I found out about the Working Holiday program in New Zealand from Deborah Kahn (IENA). She was my point of contact the whole time, and she was great! She was very clear about the steps and process, and made sure she provided me everything I needed. Whenever I had questions or concerns before and during my travel, she was prompt in responding to me, and making sure my experience was as smooth as possible. I really recommend this program to others because many people are afraid of travelling and living abroad, but IENA makes it so easy and seamless. You can forget the hassles, and just focus on the travel experience!
What would you improve about this program?
I don’t think anything needs improvement, but IENA should try and create more exchange programs for US citizens.
Shaswath is from the Bay Area, California and has a degree in Sales Management from Purdue University. His passion is to travel the world and explore places, people, and different cultures.
Why did you choose this program?
Deborah Kahn from IENA recruited through the career center at my University and had a few different work travel program opportunities. I was very interested in the New Zealand one because I had seen how stunning New Zealand was in photos and thought it would be pretty amazing to live amidst those landscapes.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
IENA helped as much as I needed or asked for. Initially, I relied on them a lot for help with logistics, visa application, accommodation, job support, etc. but once I got my bearings in New Zealand, I did most things independently. If I had any questions or needed any assistance with anything though, I could always email, and IENA would get back to me promptly. They were fantastic to have as a support organization, which is why I am currently on my third program with them!
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What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Just do it! Honestly, I had a lot of doubts initially and was a bit uncertain because I didn't think it would be a good choice for my career. Most of my friends who graduated from University with me were taking jobs related to their majors.
This is your chance to be different, broaden your horizons, and create meaning in your life. You will grow so much during the process, while assimilating into a new environment and culture.
You will definitely not regret the decision! Plus, it is a great resume booster and will help you stand out from others in interviews in the future.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
There is no average day or week in this program. Everyone has a completely unique experience based on their choices and the kind of people they meet along the way. Some people choose to work for a short period at a time, save money quickly, and travel along. Others, like me, worked in one place for a longer period of time, immersed myself into a community, and took time off in between to travel. You can decide how you want to proceed, and just go with the flow.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was that I wasn't making a right choice for my career and was doing something different than what everyone else was doing. None of my friends had done something like this.
I overcame that fear quickly because once you are abroad, you meet so many like-minded backpackers who are doing the same thing! Also, you see so many amazing places, meet incredible people, and make long-lasting friendships. So many people I know are frustrated with their jobs back home, and wish they could do what I am doing. I think there is nothing to fear from taking on this adventure!
What motivates you when abroad to not feel homesick?
Initially, you feel a bit homesick, but when you build a connection with people in a community, that environment becomes like a second home. They become your family, and you really enjoy. Home is where the heart is, and if you fall in love with a place, a piece of your heart will always be there. For me, that place would be Fox Glacier, New Zealand. I always say about that place, you come for the scenery but stay for the people.
About International Exchange of North America (IENA)
IENA (International Exchange of North America) provides affordable, fully supportive work, travel and internship abroad opportunities to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Colombia and Thailand. Our overseas resource centers provide full on-the-spot assistance with jobs, accommodation, banking, taxes, social events and much more. Gain...