Last year I had a job I couldn’t quit. When I left the States, my plan was to leave the job as well, but I couldn’t resist leaving the door open (the job was online so I could work from anywhere). When I got a job in Wellington, I intended to leave the other job, but I told myself that making extra money was always good and it wasn’t like I was doing much in my evenings anyway. Essentially, I had two full-time jobs for most of my year in New Zealand. When I moved to Australia, I finally sent that “Sorry, I won’t be able to do the job any longer” email… but I still left the door open for a return.
It’s not because I love the job or even the pay; it’s because I feel like if I’m not constantly working, I’m doing something wrong. Right now, I’m “funemployed” as I look for work here in Australia, but I’m keeping busy in addition to job-hunting. I ran 50km last week, I’m doing yoga every day, I’m updating my blog more regularly than I ever have, I’m reading, I’m doing most of the grocery shopping and laundry and almost all of the cooking. I’m hardly just sitting on my bum watching Say Yes to the Dress reruns (I mean, that’s what I’m doing right at this moment, but in general).
I’ve always thought of myself as a career-minded person, so for me, the one big downside to long-term travel and moving around a lot is not getting the chance to search for my dream role. Although I wouldn’t trade my travels for the world, living in four countries in the last four years (soon to be five countries in the last five years as Steve and I are planning to move to Australia after our New Zealand visas finish) means that I’ve done a lot of job-hopping. When you’re not staying in a place long-term, companies are hesitant to hire you for a position that offers career growth, and even if they were willing, it feels a bit pointless when you know you’re going to be moving on soon enough anyway.
Now of course, even if you’re not building your career, you still have to work (unless your parents give you a $1000 per month allowance and pay your rent, I guess). On working holiday visas, many choose to do seasonal jobs like fruit picking, while many others go for hospitality and tourism roles. For myself, I go for temp work.
I started doing temp work before I really started moving around. The summer between college and grad school I didn’t want to go back to a previous summer job like lifeguarding, but I also didn’t want to sit around all summer (nor would my parents have let me). My mom suggested I apply at a local temp agency and hopefully get a few days of data entry or call centre work. I didn’t really know what a temp agency was at the time, but off I went to fill out the paperwork, take the Microsoft Word and Excel (yuck) tests, and have a quick meeting with one of the recruiters. The very next day I got a call with an offer to be their office receptionist for three months until I moved to Ireland for school.
It turned out to be the perfect way to get a short-term role without too much hassle, so when I returned to the United States after my master’s and moved out to Seattle with no job lined up, I immediately started applying to temp agencies again. Sure enough, I was quickly offered a temporary role as a copywriter at an e-commerce site. After a few months as a temp, I was offered a full-time job and continued on at the company until I moved to Vancouver.
Because I’d had these positive experiences with temp agencies in the past, of course when I moved to Wellington and started looking for a job here, registering with recruiters was my first step. Within two weeks, I had been offered a four-week assignment (that ended up being four months… a fairly common occurrence for temp roles). I’m now on my second temp role here in Wellington, and when I move to Australia in November, I will definitely be registering with temp agencies there.
While there are definitely downsides to temping—limited job security, usually no health insurance—the flexibility and convenience can make it a perfect option for short-term and transitional periods. Here are some tips for getting a temp role and making the most out of your temping experience:
It’s been about a month and a half since Steve and I arrived in New Zealand on our 12-month working holiday visas and moved down to Wellington for the year. We’ve experienced a lot of cool things already—first time in Asia on our way over, first time in the Southern Hemisphere, first summer Christmas—and there are more to come—next week is my first summer birthday, and we’ll be spending it on our first overnight hike. This week our adventures are mostly stymied by rain and job-hunting, but I thought I’d take a break from firing off CVs and share a few of my thoughts on New Zealand so far.
Wellington has great local hikes
We’ve been lucky enough to make friends with cars who have been kind enough to take us along to a few trails, and we’re going to look into purchasing a vehicle of our own, but even if you have no access to a car here in Welly, there are still a lot of great hiking options. The closest is Mount Victoria, only a few minutes’ walk from the CBD (and where the hobbits hid from the ringwraiths under a log in The Fellowship of the Ring), but there are numerous other hikes of varying lengths and difficulties only a bus ride away. The photos in this post are from a few of my favourite hikes we’ve been on around Wellington so far.
Flat whites and hokey pokey are amazing
I always thought that flat whites were an Aussie invention, but according to Wikipedia New Zealand claims it as well, so I’m counting it. I’d heard of flat whites before coming to the southern hemisphere, but I’d never tried one and now I’m hooked. It’s like a latte but less milky, a cappuccino but less foamy, the perfect combination to create a delicious coffee. I only had one for the first time about two weeks ago, and I’ve probably had five since. Similarly, hokey pokey is basically honeycomb ice cream, but somehow it’s so much better. There are these little crunch pebbles of honeycomb that sort of pop in your mouth and create a delicious sweet tweet.
Getting a response is nice
It’s inevitable: when you’re job hunting, you will get rejected. Not every position is the right fit. Still, even if a job is a reach, there’s nothing more annoying than getting the professional equivalent of being left on “read”. Now, I don’t know if it’s actually a positive of kiwi culture or a negative of other places I’ve gone job-searching, but I’ve already gotten a number of responses—positive and negative—to applications I’ve sent in. Obviously, getting rejected is never fun, but it’s so much nicer to know one way or another rather than wondering whether maybe you’re the ideal candidate but your application accidentally ended up in the spam folder.
Summer holidays are actually great
I arrived in Ireland in the middle of October and the Christmas holidays were already in full force. I personally hate hearing holiday tunes or seeing decorations before December, so that was far too early for me, but it was equally weird at first to get to Wellington in December and see almost nothing festive. However, I came to appreciate the holidays happening in the middle of summer—the weather is warm so you’re not stuck at home, students are in the midst of a much larger break from school, and there’s definitely something to be said for a Christmas BBQ. It’s especially nice when you have great friends whose family takes you in for the day.
For a small city, there’s so much to do
Wellington has 200,000 fewer people than Seattle and Vancouver—and when you include the metro populations both cities’ populations are closer to the entire population of New Zealand than they are to its capitol. I grew up in a small town and have lived in small cities, but I’ve gotten used to living in bustling metropolises so I was curious what it would be like to move back to a smaller city. If I had any worry that there wouldn’t be enough to do, my fears were immediately allayed when we checked into our hostel and found a summer night market going on outside. There are countless meetups, events, and other activities happening throughout the city. I can’t wait to explore even more!
Sometimes you just have to commit
Ever since I ran a half-marathon in 2016 I’ve been talking about running another. The truth is, I’ve barely gone running at all since that race. Vancouver weather isn’t conducive to runs (super hot summers, super slushy winters) and unsurprisingly, neither is living in a van. I realised when I came over here that I probably wouldn’t start running again unless I actually signed up for a race, so when a friend mentioned Round the Bays I immediately registered. I’m definitely nervous because I had 13 weeks of training from registration to race date for the Vancouver half, and only half that for Round the Bays, but I’m feeling confident and ready to run.
Overall, I’m having an amazing time in Wellington and New Zealand so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings (hopefully a job). I’ll keep you all up to date!