Today’s growth story is about Maria, her volunteering experience at Dress For Success in Cork and how it made her grow in ways she would have never expected. She is a Spanish expat starting a new career path in the Marketing & Communications field as a Masters graduate with a huge passion for Brand marketing and the Asian market. Last year she moved to Cork to develop an international career abroad and now is an amazing example for a young expat who is successfully building a life and career away from home.

What motivated you to apply as a volunteer at Dress For Success?
“Before moving abroad, I knew that my main drawback as a recent graduate was the lack of work experience in the field. This would make me less eligible for the roles that so many young expats and locals were aiming for as well. So I came up with the idea of volunteering to include more work experience to my resume.”

How does this volunteering experience make you grow?
“This experience is making me grow both professionally and personally. On one hand, I am having the opportunity to prove myself in different tasks such as design or content writing, and this is helping me to create a portfolio with my most updated work. On the other hand, I am getting more confident about what I am capable of as a professional marketer. But what really makes me very proud and happy, is the amazing team of volunteers that appreciate my efforts and welcome all my ideas.”

How did you find Dress For Success and how did you get in contact?
“I found the DFS Cork official webpage while I was still in my home country, searching for some organisations in Ireland. I saw that they support and empower the women of Cork to achieve their economic independence, totally for free. And this is when I really felt related to their cause: I also was a female professional trying to find a place in the job market. So once I settled down in Cork, I contacted them by email, and they invited me to visit their office and have a chat. They were very nice and friendly.”

What is the advice you would give to any young professional that is looking to build their career abroad?
“I would like to give them two pieces of advice that are really helping me along this journey:

Some people may seem younger, more expertised and qualified than you. Or maybe they already succeeded in things that will take you time to achieve (master a new language, first work experience in a local business, previous work references…). But don’t let this undermine your confidence. They are in a totally different path than you. You have to trust your own process and see where your brand new path leads you.

It’s sad. But true. Sometimes, you find yourself waiting for chances that just aren’t coming. So the only way to move forward, is creating your own opportunities. In my case, I am improving my work experience thanks to my volunteering role. And I am working more than ever on building a consistent and strong personal brand on Linkedin. Right now, it’s such a powerful (and free!) tool that is giving me the chance to connect with amazing professionals and stay updated on how the job market is evolving.”

If you need some support with your own growth story, message Dana at or call her on +353 (0) 83 851 8663.