Melon Production for Exportation – Ceará – Brazil
Looking for work is tough in a marketplace where job openings are scarce. Extra earnings from private English lessons and Portuguese/English translations, done in the evenings after work, were insufficient to cover my shortfall. I considered moving my sons to a less expensive private school, but one of their teachers advised me against the move. My older son begged to stay.
I submitted job applications to all the major exporters in Fortaleza. No response. Then a friend told me of an opening for an Import/Export Analyst at a medium-sized melon producer and exporter. The company’s administrative office was within walking distance from my sons’ school. Perfect, I thought.
Two days later, I waited in the company’s front office for a job interview at 2:00 p.m. The Commercial Director, an international trade professional from Southeast Brazil, interviewed me in fluent English. At the end of the interview, I had to complete a written English test, as well as compose and type a response to a letter from an overseas client.
After I completed the test, he took me to the office of the Finance Director who spoke with me only in Portuguese.
Following the second interview, I waited in the front office for a meeting with the owner and President of the company. During my half-hour or so wait, the company driver pummeled me with questions. (Brazilians are friendly people who enjoy talking with strangers.)
The Commercial Director accompanied me to the President’s office. The President, a man in his late forties, filled the large chair behind the desk. We chatted about my impressions of Brazil.
When I left the one-story house converted into offices, the sun had already disappeared.
A week later, the Commercial Director called with the news: the job was mine.
On joining the company, I shared an office with the Import-Export Manager and his assistant. While his assistant took care of the import-export documentation, the Import-Export Manager spent most of his time at the port, airport or the banks.
For one month, I worked with the Commercial Director in handling overseas orders, queries, and accounts for shipments of fresh melons on consignment. After he left to set up offices in London and Rotterdam, I became his link with the Fortaleza office and the company’s two melon farms.
I had completed three months with the company the day the President informed me that the Import-Export Manager was no longer a member of the staff. “You are taking over his responsibilities,” the President told me. This was an unexpected development.
No wonder they put me through the grind during the job interviews, I thought on my way to pick up my sons at school later that evening.
In the months ahead, I had a lot to learn…and fast.
In small- and medium-sized companies, job candidates not only have opportunities to grow as professionals, but also the chance to make a difference in a company’s success.
Be the difference.