Having left one of my two debits cards back in England, my savings are dwindling here in Barcelona. With so much to see and do in a city like this, it's hard to be stingy with money.
I myself am currently looking for a job - or internship - that will see me through until at least January, after which time I'll be studying at ESADE. This blog post should paint a picture of job hunting in Barcelona, and hopefully provide some useful information to others who find themselves in a similar position.
Within the EU, Spain is almost notorious for its unemployment. The Instituto Nacional de Estadística of Spain conducts the Encuesta de Poblacion Activa, the most recent results (August, 2012) of which show the country has an unemployment rate of 24.63%. Compared with the UK at a modest 8% (May, 2012) this is not welcome news to a jobless ERASMUS student.
Looking closer at my comunidad autónoma, Catalunya, the rate is marginally better at 21.95%. The "winners" - if you can call them that - are País Vasco with a modest 14.56% considering the economic crisis that currently grips Spain. It's no wonder so many people in this community want independence from the rest of the country and its lagging states, including Andalucía with a staggering 33.92% unemployment.
Unfortunately for adults under 25 years of age like myself, this July saw unemployment hit record highs of 52.1% in Spain. Young adults can struggle to gain employment for a variety of reasons not limited to only being able to work part-time due to study and lack of work experience.
So what does this mean for me? Statistically the odds are now over half that I will stay unemployed.I face additional challenges in the job hunt such as different culture, foreign language and lack of social connections. On the other hand I am part of an excellent degree program and have just over a year's work experience in inbound marketing.
What to do next
1. Don't panic
No good ever comes from it, and employers can smell desperation. Also, I've noticed that my Spanish friends are averse to displays of distress regarding job hunting. They've told me on more than one occassion that it's super-hard for anyone to get a job here, so I've learned to stiffen up my upper lip and get on with it.
2. Start looking for jobs
Use several web portals to hunt for the latest job listings, every 3 days. Some that I use are Info Empleo, Ya Encontre and iAgora. Although it is a bit tedious signing up to each website (as they make you input your CV details manually), once this step is done you can apply to offers with a click of a button. iAgora is better for finding (unpaid) internships, but beware it has a limit to the number of applications you can make, and also censors the names of the employing company. In that case then just take a section of advert text and paste into Google, where you can find the ad on other websites that tell you the recruiter so you can apply to them directly.
3. Keep an eye on your cash
If cash flow is becoming an issue, try to save money whenever you can. The cost of living (rent, groceries, public transport) isn't so high here as it is in the UK, so most of my euros are spent on leisure activities. If you do want to party, stick to clubs that free-entry, and take the night bus instead of taxis home. I personally locked part of my savings into a 2 year ISA to stop me spending it until after I graduate and collect some decent interest!
I started job hunting three weeks ago and I've been searching for jobs that match my work experience or align with my future career path, which has considerably narrowed the pool of opportunities.
Online however there still appear to be sufficient offers that interest me, as well as others less so. I have been a little disappointed at the response rate to my applications. I have attended several interviews so far and am eagerly awaiting more. Because competition is so stiff for even the most unusual jobs, I urge job seekers to be very well prepared. For example, I have happily undergone over 2 hours of interviews for a position at a start-up firm that has been operating for less time than my experience in that field! One interviewer even asked me what was the meaning of life - which is a slightly disarming question to answer in English, let alone Spanish!
All in all it is a difficult process. I feel the fact I will be leaving Spain in June 2013 may play a part in employer's reluctance to hire me. I know for a fact from interviews that they don't understand what my UK academic grades mean. Or maybe employers see I'm British and think hiring me will lead to a lot of paperwork - despite me having gone to great lengths to secure a NIE (ID and residence card) and Spanish bank account.
Meanwhile, I'm going to get in contact with someone I know who was looking for a bartender one night a week - but this is far from ideal for Erasmus, and only to bring in a little cash. If I don't strike lucky with my other applications I am also considering a more direct "walk in off the street" approach or asking for an internship at companies that aren't currently offering them.
Wish me luck, and of course, do send any Marketing jobs or Consulting internships in Barcelona my way!
Update 11/10/2012: I got a place at Universitat Pompeu Fabra to study so I luckily the job hunt is over for me. However, I still have many friends who don't have the option of going back to university. Sadly, two of my Spanish friends are set to leave Barcelona by the end of the year as their job hunt has been fruitless (one is going back to his hometown, the other is braving London)!
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott