What do you do?

2 Oct

Invariably, when I meet new people, one of the first questions I get asked is: “What do you do?” It’s a common conversation starter of course, and it’s even more logical to ask in Bermuda, where most twenty-something expats are here because they are on a work permit. I’ve often wondered whether I’m the only twenty-something expat without one!

My answer used to be simply that “I volunteer”. It wasn’t unusual for people to assume that this meant that I shook a donations bucket outside the supermarket once a month, and then spent the rest of the time on the beach drinking G&Ts. So my answer became a garbled protestation that “I volunteer with three charities, and actually it’s like the equivalent of a full time job without getting paid, and I really don’t like G&Ts”. After a while, even I got bored of my defensiveness, so I just made up jobs – I was an accountant, an insurance underwriter, and a management consultant all in a period of about a month.

I have loved my volunteering work and it certainly has kept me busy. I’ve written communications strategies, delivered workshops on social media, organised corporate fundraising events and, my favourite project, taught a little group of senior citizens how to use the computer. In the office of the charity I volunteer with most regularly – The Centre on Philanthropy – I have my own desk, email account and responsibilities. But I’ve hated not earning my own money.

The Centre on Philanthropy's Give Back Games 2011: waiting to collect the scores for the Sack Race! We raised $72,000 for local charities.

However, after eleven months of being on the island, one rejected work permit, and an encounter with an agency that discovered after two months that my paperwork had actually “gone missing”; the “third time lucky” adage came true. Last week I got my work permit through for temporary and contract roles. A few days later I was offered a marketing role for a telecoms company. I start tomorrow!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to start work. Bring on the Sunday evening blues, the daily commute in rush hour, the overflowing inbox… – I’m ready for it all!

On Friday, my last day of unemployment, I kept my diary clear so I could do the one thing I hadn’t allowed myself to do in almost a year of being here – spend a few hours at the beach, on a weekday! The sky was a perfect blue, the sun shone, and, as I walked along the shore, iced tea in hand, the waves rushed up to greet me, as if to say “what took you so long..?”


6 Responses to “What do you do?”

  1. sally 2 October, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Many congratulations Suzanne! We are pleased for you. But I would like to say that the service you have provided with your Blog has been worth more than money. It has made us feel a little closer to Lucy and helped to understand some of the things she may have been going through too. All of the people you have helped in your charities are no doubt extremely grateful and will understand your need to earn a little money. So thank you for all you have done and I hope you will keep us updated through your Blog?
    Best wishes
    The Beedies

    • suscatty 4 October, 2011 at 7:42 am #

      Hi Sally

      Thank you for your message! I certainly will continue to keep updating the blog – I’ve always got something to say! 🙂

      Best wishes

  2. Michelle Crawford 4 October, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Hi Su

    Congratulations! Great news that you’ve found a job/got the work permit – I hope it’s everything you expect – it will be a bit of a change after the last few months! I’m sure I have all this fun to expect when we move out in a couple of weeks!

    I pinged you a couple of weeks ago for some tips (thanks for those!) and another question’s just cropped up. I’ve read we need to pay 25% customs duty on everything other than used clothes and books – is that correct? Even thinks like opened cosmetics and perfume?! And what about my new sparkly engagement/wedding rings?! This could soon add up!

    Any help appreciated!!

    Hope the new job is going well.


    • suscatty 4 October, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

      Hi Michelle

      Thank you very much – it’s great to be working (and earning!).

      You won’t need to pay customs duty for anything shipped, providing your husband has at least a 1 year work permit before your belongings arrive on the island, which will enable him to be eligible for the TRA. This document on the TRA was super helpful for us when we were preparing to move: http://bit.ly/oaluLd The document also covers what you need to do for belongings that you bring with you on the flight.

      If you’re shipping stuff here (e.g. furniture/lots of boxes!) then I would highly recommend Bermuda Forwarders, who also assisted us on the TRA and Customs Clearance. Their website is: http://www.bermudaforwarders.com/

      Best of luck with all the packing!

  3. Eleanor 19 October, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Hi Suzanne,
    I was wondering how you applied for your temporary/contracts roles permit. Did you have to get an company to apply for you or were you able to apply yourself? I’m trying to move to Bermuda to join my boyfriend (he’s a native) and as a goldsmith i can’t find many jobs advertised!

    • suscatty 20 October, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

      Hi Eleanor

      For temporary/contract roles, the employment agency apply for a (1 year) permit on your behalf. They effectively become your employer for the duration of the work permit, so you can only take on temporary/contract roles through them. I’d recommend getting in touch with IEP (http://www.iep.bm) as they are great, and have had many years in the recruitment industry in Bermuda. Good luck – I hope it works out for you! 🙂

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