VIDEO: Becoming the Immigrant Workforce II – From riches to rags

July 17th, 2010 in Articles by Paul 2

It can be a bit of a challenge, at times, to find casual work in New Zealand.  With the current state of the world economy, not only are you competing with hundreds of other working holiday makers, but also plenty of locals, who are now applying for jobs that they may not have been interested in when the economy is booming.  Add to that the large number of resident immigrants from countries all over the South Pacific and Asia, and you are actually competing for low level “unskilled” jobs.  It’s also sometimes hard as someone who has had a couple professional careers to convince a would be employer that you can indeed pour beers and wait on tables even though you’ve never done it before.  It isn’t exactly rocket science, but with plenty of people with nothing but hospitality on their résumé in line for the same job, it can be hard to get your foot in the door.  There are definitely jobs out there, and if you aren’t picky about what you do to top up your bank account or where you do it, then you can survive.  But if you are going to hotspots like Queenstown in winter with hopes of finding work, guess what, so are the hundreds, if not thousands of other backpackers thinking the same thing.  Of course there are jobs, but competition will be fierce, and many jobs fill up well before peak seasons start.

A good way to round out your work experience is to actually work without being paid.  “What?!” you’re asking me.  Yes, work for no money.  There is a good side, however.  There are lots of jobs that offer accommodation and sometimes food in exchange for anywhere from 2 to 4 hours work a day.  This is a great opportunity for a couple reasons.  First, employers aren’t taking as much of a risk to give you a shot and commitments are usually short, anywhere from a couple days to weeks or months.  Second, you can form some amazing relationships with hosts, often times being welcomed into homes and families.  And as an added bonus, you can get EXPERIENCE and references for those paid jobs down the line.  We were very fortunate to land positions at an upscale boutique B & B in Franz Josef.  And what was only supposed to be a two week stay quickly turned into over a month.  We were exposed to many aspects of the business gaining heaps of experience in everything from the kitchen and making coffees to front of house.  We loved our time there, and got a chance to add some hospitality experience to our résumés which set us up for our current paid positions.

Lake TekapoNow our new jobs aren’t glamourous, and initially it was a bit of a shock to the system after staying in a small 4 star+ accommodation.  Between the two of us we are doing reception, housekeeping and restaurant work.  So if you aren’t ready to plug in your iPod and clean toilets every day, then you may want to keep trying in Queenstown.  This job literally landed in our lap, and we could have spent weeks trying to secure work and accommodation in more popular destinations.  If I can offer any advice to potential jobseekers, go where the work is.  If you really need money, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the coolest area, it only matters that your bank account is growing.  There will be plenty of time to enjoy yourself when you have saved up some cash.  Another benefit of not being in a tourist area is you won’t spend all the money you make.  We pay $80 NZD each per week for accommodation and 3 meals a day.  If you treat yourself every now and then you should still come out well ahead, and ready for your next adventure.