Melissa Langley is an ESL educator, travel blogger and freelance writer.
Working Holidays: Career Advancement and an Enjoyable Experience
Travelling is one of the most rewarding experiences a young person can have. However, most millennials fear that taking time off to travel will significantly derail their career paths. Luckily, Hong Kong (and a handful of other countries around the world) devised the working holiday scheme to enable travelers to work while exploring the world, granting the unparalleled chance to learn important skills for future employment. If you’re a resident of Hong Kong over 18 years of age and under 30, enrich your resume and pocket some extra spending money with a working holiday experience. Here’s a rundown of the participating countries and what you can expect to gain from your time overseas.
International experience is quickly becoming one of the most sought after traits on a personal and professional resume. Worldly adventures encourage patience and understanding - the same qualities demonstrated by strong leaders. In Hong Kong, many industries are employing workers from all over the globe. To have an advantage over other applicants, it’s imperative to have international exposure and experience on your resume.
Australia is a popular choice for a working holiday due to its proximity to Hong Kong and it provides easy access to a visa for internationals and does not have a quota restriction. The only possible downside is that the working holiday visa is mainly limited to labour jobs for at least three months. After putting in time in the labour industry, working holiday visa holders can apply to extend their visa for a second year to travel the country and explore all that Australia has to offer.
Canada is another top choice for a working holiday experience, especially for those with an adventurous spirit. From being a ski instructor to maintaining the wilderness in the highly forested area on the western coast, Canadian working holiday visa holders are a fortunate bunch as the Canadian government approves only 200 visas per year.
For eligibility and travel to the United Kingdom on a working holiday visa, you must have a BNO passport, but this visa, called the Youth Mobility Scheme, will allow you to stay for up to two years. Also, you can apply through 31 years of age. The cost of living in the UK is quite high, so make sure you have ample amount of funds in your savings to manage through times of unemployment.
During this time of full English language immersion, many Hong Kongers make it a point to improve their English language skills. Having a greater understanding and ability with English, especially speaking and listening, will greatly improve their chances for employment when they return to Hong Kong.
For those looking to expand their skills beyond English, there are several other international working visa programmes that can offer the chance to learn new languages and cultures.
Although Germany only offers 100 working holiday visas each year, this can be a great opportunity for Hong Kong locals to get a taste of Europe.The downside of this working holiday visa is the language requirement. While not mandatory, non-German speakers will have a hard time finding work. Be aware that you cannot work for the same company for more than three months on this visa so be prepared to have to job hunt often.
If you’re enamoured with Japanese culture, it could send your application for a working holiday visa for Japan to the top. As a part of your application, the embassy requires that you state a reason for ascertaining the visa - and don’t just say because you want to work in Japan. Give specific reasons that showcase your knowledge of the country. You can apply twice a year, but only 125 will be granted.
For Hong Kong residents, traveling to Korea with a working holiday visa requires at least level two fluency in the local language. Even with this level of language, you might not be able to find work outside of the labour industry, although you might be able to find jobs in the tourism industry if you have both Chinese and English language skills. Only 200 visas will be issued yearly on a first come first serve basis so it is advisable to apply early.
Making money while you travel is definitely an attractive way to see the world. The personal growth you’ll get out of a working holiday will also benefit you in various ways when you come back to Hong Kong to seek full time employment. To gain an advantage over other job seekers, take advantage of the working holiday visa exchange programme. You’ll leave with valuable life skills, as well as entertaining travel stories to last you a lifetime.