Overseas Opportunities

After several years of study, many graduates feel like a well-earned break. The lure of adventures in distant lands drives many to strap on their backpacks and head overseas.

Undertaking employment or volunteer work overseas (OS) is a great way to combine work experience and travel. OS experience also looks great on a résumé. Many programs exist to assist students and graduates interested in volunteering overseas – from weekend work camps to two-year professional placements.

Exchange programs

Most universities have a department dedicated to organising student exchange programs. These can range from short study tours of a couple weeks to a semester or a year of study at an overseas institution. Studying overseas is a great way to challenge yourself by moving to a new country and making new friends, while also gaining an international perspective in your degree. It’s also a terrific way to see the world, experience new cultures and brush up on foreign language skills.

Gap years

A ‘gap year’ refers to any year-long break – before, during or after university – usually to travel, work overseas or undertake volunteer work.

A break before or during university can be a good way to re-energise before the challenges of further study. However, there are also advantages in waiting until after you graduate to do any extended trips. If you’re unsure of your career direction, then time off could be well utilised to broaden your horizons and affirm interests and career inclinations.

Even if you are clear about your career direction, taking time out to spread your wings can be valuable for personal growth and employability. Employers recognise the added value of staff who have seen a bit of the world. Planning and undertaking a trip is evidence of a range of personal qualities valued in the workplace, including independence, determination and curiosity.

If you want to take a gap year when you graduate, but are concerned that it could affect selection for a graduate program, check with individual employers on their eligibility policies.

5 top overseas destinations of Australian bachelor degree graduates in full-time employment
  1. United Kingdom (26%)
  2. USA (9%)
  3. Hong Kong (8%)
  4. Japan (6%)
  5. China (excluding Hong Kong) (6%)

Click for more information about volunteering in Australia and overseas

Working holiday schemes

Most working visas are provided on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ basis, so it’s important to select the time that suits you best. You can utilise more than one working holiday visa for a given period, allowing you to plan a round-theworld trip with working stops in various destinations.

Many countries have specific working holiday visas and schemes that allow you to work for a specified period of time, within a defined age bracket (commonly 18-30) and under certain conditions (i.e. work type may be restricted).

For countries offering working holiday visas to eligible applicants from Australia and New Zealand, visit:

OS work can be challenging. Before committing:
  • Ask yourself “What do I hope to achieve/contribute?”; “How will I manage times when I miss home?”
  • If you volunteer through an organisation, does it charge a fee for placements? Is financial assistance provided for housing or transportation? What are the living costs?
  • What skills training and support is provided by the organisation?
  • Culture shock is natural – in time, most people will acclimatise to a new environment.
  • Talk with past volunteers or holiday workers about their experiences.

{Article based on a flyer produced by University of Melbourne Careers & Employment and an article by Ebony Frost, Marketing Communications Manager, GlobalCareer Company.}

Pros of working OS…

  • enhanced résumé and references
  • work experience and career opportunities
  • opportunity to travel in work breaks
  • knowledge and understanding about other countries, cultures and ways of life
  • personal and emotional development.

… & Cons of working OS

  • Even a working holiday comes with costs so you have to be financially prepared.
  • When you return from overseas it is likely your peers will have made progress in their careers, so be prepared to catch up!

{Source: Australian Graduate Survey, 2008 GCA.}

Further Resources

For more information about working overseas visit:
Au Pair In America www.aupairinamerica.com

CCUSA www.ccusa.com

Contact Singapore www.contactsingapore.sg/

Global Exchange www.globalexchange.com.au

Paid Teaching Overseas www.onlinetefl.com

The Jet Programme www.jetprogramme.org

Job Street www.jobstreet.com

Overseas Jobs www.overseasjobs.com

Overseas Working Holidays www.owh.com.au

Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk

Smart Traveller www.smartraveller.gov.au

UK Border Agency www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk

Work Anywhere www.anyworkanywhere.com

Work In Belgium www.workinginbelgium.com

Work In France www.workinfrance.com

Teaching English in Korea www.teaching-english-korea.org