Working holiday visas are exactly the kind of thing I wish I had learned about in college.
There were of course the uber-expensive study abroad programs and the many well-to-do (or budget travel guru) backpackers through Europe after graduating.
But as I’ve briefly traveled both domestically and internationally, on my own and with group programs, I’ve started to slowly learn about working holiday visas.
Unfortunately, having graduated college five years ago, I’m no longer eligible for many of them.
Still, I’ve got three years before I turn 30 — the age restriction at which a majority of working holiday visas commence.
And I absolutely plan to take the opportunity.
Working holiday visas are resident permits agreed upon between countries that allow international travelers to find employment (or study) in a foreign country for six months up to two years.
There’s a lot to consider when applying for one, but in the end, they sound like they’re worth the hassle:
First, travelers are expected to have some sort of documented funds on which to live on while seeking employment and often times are required to have health and travel insurance for the duration of their stay.
Second, some countries — such as Australia — require a work holiday visa holder to switch employers every six months or limit one’s studies to four months.
Lastly, many only allow citizens from specific countries to participate. For example, I would not be able to obtain a working holiday visa to visit and work with my family in the Philippines because I am not a citizen of New Zealand. Go figure.
But when one does find the right country to visit, there are jobs available in almost every industry, from agriculture to hospitality, to education.
For example, one can become an au pair in the U.K. or participate in conservation efforts in Ecuador. Some travelers have even become extreme sports instructors in New Zealand.
However, these programs are not always fun and games.
Over the past couple months, working holiday visa programs have been highly scrutinized for putting vulnerable migrant workers into situations in which they could or have been exploited.
While foreign travelers may be overworked and underpaid in unacceptable accommodations, native workers are often becoming displaced.
With the right amount of formal government monitoring, however, these programs can continue to be a success. Just be sure to always research the programs at sites such as GoOverseas.com before signing up for any one program.
After all, I believe it’s worth the risk: Not only does this sound like a great way to see the world, but also obtain that global experience required of each and every job candidate today.
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