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Gap Interview: Paid Working Holidays

people on a paid gap year

Jon Arnold is Operations Manager at Oyster Worldwide, the Gap Year and Responsible Travel Specialists who offer both paid and volunteer gap year adventures. We caught up with Jon, and asked him a few questions about how to get the most out of a paid work project.

Q, what advice would you give to someone who wants to go on a paid Gap Year?

My best piece of advice is to plan early. Many of the countries that have work available for overseas staff have limits on the number of work permits available each year. To take Canada as an example, the IEC Working Holiday Program had 5350 places available for British passport holders in 2014. These were all reserved in a frenzy akin to buying Glastonbury or World Cup Final tickets. By the end of January 2014, if you didn't have a place on the Working Holiday Program, you could not work in Canada. This means a lot of people wanting to work for the winter 2014/15 ski season have been left disappointed. For people wanting to work in Canada during winter 2015/16, we would recommend booking up with us before Christmas.

Also, do some research on what to include on your CV. If you are going through an organisation, you should get plenty of advice about this. Bear in mind that some countries ask for a photo to be attached to your CV and some don't want to see exam results. Unless you have straight A*'s, they may not be interested so it is best to leave them off!

If you are heading overseas and plan to find a job on arrival, save yourself some time and hassle and make sure you print out a load of CV's before you leave home.

Q, What are the main types of roles that people look for when they go to do a Paid role abroad?

There are many countries around the world where people can get a job and earn money. These include Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, as well as many European countries.

Many employers around the world look for gap year participants to get involved in entry-level jobs. Whilst these may not be jobs everyone wants to do for the rest of their lives, they are excellent in terms of helping finance a gap year overseas and in boosting your CV. If you can show employers in the UK that you have lived and worked overseas for 6-12 months on your gap year, you are able to demonstrate all of the buzz words that employers are looking for but with the added benefit of showing that you can do all of that whilst living away from home!

Industries that hire gap year participants include hospitality, farming and even ski resort work. We find that our most popular jobs include becoming a paid ski instructor in Canada and working on a farm (following a training course) in Australia.

Is the language barrier something that can stop people getting a job on a paid gap year?

To take the countries used as examples above, language tends not to be a barrier. In these countries, English is spoken but there can sometimes be differences in meaning. For example, a colleague of mine in Canada caused confusion at an interview when she asked 'how smart do I need to be', meaning, how smartly should she dress. The employer took it to mean how intelligent do you need to be for the job, to which his reply was 'very'!

If you choose to work in Europe, having a second language can be of benefit however, many of the locations that we work in are generally tourist resorts so English is widely spoken.

Where are your favourite paid Gap Year locations that you offer?

The number 1 paid work location for us is Whistler, Canada and it's easy to see why. On our programme, not only do you get a qualification as a ski instructor, you also get to work as a paid children's ski instructor during your first season. For this programme we really do have to encourage people to apply early to ensure that they can get one of a limited number of work permits. Ideally look to book with us more than 12 months in advance, or, come to us with a work permit already.

Is there any exciting news you can tell us about Oyster and the things you have coming up within your company?

We are excited to announce that we are currently recruiting! We have a full-time job available based in our office in East Sussex. Take a look at our website for more information about the Travel Adviser role. This is an exciting opportunity for someone keen to work in the travel industry and join our growing team.

For anyone that hasn't done a Gap Year before, what would be the 3 main things you would want them to consider when choosing a paid Gap Year programme?

1. Understand that this is a real job, not a 6 month long holiday. Your employer will have high expectations of your standard of work so you need to be a hard worker

2. Before getting your hopes up, make sure you are going to be eligible for applying for a work permit. In most cases you need to be aged 18-30 at time of application

3. Think about what is going to be best for your CV or degree choice. Don't just take the easy option but instead consider how the skills learnt on your gap year will translate into your wider career. For example, working in French speaking Canada is not only going to give you great customer service experience, you'll also learn a language.



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