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Latin America: Where the world's jobs are

Lauded for its economic stability and entrepreneurial opportunities, interns and career changers alike are looking to Latin America to launch their careers.

By Staff writer, and Lauren VillagranCorrespondent / February 19, 2012

Jeremy Melul is a Stanford grad and creator of Jogabo, a social network for amateur soccer players. Here he hangs out at Start-Up Chile, a government sponsored program whose seed money was a major reason why Mr. Melul left France to grow his career.

Courtesy of Ignacio Espejo

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Mexico City; and Santiago, Chile

When Tara Roberts lost her job as a magazine editor in the midst of the recession, she decided to start her own business. The American from Atlanta wanted to create a social networking company that connects women around the globe working to improve their communities.

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But when it came time to choose a base from which to launch the site, the United States was not the logical place in her eyes. Instead, Ms. Roberts went south – far south, to South America's southern cone.

"I had been the victim of the downsizing, the madness of the US economy, and the idea of exploring another place – living in another [country] was also really exciting to me," says Roberts, who began developing GirlTank in November as part of a Chilean government-sponsored program called Start-Up Chile.

"One of the great things about being [in Chile] is that there is such an opportunity to do anything," she says. "You can really start projects here, and there is a need for them."

As Europe and the US have suffered economically, Latin America has been lauded for its stability. It has experienced its fastest sustained growth in decades. While oil companies, big agricultural outfits, and factories have long invested in Latin America, attracted to looser laws and cheap labor, young people now see the region as a new economic frontier. It's a place to launch a company, get a competitive edge, or spruce up a résumé. They are seeking – and finding – opportunity, at a time when they see little at home.

"Compared to Europe, where everything is slowing down, South America seems to be doing the complete opposite," says Toby Donnison, a young Briton who is heading to Argentina to do a three-month internship with an investment bank. "I definitely want to know how business works over there."

One path: internships

The internship has always been a door opener. For Mr. Donnison, a Spanish speaker, the work experience is part of his degree in language, politics, and international studies at the University of Bath. He could have stayed much closer to home but says he wanted to get away from tired Spain, where the unemployment rate is over 20 percent.

Donnison scored the internship through a new company called Intern Latin America, which is trying to capitalize on what founder David Lloyd says is a growing interest in working in Latin America.

Mr. Lloyd created the outfit last year, based on his own positive experience in the region. While he landed an internship at Rolex in Argentina through connections, it's a path he recognizes most people can't depend upon.

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