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Want to Work Overseas?

Ever wonder what it would be like to work overseas? The Michigan Alumni Travel blog shares the experience of working in Australia.
By Carmen Herin

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Read time: 4 minutes
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If you are interested in doing a gap year or moving abroad, a Working Holiday Visa allows you to legally obtain employment in that country.

In 2014, I applied for my first Working Holiday Visa (subclass 462), which allowed me to live and work in Australia for 12 months. The cost for the visa is $495AUD, which is around $350USD, and the processing time for approval took less than three months. To apply, visit the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website and create an “ImmiAccount.”

This visa comes with restrictions — I could only work for the same employer for a maximum of 6 months. Naturally, jobs fit for this time frame were casual or seasonal, such as in the industries of hospitality, construction, or retail. You must also be under the age of 30 to apply (unless you are a citizen of Ireland, France, or Canada, in which case the age limit is 35). As for healthcare requirements, I needed to undergo a chest x-ray because I had previously lived in China for six months in 2011.

The process can be quite daunting if you are traveling alone. Thankfully there are support programs available. “Travellers At Work” can help you with setting up your Tax File Number, your Australian Bank Account, housing, and more. Alternatively, you can use seek.com or gumtree.com for job postings.

Your flight will most likely land in Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth. I personally like flying Qantas because I prefer the Dallas-to-Sydney flight.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a MUST.

I spent eight years in Sydney (New South Wales) and loved every minute of it. But if I could do it over again, I would work in every state. If you are only able to stay in Australia for 12 months, my advice would be to not stay put in one location. Work for 10 months in two or three different cities and then travel for the remaining two months.

Great Barrier Reef
Flying over the Great Barrier Reef on the way to Heron Island.
  • Queensland sits on the Great Barrier Reef. Explore the islands such as Fraser Island, which has the Kingfisher Bay Resort (where Harry and Meghan stayed), or the Whitsundays (for the underwater hotel).
  • Do you know what a jackaroo or a jillaroo is? Find out in South Australia while also experiencing Australian wildlife (koalas) and tasting through the Barossa.
  • The Northern Territory is STUNNING and is the perfect place to appreciate Indigenous culture. Explore Kakadu, Uluru, and Litchfield National Park and also learn about the bombing of Darwin during WWII.
  • Western Australia is twice the size of Alaska, so there are endless activities to do: swim with whale sharks, take a selfie with a quokka, visit a pearl farm in Broome, and more.
  • I am not a fan of Melbourne (Victoria), but make sure to hire a car to drive the “Great Ocean Road” and grab a photo of the Twelve Apostles. If you like the snow, go for a ski at Mount Hotham or Falls Creek.

If you are interested in traveling to Australia or working abroad, let me know!

Skiing In Australia
Yes, you can go snow skiing in Australia! Thredbo is the closest ski resort from Sydney.

My top-three tips for visiting Australia:

  • Wear sunscreen — the sun is intense.
  • Keep left: driving, walking, shopping. People will give you odd looks or even run into you if you don’t.
  • Watch out for magpies — they will swoop during mating season.
The Big Merino
“The Big Merino” in Goulburn, a town known for its wool. For some reason, Australia likes building large random attractions. Another example is in Humpty Doo (yes, that is a real town) – there is a “Big Boxing Crocodile,” which makes sense since there are plenty of crocs in the Northern Territory.
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