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Young and immigrant: the tough choice to leave home at 18

Published 29.12.2021

From Venezuela, Carlos Gómez emigrated to Brazil seeking a better future for himself and his family. Today, as a Social Responsibility Assistant at the company’s Sao Paulo headquarters, he shares the path traveled.

"I don't want to be a burden to my parents," thought Carlos Alfredo Rivas Gómez when, at the age of 18, he realized that his hometown of Puerto Ordaz, in the state of Bolívar, Venezuela, would never offer him the educational and employment possibilities he dreamed of. He pored over a map of South America, weighing up his different options: Colombia or Brazil. He wasn't to know that at the end of the road, there was an opening waiting for him at Techint E&C and that he would become one of the company’s many employees whose life has been transformed.

Even though there was a language difference, Carlos finally decided to go to Brazil and left for Roraima, the northernmost state of the country because it was not so far from his hometown. He took a month off from work, used some of that money to get his car shipshape, and took a trip, accompanied by his mother, uncle and grandmother.

When he arrived, he realized that it was not going to be as easy as he’d thought, as there were many Venezuelans in the state and it was hard to find work. However, he made the most of his time there and took an intensive Portuguese language course at the Federal University of Roraima. After a month, the family returned to Venezuela.

"I went back home with my decision firmly taken: I really wanted to live in Brazil, but in a city that offered me other possibilities," says Carlos.

So, he started his job search, analyzing employment opportunities, study options, the climate, etc., and “gradually realized how amazing São Paulo was, a wonderful city, seemingly ready to offer me everything I wanted.” This time it was a one-way trip, by plane and accompanied by his grandparents.

“I was just 19 years old then, my grandmother 65 and my grandfather 69. They’d lived their whole lives in Venezuela, but they were willing to leave their country, their home and even their children and other grandchildren to accompany me to a place they didn’t know. "

Job search

It was in May when they arrived at the Guarulhos International Airport, at 2:30 in the morning and with a temperature of 14° C. "We were shivering with cold, we were from a country where the temperature is often in the mid-30s." A couple of friends welcomed them into their home and helped Carlos get his first formal job in Brazil in a benefits company, where he worked for nine months.

“I have to admit that I really love a good challenge, and that job, even though it was close to where I was living, simply didn’t spark the adrenaline I was looking for. I was a 19-year-old young man from Generation Z, full of energy, keen to make things happen and suggest ideas. I felt the job did not meet my expectations. So I resigned, one of the decisions I most regret taking, because, for the next six months, I drifted from one job to the next.”

But his future was about to change dramatically. In September 2019, a person from Caritas, an organization that supports migrants and refugees, contacted him. “I was already in contact with them and with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), as both institutions here in Brazil work with refugees and immigrants. They told me that there was a vacancy for an apprenticeship in a multinational company, but they didn’t give me any further details. They sent my CV and arranged the interview.”

He turned up at the Techint E&C headquarters in São Paulo for his first interview. Then he was told that they would call him for the next round, this time with the area coordinator.

Two weeks later, he returned to the company. “I met Michele Araújo, very serious, a firm and direct woman. But I left thinking I’d fluffed the interview as it had been really difficult, and I was convinced that I’d missed the chance to work in that company. I wasn't at my best, I didn’t do things well.”

But three weeks later, Carlos was already working at Techint E&C, in the area of Social Responsibility and Organizational Climate. He joined as a young apprentice, on a program that the Brazilian government organizes with private companies for young people aged between 14 and 23 years old.

Father to son

Initial feelings? “So many emotions. A multinational, based in Argentina, belonging to the Techint Group.” In addition, his father works at Sidor, a company that was part of the Group from 1997 to 2008. His father was extremely moved by the news, and said: “Son, you must pursue your career in that company, you must do your utmost. I worked for them for many years, and they were the best years of my life in terms of learning, growth, and benefits. So make an effort; I know you have everything you need to stay with them.”

It was a year and a half crammed with learning and knowledge. When the pandemic began, he moved to the Climate area, leaving what he enjoyed most, Social Responsibility. But six months later, during his performance evaluation, his boss suggested that he take over the area, 100 percent.

"I found myself immersed in that wonderful world, and it was there that I began to think that it was time to start college." He wanted to study Psychology but as it was very expensive, he opted for Social Sciences. After taking a series of special exams for immigrants, he began studying at the Federal University of São Paulo, where he is currently studying.

“I left my comfort zone in pretty much every way you can think of: language, new personal, social and work relationships, and now a university degree. It was definitely worth it. And I’ll always be sure of that, especially when I graduate and start to achieve all those things I ever wanted to in terms of growth and innovation.”

In January 2021, Carlos was hired at Techint E&C as a Social Responsibility Assistant. “The team prepared a surprise to give me the news that I was still in the company: it was very exciting for me because I felt valued, that they had recognized my efforts, that they liked the way I work. All of that makes me feel happy and grateful.” Currently, Carlos is the one in charge of the Social Responsibility area at the company’s headquarters in São Paulo.

 A decision that changed everything

Today, Carlos lives with his grandparents, his mother and two brothers. "I didn’t see my mother for two years, until I was able to bring her and my brothers here in October 2019: They’re at school in São Paulo." His father is still working back in Venezuela as he has three years to go before he retires.

Carlos feels that having left his country and working at Techint E&C has changed his entire family’s destiny. “A decision that was mine alone brought about a change in the lives of many people in ways I could not even begin to imagine. They boarded a plane for me and here they are today. My initial goal was to work to help them, to try to give them a better quality of life.”

Carlos also has plans for the future. “I see myself as a social scientist either in Brazil or in another country. But I've already proved myself: if I could handle migrating as an 18-year-old, I’m certainly ready for any kind of migration from now on. I won't let anything stop me.”

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