Since I arrived in Cali late September, I have been looking hard for other sources of work as the CIAT trail had gone cold and I had almost lost hope of ever working there. I frantically refreshed my email and went on job hunting, NGO, private company websites scrolling for employment listings and cold emailed organisations to almost no avail. I was contacted by an organisation CEID in Bogotá, the capital, and the director said he would be interested to meet if/when I went to Bogotá for a visa appointment, for example. The organisation seemed great but I really didn't want to move there as it is a huge chaotic city with crumbling public transport, expensive rent and bad weather.
Any advice I can give to people in similar situations job hunting here or in other countries of the South is
1) Look through the relevant organisation's website and, if possible, instead of emailing the generic 'info@' emails, find the person you think could be your potential boss/head of the department you want to work in or just email the director directly.
2) Be persistent, keep emailing your contact every 3-6 weeks, reminding them politely that you are still very keen to meet them and reminding them of your suitability for the role. Make these short and sweet, no more than 5 sentences. Most employers are busy but appreciate little reminders.
3) Be very confident in your abilities and don't undersell yourself. This has been difficult for me to do since I am always pushing myself to be better and am fully aware of my faults, however, it is a worthwhile exercise to write down what you are good at and the skills not so evident in your educational background that you have developed i.e. negotiation, teamwork, resourcefulness, leadership.
After doing the steps above, I got a meeting with someone at an organisation called FIDAR who work in sustainable agriculture and little did I know, they were located on the grounds of CIAT. So off I went having prepared interview techniques in Spanish all weekend and finally got to see this famous CIAT that I had been dreaming about all year. Unfortunately the meeting did not come to anything and there was no position on offer but I took the opportunity to drop of my CV to someone at CIAT just as another reminder that I was still looking. Next, something amazing happened and the secretary that I gave my CV to said that the gentleman in charge would like to see me so I had an impromptu interview with him which went incredibly well. I also received my MSc results a few days later so emailed to confirm these with the gentleman and hoped that they serve as evidence of my abilities given that I got a Distinction! Nevertheless, what followed were weeks of silence...