Get paid to travel to the world’s most beautiful places to talk makeup and fashion.
As VP of Maybelline, Orrea Light lives that life. As a “trend expert,” her job sends her across the globe to watch movement in the beauty, fashion and textile industries, to predict how they will impact future trends in makeup and cosmetics.
But even though all this globe-trotting is part of the life, as a teen she never dreamed that she’d have a job that takes her to this many places. “I would say that I had no idea I would do the amount of travelling that I do, or go to the places I go to. Because, at the time, I thought I was going to be working in a different industry,” she says. “In the beginning, I thought I was going to be in fashion. I was going to be a fashion designer.”
Orrea feels that any job can bring you around the world, if you play your cards right. Instead of focusing on a career that normally has a lot of travel, take any field you want to work in and look at it from a global perspective.
“If you’re really passionate about travel, if you have that element of looking at the global identity of any area [of expertise], then travel is going to come with that.”
So what does that mean? Using the beauty industry as an example, Maybelline’s head office in New York is full of people with great jobs that see them taking care of domestic affairs. But, because Orrea has a great international knowledge of makeup and beauty products, she was able to land a job that takes her further. “The minute you’re very specific to North America, or a territory, [travel] probably won’t be as built into your career path.”
Her work with Maybelline takes Orrea overseas for “eight big trips, five smaller trips jotted in-between,” per year. That’s a lot of airports and lineups. As an experienced traveller who has battled language and cultural barriers in stops like Moscow, Paris and Milan, she has a few tips on how to travel wisely.
Whether you’re staying in five-star hotels or backpacking from hostel to hostel, Orrea says the rules are the same. “I think it’s really good to pack light, since we have such small space and bag allowances on planes. Understand voltage and have converters for yourself. Understand where you’re staying, how to get to where you need to go: are you walking or are you taking a taxi? Is it easy to get taxis?”
Ever the fashionista, she adds that it’s important to know how to dress. “When you’re preparing to pack for a big trip, you really want to make sure you understand the weather and the climate. What’s appropriate in the culture? Is it appropriate to show your arms? Is it appropriate to cover up? Is it a place that’s very modest?”
To navigate her way through France and Italy, Orrea has learned a bit of French and always tries to know a few important phrases in the language of her destination. Even if you’re terrible, she says, locals always appreciate the effort of trying to speak their language.
“People are really excited to hear that you tried to understand their culture. So maybe learn a few words in their language—just make the effort to investigate what’s common and what’s courtesy there.”
And don’t worry. She’s more than happy to share her favourite must-see spots with you too.
“Definitely go to Prague. It’s just so beautiful. It’s really spectacular…. All of Paris is beautiful in the spring and summer. It’s always magnificent. There’s a wonderful café facing the Eiffel Tower: it’s called Le Café de l’Homme.”
She also recommends Turkey as a spectacular destination. “It’s really cool. Some parts of it, you feel like you’re in Asia, and in another part you feel like you’re in Europe. It’s really amazing.”
Orrea also feels that it’s important to immerse yourself in the local culture, as deeply as you can, and experience everything. Even though her schedule keeps her busy while she’s away on business, she makes every effort to squeeze some pleasure in.
“It’s always amazing to be in another culture and another place. So, if I have the opportunity, and it’s not always the case, I always try to do something [that] I didn’t do last time.”
Orrea has worked hard to be in the position she’s in now, getting to see amazing places while doing what she loves, and she appreciates every minute of it. “There are a lot of people all over the world who don’t get the opportunity to travel…. So I’m always thankful for that, and I don’t take it for granted.”
5 Other Great Travel Jobs
By ELAINE KWAN
A lot of jobs involve a good deal of globe-trotting, so if travel is your thing, consider pursuing one of these great gigs for a way to see the world—and make work pay for it!
1. Hotel inspector
2. Overseas English teacher
3. Stand-up comic
4. Athletic recruiter
5. Information technology project manager