How a city of contrasts inspired a generation of powerful women!
Have you fantasised about living and working in the heart and capital of the world?
This is a tale of stories. We interviewed 5 extraordinary women from different corners of the world (Colombia, Singapore, US/Bosnia, South Africa, and more) and deconstructed their professional experiences in the toughest and most desired labor market in the world, New York City.
This compendium recognises the professionally convenient byproduct of their targeted efforts, the paths these brilliant souls took to make it to NYC and to where they are today: the good, the great, the bad, the seemed-impossible, the idealism turned into panic, the relief, the interview — The job!
“No other city in the world stages dusk to dawn like New York City. A great city is like love — it makes you feel closer to your own center, envelops you in its immutable and caring magic, and no matter how far from it you may travel, it always beckons you with steadfast, unshakable mesmerism.” – Maria Popova
Matilde de los Milagros Londoño
Matilde de Los Milagros Londoño is a Colombian writer and an International Columnist residing in NYC. She is a talented actress and producer, known for La Petite Tristesse/Sweet & Vicious (2015), Las malas lenguas (2015). She currently works at TED.
– How did you find a Job in NY and at TED? Do you have any particular strategies or steps which you applied to make this happen?
MATILDE: Being a foreigner looking for a job in New York City is difficult. I had just graduated from The New School and I was under pressure due to the OPT visa status¹. I knew that I wanted to work in something related to literature and writing and I was reluctant to apply to anything that did not relate to my passion.
I sent over a sixty applications to places like libraries, editorials and literary journals and I did not hear back from anybody. When I saw the description of the TED opening online I cried because it seemed perfect for me, but I feared that I was going to be rejected, once more. My morale was very low at that point “Why even bother applying?” I thought.
My boyfriend got me out of my pity party and I concentrated on writing an honest and personal cover letter. TED is a place that coincides with my personal values and I wanted to convey my passion for their purpose. There is a standard format for cover letters that I had been following, but I decided to ignore it and write something that really represented my history and my style of writing. I think taking that risk worked out because the people from TED reached out and now I work there now.
-What nationalities do you hold?
MATILDE: I am solely, and proudly, Colombian. Being a Colombian has its burdens, but I think it is one of my biggest assets. It gives me a special sensibility and perspective that people really appreciate. However, the visa situation is always an issue. Keeping a job is very hard when the company you work for has to spend so much time and money in order for you to stay. It is a very stressful situation.
– What makes a difference in performance and self-development for you?
MATILDE: I value, above all else, freedom of expression. I think that asking questions and communicating your opinions is the way in which you learn and construct in the work place. Being new in an office is intimidating and scary, especially at TED where people are so intelligent and knowledgeable, but I have always known that my personality and my view of the world are the things that will make me stand out. Therefore, I try to never keep anything that could help my work, or me, to myself.
-Which are your most formative experiences and how do you translate them in rhetoric of success at work?
MATILDE: I think my most formative experience is the passing of my parents. They were two intellectuals that educated us to be critical thinkers and who lived their lives in their own terms. Their deaths made me understand that happiness was in my hands and that I had no time to waste. I knew that art and writing were not the most lucrative of professions but… what the hell! That lesson makes me a better worker because I have a sense of the fragility and suddenness of life; this work will not last forever and if I have something to give, if I have something to prove, I have to do it NOW.
– What book/books have you given the most as a gift?
MATILDE: Books are marvellous worlds with something to offer for everyone. Every book I have ever given has been chosen according to the receiver’s personality, but there is a book that will mean a lot to anyone that is sensitive: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Many of the people I love and admire have received that book from me as a gift.
Matilde’s debut in La Petite Tristesse
1. OPT = Optional Practical Training that allows international students to work in the U.S. after completing at least one year of full-time approved college and looses its validity if you don’t find a paying-job in the first 90 days.