Paid Work Abroad Exchanges
Short-Term Work Programs for
Students and Recent Graduates
| One place students may find
paid jobs after college is in Australia via the working
holiday program, made easier with the help of organizations such as BUNAC, Interexchange, and Geovisions.
To work abroad you generally cant just hop on a plane to a foreign country
and start looking for a job. Doing so would be illegal
without a work permit, which cannot be acquired without
a job offer, and—classic Catch-22—very few employers
will offer you a job without your already having a work
The good news is that there are a number
of organizations which can help you cut the red tape and
acquire a legal work permit or place you in a paid job. Despite
the historical cycle of economic strength in some countries, job prospects remain good
for those participating in short-term work programs—from
a few months up to 23 months or a bit more.
Alternatives to Short-Term Jobs
Alternatives also include teaching
English abroad, internships
abroad, or volunteering
programs with private sending organizations, government
organizations such as the Peace
Corps, or NGOs. If you want an internship for academic
credit, consider a study abroad program with an internship
or volunteer component (see "Key
Resources for Working Abroad"). If youre
looking for an inexpensive way to experience total cultural
immersion, or to simply earn your way through an adventure
abroad, heres a good place to start.
Short-Term Work Exchange Organizations
The two main program types for short-term
work abroad are
Abroad exchange, which helps students to get a work permit
in locations such as Australia and New Zealand, then
look for a job on site with assistance from their overseas
offices. Organizations such as BUNAC are
a popular way to do get a short-term job.
- Overseas job placement programs,
offered by a number of U.S.-based work exchange organizations
such as Interexchange and Geovisions.
The emphasis in both cases is on exchange,
since your participation in most of these programs enables
someone from abroad to have the equivalent experience in
Work Permit Programs for Students
Thousands of U.S. students and recent
graduates work abroad each year in programs administered
by BUNAC, a popular option for working
abroad and one of the few which does not require applying
far in advance. You can get a work permit without a job
offer, you can work at any job you find, and the application
process is non-competitive.
can get you a work permit—otherwise difficult for
Americans to obtain—any time of the year for Australia and New
Zealand for up to a year. They can also get you work permits for Ireland. Volunteer
projects are available in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania. Without a work permit, you
could only work illegally, seriously limiting your options.
BUNAC, while offering mush support, is
largely a do-it-yourself program—you find your own
job and apartment using listings provided by the overseas
program office. The average time for finding jobs is depends
upon the country. The initial investment includes the program
fee, roundtrip airfare, and enough money to tide you over
until you get the first pay check (often $5000 is recommended
just as a safety net). Most students report that they can
cover their expenses and save money, although this is not
as easily accomplished in Australia and New Zealand due to cost of
living and high airfares.
The typical BUNAC job is in restaurant,
hotel, clerical, or sales work—but even these ordinary
jobs provide a total immersion experience in the daily life
of another culture, resulting in cross-cultural insights,
friendships, and personal growth. Some participants have
managed some quite
creative jobs. Some participants arrange interviews
in advance, but a firm job offer in advance is rare.
Come prepared. Bring your resume and
references from previous employers or professors and a suit
advantage of optional room reservation services offered
by most of these programs. Otherwise, reserve a youth hostel
in advance. Visit the Hostelling
International website to find make reservations. Its
advisable to find your apartment after you get your job
to minimize commuting time. Some jobs include housing.
Insurance. Most programs
require you to have your own health insurance. The International
Student Identification Card (ISIC) cards provides travel
discounts. We recommend that everyone have one. More comprehensive
coverage is available from special agencies such as World
Nomads, essential if you have no other health insurance.
Study and work. If
you are going on a study abroad program, you may be able
to combine it with a BUNAC permit, allowing work before,
during, or sometimes after studying. However, dont
expect to finance your studies this way.
Getting a work permit overseas.
This is nearly impossible unless you already have a job
offer. Get the work permit before you leave, or use a job
placement programs such as BUNAC which
arranges for work permits in countries such as Australia
and New Zealand. InterExchange arranges for au pair
and teaching jobs
William Nolting was
Director at the International Center of the University
of Michigan and former Work Abroad and International
Educational Editor for Transitions Abroad.