April 15, 2014, by Guest blog

Making professional connections

Post written by Ben West.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

When I considered the blog title ‘making connections’, I thought about a whole load of things, both academically and professionally. As I will, one day, be working in a professional capacity, I am going to use this blog to talk about the connections I have made in relation to work and career prospects.

I began here in Brazil – about two months ago – to advertise for a language exchange to improve my Portuguese. The response was overwhelming! In Brazil, I’ve realised English speakers are in huge demand, and especially natives. There is a bit of tension among accents  – i.e., British and American – but this is usually in jest. Generally, any native speaker of English will easily find work here, whether voluntary or paid, because of their accent.

Of course, you don’t have to be a good teacher, but it helps. I have managed to secure a job at an academy here in the city, and I have made so many more connections than I ever thought I would. I have gotten to know the Director of the academy, as well as their teaching advisors and linguistic consultant. I’ve received free training from the academy, and give a few classes each week to practise teaching – it’s been really useful, and all I did was send my CV to them and they emailed me back within a few hours.

I keep a LinkedIn page with all these people on it. I now have a good 50 or so connections on there, and I have been able to keep it updated by requesting references from both my current, and former, employees and colleagues. It works for me as a second CV, and one that is currently up to date. I feel it instils a sense of confidence in potential employers, and it allows me to keep an online record of my professional and academic achievements to date.

I suppose my main piece of advice is to make the most of your abroad – not just through having fun and making friends, but also using it as a tool to make connections that will benefit you in the future. It’s important not to forget the bonds made with friends, though. I live with a family here in Brazil, and they will be my family and friends for the rest of my life. We are already planning the next trip together next year, and I am really looking forward to it!

Posted in Making connections