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Career Q&A: Marina Sant' Anna, Legal Assistant

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Moving to a new country can be daunting – particularly if the culture and language are different from your own. The EPIC Programme, which was launched in 2008, supports immigrants to Ireland to find jobs and become more socially integrated in Ireland.

Through the program participants are taught how to find jobs, are given pre-employment training, one-to-one support and work experience opportunities.

For the past 10 years, Cpl has partnered with EPIC to provide over 1,000 mock interviews with EPIC participants. Last year, after undertaking a mock EPIC interview in Cpl, Marina met Cpl recruiter Siobhan and now works internally as part of our Legal team.

A great addition to the Cpl Group, we recently asked Marina about her career to date and the advice she’d give to anyone else who’s moved to Ireland and is struggling to find a suitable role.

Where did you grow up & how did you become interested in law?

I grow up in a City calls Santos, in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’m passionate about reading non-fiction and philosophy/sociology. This is what lead me to study law (even though both of my parents are engineers!)

Can you tell me a little about your background and your career to date?

I am a lawyer registered in the Brazilian (2015) and Portuguese (2017) Bar Associations. In 2015 I graduated in law and passed the bar exam. Soon after, I started working in a law firm specialising in the specific field of international transport law, which is related to maritime law, customs, tax, insurance and compliance.

After almost 2 years, I left the firm and I started working in Lisbon (Portugal), as an L.L.M focused on maritime law. After a year and a half living there, I was awarded a European scholarship (Erasmus+) to do research for my Masters’ Degree thesis in Genova (Italy).

This revolved around maritime insurance law in the Mediterranean. Living and studying in Genova helped me learn more about the Italian language and culture: it was a great experience for me particularly because my family is Italo-Brazilian.

At the end of 2018, I completed my L.L.M. After that, I received a job offer in Milan at the Italian HQ of a German multinational company with the largest passenger transport network in Europe.

In Ireland, I did a short-term internship at a law firm specialised in personal injury and immigration law. I started a course on data analytics for business (at CCT College), trying to put together all my passions: law, compliance and the technical aspects related to insurances (risk management).

Soon after I finished the EPIC program, I received a job offer at Cpl as a legal assistant, and have been working here since September 2019.

When did you move to Ireland and what made you choose Ireland?

While I was working in Milan, many of my Italian colleagues and friends were speaking about moving to Ireland, due to the excellent conditions of the Irish Job market.

For this reason, in 2019 I decided to take this opportunity, moving here at the end of March. Yes, I landed just the week after St Patrick’s Day, and I still do not forgive myself for that!

How did you end up in the EPIC program?

The EPIC Program was a friend’s recommendation (network).

Can you tell us a little bit about the program & how you ended up working in Cpl?

EPIC is a 6-week training course for Europeans / stamp 4 residents in Ireland who are looking to integrate into the Irish job market. The program has individual professional coaching and daily group classes teaching relevant issues when it comes to job seekers, such as CV/Cover letter reviews, job interview’s tips, civil/Labour Irish law, Irish’s Political System etc.

At the end of the program, the participants were supposed to attend a mock interview at Cpl, EPIC’s partner company responsible for helping the participants in this context.

After my interview, Siobhan Kelly spoke to me about the possibility of applying for an intern position at Cpl working directly with the Legal Counsel.

Soon after, I did another interview with the Legal Counsel Ursula Cullen, and when I left, I received a call from Siobhan who officially offered me my current position.

You’re now working at Cpl as a legal assistant – what does your role entail?

In my role I support the Legal Counsel, this includes drafting briefing memorandums and summarising claims, reviewing commercial contracts, amending file notes, handbooks and other documents in the legal/compliance areas. I also manage archives and deal with other administrative tasks.

What has your experience been like so far?

My experience has been more than incredible so far, especially thanks to the people I work with closely. I am growing so much as a professional, making new friends and learning a lot about the great culture of this country.  

Do you have any advice for anyone in a similar situation who might be struggling to find a job?

Sometimes it is difficult to be a job seeker, especially when you live in a different country, with a different culture.

For a long period, I lived in 4 different countries and realised that it doesn’t matter where you are from. We are all very similar: the reasons for smiling are basically the same anywhere in the world!

So, don’t be afraid to make local friends and increase your network. Upskilling is also very important, follow up on courses and training. There are so many scholarships that you can apply for! You will meet new people and better integrate into the local culture.

What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career journey to date?

“Often when you think you are at the end of something you are at the beginning of something else” (Fred Rogers).

The EPIC programme Status provides support to adults from non-EU states with Stamp 4, Stamp 1G, asylum seekers with work permits or from EU states that are entitled to work in Ireland.

EPIC is run by BITC with support from Cpl. If you’re interested in learning more visit the BITC website, or if you’re interested in working in learning more about joining the Cpl team you can contact Jennifer.roche@cpl.ie