as the list of unpaid professions is quite staggering. Be sure, I continue to invent new business schemes and interests. The latest? Novelist. Current Title: A Little About a Lot (as in I know...). I am hoping it hits the New York Times Bestseller list (financial gain) and Booker Prize (intellectuals' praise). Hey, at least I am ambitious.

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