Harriet Bingley explains how working abroad not only delays entering the adult world but also give a boost to your CV
An uneasy lull has descended upon my third and final year at York. Until relatively recently, I was in a healthy state of excitement about the rest of my life; then I foolishly began investigations into my future ‘options’. This now appears to have been an ill-advised pursuit. After a few trips to the careers centre and an innocent browse of those infamous graduate recruitment schemes, I descended into increasing confusion. I am now convinced that the only way for me to manoeuvre my way through all this so called ‘advice’ is to take another degree in JARGON. Is this stuff meant to be useful?
Since this first venture, my current path has become somewhat of a haze. And now, in hindsight, my past few years seem totally insignificant and virtually barren of any useful reference. However much I slag off the elusive Curriculum Vitae, though, it has entered my very being and is with me at every waking moment. I am programmed. The instinct to assess all potential activity for CV worth is now firmly embedded in my soul. I must base myself in ‘skills’, somehow.
After reconciling myself to this inescapable fact, I then decided to moor myself to any possible career path that I came across. Over the last few months I have hurled myself desperately from whim to whim, a bucking bronco of occupational prospects. Alas, I sprung off each in turn and have now landed back in reality again.
My disposition tends to expect the worst and, with no plan, I am suffering from mild and sporadic heart palpitations; I cannot seem to shake off this disconcerting feeling that something slightly nasty is lying in wait for me at the end of June. In this state of lingering anxiety, I am also inclined to blame other people. Am I simply overreacting, or is something amiss with the barrage of helpful information intended to ease us into the workplace? Those overzealous friends embarking on ready-made and highly competitive placements appear to have reacted well to this ‘useful data’. Am I destined to be an over-educated dropout because I can’t be decisive enough to commit myself to one of the schemes available in the careers centre?
Whilst in this slightly embittered haze, I stumbled upon a temporary and constructive opt out clause (N.B. not a drop out clause!): work abroad. Why not mull over my ‘options’, add to my CV, and exist somewhere entirely new for a while? I suspect that once plunged over the edge of the precipice (June), my murky perspective will clear and immediate reality will strike (i.e. a selection of scrappy choices will materialise). But why should I not, with a bit of organisation, have some CV friendly fun whilst, no doubt, agonising over the gaps in my CV? Is this an option? Do these countries not have their own wandering students struggling to grasp an apparent direction? A scattering of countries and suggestions offer hope.
SOUTH AFRICA: VOLUNTEER PROJECTS IN ENVIROMENT, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL WELFARE
Visa requirements: These schemes allow you to conduct either voluntary or paid work anywhere in the country for up to a year. The current cost of this special permit is £40.
Language requirements: English is, again, becoming the language of business, and is also spoken by many people.
MEXICO: WORKING ON DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS AND TEACHING ENGLISH
Visa requirements: Standard tourist visas must be renewed every 90 days but, by applying for a Tourist card, you can extend this to 180 days. A special visa is available if you want to teach for a year, but you are required to submit a CV in Spanish, pay a fee and have both a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, and a valid tourist visa.
Language requirements: English is being increasingly used in business (which is creating a demand for teachers). Bearing in mind that the South American version differs to European Spanish, teaching yourself the basics beforehand is definitely advisable.
Finding work: Useful websites include the Mexican Yellow Pages, which can be searched in English, and local newspapers online. Specific teaching opportunities may be found at www.teaching-abroad.co.uk and at www.britishcouncil.org. Mexico is also a popular destination for development projects, visited by Outreach International, Amigos de las Américas and Experience Mexico, to name but a few.
JAPAN: TEACHING ENGLISH, TRANSLATING, MODELLING AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Visa Requirements: If you have already secured a job before arriving, your employer will apply for a certificate of eligibility on your behalf from the Ministry of Justice in Japan. If you don’t have a job before arriving in Japan, you will have to obtain a visitor’s visa and change your status when you become employed. For more information, contact the Consulate General (Visa section) at the Embassy of Japan in the UK.
Language requirements: For non-skilled work and teaching, a knowledge of Japanese is not a requirement.
Finding work: The Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) is the most popular work experience programme with UK graduates, placing around 500 a year in short-term teaching placements.
AUSTRALIA: HOSPITALITY AND RETAIL TO FRUIT
Students can obtain a 12-month working holiday visa which covers many types of temporary work, full details being available on the web from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs – www.immi.gov.au
Language Requirements: Mild concern if this is a query…
Finding Work: There are many organisations (including IST Plus, at www.istplus.com, AIF, at www.workinaustralia.net, and BUNAC, as before) which can help you find part-time work before and on arrival in Oz, and include perks such as a network of ‘fellow travellers’ and ‘orientation’. These do charge however and some may find them a ‘bit of a rip-off’.
It is very possible to set up work independently and sometimes before your trip, through websites (e.g. The Sydney Morning Herald, The West Australian for Perth or The Age for Melbourne, which are all online) or through online directories. Particularly suitable for casual, backpacker-style work is www.traveljobs.au. This provides specific information on vacancies in the travel and tourism sector.
AUSTIRA: SKI-RESORTS, AU-PAIR PLACEMENTS, FARM AND HORTICULTURAL WORK
Immigration/Visa requirements: British nationals can live and work in Austria without a permit (EU perks), valid passport and proof of sufficient means required as well.
Language Requirements: A basic understanding of German would be useful, even for temporary work.
Finding Work: On arrival check out the local job centre as they stock a brochure dedicated specifically for casual and seasonal employment.
The European Job Mobility Portal (EURES) online will give you extensive information and links to the European job market situation (europa.eu.int/eures will take you straight there).
AgriVenture offer placements spanning a year designed for 18-30 year olds in orchards, greenhouses, farms and with livestock. You will stay with others in a host family and receive an allowance and holidays for your labour.
NORWAY: AU-PAIRING AND UNSKILLED LABOUR WORK
Visa requirements: As members of the EEA, British nationals can live in Norway for up to three months without a work permit, which can be extended to six months (full details are available either from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in the UK).
Language requirements: Most Norwegians speak very good English and English is okay for temporary work.
Finding work: Atlantis Youth Exchange specialise in long term work experience programs for young people between 18 and 30, the idea being that you work for free in return for accommodation, board and some pocket money (full details from firstname.lastname@example.org). The National Council for Work Experience advertise summer vacancies, which can be found on the AETAT website – enter the word ‘summer’ into the search facility.
Maybe with a little cultural adjustment, a change of scenery and new challenges I will gain some perspective. Until then, armed with a plan, I hope to rest easy, put the looming (no longer leering) future to one side and treasure my last year in this mighty institution.