As we post more stories from people who have journeyed here from another country to live in the UK, one thing that really stands out is that it takes a lot of resilience to succeed and you need to be open to the world around you. Cristina Mascarreras writes here of how she followed her dream and how opportunity came in the most unexpected places.
‘Aiming for a goal keeps you moving’
One day, I was in Barcelona, working for an international retail firm and I decided that I wanted to go abroad for some personal and professional experience’. I wanted to be a creative interior designer rather than drawing someone else’s ideas. So that day, I set myself a goal and went out to make it happen.
I went to Prague for three months, staying at my friend’s place, to give myself time to think what I really want to be. Also, thinking about morals, ethics and purpose. Can I have a job that I love and at the same time offer a value/gift to people?
I found a ‘design and built’ internship in Canning Town, London. The project was a cultural community space for the neighbourhood. They accepted me as part of this project and I had three days to pack my suitcase and fly to London. I arrived on June 2013, not knowing where I was going. I didn’t have a place to stay or know anyone in the city. I went around Bayswater and checked so many hostels and finally found a free bed.
For three months, I was surrounded by creative designers, I met people from all over the world and heard so many interesting stories that gave me so much inspiration and motivation. We built a workshop, theatre, bar and garden for the community and that was a great first experience.
My plan was to go back home after this internship, but I started liking London. I started looking for any job to be able to stay in this city. My first job was at Starbucks, and on my first day, I could not understand anything that the customers were saying: ‘Mafin, mufi, muffin….What’s that?’
After eight months working at Starbucks, I loved talking with my customers, the manager put me always on the till. And what did I do? I always talked about who I am or what I want to be, an Interior Designer. After applying for so many jobs and being rejected because I don’t have experience in the UK, one of my regular customers said, ‘Cristina, we are looking for an Interior Designer’.
This is how everything started, my next job, I was designing luxury apartments for 6 months, afterwards I moved to another job where I was designing schools for 6 months as well. None of those jobs were fulfilling, on the first job I was working 13-15 hours a day and the second job wasn’t creative.
I needed to move on again. I learnt that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have time to apply for jobs, you have to, even if you do it until 4 o’clock in the morning and work the next day. After the school job I was unemployed for 2 months. I had so many offers to be as assistant, a job that I did 4 years back. I said’NO’. the recruiters pressured me. Don’t you want a temporary job? No, I know what I want.
If you don’t make the right call, you get in this unstoppable role of working crazy hours or doing jobs that you don’t like and they don’t get the best out of you meaning it’s not challenging for you.
Finally, I reached my goal. I found that job I had in my mind every day. I am now working for an international firm where I can be creative and design projects in a lot of different sectors. My job is different and challenging all the time.
Anyway, life doesn’t stop. I have already set up more goals.