Guts and grit    

US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin - The Freeman

America is the melting pot of the world where people of different races, colors, cultures, creeds, and religions come with the hope of a better life for themselves, their families and the generations after them. A country that, despite its flaws and challenges, still forges a path where individual freedoms are promoted, respected, and cherished. A nation that opens a bounty of opportunities for those who persevere and are willing to work hard. In my line of work, I see this all the time. Immigrants (and even US-born Americans) work two to three jobs, juggling between obligations to family, career, or school, but yet you do not hear them complaining about these demanding daily tasks.

One notable aspect of this American journey by immigrants is that in some cases, the jobs that they do here are not the same as what they had in their home countries. I know of a barber who is a lawyer in Europe but as he claims, he earns more money and feels a lot safer cutting hair in the US than practicing law in his native country.

So what lessons can we gather here?

First of all, don’t be choosy. If you come here not by way of any type of employment visa, do not expect that you’ll immediately practice your profession. There might be licensure, English exams, or even classes you have to take first before you are allowed to work as a registered professional. While you are waiting to have your credentials qualified and you are badly wanting to earn, you may want to do some odd jobs or those unrelated to your profession.

Second, realize that you have to start somewhere. And that somewhere might be at the bottommost part of the organizational ladder. As the most junior employee, don’t be surprised that you may be assigned to do the tasks that others refuse to do or be given the worst shift schedule or you can’t avail of the most coveted vacation weeks. Know that in time, when you have proven your worth, there is always room for you at the top. Just be patient.

Third, it always helps to possess some extra skills. Vocational labor is very lucrative and very much in demand here in the US. If you are skillful in electrical work, construction, masonry, plumbing, heating and cooling, hair and nail services, massage therapy, culinary, landscaping and gardening, etc., you can always find a well-paying job in these sectors. Remember my barber-lawyer? He averages 20 clients a day at $30 each. That’s $600 a day!

Stories are replete with Filipino entrepreneurs who started small but have grown their businesses into large scale operations. Be it restaurants, grocery/supermarkets, bakeries, property management, etc. the common denominator in all of these is hard work, perseverance and self-belief.

There are a myriad of opportunities that one can take advantage of if he possesses the right skills and attitude. Filipinos are known to have the guts and the grit when faced with challenges. We have proven that time and time again anywhere in the world.

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