How Saying Yes to a Working Holiday Visa Changed My Life For the better
Is there more to life than just a full-time job? Are traditional career paths losing their appeal?
Jordan, a 27-year-old on a working holiday visa, and Chloe, 26, both embarked on a working holiday. Jordan’s expertise lies in redefining success in the modern world, while Chloe shares her insights on navigating the job market and the challenges of finding meaningful work. “More and more people are just a bit more chill about getting a job, you know, not in a hurry.” That’s probably the differences between millennials and Gen Z, and there’s also an emergence of the term “zillennium,” referring to those caught between the two generations.
It all started when Chloe had hit a wall in her Singapore corporate job. There was no room for progression and she felt unfulfilled. Chloe had also been intrigued by stories from her uncle about the work opportunities and lifestyle in Australia. “He kept telling me about farm work paying upwards of $80,000 AUD per year,” Chloe shares.
Intrigued by the possibility of an overseas adventure and career pivot, Chloe began researching visa options. She landed on the working holiday visa as a perfect fit. According to Jordan, “The visa allows you to live and work in Australia for a year, with the option to extend up to three years total by completing minimum hours of farm or hospitality work in regional areas.” With affordable costs of living compared to their salaries in Singapore, it seemed like a minimal risk opportunity.
After navigating the application process and saving funds, Jordan and Chloe made the leap. But what would working holiday jobs really entail? Read on for a first-hand account of their farming experiences in Western Australia and useful tips for pursuing the visa yourself.
5 Things to Know Before Berry Picking in Australia
- Long hours under the hot sun are the norm. Jordan warns that hours start early, usually around 6am when the berries are ripe for picking.
- An aching body is inevitable. Chloe notes she “had never used muscles [she] didn’t know existed” after her first day in the fields.
- Free accommodations are often provided in rural areas with few amenities. Internet may be spotty and shops non-existent.
- Your hands will be purple by week’s end. According to Jordan, “the berries simply don’t stop coming once you start picking.”
- Free fruit is a tasty perk of the job. “At the end of each day, we’d have ample berries to enjoy on our own,” Chloe fondly recalls.
After getting their hours in and extending their visas, Jordan and Chloe spent time fruit picking in Victoria and working at a North Queensland farm stay. But the bulk of their experience was in Pemberton, Western Australia, a two-hour drive south of Perth near the famed Margaret River wine region.
At the raspberry farm in Pemberton, Chloe was surprised by both the scenic scale of the fields and physical demands of harvesting. Her late night retail job in Singapore did little to ready her body for the physicality of farm work. But the long days were made enjoyable through meeting other backpackers also pursuing the working holiday dream.
The duo connected with invaluable networks online as well. According to Jordan, “Facebook groups like ‘Singaporeans Working Holiday in Australia’ shared job leads and insider tips that proved crucial for finding gigs off the beaten path.” This highlights the importance of utilizing online expat communities for support when navigating a new country and career path.
Top 3 Tips for Extending a Working Holiday Visa
Seek Out Rural Farm and Hospitality Jobs
Meeting minimum hour requirements means finding employers in need of seasonal staff outside major cities.
Reach Out to Other Travelers
They are your best local resource for leads on short-term work, housing, and experiences in remote areas.
Track Hours Religiously
Farm managers sign off on timesheets validating hours worked, so stay organized to easily prove eligibility for an extension at application time.
Beyond harvesting fruit and connecting with a global community of vagabonds, Jordan believes the experience instilled a valuable sense of independence and resilience. For Chloe, it sparked a passion for travel she hopes to continue exploring alongside photography for Jordan.
While their initial plans have evolved since returning to Singapore, both credit the working holiday with shifting career perspectives and opening new worlds of possibility. In a time where more question conventional paths, their story illustrates how a brief detour from the status quo can lead to lifelong growth.
“There’s more to life than just picking up a full-time job,” Jordan shared, highlighting a growing awareness among individuals that traditional pathways may not necessarily lead to fulfillment.
So what could the factors driving this change in mindset be?
Is it the ever increasing recognition that life encompasses more than just work and the desire to break free from the conventional cycle of study, full-time employment, and homeownership? Chloe highlights the importance of renegotiating the definition of success, moving away from a relentless pursuit of material wealth and exploring alternative paths.
“Two years off the system makes you think, ‘What is life? What do I want?'” Jordan states. The uncertain times have prompted individuals to reevaluate their goals and seek a more fulfilling path forward.
As the conversation draws to a close, Jordan and Chloe emphasize that this shift in career mindset is not limited to those facing financial struggles. It is a conscious decision made by individuals across different age groups who are seeking a more balanced and fulfilling life. They encourage listeners to explore their own aspirations and question societal norms to find their own unique path.
Skip to the key highlights here:
02:51 Is it a trend people not thinking getting a career?
08:32 How did you make the decision to get where you are today?
11:23 How did you decide to work and holiday at the same time?
13:31 What’s the process for getting a working holiday visa?
19:07 After holiday visa has been approved, what’s the next step?
25:56 How did you decide to work and holiday at the same time?
28:03 What’s your experience working farm labour in Australia?
34:23 How much is your living expenses?
40:19 How did the experience shift your view of life?
51:25 What’s your next plan now?
57:56 For people who are planning to apply working holiday visa, what’s your advise?
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