It's not everyday that you meet someone who decides to quit her job and move all across the globe (11,037 miles to be exact) to work at a country with a complete different culture and lifestyle from what you are used to. That's the case of Andrea Batista, who left her job as a Media Buyer in San Juan to take the challenge of becoming Digital Manager at Wavemaker, an Advertising Agency in Sidney, Australia. Yes, you read that right, AUSTRALIA.
I really don't think this badass needs any more introduction after knowing her big move, so let's cut right to the interview:
María Elena: What did you want to do as a little girl?
Andrea Batista: Ballerina or dolphin trainer. No idea why, I've never even met a dolphin. lol
ME: Where did you study?
AB: University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus (Colegio!)
ME: What did you study in college and why?
AB: I started out as a Computer Engineering major but ended up switching to Marketing.
ME: What was your first job experience?
AB: I worked at a Dance Camp as a camp counselor, but then I worked at Gamestop for a while!
ME: Did you have any internship experiences?
AB: I had a mandatory internship as part of my Marketing degree, so I interned at a local Telecommunications company.
ME: Did you enroll in any exchange program during college?
I didn't! It may sound weird, but I didn't see myself leaving Puerto Rico at that point in my life. Of course doing it would have had it's benefits, but I think there's also value in the amount of excitement I left with, having never worked anywhere else...
ME: How did you land your first "real" job in marketing?
AB: I must have sent resumes to 20 advertising agencies after graduation and got ZERO callbacks. It wasn't until one whole year later that I got a call from Initiative San Juan asking if I was interested in interviewing for a Media Buyer position. I jumped at the opportunity, even though I had no idea what a Media Buyer was or did!
ME: When did your interest for digital media planning started?
AB: As soon as I found out people got paid to talk about advertising on the internet I was like, "uh, I wanna do that".
ME: How did you land your job in the other side of the world?!
AB: I was on vacation in Mexico and met an Aussie girl who worked in tech in Sydney, and she told me that there were heaps of digital jobs there! Believe it or not, 3 margaritas later, I was applying for a couple positions in Sydney through my Indeed app on my phone. I never thought anything would seriously come out of it, but a week later when I was back in Puerto Rico, I got a call late at night from an Australian number asking for an interview. I literally almost fell out of my chair.
ME: What is one thing you wish you would’ve known before arriving to Australia?
AB: I knew I was moving to one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, but I wasn't ready to be the only Puerto Rican everywhere I go. It's made me realize the difference between nationalities can be quite extreme at times.
ME: Was it hard to accept the offer and lifestyle change?
AB: It was terribly hard. I had a life in Puerto Rico that I was quite content with, but I'd always known deep inside that I wanted to move overseas for a while. What better way to do it than to go all out and move to Australia.
ME: What has been the hardest part about being so far away from home?
AB: Missing my family and friends, especially while they were going through hardships because of the hurricanes. I also had some health issues that I had to deal with on my own, which was pretty rough.
ME: What has been the biggest culture shock now that you're working in Australia?
AB: Work-life balance is very important. My workday starts at 9 AM and ends at 5:30 PM - staying back late isn't encouraged at all and can be seen as a negative.
ME: What has been the best part about being a Puerto Rican managing a Digital Advertising team in Australia?
AB: My team had never met a Puerto Rican before. They were super interested in hearing about my country but also what the digital landscape was back home. But the best part is actually that Aussie's are 100% open to different cultures and backgrounds. I've never felt out of place at work. We have a Spanish word of the week, and I've taught them about our music and culture back home. I even had to give a full presentation on Puerto Rico to the whole agency because they kept thinking I was from Costa Rica. lol
ME: Did you ever thought you would be living this life?
AB: I would have never thought a year ago I would be here. I always knew I wanted to travel, but I never thought I'd be living in Australia. It's still surreal sometimes.
ME: Do you see yourself working in Puerto Rico or the USa again?
AB: Ideally, I learn all I can from other markets and eventually bring it back home to Puerto Rico. It's not news that the digital landscape is growing and changing at a crazy fast rate. My move was based around throwing myself right in the middle of it, and learn as much as I could. What I chose to do after is still to be determined. For now I'm just grateful my company gave me the opportunity to interview for my role and eventually offered me a role from halfway around the world!
ME: How did you cope with Hurricanes Irma and María while living so many miles away from your family and friends?
AB: It was incredibly hard not being able to communicate with friends and family back home. People at work were extremely empathetic, and checked in on my family's status regularly - but I felt completely helpless.
ME: What advice would you give someone who is looking for a foreign job?
AB: Apply, apply, apply. You think "Oh I'm never gonna get it" because you're not good enough or maybe too far away, but international companies pride themselves (and are actually evaluated) on being diverse with their staffing! I had 3 video interviews on Skype and 35 days later I was in Sydney. If it's something you're really serious about, research the role and apply!
ME: If you could give yourself one piece of advice back when you started working in Marketing, what would it be?
AB: Take ALL the training you can NOW.
Random Facts about Andrea:
- Digital or physical calendar - Digital Calendar and Agenda, but I still get a lot of satisfaction from physically checking something off a notepad.
- Twitter or Facebook - Facebook
- Snapchat or Instagram - Instagram
- Mac or PC - PC
- Plan or improvise - Plan plan plan
- Morning or Night person - Morning Person 100% I do my best work from 9am to 1pm
- Something you can't live without - Google Maps - I have no idea where I'm going, ever.
- If I weren't in digital marketing I would be ___________. - In cooking school, trying to become a chef or baker.