Picture the scene: you’ve just flown into Australia on your working holiday visa and have booked yourself a couple of nights at a hostel in Melbourne, say. After listening to Men At Work’s Land Down Under song on repeat and adjusting to the shock of paying at least $30 a night for your bed in a dorm, it’s time to think about how you’re going to replenish your funds quicker than you can drink them away at Cookie.
Setting up yourself with an Australian SIM card is the first port of call. Luckily, it’s very easy to wander into Telstra or Vodaphone and purchase a pay as you go SIM. Take a form of ID with you as the phone company may ask for it as you’re an international customer. Remember to unlock your mobile phone before you leave home and you can pop the SIM straight in. Most pay as you go SIMs start from as little as $10 to top up and the credit lasts a month or as long as it takes you to spend it.
Phone number sorted it’s time for a bank account. Using the address of your hostel – temporarily until you’ve found long-term accommodation – and bringing with you your passport (with visa) for ID, you can set yourself up with a bank account very simply. Commonwealth and ANZ are commonplace in most towns and cities. Opt for online banking to make it easier to manage your money on the go and ensure you don’t get bombarded by paper statements.
Again, using your hostel address as a place to receive mail, sign up for an IRD number (tax file number) that you will need to give your employer when starting any kind of work. When signing a contract for employment it’s handy to have both your bank account and IRD number sorted so there’s no delay to receiving your money and you don’t get taxed too much!
Your health should always be your utmost priority. As well as your travel insurance, check whether you are eligible for Medicare. This provides access to a range of medical services, lower cost prescriptions and free care as a public patient in a public hospital. Certain categories of visitors to Australia can enrol in Medicare and access these services, so it’s worth checking out whether you can apply. Visit a Medicare office and take your passport and a copy of your visa with you to register.
Beginning The Job Hunt
Essentials all in place, it’s time to actually begin the tricky matter of job hunting. Firstly, dust off your CV: two pages of clearly presented information that highlight your skills and experience. Have this saved electronically and be prepared to tweak it to ensure it is relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.
Then look around your hostel for posters of companies offering backpacker-friendly employment. Some hostels offer an employment service, so register your details with them. Talk to your fellow hostel mates and find out where they are looking for work.
If bar or cafe work is more your bag, pick a suitable time of day to walk around handing your CV out. Don’t walk in during the middle of dinner service as you won’t even get a look in. These industries hire on personality and experience, so smarten yourself up, smile and be prepared to win employers over quickly with your killer charm.
If you have specific skills and you feel a recruitment company may be the best route for you, research those in your area, ring them to find an appropriate contact for you to send a CV. Write a concise covering email outlining your skills, availability and what you’re looking for. Always follow up with a courtesy phone call.
The good news is, you’ve snagged yourself an interview! Head directly for the nearest charity shop and buy yourself a smart shirt or dress for your interview. Wear a pair of shoes, not sandals or trainers. Just because you live out of a bag does not mean you have to look like you do.
The same hints and tips apply to interviews in Australia as they do at home; research the company you are interviewing with, get familiar with the job specification and have examples of how you can match it ready to use. Ask questions about the role and be mindful of your body language, don’t forget to smile and make eye contact.
Remember to take your passport and visa showing your working eligibility to the interview. If you have specific qualifications then take your certificates with you to present as evidence. Ensure you have a list of email addresses and contact details for people who are willing to be your reference.
Congratulations, you have aced the interview and landed yourself a job. Before rushing back to your cramped dorm to tell all of your roommates the good news, consider whether now is maybe a good time to look for alternative accommodation. Whilst hanging in the hostel with your new travel buddies is fun, getting up at 7am and dressing for work in a dark room with ten other people snoring around you is not ideal.
You may worry that moving out of a hostel is more expensive, but this often is not the case as houses out of the city centre will cost less. Look for room shares and bills included to reduce cost. Living in a house share will also broaden your circle of friends. Use websites such as Gumtree and Flatmates.com.au, or look at local newspapers and adverts for rooms for rent. Check Facebook for community groups in your local area that may advertise rooms.
Embarking on your year abroad adventure in Australia can be simultaneously exhilarating and daunting. Has anyone else got any stories from when they started afresh in Oz?
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