Advice

What can working abroad do for me?

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to actually go and live it for real. Working in a foreign country is an opportunity to really understand an alien way of life – all it takes is determination, integrity and some cheap airline tickets.

All employers look for relevant experience when they see your CV. It’s important to show that you understand what your role will be, and that you’re a hard worker. If your CV can demonstrate that you can work hard in a foreign country, even if you’re just selling theme park tickets, you’ll stand out as an extremely competent and versatile candidate.

Working in places like Disneyland Paris is a standard summer holiday job for French-speaking undergraduates at English universities. You don’t have to be studying French, but you’ll need to be absolutely fluent and ready to contend with thousands of customers every day. One of the main benefits of working in Disneyland Paris is that if you’re an EU citizen, you don’t need any extra paperwork to start earning money there.

A British person can work anywhere within the EU without worrying about visas. If you’re going further afield, you’ll need all the relevant documents as well as some extra cash to pay for your application. Some countries won’t let you in unless you have relevant skills, and some won’t let you in unless you have a relevant degree. The USA insists that you have a job lined up before you turn up, which is fairly understandable, Australia, New Zealand and Japan offer visas which combine work with holiday – perfect if you want to spend a year travelling and earning from time-to-time.

Most people will take up casual work, cleaning hotels or serving drinks at a bar. If you fancy some more manual work, nearly every country has a season when the agriculture section takes on casual workers. Fruit pickers are particularly highly demanded, although the work is hard and the days are long. Some people may want to work in a developing country for altruistic reasons. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to work for free, but you’re likely to receive a significantly lower wage than you would in the West. Volunteers are needed everywhere, from Chechnya to Lebanon, but the work is often difficult and dangerous. Remember that foreigners are at risk of abduction in both of these locations.

Once you’ve sorted out your plans, got your vaccinations done (remember you might need to get them many weeks before you fly out), and arranged the correct documentation, you’ll be on your way to one of the most significant learning curves of your life. You’ll be able to experience a culture while actually being useful in your host country – something that will never happen on a package holiday or boozy gap year!!


Tags: gap year, work abroad, travel, money, australia, new zealand, japan,