Coming to Australia on a gap year? Here’s how to use your new skills and stand out from the crowd.
By Leah Dobihal
A gap year is all about learning, discovering and experiencing. While some might imagine a year spent sunbaking on the sand, a working holiday gives you valuable real-life experience that you couldn’t gain by staying home.
You might find yourself rescuing baby turtles, working on a boat in the Whitsundays or learning a new language. Whether you study, work, volunteer or just travel, your year in Australia will make your CV stand out.
Take a class
Visitors on the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) or Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) can study for up to four months during their 12 months in Australia. If you have the budget, a class can be a great way to enhance your CV when you return home.
You’ll find a wide range of classes available in Australia’s major cities. You could take up a course learning Spanish or Japanese, or try your hand at creative and business writing. For something shorter, consider a one-day class or conference. You can find everything from flower bouquet arranging to wine tasting, and even a short course can give you the basics in an industry of your choice.
One of the best things you can do to boost your CV during your gap year is volunteer. Visitors on a Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) or Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) can volunteer throughout their stay in a huge variety of organisations.
In Australia, you’ll find volunteer opportunities in exchange for accommodation and meals, which will help you save money and elevate your CV at the same time. You may find yourself harvesting fruit on an organic farm, helping turtle hatchlings reach the ocean in Bundaberg or preserving precious Australian ecosystems. There are also plenty of research expeditions and volunteer holidays to consider.
Volunteering is valuable because it shows a potential employer that you’re compassionate and hardworking. Plus, you can gain experience in industries like event planning, research and administration.
Get a job
A job won’t just fund your travels during your gap year; it’ll also give you amazing experience to put on your CV after you’ve returned home.
There are a variety of industries that hire working holidaymakers, including hospitality, retail, tourism, construction and agriculture. While you may not get a job within your ideal industry (although it is certainly possible), you’ll gain valuable experience no matter where you work.
Working as a deckhand on a yacht in the Whitsundays will not only give you a new appreciation of underwater ecosystems, but it will also teach you time management and adaptability. Managing the front of house for a bustling guesthouse will teach you customer service and communication skills.
Regardless of the role, you’ll gain experience that will put you ahead of the pack.
Track your new skills
Whether you’re travelling by campervan across Australia or settled into the city life, you’re bound to gain valuable skills during your gap year. Moving to a new country not only shows your initiative and independence but also inevitably improves your adaptability, your resourcefulness and your exposure to different cultures, people and worldviews.
No matter what you choose to do during your gap year, be sure to track your new skills and experiences. Have you started a travel blog? Then you’re likely gaining expertise in writing, social media promotion and even basic code. If you’ve picked fruit on a farm, you’ve probably learned how to be efficient and gained experience in food production. Even a stay in a hostel can give you valuable new skills. You’ve likely learned to cooperate, negotiate and use teamwork with your flatmates.
Adding these new real-world skills to your CV can help you impress potential employers and stand out in a stack of applications.
State your accomplishments
After you’ve participated in volunteer, work and study opportunities in Australia, it’s time to make your CV stand out. Working and travelling abroad is a big accomplishment, and now you get to show it.
If you’ve had a job, or multiple jobs, during your working holiday in Australia, list it under your work experience. Be sure to state the tasks you accomplished in each job. If you worked at a café, you might have gained experience in money handling. Retail workers may have acquired skills in customer service.
Beyond paid work, the experience you gained during your gap year can seem challenging to portray on a CV. But including an ‘International Experience’ or ‘Other Relevant Experience’ section can give you the perfect opportunity to lay out your learnings. You can include accomplishments like travelling solo along the Great Ocean Road, immersing yourself in new cultures and adapting to new situations.
Always read the job description carefully so you can cater your CV to the skills they’re seeking. Do they want someone that’s able to think on their feet? Include an example of when you had to make a quick decision during your travels. Are they looking for someone with great interpersonal skills? Explain your experience making friends during your journey across Australia.
After an unforgettable adventure, your CV will show just how much you’ve learned during a year in Australia.