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The idea of studying non-stop for 12 or 13 straight years, only to leap into tertiary study for many more, may seem like a ridiculous and daunting way to spend the early years of your life. That’s why the gap year is so important. Whether you’re taking a break between different levels of study, or between study and full-time employment – or simply wanna drop off the map for a lazy 12 – here are the most plentiful and common gap year work opportunities available to you, with very little experience (read: none) required.
London is a prohibitively expensive city to live in, which is why you’ll most likely find yourself either living in a backpacker’s hostel with a few dozen of your closest strangers, or crammed into a share house built out of mold and asbestos. Fortunately, the UK has a well-established network of temp agencies (like this one), which you can sign up for, and which will seek out employment opportunities for you. Most of these will be boring office jobs, with menial tasks and a base-rate of pay, but these are also pressure-free and (fairly) responsibility-free, and provide steady income you’ll be able to rely upon when scraping together change for a lager and crisps.
If you’re lucky enough to have visited the US before, you’ll have found their bar culture is quite different to that of Australia and New Zealand. Firstly, there’s a lot of sitting at the actual bar, inches away from the bartenders, who are usually assigned to specific customers. Depending on the bar, they’ll want to chat, to get to know you, and will constantly be checking that you’re right for drinks.
All of which is to say there’s an emphasis on customer service, as the majority of their wages come from tips. While this may seem like an unsteady way to earn money while overseas, it also forces you to get to know the locals which, if you’re spending a year in the area, is the perfect shortcut to local knowledge. Plus, getting paid in cash is a great feeling, especially when you are holding a wad of US currency (that you can then use to “make it rain” later at home). There is also nothing like scoring a huge tip from a rich generous soul out to impress.
These jobs are quite easy to get, but often rely on chance and availability. The US is a big place, so if you want security, it might be worth lining up work beforehand. Here’s a handy list of bars to get you started.
As you well know, New Zealand is a major skiing destination, with 24 public and private resorts scattered across the wind-whipped, snow-peaked mountains of the country. Because of the seasonal nature, and varied employment opportunities, these jobs are plentiful, but popular – so you have to be prepared, and a little organised. Generally speaking, you should apply for work in February or March, interviews will occur in April and May (don’t worry, these can be done remotely; these places understand that many people arrive the first day of the season), with the ski season running from June to late October. You don’t have to be one with the slopes, either: there are jobs in hospitality, admin type office work, and guest services – although if you are well-versed in snow-sports, jobs for snowboard and ski instructors are also available. The majority of resorts are on the South Island, so aim there if you wanna improve your luck. Want a tad more info? Here you go!
This is a job you can do in basically any non-English speaking country, but opportunities are far more plentiful in Japan, and the infrastructure is there to ensure a smooth employment path. Numerous others have spent time doing this, too, so there’s plenty of sound advice around, and the horror stories seem to be few and far between – and, quite honestly, usually involve Westerners taking advantage of the situation and slacking off, or treating their job as an extension of their party holiday. Also, in case you are worried about whether or not you are qualified to teach English to someone, if you have read this far without any trouble, you’ll probably be alright. There’s training, housing support, and VISA sponsorship to make your journey a smooth one, too.
This is seen as a backpacker’s job due to the easy seasonal work, quick turnaround, and, to be honest, repetitive nature (you wouldn’t wanna do this 48 weeks a year). It can, however, be quite pleasant and novel work for a few months, plus the physical labour is strenuous but not gruelling. As many Australian tourism campaigns have stressed, we should visit our own backyard before straying overseas, and while they have a vested interest in us believing this, we don’t. Simply put, regional Australia is a beautiful, varied, and rugged place, and the price of living plummets drastically if you are used to big city prices. You might find you come for a year, and stay for a lifetime. (Okay, that sounded like a tourism campaign, we’ll admit). If you’re keen to get your fruit pickin’ on, visit this site to check out your options.
If you can afford not to work for actual money, there are numerous chances to volunteer abroad, and see the world in a vastly different way. GVI Australia send over 2000 Aussies overseas each year – to far flung regions such as Africa, Latin America, and Europe – where you can aid in local conservation efforts, educational roles, and other vital community projects. Volunteer Service Abroad in New Zealand offers up a similar service. You’ll want to go through a well-trusted, and verified organisation with this kind of travel, as you will (in most cases) be relying upon them for VISAs, accommodation, language translation, and travel organisation.
Posted by Nathan Jolly
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