(My Mission To Find A Job In NZ & Get A Work Visa)
In September 2012 I was invited to go for an interview for, what I would consider, my dream job working in a tourist office in New Zealand. The location was Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, about an hour outside of Christchurch. I’ve been applying for jobs in New Zealand since I came back from my third trip there in January 2012. Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism advertised for a Travel Consultant position for their Akaroa Visitor Centre on their tourism website. I applied for it and got an email back from the manager of the visitor centre (i-site as they call it in New Zealand) asking me to attend an interview. I really couldn’t believe my luck. “Brilliant” I thought.
However, the only option for an interview was a face to face meeting in Akaroa, which meant that I would have to fly over from Amsterdam to New Zealand for the interview. That posed a lot of questions and I also had to think about the considerable financial outlay for me. Booking a flight at such short notice was going to cost nearly two thousand euros. In order to make the decision, I needed to gather as much information as possible beforehand – things like: estimated interview and possible second round interview dates, starting date of the job, what were the priorities in the skills they were looking for in the job, the salary, whether it was going to be a seasonal or a fulltime/all year round job, what the hours were and whether they could sponsor me?
I had done some research on the type of visa I would have to apply for but now this gave me the opportunity to really look into it. I needed the answers to these questions first though before I could do more research. The job was only going to be a seasonal one: from October to the end of March. The wages were just above the minimum hourly rate, which when I checked out on a monthly basis turned out to be only 900 NZD bruto per month. This was the equivalent of about 550 Euros per month. The interviews were being held throughout the month of September and they needed someone to start by early October at the latest.
Things weren’t looking good for me after I did the research on the work visa. These were my options:
1)Because I’m over thirty, I had no option of applying for a one year working holiday visa.
2)I had no promise of sponsorship. The working visas attached to sponsorship requires the salary to be a minimum of 55,000 NZD. This job would never meet those expectations.
3)The only type of work visa I can apply for is an Essential Skills visa.
4)For this sort of visa I need a job offer first.
5) If I do get offered the job, which might have been possible, the employer needs to prove that a New Zealander can’t do or be trained to do the job.
6) The wages weren’t enough to live on and I would need to get a second job, which would mean applying for a second work visa.
7)The Essential Skills Visa takes longer than normal to process because immigration need to check my references and work experience in Europe.
8) This would mean I would probably have to fly back to Amsterdam and fly back again if I got the job.
9)The job contract was only for six months. At the end of the six months I would need to have another job and a new work visa lined up otherwise I would have leave the country.
A lot of things were stacked against me. What really swung my decision for me though was the fact that the salary was so low. There was no way I could afford to live on those wages and I didn’t have enough money saved to fill the gap. So I decided not to go. It was a hard decision to make but I feel I did the right thing. At the same time though my heart was mourning a little at not being able to attend the interview.
Why, you may ask, is working in a tourist office the ideal job for me? I work very well with people, especially on a face-to-face basis. I have sixteen years travelling experience, twenty four years hospitality experience working in bars, hotels and restaurants all over Europe and several years customer service experience, can speak a good level of Dutch and French, have a huge passion for New Zealand and travel and tourism in general, I would be able to help fellow travellers with their travel itineraries etc and can put myself into their shoes. Being able to promote New Zealand as a travel destination would be a great opportunity to show off my passion for the place and my knowledge of the country.
How did I handle the whole situation? As I said earlier, when I first got the email to ask me to attend the interview, I was jumping for joy. I thought that it was a great that they were interested in seeing me. It was such a huge decision for me to make, that it was hard to stay grounded. In situations like this, sometimes I have a habit of losing my peripheral view and it’s my emotions that tend to make me focus entirely on one thing – the decision that I have to make. My family and friends gave me a lot of support and advice during this time and the hatha yoga classes that I was following then and still am, was a lifeline too. The yoga studio that I go to: yogayoga, had just set up their facebook page and had put up an article about breathing by Donna Fahri, who’s a well known yogi. In her article she mentions incremental awareness. This is where you keep yourself concentrating on everyday things in life, to appreciate and more importantly, be aware of things going on around you, moment by moment. Reading this article, the tips about breathing that Leo and Sandra (owners of the studio) had put on their facebook page and the yoga class that we were doing that week about dealing with information overload and how to deal with it all helped me stay grounded.
The manager of Akaroa i-site said that they always need staff there for the summer, so there probably would be jobs for the summer next year too. After all the research that I had to do, I could now say that I knew a lot more about what’s needed on the work visa side of things. A lot of the things on that list are still stacked against me but I know what I’m up against. I’m still going to go to New Zealand and give it my best shot. Maybe there is some opportunity out there that I don’t know about yet and I think that if I base myself in one city then I should have a better chance of finding something.