Finding jobs in Australia.
I am arriving in Sydney on a Work & Holiday visa on March 3rd (I'm American), and I am a little nervous. I have everything prepared (backpack, sufficient funds, health & travel insurance, booked a hostel for a few nights, etc.), but I still am not prepared for finding a job. I have read that the Australian job market has shrunk over the past year, and I am slightly...apprehensive. This will be my first time traveling overseas on my own, and my first time really supporting myself on my own.
I have a Bachelor's degree in English/Writing, and I have a year of experience working for an art gallery, but other than that, I'm young and rather unskilled. I've been looking at the usual sites like Seek and GumTree, and I've seen some cool jobs that fit my qualifications, but I am not so sure how Australian employers react to the working holiday crowd. Must we all pick fruit or bartend? I've heard hospitality is in demand, but I don't plan on bringing any clothes that need to be ironed. Would hotels supply uniforms? Would I be able to snag a temporary/casual job related to my degree? I am even toying with the idea of sponsorship while I'm over there (not matter how unlikely), if I like it enough.
I've also noticed that the mining industry needs people to remove venomous snakes every now-and-then, and since I love snakes, I would probably love doing that. Would it be worthwhile to receive venomous snake handling training and seek employment in that field? Is that even an option? Humanely removing animals of any kind would be cool, especially since I'm a wildlife photographer. I guess, I could also work on cattle stations, although I have no farming/horseriding experience.
Lastly, should I apply for jobs now, or should I wait till I get there? I'm sorry, if I'm asking stupid/wrong questions, but I'm just curious. As you may know, the economy over here (in the U.S.) is not the greatest, and I can only hope Australia's a little better. In fact, I'm going to Australia to escape this madness for a while and travel while I have minimal responsibilities.
P.S. I am floating the idea of spending my 12 months in Oz circumnavigating the country. I'd very much like to buy a car and travel counterclockwise around the continent, camping out around the country, spending the winter months in the hot/tropical north and the summer months in the temperate south. My hope is to reach Exmouth by July to snorkel with the whale sharks and manta rays on Ningaloo. I haven't set anything in stone, however.
1. Don't worry too much about finding a job now. It's best to wait until you arrive and then start looking. Check hostel notice boards, gumtree, etc. Also, don't rule out WWOOF and helpX. I found a paying job since I was working at a lodge associated with HelpX for a few weeks in NZ. These are great ways to save money while on the road.
2. Buying a car. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it. I had a bad experience in NZ and lost a bunch of money on it because it died a few weeks after I bought it. So unless you are a mechanic or really know how to buy backpacker cars, I wouldn't advise it. Again, check hostels for people advertising rides, and Greyhound has a bus network in OZ (Intercity in NZ).
Hope this helps.
Australian employers are no strangers to overseas workers. I worked in a professional setting for 5+ years and at any given time at least a third of the employees were on visa sponsorship (granted it was a small, niche company though). I have plenty of Aussie friends whose co-workers are on WHVs in a variety of industries. Someone has to hold down the fort while seemingly half the population of Australia is off backpacking in Thailand!
Local papers and their websites can also be a good place to look for jobs. http://whereilive.com.au/ is a good place to start (I think they sort the careerone.com.au listings by area). If you want temporary work to tide you over then I'd recommend befriending a student and getting them to look at the job listings on their uni websites (these kinds of employers probably won't mind someone who'll only be around for a little while).
Whatever you do, make sure you are aware of your rights. Check the minimum wage for your award and do not accept a cent less. You'll need the awesome Aussie wages to offset the ridiculous cost of living
I'd also recommend looking into the cost of petrol here before buying a car. I think it's more expensive here than in America.
Good luck and have fun. Most Americans I've met here have found that Australians are a bit more laid back about employment than what they were used to at home. (My former employers certainly weren't uptight: "Oh you're taking off to travel for an unspecified amount of time? Sounds fun! Hey you're back and need help getting hooked up with some work? Here ya go! What's that? You're leaving again after only 9 months back? Be safe and have a great time!")
That's really awesome that employers are so cool about their workers coming and going. My current employer has the same attitude, but my job isn't exactly a career, so that's probably why. I don't imagine many serious American employers would be nearly as understanding.
Thanks for the link to whereilive. That will be VERY helpful. I am probably going to get out of Sydney ASAP to offset the high cost of living (even though I'm pretty sure I won't find anything too much cheaper outside of the big cities) and head north for Brisbane. Petrol (gas in the U.S.) prices are a bit more, so again, I'm definitely going to investigate all of my options before I do anything rash.
Thank you so much for the advice!
I'm sure my employers wouldn't have been quite as cool if I'd been working in high-powered corporate law or something, but generally we're pretty familiar with the whole gap-year/work overseas for a while thing here so most would at least understand what you're doing.
I do notice a bit of a drop in expenses when I get out of Sydney (which is unfortunately a rare occurrence for me, there is an embarrassingly large list of places in my country I have yet to see). The east coast is probably still quite expensive in most places but other state capitals can be cheaper. I go to Adelaide a lot which definitely seems cheaper to me. I guess it really all depends on your lifestyle though. I know some people who are budgeting ninjas and can make Sydney and Melbourne work for them as full time students with part time jobs while others are in full time employment and claim they can't afford to move out of their parents places.
Good luck and I hope everything works out for you. I obviously only have an outsiders perspective on this, but from what I can tell the WHV crowd are great at sticking together and helping each other out. I swear some of them have better established social and professional networks built after 6 months here than I have after living here my whole life!
We're just not known for traveling a lot. In fact, only about 35% of Americans have passports, and if we do travel outside the country, we usually go to Canada, Mexico, or some random place in the Caribbean (I haven't been to any of these places).
I have also heard the WHV crowd is good at this, but I think that's because they're in a country different from their own. They don't have a permanent residence, so they can move around freely, and they don't really know anyone, so they are eager to meet people and forge relationships. They are also more motivated to travel within said country because they only have a limited time to stay. You don't usually do that in your own country because you often find yourself saying, "I can do that anytime" (That has been my attitude for years).
Anyways, again, thanks so much for the help! I am going to need a lot of luck, but I am sure everything will be just fine! I can't wait to explore your awesome cities and beautiful country!
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