Still not finding the job of your dreams? Yeah, well join the post-collegiate party. I was in that boat four years ago when I graduated from my liberal arts university, but instead of sitting at home and fighting with my parents every day, I decided to job search outside of the USA. That’s right — goodbye red, white, and blue. I took my abilities as a native English speaker to Santiago, Chile to teach for three years. Then my A.D.D. set in and I set off across the globe once again, landing in Wellington, New Zealand.
After three years of teaching, tutoring and writing in South America (three years means I’m out of the entry-level thing, right?), I thought that getting a job in the South Pacific was going to be a breeze (cue Count von Count laughter). Due to my lack of connections, finding a job in New Zealand’s capital city was not easy. In fact, it was a total pain in the ass.
Ignored for my career experience, I had to track down my old résumés that highlighted my sandwich making abilities instead of my classroom achievements, my tray-carrying techniques as opposed to my bilingual capacities. I had been lumped with the baristas and the vagabonds, the students and the sommeliers in the wonderful world of hospitality, or “hospo” as the Kiwis so lovingly refer to it. At first I was discouraged, but then I began to see loads of potential for all those U.S. graduates I had left behind in the post-university breadline.
So, here’s my advice to all those hard-working, over-qualified and underpaid graduates: take that mediocrity and use it for a ticket around the world. I know that spending a grand or two on a plane ticket sounds like a good deal of money, but think of it as an investment. Take it easy on the booze for the next couple of weekends, move home for a month or two, or just stop eating McDonald’s and that money will start stacking up, I promise. A little sacrifice goes a long way in the world of travel.
And while I’m in the tip-giving mood, here are a few “do nots” that might get you off your comfy couch and squeezed into seat 42B. Don’t worry about visa bureaucracy: I got my Working Holiday Visa in a few days and paid less than a latte for it. Don’t worry about cash: I opened a Kiwibank account with only fifty pink dollars. A few lattes served and I was back in the black. Don’t worry about housing: I found a place that I could never call home, but is wholly better than re-claiming my parents’ basement. Don’t worry about missing out on U.S. employment possibilities… well, maybe worry a little, but the opportunity to travel, learn and live abroad is much more rewarding. Plus, I repeat: you aren’t at home in your parents’ basement! This cannot be understated.
If you are taking this article even remotely seriously then I strongly encourage you to read up on the Working Holiday Scheme through the NZ government’s official page and stop with the excuses already. College loans? Yeah, I got ‘em and yeah, they are evil, spineless little leeches, but they aren’t going away, so don’t let them hold you back. I pay them every month through my American bank account (you need a US account to pay off loans) and transfer money from my Chilean and New Zealand accounts whenever I need. One thing to keep in mind: transferring funds can set you back about thirty bucks a transfer so try and save up a lump sum before sending it off.
In terms of family, friends, and pets: I know you love them and you will miss them dearly, but don’t let them decide your life. You may jeopardize the attendance of a wedding, or a bar mitzvah or even a good ol’ fashioned dog neutering, but where you lose out on those traditions you gain myriad others. Have you ever been chased by a seal mother and pup on the cliffs of Cape Foulwind? Have you ever walked from the top of Fox Glacier to a rainforest in a few kilometers? Have you ever snowboarded above a carpet of clouds on Treble Cone? Bonds will be forged, traveling companions will become life-long friends, and memories will transcend the imagination. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little bit of your world to experience another. Sometimes, you have to give up the comfort of your everyday to embrace the uncertainty of tomorrow.
Finally, I ask, why should you be stuck at home earning minimum wage when you could be in New Zealand or Australia making anywhere from 14-30 dollars an hour doing the same thing? Degrees don’t matter all that much overseas, especially in the world of hospitality. In New Zealand or Australia, one year at Starbucks is worth four years between the books, so what are you waiting for? You’ve got the tools, so pack them on up into your dad’s old hippy-pack, put on a pair of weathered boots, and tramp your way into a new life. Oh, and don’t fret about healthcare — in most civilized countries, it’s all-inclusive.