Community Builders: An Interview with Laura Plasencia
After years of experience volunteering and working in foreign countries, Laura Plasencia decided to create a platform to help women find their homes in any country and be supported along their journey. She is driven to build a community of risk-taking women who share knowledge and wisdom to lead successful lives abroad.
Laura took some time to speak to Panion about her work.
Panion: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
Laura: My background is in Tourism, I always loved to travel and experience new places. I started living abroad in the UK once I finished University at 22 years old and with little clue of what I was doing.
I relocated to Berlin with a paid mobility program where all the costs were covered (flight, medical insurance, etc) and this is where I decided to give the support and knowledge to other people that I wished I had when I was younger.
Now I work in the HR/ Recruitment Department of a multinational company and at the same time, I dedicate myself to Jump into Freedom, helping women to find a work position abroad according to their dreams and assist with the application process in order to be selected.
P: How did you end up creating Jump Into Freedom?
L: After years of working and living abroad, I couldn’t find a platform where they were sharing opportunities abroad without making a profit out of sending people abroad. I wished I had the information about different options for internships, jobs, and volunteering that can be now found on our platform.
Jump into Freedom specializes in International mobility programs providing the tools, knowledge, and mentoring you need to be selected and choose the best project according to you. We also run online events and workshops for expats to come together with the same interests and we encourage a likeminded community with lots of advice and support.
P: What are some of the unique challenges that female expats face?
L: Knowing where are the safest places to hang out, where to buy specific feminine hygiene products or contraceptive methods just to name a few... These are just some common questions that we face.
We have created an Ambassadors program to pair you up with another member who is living where you are currently or planning to live, so you can have a call and resolve all those questions. It is also a great opportunity to make friends.
P: What makes a meaningful friendship?
L: I believe is being vulnerable and sharing your struggles as well as your wins. At the end of the day, we are all humans and friendship is a valuable tool to support you along this journey of life.
P: Community is a great way to make friends. What are some of the other top benefits of belonging to a community?
L: Connection, networking, and advice from other members. Imagine that you are looking to relocate to Madrid and you already know someone who is living there who can help you with some questions like best places to hang out, how to set up a bank account, and more.
This is why a community is so important. It builds a network of knowledge and support with one another.
P: You've been very successful in building your community but I'm sure it wasn't always easy. What are some of the challenges people face when building a community?
L: It is hard! It takes time and lots of dedication to build a community but the good thing is that if you offer value and humanity, people will actually recommend it to a friend or family member and you will slowly see the community grow.
P: What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to grow a community?
L: Not listening to their audience but instead do polls. Ask people questions- they will tell you where they need more support.
Also thinking that everyone will be in alignment with your community or find what you do useful. Each group has something different and not everyone needs to fit in and that’s ok. Just focus on your niche and provide value, this way the right people will come to you.
P: What are your top 3 tips for people trying to build a community?
L: Be patient, be consistent, and share what you love. If you have a strong ‘why’ this is what will push you forward on both great and bad days. Determination is key.
P: How do you see the future of community building in the context of changing technology and the “new normal”?
L: We have transitioned to online events and we have experienced a multicultural awareness as we can connect with people all over the world. In our events, we usually have someone from each continent and we feel grateful to be able to experience this.
I feel that activities that were in person but turn into online events where anyone from anywhere in the world can benefit from them without having any physical barrier.
P: What are some of the Panion features that you think will be most powerful and why?
L: Panion helps to navigate through the whole spectrum of the community at a glance. It is quite intuitive to use and has some great features that are missing in other most used platforms nowadays. Definitely we should all give it a chance.
Laura has a Bachelor's Degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management and is passionate about helping people to relocate abroad in order to experience a life-changing and enriching path. Her work has been featured in Europe Language jobs and public intuitions such as Madrid International Lab and the University of La Laguna.