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An Alternative Way to Work Abroad

An Alternative Way to Work Abroad

While some may spend months even years saving up for their worldly expeditions, others take the alternative strategy by finding employment in their new country. A job overseas allows one to become part of the community while at the same time providing an income to fund living, board and adventure costs. 

When it comes to gaining employment abroad, you may find yourself limited by strict visa requirements, unable to find an employer or limited to a position that limits your skills and potential. Working abroad doesn't mean you have to sacrifice what you love to do by working a low-skilled job that doesn’t interest you, it is just a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together! 

Combining your love of travel with what you would like to pursue as a career can often pose a conundrum, but don't let these obstacles deter you, there is an answer to your nomadic tendencies and the pursuit of your passions!




The Solution

With tourism industries flourishing everywhere from paradise islands to snowy winter wonderlands and various oases in between, several resorts and hotels have spread like wildfire all around the globe, and with them thousands of employment opportunities.

Many of these resorts cater to international clientele, so employers are constantly on the lookout for staff that are adept in numerous languages, culturally aware and are masters of adaptability. Working at a resort may not encompass every career path, but there are several diverse positions and services that might help you gain the experience towards your future profession.




Getting Started

Think about what you are interested in getting involved with, your desired destination, and the skills you already possess as this will help to narrow your search of finding an institution that suits your needs. My own journey that brought me into work at a resort was born from my love of aerial circus arts and an overwhelming desire to return to the continent I was raised in, Asia. 

When I was five years old, my parents took me to a resort in Bali and I had a life changing experience playing in the circus, flying trapeze and tight rope walking, activities offered by the resort. Other activities they had included archery and kayaking, all hosted by an enthusiastic staff that became my instant best friends. I also met many other children to play with through the kids club- basically I had found my paradise.




We had ventured to the resort Club Méditerranée, more commonly known as Club Med, a brand of all-inclusive resorts that boast a wide array of international locations and holds many possible employment positions. They offer guests an exotic vacation complete with child care services, gourmet food and beverage, a luxury boutique, live entertainment, various sports and fitness activities- all easily accessible within the confines of the resort. 


Follow your passion

Circus is a rather specific occupation, one that doesn't usually prove exceptionally profitable, but seventeen years later and in search of a way to practice circus in an exotic Asian location, the knowledge that this was an actual job sparked my submission of an application to Club Med as a circus instructor. 

Despite my extremely passionate and well qualified application, I received a reply that there were no circus instructor positions available in Asia, but that they were willing to offer me a position teaching fitness. Never hesitate to include all of your skills even if they are not directly applicable to the job, because my inclusion of my yoga, Zumba and Pilates experience caught their attention and helped me get my foot in the door of the company.




The recruiter explained to me that although I was being hired as a fitness instructor, there was still a possibility for me to participate in circus because Club Med encourages their staff to participate in other services. This meant that when I wasn’t teaching a class or fulfilling my other responsibilities, that I could go to the trapeze and learn how to work the rig, as well as joining them when they were training and rehearsing for shows.  

By demonstrating my commitment to circus, management permitted me to start performing in the shows! And after about a month, an opportunity arose and I was able to officially join the circus team.


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Location, Location, Location

When a foreign employer is reviewing your application, a few of their initial considerations include the origin your passport and where you are coming from geographically, immediately and in origin. Foreign employers are typically not interested in affording an applicant from a developed country that has several of its own jobs and their expensive visa fees compared to local employees.

What makes Club Med an exception to this trend is that they prefer to hire staff from all around the world. When you apply, you list your top three desired countries to be placed in, but it is largely dependent on where there is availability. Once hired, employees are typically started at a location in close proximity to their originating area of application. Club Med operates with seasons, each season is six month long, and at the end of each season you may receive an affectation to next season's location, which may be inform you that you are staying in the same spot or moving to a new location. I applied from the Philippines, meaning that I would be placed somewhere around Asia, and my top three countries were Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. When the acceptance letter finally arrived, my future home was to be on Bintan Island, a humble Indonesian island off the coast of Singapore, a place I had never even heard of!




Having direction of what location you are headed towards is important, but sometimes our travels take us down paths we didn't anticipate. Be prepared to embrace the adventures that surprise you, it could prove to be some of the best experiences of your life!


Sorting a Visa

Certain nations have to pay higher visa fees than others and that's just for entry into the country. Working visas can be much more difficult to acquire. This is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to working abroad, especially if you are attempting to do so without a sponsor or employer. 

When it came to obtaining a visa to work in Indonesia, Club Med guided me through the process with such ease and confidence. This was one of the greatest advantages of being employed by this company, as visa processes can get very tricky. They handled all necessary documents and fees and provided transportation and a translator when I had to head to the visa department. When it comes to working in South East Asia, it is nearly impossible to acquire a valid work permit as the countries prefer to reserve the jobs for their citizens. Employers that have experience with attaining work visas for foreign passports is key for your valid employment, and because no one enjoys being deported. 


Wages and Housing

Wages are dependent on so many factors, such as position, experience, the country you're working in and even your nationality. It is difficult to estimate what you might be looking at earning, but any occupation which you have previous experience in or other valued skills will help you. The hard truth is that you likely won't be making millions, but the beauty of working at one of these destination resorts is that you will usually be provided with staff housing as a part of your contract. The food situation can vary from a communal kitchen area to meals included in your agreement with your employer.

My experience at Club Med included all meals and drinks, and I had my own room with a shared bathroom. Even though I wasn't making large sums, I was able to save a fair amount without having to afford the extra living expenses. Laundry machines were also provided free of charge and the weekly housekeeping visits that turned over my bed into a crisp masterpiece if fresh sheets didn't hurt either. 

The privilege of not having to afford the usual living costs, and not having many places to spend it other than on coconut oil massages and mei goreng (local fried noodle dish), left me well prepared for future endeavours.




Oh the Places You'll Go!

My success in working abroad in Indonesia allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream of joining the circus, as well as sharing that inspiration that I received as a child, to other little circus artists. I made a number connections and life-long friends that have given me several future travel opportunities, I was able to practice languages I already knew, such as Tagalog and Japanese, while learning many new languages, I saved enough money to take a month off and explore Thailand, and learned how to be an improvisational chameleon in just about any situation imaginable. 

The commitment is short term, funds are sustainable, work visa handled, living arrangements more than ideal, an exotic paradise as the backdrop of your home and a job abroad that can fill you with inspiration to explore both the world and your own abilities, further than you ever thought you could. Living abroad allows you the chance to take time to absorb all you can of the local culture, and with a job, time and money on your side, what have you got to lose?



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30 September 2020
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