Saw-wielding ghost train monster, fruit picker, Outback barmaid, funeral insurance cold caller… What do all these professions have in common? They were all jobs on my two-year working holiday in Australia. My name’s Rachael, STA Travel Digital Marketing Exec, Love Island enthusiast and owner of one kick ass (weird, but nevertheless…) CV.
Taking the plunge and going on a working holiday visa in Australia can be both daunting and exciting, all at the same time. You’ll be constantly wondering ‘What if I don’t get a job?’, ‘How hard is it to find work?’ or just plain saying ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!’. It’s okay, I found myself asking the exact same questions when I booked my flight five months before I left, because I’m impulsive & apparently enjoy giving my parents a heart attack (don’t do that – unless it’s super cheap, then who cares about our parents?).
All jokes aside, I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than you think, and you can pretty much do just about anything to work your way around Australia – my friend once dressed up as a mascot for a corner shop.
So this is what I did.
I flew into Sydney and pretty much blew all my money within two weeks. It’s not big and it’s not clever. But all was not lost, as I signed up to a recruitment agency and got a job in a call centre – all before I’d even been there a month! It was selling life and funeral insurance to people, so it wasn’t ideal and I left after four weeks… BUT it was great pay ($25 an hour – about £15 – plus commission), very sociable, and I made some good friends. The good news is there will always be call centre jobs.
I then took on a slightly different role as a retail shop assistant in Australia’s answer to Boots… Priceline. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting about the role, but I got paid $23 an hour (just under £14), and I got massive discounts off makeup.
Then I took about six weeks off to do a road trip up to Brisbane with some other backpackers I’d met. We bought a cheap car, set ourselves up in cheap/free campsites and enjoyed an Australian summer on the road. FYI this wasn’t our smartest idea – sleeping in a tent in 34°C is not enjoyable!
I won’t lie to you, I actually found it quite difficult to find a job in Brisbane, and then by the time I did get some interviews, I needed to start immediately otherwise I was going to run out of money (and starting dates weren’t for a few more weeks). SO after mildly panicking, and my mam telling me I was going to have to come home (never tell your mother you’re in another country struggling for money!), I found a job at a motel in the Outback, where they paid you a wage and your accommodation and food was included. So off I went! It’s all part of the experience, right?!
After an 18 hour coach journey I found myself in Longreach (731 miles West of Brisbane), a very welcoming – and small – rural town, literally in the middle of nowhere. And at a constant 40°C. I was basically just an all-rounder: I worked for the motel, in the kitchen, as a waitress, in the bottle shop (liquor store) and anything else they needed – like ironing pillowcases. I got a decent enough wage that I was able to save up enough money to get myself back to Brisbane when I finally found a job in civilisation. It was an experience that will stay with me for life, and I’m so pleased I did it.
I flew back to Brisbane (incredibly excited to see city life) to start my new job as a marketing assistant. I worked for a smartphone application start-up, with an app designed for wine lovers (HELLO PERFECT JOB AND FREE WINE), and I just worked on the data behind the app, calling up potential customers and organising a huge wine tasting event. I even managed to get my friend a job after a couple of weeks!
After an incredible three and a half weeks travelling the East Coast, it was time to start my farm work for my second-year visa. You can read my survival guide for regional work here.
A travelling carnival between Adelaide and Melbourne
I met two guys while doing my farm work who had left to join a travelling carnival – I think they’d found it on a backpacker jobs group on Facebook (there are tons and you should join them all!). By the end of my time on the farm, they’d managed to get me a position with them! So we took a road trip from Byron Bay down to Adelaide.
My job? I was a monster on a ghost train ride. Literally. It looks hilarious on my CV! I would dress up in all these costumes, and wait for people to come round in their little cars and jump out at them, sometimes with fake mechanical saws, other times I’d just chase them around screaming. Safe to say, it was great! We did the Royal Adelaide and the Royal Melbourne shows over the period of about 6 weeks. As you can imagine, there were TONS of backpackers, so it was really fun and sociable. Also long hours = lots of money.
The last place I worked! My first job was as a B2B customer service rep for a makeup brand (again, huge discounts off makeup!) which I enjoyed, and I met loads of really nice people through it. My manager even considered sponsoring me at one point, but I’m a trained marketer, so as much as I loved Melbourne, I couldn’t stay for customer service.
For my last five months I got a job as a junior digital copywriter for a physiotherapy association, basically doing a lot of their email marketing, as well as editing and proofing reports etc. Again, it was sociable, we always went out to brunch (because, Melbourne) and it was just a totally chilled out atmosphere. Plus, it looked great on my CV when I came back to the UK!