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Find out what it's like to work in another country, including everything from working random jobs to finding your true calling as well as all challenges and benefits that come with it. Nat, Week 6.
Welcome to our series of Travelher's Most Frequently Asked Questions! This is the sixth topic in our weekly feature, which will be addressed first with daily posts on our social media channels and then compiled here at the end of each week.
Working in another country can be scary, confusing, exciting, liberating and pretty much everything in between.
Like with most jobs in general, finding the right one and getting through the first few months full of unknowns is the hardest part.
What makes it so different than working in your home country are the additional challenges that are thrown into the mix - potential cultural differences or language barriers, a whole different range of processes and ways of operating a business, the opportunity to try something completely new yet not knowing where to start, and all of that while you are most likely trying to find your feet in a completely new place all at the same time.
For me, the hardest part was trying to figure out what it was I really wanted to do. Being indecisive at the best of times, I wanted to do it all! Find something new and exciting to do, maybe even something I would never do at home vs finding a job that will benefit my overall career path was a struggle from the get go. Looking back, I think I should have applied for a bunch of different options and let the universe help me decide where to start. After all, you can always change jobs anyway, right!?
However, arriving in Kiwi country with my pretty straight-laced German preset expectations of climbing the career ladder quick-smart, I opted for finding a job that would provide some instant value for my CV. While this all worked out for me in the end, in hindsight, I think I would have preferred to try out some random jobs that you don't get away with as easily once you get older and are more set in that career path we are all meant to follow diligently ;-)
How to find work in another country?
Trying to decide what kind of job you want to do once you've moved overseas is the first big hurdle. But it doesn't necessarily get much easier from there ;-)
Depending on whether you decide to work a casual job or instead prefer a more corporate one, there are a bunch of things you can do to find the right one for you.
Step 1: Regardless of the type of job you've decided to go for, most countries will require you to apply for a work visa. If you are under 30, you are able to apply for a one year work visa in most countries without too much hassle. If you exceed a certain age (I'm praying to the globalisation gods every day that this might change in the future!) the whole visa situation could get a little trickier and you might have to find organisations that are willing to sponsor you. In this case, you should start your visa application process well in advance!
Luckily I moved to New Zealand in my mid 20s which means I was still eligible to apply for one of those easier to get one year "Work & Holiday Visas". Once I had that one under my belt, I started my research on the most popular online job platforms in NZ. While these are different in every country, the drill is the same. They make it easy for you to find out what kinds of jobs are available and some let you create a profile as well which can be found by employers who are looking for staff. A nice little double opportunity to get started.
Another option, especially if you are going for a more corporate job, is to get in touch with recruitment agencies overseas. You can send them your CV and let them know what kinds of jobs you are interested in. They will create a profile for you and send all suitable job applications your way. They usually ask you to come in for an interview but a lot of them are open to Skype interviews as well - if you are a control freak like me and want to get started early ;-)
I personally started to apply for jobs from Germany about a month in advance before I flew over - basically to calm myself down (I personally found it really stressful to arrive in NZ with nothing but a few savings and no job prospects on hand). A lot of the employers I contacted seemed, however, amused by the fact that I was applying before I even arrived in NZ. They more or less told me to "just get here first and then we'll see", "she'll be alright" - classic kiwi attitude :D
My German efficiency and desperate need for organisation kept me going though and after a couple of weeks I received a positive reply offering to arrange a Skype interview with a potential employer. The interview went well and I was told to come in for a personal interview once I've arrived in New Zealand which instantly lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and filled me with hope that everything would fall into place once I got to New Zealand. Even though I actually didn't end up getting this particular job, things still fell into place - but, in hindsight, I can tell you that this didn't happen because I unnecessarily stressed myself out applying for jobs before even arriving in New Zealand but by simply applying for every job I could find once I got here.
As so often, your plan of attack depends completely on what type of person you are and what works best for you ;-)
While I decided to find a job in New Zealand that fit my overall career path, I've previously worked a few random jobs when being overseas which could be a great option when you first arrive in a new country - at least to get you started.
Finding a new job as soon as you touch down at your new destination can be stressful since you already have a lot to deal with - getting over jetlag, finding a place to live, etc. That's why it can be useful to find some "random work" first.
While you most likely won't stick with that first job, it can help you become accustomed to your new surroundings before figuring out what you want to do for work long term.
I always found it really liberating to arrive in a new country and trying out something completely new that you might never imagine doing at home. I, for example, picked grapes and oranges in Spain to make some extra money during my semester abroad. While a fruit picking job isn't exactly something I'd consider doing back home, it introduced me to a bunch of amazing new people and let me enjoy the hot Sivillian sun while figuring out my next moves.
Working random jobs also means that you are more flexible. Casual jobs like fruit picking, working in a hostel, etc, usually last for only a few weeks or months at a time which means they could provide some natural breaks for you to travel in between. It also gives you an opportunity to get down with the locals as well as other expats which means you meet like minded people who will most likely form your initial new social network.
To simplify things even further at the start, you could stay in a hostel for the first few weeks (instead of finding long term accommodation right away). Some hostels offer work in exchange for free accommodation. Most hostels also provide great "job boards" with a variety of casual job offers you could apply for.
If hostel life isn't up your alley, you could also consider nannying. Similar to the hostel option, a lot of families offer nanny work in exchange for free food and accommodation and in some cases you make a decent salary on top.
While the options are seemingly endless, they all come with their own benefits and challenges ;-)