Claire was 22 when she left home for a temporary job abroad in Australia. She explains how finding work wasn’t so hard once her motivation level picked up!
How quickly did you find work?
When my bank balance was so low I had to start working and stop sunbathing, I probably found work within a week!
What was your job?
I had quite a few random short-term jobs – going door-to-door collecting money for a charity, working in a mushroom factory, handing out leaflets, telesales and cleaning in a hostel.
Did you need to be qualified?
What made you decide to do these types of jobs?
I really needed the money so I could stay in Australia, and this kind of work was flexible and didn’t involve a lot of effort! It was a great way to meet other backpackers and meant that my days were busy and I still had the nights to do what I wanted.
What were the highlights?
With the kind of work that I was doing, the main highlight was honestly getting paid at the end of the day! I was on a working-holiday visa, and my main focus was on the holiday part. I needed the money as I had already been away for 6 months before I arrived Down Under and so this work was perfect. I was also able to meet a lot of people in the same position as me and experience a new side of Australia.
Were there any negatives?
The types of jobs that are offered to backpackers in Australia are pretty limited. You were only able to spend three months in each job when you had a working-holiday visa, which meant that the work available was quite basic and didn’t involve a lot of training. So, unless you were planning to work in the outback or extend your stay by getting sponsored, the main options were jobs that no-one else really wanted! Although a lot of the work wasn’t very skilled, it was really hard work. Packing mushrooms or handing out leaflets for 7 hours a day sounds like an easy way to make money but actually you have to be quite strong to deal with it! Working did however provide many comical stories and was a good way to bond with other backpackers.
How did you find the jobs?
I found most of the jobs advertised through backpacker hostels. A lot of them have their own agencies to help you find work and put you in touch with different organisations. This was a really good way to find a job in Australia because the people in the agencies were often backpackers themselves and so knew what kind of work was needed. When I was in Perth the local newspaper was useful and I was able to find work through that.
What was the salary like?
Very basic, but it was enough to pay for my accommodation which is all I really needed. When I was cleaning in a hostel I didn’t get paid but got my bed for free, which was great. A lot of backpackers end up doing this as it means they can meet other people in the same position, and working in a hostel is a wonderfully laid-back job!
Did you make lots of new mates?
When I was going door-to-door I was on my own, so didn’t meet any new friends through that. However, it was a great way to meet Australians and visit neighbourhoods I would not have normally seen. I met so many different characters and got a bit of an insight into their everyday life, and although I got fed up with the work in the end I really enjoyed being able to look around these new places. The other jobs had better opportunities to meet new people, and you often saw old colleagues again when doing other placements. I was able to work with people that I already knew a lot of the time which made the day fun, and when we were doing telesales we had competitions to see who could sell the most. Things like this definitely made the time go faster.
Did you go to college or university in the UK, and if so what did you study?
Leicester University – Communications and Society BSc.
Do you feel that the experience of working abroad has helped your life in other ways?
Definitely, it was one of the best experiences of my life! It shows I have been able to adapt to difficult working environments and I now know that I can adapt to whatever is thrown at me. I have also volunteered on two newspapers in Ghana, an orphanage and a school for street boys in Swaziland, and together these experiences have proved that working with a diverse group of people is possible. I also know that I can do whatever I need to in order to get money and survive on my own. I feel a lot stronger after having I worked abroad and really can’t wait for my next adventure!