Setting out for our Australian Working Holiday Visa in 2011, I imagined we would get jobs working in bars and restaurants, my imagination didn't stretch much further than that. We didn't know anyone who had done a WHV before, but knew to gain a second years visa you would need to do agricultural work, on farms such as fruit picking, so we put this on our agenda.
Arriving in Cairns we thought that fruit picking jobs would be aplenty, and we could do that right away, but Cyclone Yasi had just hit Queensland and there was few opportunities available due to severe damage of the land.
Moving to Brisbane I started work for the charity UNICEF, however much we were setting out to help the lives of sick/ malnourished children, that couldn't bring me to the fact I was to hound passer-bys on the street asking them to sign up for a 12 month contract at 'only a $ a day, less than you spend on your cup of coffee'. It was commission based too, so the more sales I completed the more I would make. I couldn't hack it and left before the first week was up.
Shannon started working for 'Telstra', Australia's leading broadband provider, in a call centre, calling ex- Telstra customers and trying to convince them to make the move back. He was on commission based sales too, and hated the style of the job and soon gave it up too.
I found a job as a waitress at 'Gambaro' a 5 star seafood restaurant on Caxton Street, it was a gorgeous establishment and the food looked exquisite, the pay was good at $17+ an hour plus decent tips. I worked mainly nights and came home every night with my shoes and feet stinking of fish (when scraping the scraps in the bin bits must fall on me). I worked several large events, weddings, VIP parties and functions on rugby match nights, one of which I worked in the basement on the cement floor for 14 hours, my shoes burst and my ankles so swollen I had to call sick the next day.
Our favourite job in Brisbane, was a 2 week contract working at a T-shirt factory, the T-shirts were printed by one guy and we both stood at the end of the line, folding the T-shirts and placing them inside a bag. It was very laid back, we were the only ones there, and it was strangely therapeutic.
When it was time to move on to Sydney, we got the hang of applying for jobs, we continued looking up jobs on www.seek.com.au which is a recruitment website, and I even got a job lined up before we had unpacked.
I went for an interview at 'Blue Sydney' a 5 star hotel in Woolloomooloo, inside a converted Wharf. The job was to be an 'Welcome Ambassador' meaning I would valet cars, carry luggage to rooms, and assist guests. The job was primarily a males job, and when I said Shannon was looking too, they asked him for an interview. We both started work, where we stayed for 5 months. The pay was $18+ an hour and the tips amazing, we could get up to $100 per day. The job at the time was like any normal job, we knew we were lucky to have landed the job but just got on with it, the staff mainly locals or Nepalese, were friendly, apart from the seniors who were a bit jumped up. Looking back now on the job, it it utterly amazing that we got the jobs, we drove some of the top of the range cars, got massive tips, met lots of celebrities and got to experience life in Sydney!
We tried once more for fruit picking jobs to gain the second years visa, but struggled in the first few days to find work so gave up on the idea. It wouldn't have been our type of thing anyway. But I would recommend it to others.
In 2014 when we planned on going to New Zealand on our years working holiday visa we were more prepared. Again we looked up Seek, www.seek.com.nz
Only a few days after arriving in Auckland Shannon got a call from Madison Recruitment www.madison.co.nz asking him to go for an interview, it was me that picked up the phone though, and whilst talking the lady, she asked if I would to come for an interview too. At the interview we had to do a series of test including English test and a diagnostic test, we passed and got calls in the next few days for me and a few weeks later for Shannon.
I went for an interview at Auckland Council as a receptionist for the Mayor of Auckland none the less!! I successfully got the job and worked there with a few contract extensions for the full 9 months we lived in Auckland. I did get tired of my job some times but every day taking the lift up to the 27th floor and sitting at my massive desk, in my uniform, greeting alll sorts of VIP's, Prime Ministers and fellow Mayors, whilst looking out the huge windows at Auckland's skyline and out over the Waitemata River was more than I could ever have dreamed of for a job!
Shannon undertook several roles at Auckland Council too, throughout the 9 months. He was an Building Control Administrator, Resource Consent Administrator and his favourite- a Swimming Pool Inspector, he was given a company car, would drive to the suburbs whilst admiring the views, and inspect peoples pools, ensuring they were complying with the strict New Zealand regulations, there is a large number of child deaths in swimming pools, so Shannon was to ascertain that no dangers were present, such as the pool had a fence around it, no trees could be climbed over the swimming pools
We were both earning around $21/ $22 an hour, which for us was rather good, although I believe certain jobs will pay far better.
We both also found jobs at Vector Arena http://www.vectorarena.co.nz through the Seek website. After a few days training we became ushers at one of Auckland's largest arenas. I loved the job as most of the time I was inside the arena guiding customers to their seats and ensuring everything was okay, which meant most of the time I got to stand and watch the show! I seen Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Ed Sheehan, Spandu Ballet, Roxette, Rod Stewart amongst a few. Shannon didn't enjoy the job and didn't last as long as me, he was mainly put to work on the front doors, scanning tickets and guiding them to the right area. This was part time for both of us, just working what we could. Shannon also worked at Eden Park, the rugby stadium before he jacked it in, it was good experience but not his cup of tea.
Before starting at Auckland Council I started working full time at 'Sails' a very posh restaurant, as a waitress. I rather enjoyed the job and the staff were friendly, but when I got the council job, which was a 2 minute walk from the apartment rather than 30 minutes I had to give it up.
We both realise that our jobs in Australia and New Zealand are not what most backpackers expect to get whilst on a WHV, and as I said, we didn't expect it either. It just shows, you can take the normal route or just push that bit further and gain a whole new career!