Gap Years

Working abroad for a year

Find out why working abroad could be the answer to your prayers after graduating.

After graduating, one of the options available to you is working abroad for a year. And it’s easy to see why it’s so appealing.

But, it’s a big decision, and not one that you should take lightly. You’ll have countless questions, such as what work you should do and what you should be prepared for before you go. Because surely, it can’t just be all about sipping cocktails on the beach all day after a few hours of easy work?!

In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know about working abroad whether it’s for just 1 month or 1 year and beyond.

Why do it?

Add another dimension to your CV

If you’re struggling to find a graduate job, working abroad can be a valuable addition to your CV. It takes organisation and a fair bit of bravery, plus you’ll no doubt pick up some great new skills along the way.

This could really make you stand out from your peers who just work in boring jobs in the UK.

See the world before you’re tied down to a job

world travel Once you’re in graduate employment, your chances to see the world will be few and far between. If you have a passion to travel, now is probably the best time to do it.

Earn some money to fund your travels

Unless you’ve had a recent lottery win, any traditional holidays that you might be planning will be limited to a week or two. But if you decide to work abroad, you’ll earn some money so you can afford to travel for longer.

Learn about new countries and cultures

When you’re visiting a new place for a short period of time, you’ll probably only just touch on the surface. When you work in a new place, you’ll learn so much more about the local culture and way of life.

Learn a language

If your foreign language skills are limited to asking for two beers in Spain (dos cervezas, por favour?), you’ll be amazed just how much you can pick up when you’re working in a new country. Being able to speak another language is a brilliant skill to have.

What jobs are available abroad?

The list of jobs that are available is pretty much endless. If you have a specific skill set, you might find that you already know exactly what you want to do while you’re away. If you’re struggling, here are a few ideas based on previous experience from UK graduates.

Teaching (English)

You don’t need a teaching qualification to teach English as a foreign language. These jobs can be really rewarding and provide you with the opportunity to make a difference to a community.

What’s more, you can carry out a teach English abroad course in just a weekend for as little as £200 and then you will become extremely employable.

Sports instruction

If you’re the sporty type, this one might appeal. Spending some time teaching skiing the French Alps, for example, is a good way to enjoy your favourite sport while also earning some cash.

Similarly to this, companies such as Americamp allow students and graduate to travel to the Unites States for a summer and work in American Summercamps. They are always on the look out for swimmers, horse riders and sporty people.

Representative work

This one’s fairly reliable, and if you’re working for a big travel company, you can expect a fair wage. It’s notoriously hard work though, so be prepared for disgruntled holidaymakers and days off that are few and far between.

It’s also hard to travel around with this job. Just make sure that you check out the location and type of crowd it attracts first. Being a Magaluf rep may be perfect for some but other’s idea of hell!

Hospitality

bar work Jobs in bars and restaurants can be fairly easy to come by in a lot of countries. You might even get free drinks and meals thrown in as part of the deal.

In certain countries such as Australia, you are not only paid more to work in bars but they also love the English accent so expect some good tips.

Agriculture

Fruit picking jobs are popular in a lot of countries where the warm climates mean that there’s lots of land that needs to be harvested.

It can be easy work, but don’t forget that you could be outside for most of the day in sweltering temperatures.

Charity

Charity projects such as building schools in underdeveloped countries are often popular with those looking to work while they’re abroad. Most of these roles are unpaid, but you may receive free or subsidised accommodation.

What you need before you go

travel documents

Visa

As an EU national, you can travel and work in other EU countries without a work permit or visa.

However, in Spain for example, you’ll need a document called a Residencia if you plan to stay for longer than 90 days. You’ll also need to apply for an NIE number to allow you to work and sign housing agreements.

If you’re travelling to countries outside of the EU, including Australia, you must apply for a working visa.

Before you set off, make sure you’ve thoroughly researched what you need for the particular country that you’re visiting.

Passport

Always make sure that your passport will be valid for the duration of your stay, and won’t expire before you need to return to the UK.

You may need to apply for a new passport if it is due to expire in the next year.

Insurance

You should always have medical insurance while you’re working abroad. The European Health Insurance Card will cover you for some circumstances while you’re travelling and working in Europe, but additional and more comprehensive insurance is a very wise investment.

Scrimping in this area could land you with a hefty bill if anything goes wrong.

Immunisations

Check with your GP to see if you need any immunisations before you travel.

Some countries will not accept you if you have not been properly immunised against common diseases. Don’t risk it and simply think that you will be fine.

Currency

Make sure that you have enough currency to last you for at least the first couple of weeks and then you can sort out your money from there on in.

Opening a bank account in another country may be tricky so it may be worth looking into cards for spending abroad.

It also depends on how your employer plans to pay you.

Top tips for working abroad

Don’t be scared to go it alone

lone traveller If all your friends are smugly settling into graduate jobs, this doesn’t mean that you have to stay at home!

Many graduates set off on their travels alone, and while it’ll be daunting at first, you’ll make loads of new friends along the way.

There are lots of forums on the internet where you can chat with others who are planning similar trips, so have a look around and see if you can spot any potential travel buddies.

Of course, always keep your wits about you. Most people are just looking for a good time, just like you, but don’t be too trusting of people you’ve just met.

Look for work before you go, but be prepared to arrive in your destination first

If you’re really lucky, you might be able to secure a job before you even leave the UK. Try contacting recruitment agencies in the town or city where you’re considering, and look for their local newspapers online.

If you haven’t got a job offer before you arrive, make it your first priority. It’s all too easy to spend your first fortnight seeing the sights, then realise that you’re low on funds and haven’t even started looking for work.

Take enough money to cover your expenses

As mentioned before, always make sure that you take enough money to cover at least a few weeks of living and rent, plus a flight home. Even if it means delaying your trip for a few months, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Brush up on your language skills

Luckily for UK graduates looking for temporary work abroad, English is still pretty much the universal language. It’s rare that you’ll need to be fluent in another language to pick up work.

But if you do really want to impress, make the effort to learn a few phrases before you go. It could really work in your favour when it comes to finding work and new friends.


Have you spent any time working abroad? What tips would you share with your fellow graduates? We’d love to hear about your experiences!

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