International Experience Canada

By  Hostelling International / Ceri Jones-Chong

Find Your Dream Job Overseas

If you’ve ever dreamed of living and working in a foreign country, International Experience Canada may be the perfect opportunity for you to do just that!

As a Canadian I am lucky. First off, I live in this awesome country; secondly, I am Canadian. And thirdly, I have the chance to legally live and work in many countries around the world. For many young Canadian adults, living like a local on the other side of the world is a dream come true. I am one of those young Canadian adults who jumped at the chance to take this trip of a lifetime with the help of International Experience Canada.

I decided that I would spend a year working and living in New Zealand. It was a great experience, totally different than if I had just gone there travelling. Living and working in a country and doing the daily grind does open your eyes more to a country's traditions, customs and lifestyle. You also really get to mix with the locals, much more than you would just travelling.

I found the transition from Canadian into Kiwi life quite easy.

Probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make was where I would base myself in NZ—with so many amazing places to choose from it was not an easy decision. After much contemplating I decided that I would like to call Auckland my home for the next 12 months. I was looking for a more career-focused job, and it seemed that Auckland had quite a few on offer. When I first arrived in the city I stayed at a long-stay hostel, which was an excellent base and a great way to make friends. I found a job in about five weeks, which I suppose is quite a long time, but I was being pretty picky. If I was looking for more casual work I would have found one a bit quicker.

After five weeks at the hostel, two friends and I moved into a house right next to the beach on the North Shore. I have to say that this was really one of the highlights of my NZ experience. Being so close to the beach was such a luxury. I would head down there after a long day at work and catch the last few hours of sunshine, or just jump in the ocean for a swim. This was the life, the Kiwi way of life. If I was travelling I would never have experienced this—yeah, I would have hung out on the beach and gone swimming, but it was the fact I was doing this after work, like all New Zealanders do, that really made the experience better.

During weekends I would take trips out of the city to visit different beaches, suburbs and so on. I also received four weeks paid vacation from work, which meant I could head further afield. I took an RV trip around the South Island visiting Queenstown, Milford Sound, Dunedin and Christchurch. Over Christmas, I took a road trip to the north of the North Island and visited the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. I probably would not have seen as much of NZ if I had just been travelling, and not working while travelling. Working meant I could save up some cash to go and see these places.

I loved NZ so much that I wanted to stay longer and managed to get an extension on my work visa. All in all, I spent 18 months there before I came back to Canada.

I found my work and life experience really helped me when I returned home. I was much more confident and worldly, I guess you could say. I found employers liked the idea that I had worked in another country, and that I could adapt my skills to become successful there. I found, all in all, this was an extremely beneficial experience, both on a personal and a career level.

Where will you go, and how will you make it happen?

Ok, so you have decided working internationally is something you want to do. That was probably the hardest decision you had to make. Now you just have to decide where you want to go, and how you are going to get there and fund your trip.

For Canadians, take a look at International Experience Canada to see all of the countries that are available to you on the International Experience Canada Scheme. Here are a few to whet your appetite: Australia, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Norway and the U.K.

Funding your trip takes a bit longer to figure out than where you want to go. The majority of Working Holiday Visas require that you have a certain amount of savings available to you. This varies from country to country, but it typically means you need enough money to live on if you couldn't work for three months. You need to ensure you meet this requirement before applying for your Working Holiday Visas, plus you need to pay for your visa and your return flights to your chosen country. With some planning and a good savings plan, getting these funds together should be possible.

Casual work or career work?

Lots of people think that when you go on a working holiday you end up picking fruit or working in a bar. This does not have to be the case. I worked as a marketing coordinator, and many of my friends also managed to get a job in their chosen career. Look out for opportunities like temp jobs, or covering a maternity leave, as these are perfect for career-minded holiday-makers who want to keep working in their chosen field.

Another way to approach work on your working holiday is keep it casual and to keep on the move. You may find that some visas only allow you to work for a few months with one employer anyway. This is an excellent option if you want your work to help fund your travels. Just pick up a job for a month or so, and then move on to the next city or town.

Only for under 30s?

Well, yes and no. Some Working Holiday Visas are only available for 18 to 35 year olds, New Zealand and Norway, for example. But mostly you have to be aged 18 to 30. If you are over this range there are still options for Working Holiday Visas. You can try and get a work permit, but this is not as easy to obtain as a working holiday visa. Alternatively, you could try your hand at volunteering or WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).

Take your HI Membership with you

Your HI Membership is not only valid in Canada but it is valid all around the world, and there are some fantastic discounts to be had. Travelling to Australia? Your membership gets you 60 percent off full inter-capital adult fares on Great Southern Rail, and 10 percent more kilometres on Greyhound Kilometre Passes. Heading to Edinburgh or Ireland? Get a 10 percent discount for the Edinburgh bus tour, and a 10 percent off Avis Rent a Car in Ireland—plus lots more local discounts. These are just a few examples of the discounts available around the world with your HI Membership, and there are lots more on offer. Plus, donít forget you get discounted stays at over 4,000 hostels in the HI global network.

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