Moving to Peru


Today, I am leaving San Francisco to work for the Production Ministry of Peru through the Peace Corps Response Program. I share this update here because I wasn’t able to say goodbye to all my family and friends or explain where I’m headed.I’m sad that there wasn’t enough time to say goodbye to everyone properly. I hope that this post will provide some insight to your questions, and if you need it, maybe even give you some peace or inspiration with whatever it is you’re going through in life.  

How we spend the days in our life often revolves around the work we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to dedicate our time and energy to. For many years, what work meant to me was fairly simple and to the point. I started at Google as an intern when I was nineteen years old. After graduating and backpacking Southeast Asia, I continued to work at Google on one of their fastest growing advertising products for several years before I left to work at a smaller partner called PubMatic. I built a career with a very good trajectory in programmatic advertising, and I’ve learned so much from numerous mentors, clients, and colleagues throughout the process.

One of the main lessons that brings me to where I am today is how to make choices, particularly with our time and our work, with intention, authenticity, and courage. While I knowingly worked very hard for the success in my career in advertising, I hadn’t consciously yet defined what success personally meant to me. This is no unique or unfamiliar revelation: I was climbing a corporate ladder in an industry where I had no authentic interest in reaching the top. While I’ve always been inspired by technology and its ability to impact businesses and communities, I also had interests in social impact, art, and public service, that went unexplored or ignored because I didn’t have the time or energy… and because I was afraid.

It takes some time and some heart to build the courage to design and execute a life with intention.

It took me the past four years to research and plan to be where I am right now - which is literally a plane headed to Lima for my Peace Corps Response orientation before I eventually make my way to Piura, Peru where I will be based.  For some time, I considered pursuing my MBA like many of my Google colleagues did. I studied for awhile and took the entrance exams after working for Google in China - an experience that foreshadowed or ignited my interest in working abroad. I also researched Master’s in Public Policy or Public Administration programs because I questioned if a business degree would align with my post graduate career interests. I started consulting and grant writing for nonprofits and public education institutions on my nights after work. I spent a lot of time ideating, researching, and building the courage to make the choices which put me on this plane today.

Eventually, I found the Peace Corps Response Program which focuses on placing professionals and experts of certain fields in organizations abroad for a short period of time. Unlike the traditional 27 month Peace Corps Volunteer program, Peace Corps Response placements work with a specific organization and range from 3 to 12 months.

I applied for a few positions that were aligned to my interests and the professional skills I built from advertising and my experience working with nonprofits. However, it was not an easy transition for me. I was rejected a few times, and I initially was denied medical clearance. So after nearly a year of applications, interviews, Spanish language assessments, and medical and security clearances, I’m excited to embark on this journey towards a new country, new community, and new career.

I had a lot of doubt and uncertainty throughout this career transition, but I’m grateful to have family and friends who’ve stood by me as I grew into the person I am today. If there’s anything that you take away from this post I hope it’s that you go find, build, and nurture your community because it in turn will nurture and support you. I thank all of the people who’ve nurtured me these past few years.

Our lives are comprised of a string of choices like stanzas in a song, and not everything will always feel right. I made some very difficult personal choices including giving up that career trajectory in advertising, saying farewell for now to many close family and friends, and even ending a beautiful long-term relationship. I know I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to let those things go which made those choices even more difficult. I still have some fears and doubts, but I finally feel this inner peace which I haven’t been able to achieve the past few years.

I hope to provide more updates on here as I get settled in Peru. If you’re still reading this, thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

Louella Aquino6 Comments