Conversations with Immigrants and Expats
Interviews with people who live and work in a country other than the one they grew up in. Learn about their experiences moving, integrating, and being productive in a foreign land — while keeping in touch with friends and family back home.
Okay, welcome to Cloudflare TV. I'm your host Patrick Donahue, and today we're back with another episode of Conversations with Immigrants and Expats.
I am joined today by Cristina Lee.
Welcome, Cristina. Hi, thank you. So how are things going? How have you been?
Things are good. I'm here in San Francisco still during quarantine, so it's been pretty nice for the most part in June.
It's just starting to get gloomy here.
Yeah, the San Francisco June weather is always interesting. Hanging in there until the fall seems to get nicer.
So Cristina, you and I actually never worked together at Cloudflare, but I was hoping you could maybe share a little bit about kind of what your role is and what you're focused on today.
Yeah, of course. So I'm on the field marketing team here at Cloudflare.
It falls under like the greater demand generation team.
I, within the field marketing team, support our Latin America function and our East Coast teams.
So helping like those field sales teams like hit their pipeline goal numbers is primarily like the job that I do, and I do that via like events.
Yeah, no, I'd imagine that events today, you know, I've worked with the events team over the years and has always been a great partner, going to meet customers and prospects and kind of speak about what we're doing in the industry.
How has that changed in light of everything? I mean, here we are, you know, virtual, I've seen a lot of companies move to that.
How have you kind of found that transition?
It's been, I think that we're starting to kind of get the gauge of like how to function within this virtual world.
Like we sponsor a lot of events at Cloudflare.
So we have presences, like booth presences at a lot of trade shows, like the big one that would have come up this quarter would have been Black Hat.
And like we plan like our presences there.
Lots of people, obviously. So those events have all fully been canceled.
Mostly the big ones have been canceled throughout the year.
And those events have turned into virtual conferences, and we have like online booth presences, and it's still staffed by our sales team.
And we still try to kind of get the leads that way for our demand generation function.
But it's a totally different experience.
The onboarding, the whole process, the face to face is actually fully gone.
And every single event organizer seems to be trying to figure out how exactly to adjust to the current reality.
So nothing is perfect yet.
Everybody is learning. So that's been pretty interesting to navigate. But I think we've all learned a lot through that.
And then the whole hosted event function that we used to do in the field marketing team, like hosting like our happy hours, like our dinners that were smaller, more intimate, higher level.
Those have been converted into like these roundtable discussions via Zoom, or different online platforms as well.
I know that like our team is looking into like doing like actually catering dinner from like a Michelin star restaurant and like having like a discussion or in class.
A lot of creative things that are completely different from what we used to do, but trying to kind of like appeal to that kind of sentiment of like a closed intimate space that people can kind of share their thoughts and knowledge.
I like that idea. Maybe you can include me in the meal delivery.
I'm trying to taste test too. No, you definitely have to get creative. It's funny that what you said kind of reminded me of shipping product right so I'm on the product management team and, you know, you try to build a product and get it out there, usually before you're comfortable with, you know, you don't necessarily want people to see it and use it but you learn a lot by, you know, starting something early and getting feedback and sounds like.
And then you course correct right you course correct based on that feedback and you take it in one direction or another.
It sounds kind of like you're doing something similar on the event side where you're, you know, you're experimenting and then seeing how it works and then each time maybe you know getting better for each event.
Yeah, it's definitely been like a lot of iterating within small things and just trying to get the sales teams feedback and seeing like what worked what didn't and try to tweak small things here and there and hopefully it gets better but it's still within the learning, I think.
Are there any advantages that you see that come out maybe that you perhaps weren't expecting anything that's easier.
Well, I can be at two events at the same time now which I think was like the biggest constraint sometimes.
It's like no we can't commit to that because, like, I physically cannot be there.
But now that's not a constraint. I think it has done things to like my sleeping schedule for sure because I need to support like the east and letting their ahead of me by like three, four hours, but it's enough of a difference that if the event starts at 8am.
It's kind of a pain, but it works out like it's better than taking a flight, I guess.
And having to be at two places at the same time, or which I couldn't Yeah, no, the, the lack of travel for me personally, I found it to be sort of a nice reset.
You know, I think I, I was on a plane going to a lot of events that you know that your team was setting up and it's been nice to do stuff and take a break and, you know, not have to dust off in case I really can so I think everybody.
A lot of people that I work with closely and a lot of my closer friends are like, is this the longest that you've been in San Francisco since you started Probably So it's been nice to rediscover the city, but it's, it's been closed, obviously, but it's nice to see it come back a little bit.
Sure. So you're, you're in your, you're working full time at Cloudflare now, but that it wasn't obviously the case, right.
You were an intern prior. What was that internship experience like So I was a summer intern.
I think my internship was about 10 weeks and it was around three years ago.
Now, I believe, so it was before I was a senior in college.
I was an events intern. So the events team was very different from the way that it was structured currently.
So we kind of had our hands in like every single event that Cloudflare ever really did, including trade shows, including like Internet Summit, all of the brand events that on customer events as well.
I think that the internship itself.
Now, looking back makes me realize how far Cloudflare has come because I remember that I came in and they were like, so you speak Spanish.
And I was like, yeah, I do. And they Are like the first day they like gave me this contract to read because nobody could read it in Spanish.
And I was like, yeah, looks fine to me.
And then obviously I think there were actual legal like legal had to review it as well, but they wanted me to give it a final pass since like I was native and then I remember being given like access to our Marketo like our email automation program and being like You know how to code HTML like we need to get these invites out for summit and like we need to create this button.
We didn't have an email marketer at the time.
So like I did a lot of different things. And like I'm for that.
I'm like super grateful because it was a great experience. I was able to learn kind of the entire marketing Organization, a little bit like worked with different people that were not necessarily on my team and kind of get my hands in wherever I really wanted to So that was great.
Even 10 weeks I think that the 10 weeks felt short because by the time that I kind of got a swing of things like it was time to leave.
But it was an amazing experience and it was really fortunate because I was the LATAM kind of region was just starting to become like a sales region and they had just hired the LATAM sales lead and I got to meet him and started to work with him and deciding like what events, which would sponsor like as an intern.
Like a lot of it will because I could I understood their where they were coming from and how they did business and the language portion really helped.
So all in all, I think.
Went through a lot, but it was great. You're making me think back to when I started and you know there's such greenfield and a lot of areas where I think that's one of the most exciting things about joining a company that Is, you know, is growing fast and early on in the company's life cycle because you get to get to do things that, let's be honest, you know, if you joined a certain number of years later, you know, you wouldn't as you've seen on the legal side.
I think we probably have a few more Spanish speakers on the legal team now.
Getting to do stuff.
Not, not that you love the reading contracts, but you know you get you get to do a whole lot that you perhaps couldn't do in a larger company.
What about, you know, so we've we've had our internship class, you know, this year we were fortunate enough to double it.
I was really excited about that. You know, what tips would you give to the interns that are just starting now coming into the Cloudflare that maybe you learned during your experience.
So I actually have like that.
I'm not sure if you are with the intern buddy program, but I like myself up to be an intern buddy.
And I have an intern buddy right now that I've been like talking to for a couple weeks now.
And I think that One of the best things to do, given the fact that we aren't able to meet people in person right now.
I think it's to take advantage of the time that you're here to like kind of make connections with different people on the team and maybe some like cross functional teams that you're working with just to really kind of understand like what your Yes, the job that within Cloudflare is and meet as many people as you can, because The portion that I really enjoyed of my internship was being able to have conversations with people like in the snack room and like Being able to kind of just casually talk to people about like what their role is because I was really curious about what different roles in marketing work like I wasn't sure if I knew At the bottom of my heart that I did want to come back as an events person, but I wasn't really completely convinced that that was like the path that might I should start my career in So just wanted to pick everybody's brains kind of see like how they got to where they were and Just setting up like one on ones with different people to be able to like hear different stories because It really helps to really know like how everybody got to where they were because I found and I learned from talking to multiple people that like most people aren't where they are in a straight shot like they're probably there because And it kind of took some loops and like hearing those stories really kind of made me feel like I wasn't too like I guess I felt like it was going to be like That it wasn't like a failure, I guess, in a way to not know exactly what I wanted to do.
Yeah, I think that that's perfectly natural.
And I think it's great to be able to chat with people and see that they're not everyone took a straight shot, as you mentioned to the role that they're in today.
I was just thinking back to some of the so I'm mentoring an intern this this summer and really excited to have them.
It's funny, we actually give interns projects that are some of the most important projects, you know, for the entire company and that that to me is pretty Pretty fun and pretty scary.
But, you know, I think we've had some tremendous wins on the product side and engineering side on stuff we've built and, you know, I can't speak to marketing, but it sounds like, you know, we had some success there as well.
What, what about your, you know, how did you kind of get get hooked up with Cloudflare and you, you know, You're on the segment because you, you know, you're moved to the US and you're working here and you know Cloudflare is kind of the Entry point into that from your full time perspective, but like, how did you take me back to the actual move to the US and, you know, what made you sort of want to kind of stay here after school and so on.
So I went to a K through 12 like international American school when in Chile.
So I grew up in an environment in which a lot of my peers and my teachers and everybody were from everywhere and they were moving and coming Leaving like all the time.
And that was something that as someone that was there, the entirety of the journey of K through 12 in the school that I was Not I wasn't like super jealous of the fact that they needed to readjust every single time that they moved, but it was something that like I felt like I was missing out because everybody seemed to have this shared experience about leaving and having Like adjusted to a new place and like having friends in different like parts of the world.
So I knew that I from like a very kind of young age that I wanted to have something like that for myself and to be able to live somewhere different from where I grew up.
Even though I feel like I did grow up somewhere that my parents don't like in a different place where my parents are from.
So I did get kind of like that international experience, but I knew that I wanted to live somewhere completely different.
So I guess that's why I applied to colleges in the US. And if that wasn't going to work out.
I was going to go to college in Korea, which is where my parents are from.
So I knew that like always the fact that I was able to get a job in the US.
I think it was something that was very lucky and something that like I worked for, but I wasn't sure if it was going to happen just because the visa situation is pretty complicated and I wasn't sure if I was going to get sponsorship.
So that was something that I always hoped for, like I wanted to stay in the US, if possible, given the fact that I had gotten my education here.
The school that I attended like it's well known and within the US, but not super renowned outside of it.
So I felt like my best shot at a great opportunity for what's going to be within the US.
So that's kind of the pragmatic reason why I stayed and then all of my friends were from here now because a big part of my friend group from college did move up to San Francisco.
So I wanted to do the same.
Very cool. Yeah, I went to a similarly kind of smaller regional school that's pretty well known in the area, but in Maine and not as well known internationally.
So I totally get that. What was like what you moved from where in Chile and what was it like kind of growing up there where you speaking English, Spanish and Korean maybe it sounds like Yes, so I grew up in Santiago, Chile, and I went to school there American school there.
But the native language that they speak in Chile is Spanish.
So I grew up speaking Spanish like socially outside of the classroom.
And then I did have like one hour of Spanish class within school and then we had Spanish like Chilean history at one point, but that was only a year and And then English was spoken in the classroom and then Korean was spoken in my house.
So, yeah. That's impressive. I struggled through high school Spanish and I still comes back to me a little bit, but maybe, maybe give me some lessons at some point.
Was there anything that you found in terms of just language and kind of culture when you move that you, you know, surprising or or not surprising for that matter.
I think that my transition from High school to college there. It was kind of like more of a bubble into a different kind of educational bubble, in a sense.
That was that had international students as well, which were the people that I actually was closest to.
So it was More similar to what my experience back at home was also because the American portion of the school that I went to in Chile.
Was more American than what I imagined, I guess it was an easier transition than what I thought And so that transition actually was pretty easy.
I didn't really Feel much difference.
But then when I moved from Claremont, which is where I went to school to San Francisco.
I think that I really experienced what actual America is or not like it like I felt like I kind of came out of the bubble and I was kind of not shocked, but I was like, wow, like there are different kind of personalities and like subcultures within the US, which I kind of knew as a in theory, but I didn't really Experience it in college.
So that was kind of a shock to me.
So, so you were Claremont is Los Angeles or somewhere. Yeah. So you were finding that the kind of the bubble of the college was a little different than sort of living within the city as a professional in San Francisco.
Is that what you're saying.
Yes, yes, exactly. And so what does San Francisco. What kind of, what did it feel like coming in there.
And so I think when we spoke earlier, you were saying is that kind of felt like you're moved to the US was actually from Chile to San Francisco.
What are the differences city wise that you found Um, I felt like so I thought that San Francisco.
When I first came as an intern, I guess I thought that it was going to be a lot bigger.
I thought that it was going to have like the buildings like the high rises.
I don't know why, like I I visited San Francisco when I was a kid, but I just didn't.
I remembered it more large, but I was also a kid.
So that's probably why it felt bigger. And given that like Silicon Valley is such a, you know, like I you think technology.
I thought that it was just going to be, I don't know, something like from the future almost and my idea of a city was very Like the images like soul or Santiago's like somewhere that has like a high concentration of buildings, but you only see that here in downtown, which is still pretty small.
And then the fact that a lot of people. There's such a high concentration of like young professionals here.
That was something that I didn't expect.
Like I thought there was going to be a lot more diversity of different people and Like people in different industries.
And I think that the more time that I spend here like I do start seeing and I've started to meet those pockets of people.
And it's just because I know people that surround myself with most of the day being Cloudflare it's the people that I work with and the people that I went to school with but having branched out.
Now I can see the more diverse side of San Francisco.
But initially I was like, whoa, this is like everybody works in the same thing.
And then the city is a lot smaller and it's a lot more quiet than what I imagined it to be like So those are my initial thoughts of like when I moved here and it felt like there was more I can't really verbalize it and articulate what the feeling that I got.
But when I started interacting with more people at work and just in general, like going to the grocery store.
Those are things I just never did in college because I didn't have to I think I realized like how like American culture is a little bit different than what I thought it was in college.
How so Um, I don't know.
I think it's like people are very Like people in general, very nice in California, I think, but it's At the same time, I think it can be a little bit cold like people don't really like when you ask for help in like a grocery store or something like that.
I'm used to people being like very chatty and like very Like in Latin America, especially like they will not let you like stop like Following you and whatnot.
And then in Korea is the same way like as a service industry like you are expect like the person is really like it's annoying sometimes almost but They're like, how can I help you like super like, you know, and here I feel like unless I seek it out like people don't really are not like looking at you really And even when you ask like it's not always like I want to help you with everything I can and like try to get to know you almost and then At restaurants.
I also felt that now that I was like going out and to the city more and things like that because I have an experience in college, but it I did eat mostly like within the school campus.
And I pretty much knew everybody there and all of the staff were like Mexican and like I spoke Spanish to them.
So we had a thing. And then here I just felt that it was different.
And for the first time I was like, wow, like this is kind of what the US must be like and it's something small, but it just, it really marked me for some reason.
Yeah, that's funny. I have a friend from Istanbul who grew up there and he says similar things in terms of the helpfulness and people wanting to kind of be warm and You know, help you is a little different or for him.
It was an adjustment. So that's funny. So how do you, you know, you've been here several years now, like, how do you stay in touch with your family and friends back home.
How have you found that So, Because of international school, all my friends are everywhere like they're dispersed around the world.
And that was something that I got a lot of practice with because Growing up, my friends are always leaving every year.
So I got used to kind of doing like these like mass catch ups and group chats and just like putting my updates up there and just Waiting to hear back with my family.
Obviously, I think it's a little bit different because like with my mom and dad, they're still in Chile and I obviously like want to have like more of a consistent catch up period with them.
I think that when I was traveling a lot like a big thing was just like whenever I'd be at airports or things like that.
Like, I would just call my mom and hope that like she's going to pick up and if she doesn't like I'll just, it was like, we'll talk later.
But I'm a big fan of just like random phone calls, even with my friends. I just like because they're all in different time zones.
I'll just see what works and hope that they'll pick up And I think that especially in shelter in place because all my friends like my best friends all live in Seoul, they sheltered in place before us.
And I think a lot of them are still remote working right now. Even though some of them actually do go to the office every day now because things are like they're tracing and stuff is pretty, pretty good effective But I just would call them when I wake up or whatever.
And they would pick up and be like, oh yeah, I'm working.
Like, how are you and I think it was like even 10 minutes like it's just Great way to catch up and then group chats in which like we just like put all of our updates and like let everybody know what we're doing.
And then voice messages help a lot.
What apps you're using for that stuff. I'm always curious.
There was like I didn't know what's up before. And I know I'm probably the last person to know what's up, but Using for technology.
What's up is a big one.
And then Facebook Messenger. I think just allows for people in different like places and whatever a lot easily to and then cacao talk from my Korean friends.
And then I get I in the within the US, I guess we use iMessage because they are also dispersed in different cities.
So lots of messaging apps on my phone. And then I think recently there was, I'm not sure.
This one is kind of more obscure. I think a lot of my friends three download it house party and it's an app that you can You have all of your friends on it.
And when people log in, you see that they're like in the house and you can join the house party and everybody can start joining like the party, I guess.
And it's like facilitates video calls super easily. And it's something that we used to use when we were in college, just to like see what everybody was doing.
And the return of house party was when sheltering place where I started.
So that was That was a cool way to like get to talk to a lot of people because there was friends that I hadn't particularly been in touch with since college that some of my friends were so we would be like in the same groups.
And then I think the last one, but I think this one is my favorite one is to kind of do Like do things together with your friends even or my family, even if you're apart.
So with my mom, like I try to watch all the Korean dramas that she watches So we have something to talk about aside from like what is going on with work and Like how is your brother doing, you know, things that are kind of like more mundane more I think boring sometimes and like those conversations don't always go super long.
So I like talking about like, oh, like, did you watch like the last episode that was released and like we talked about the plot and it just I think it creates more conversation and like with my roommate that is now in shelf like she's sheltering place in Idaho, like we like Started to make like the same cooking recipes and we just like ask like each other, like, oh, how did that go like and it's just been, it's a different way to kind of engage with someone and you don't really have to talk about what's going on in life, I think.
That's kind of cool. I imagine if you're homesick ever, you know, that would be a good strategy to kind of do the same thing that your mom is doing.
I like that technique. I also think that like when it also especially like the cooking portion really helps me because Like my mom will send me like the recipe that like she used to do when I was back at home and Like I wouldn't miss eating something I should listen to me exactly like what to do.
And then sometimes like a lot of the time, she'll be like, oh, that sounds pretty good.
Actually, like I'll make it for you. My dad, like your dad and me and will like eat the same thing and it helps That's cool.
So, so we're almost out of time here.
But one of the things I want to kind of ask you and to leave people with.
I think A lot of people are, you know, thinking about potentially in a similar situation and, you know, coming here or moving to a different country from us or What are some of the things maybe that you would give to them from an advice perspective as someone who's kind of recently gone through it.
What would you want to leave them with for, you know, for as they think through what they want to do and where they want to be.
Um, well, I think that It's less it was less scary for me because I already had like a group of friends and the network that when I came to San Francisco that like it wasn't super daunting to me that like I was going to go to a completely foreign place.
I know that things that I have found new people here has been like joining smaller groups of Which like you can like either like volunteer time or maybe like engaging with things within the community that Would help you kind of adjust.
I know that like a big thing for me when I first moved to the US.
I like Attend a church in Chile. So I joined a Korean church and I like join like the choir and like having something that like I used to do back at home and finding that again in the new place that I was was something that was Made me feel like the adjustment was easier just because there was familiarity in that So I remember like joining dance groups, because that was something that I did a lot in high school and things like and like Re reciprocating things that I love to do and to meet new people here and then to be able to like continue doing something that like Is familiar to me was a big thing that helped me adjust to the US.
So I would suggest that as something To do and like to consider to do and to actively look for that because I think it's hard, easy to just kind of like not engage in those things and being like, that's just going to be Like I'm going to be by myself.
Anyway, like I'm like neglect that and just ignore that until you kind of find your support group and then you start doing things again.
But I think that Doing that first really helps.
And then you find people that could become your friends forever, which is what happened with me.
That's great. No, I feel like I could I could take some of that advice.
It seems very actionable and practical.
So Thank you so much for joining today. I think it was great to hear your experience and hopefully everyone listening at home.
Got a good, good experience and some things to learn.
And so thank you so much for joining and have a great day.
Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. Thanks. Bye bye.