Taking a break – turning Down-under!

After 18 months with the company Kate was called into a meeting room to have a discussion with the department manager, who she had hardly spoken to since she joined the business as a Marketing Assistant. Strangely there was also a member of the HR team.



They thanked her and showered her with compliments on the quality of her work, her performance, dedication and enthusiasm. “Wow, am I getting a pay-rise?” she thought, until the sharp sound of ‘redundancy’ rang in her ears.  Kate fell back in her chair in stunned disbelief, stifling a sniffle and quelling tears as she was determined to maintain her composure.


The company was apologetic but explained that they could not justify continuing her training as the on-going business climate meant that there would be no position available for her at the end of the  program.


With a payout of a barely a few hundred pounds and four weeks’ notice, Kate took a cab home with her belongings in an archive box and decided that she had really had enough. It was time to leave behind the grey skies of London for somewhere with better prospects and a better life.

How could this happen to Kate – how did she end up in this situation?


Wind back the clock by 18 months ….


Kate graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2008, with first class honours in Marketing, and landed feet-first in a recession. There was a national freeze on recruitment in most large and medium sized advertising firms and Kate found it difficult to secure a position in her chosen profession. Kate regularly competed against hundreds of other recent graduates, for nearly every position.


Never one to be disheartened, Kate conducted her own research – found a suitable opportunity then  practiced her  interview questions, honing her responses in front of the mirror. She 3 rounds of complicated company and personality tests , managed to score high in two interviews and secured one of  the two available positions. Kate was over the moon, if not a little daunted by the prospect of moving to the London to work for such a prestigious firm.  Life was looking up, and her hard work at university was starting to payoff despite the global financial crises and high unemployment across Europe and most other parts of the world.


Her Inductions and training went well and Kate found herself working in a great team under the guidance of an Associate who was both a ‘marketing guru’ and patient mentor.


Kate moved out of home into a bed-sit near Victoria where she was closer to work. On her graduate salary of £24,000 there wasn’t often a lot left over for socialising or shopping, but she knew it was just a step on the ladder to where she wanted to be, and with the hours she was working, she barely had time for socialising anyway. Kate was determined to make the most of the experience and prove her worth to the company.  She worked hard, put in long hours and learnt all she could.


Kate heard the occasional rumour about redundancies in other departments, however no one in her team seemed to be concerned,  Besides, knowing how hard she had to fight for her position, and the fact that she had been meticulously, painstakingly, hand-picked by the company big-wigs, Kate felt she had good reason to believe her job was safe


So you are fired what next?



It does not matter what it’s called or how it happened. The fact remains – you just lost your job.

You are young, have a qualification or some work experience under your belt and a burning desire to change your life. “What are my options” I hear you ask?


Kate doug out  her iPad from beneath the small tower of novels that she had never found time to read, and she started to  listing her ideal requirements for starting over: it had to be somewhere warm, English speaking, safe, nicer, not too expensive and most importantly, a place where she could develop her career.


Each search she conducted seemed to end with same result.   “Australia”, she thought, “down under, the land of sunshine, beaches, surfers, boomerangs, Hugh Jackman (sigh!), koalas, kangaroos and tigers ……….”(although she was not so sure about the tigers, was Tasmania part of Australia?).


After a little searching [http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/] and a small amount of chocolate, Kate learnt that because she was under 31, she could get a visa to live and work in Australia for at least a year, and maybe two.

The Working Holiday Visa would allow Kate to work in different cities and travel between periods of employment.  Better still, Kate could apply for a Working Holiday Visa on-line, it cost less than £200, and could be approved in a matter of weeks.  All she needed was a passport, an air ticket and a few savings.


With new found enthusiasm Kate completed the on-line visa application. She was nervous and excited when she clicked the “lodge application” icon and started searching images of Sydney, Bondi Beach, the Opera House, The Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.

Within a week Kate received an email confirming that her Australian Working Holiday Visa application had been approved. The visa would allow her to travel to Australia and work for different employers for up to 6 months at a time.


The visa was for one year, and although there was an option to extend it for a further year, Kate thought that 12 months in Australia would probably be long enough to get some international experience to add to her CV, travel and return to a the UK when the worst of the recession had hopefully passed.


Kate was keen to start working straight away as she knew her pay-out wasn’t going to last long. And so within her first week, Kate had set up interviews with several recruitment agents.  Despite the condition of her visa stating that she could only work for any one employer for six month periods, she was soon offered a temporary role to cover for some who was on maternity leave. She spent the last of her redundancy payout on a new skirt and some summer tops.


Within weeks of starting her new job, Kate became truly immersed in the Australian culture of working hard to play hard.  She found that a lot of what she had learnt during her short time working in London was highly valued and she no longer felt like a graduate with little to contribute.  Her team were supportive and welcoming and the guys she worked with were great.  They also told her that with her UK passport she was entitled to reciprocal free medical treatment.


As the four month contract was coming to an end, the recruitment agency contacted Kate to offer her another temporary position at a larger firm in North Sydney.  Kate was excited – her move Down Under had taken another good turn and so she jumped at the opportunity. Kate couldn’t wait to be able to add the company to her CV. The new contract was for six months, and Kate thought that this would allow her some time to save enough money for a trip around Australia at the end of the contract, before returning to the UK.


As soon as she started her new position Kate felt as though she had come home.  She loved dealing with the clients and her boss encouraged her to go with her own ideas and was always there to back her up.  She made a few mistakes, but learnt fast.


Not another Redundancy please !!…


Three months into the position she was approached by her boss and asked to attend a meeting with the head of HR on level 29. “Here we go again. It looks like I might have to start travelling sooner than I thought.”  As Kate rode in the lift with her boss, she thought about the great few months she had spent in Sydney, the people she had met and all the good things that had happened up to this point. She followed her boss into the meeting room with a foreboding sense of something lost.


“We’re sorry to drag you away from your work when we know you are busy, but we have been talking and want to put a proposal to you to think about. David and I think you are a perfect fit for the company, you are motivated, hard-working, dedicated, and definitely one of the team. We’d like to offer you a permanent position and sponsor you for a work visa.


“What do you think?”


Kate nearly died, she felt like her face had gone numb, she couldn’t react, she stared at them blankly and this time she didn’t care about hiding her tears, she was just so happy.

The company was already approved as a Sponsor of “457 visa holders” as it employed several foreign workers, including a few other ‘Poms’ Kate had run into in the lifts. The HR manager explained that they had generally found the employees they sponsored were highly motivated, but best of all, they were extremely loyal to the company. Although they weren’t making any promises, the head of HR also mentioned that several of their foreign workers had been nominated by the company for a permanent visa after two years with the firm.


As the company’s Sponsorship was in place, all that was required was for the company to nominate Kate for a position within the business.


The rest was easy



The company’s migration agent prepared the application for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, providing evidence that Kate would be working in one of the many approved skilled occupations for this visa, and that she was to be paid the same as her Australian colleagues.


Kate couldn’t wait to tell her university friends back home.  The company’s migration agent also assisted Kate with the visa application, compiling her documents and walking her through the application process.  The best part was that Kate was not required to pay for the visa, as that was looked after by the company, and so the visa application was lodged.


Within four weeks Kate’s 457 visa was granted. The HR manager explained that although her visa allowed her to work for the company for four years, it was hoped that if she wished to stay in Australia, the company could sponsor her for a permanent visa after a two year qualifying period.


Time to celebrate


To celebrate her new visa status and the prospect of a future in Australia, Kate and her colleagues celebrated with a meal in China Town before she went on a long planned trip to explore Australia.


Kate had found enthusiasm for her work and now that it was no longer just a short term role, Kate began revising her career goals. Although Kate missed her family, her parents had decided to visit her for Christmas in Australia, and one her best friends from home had applied for her own Working Holiday Visa.


Kate sometimes contemplated how different her life would be had she stayed in the UK, and how easy it had been to take control of her future and change her life for the better. All it took was a turn  DOWN UNDER.


Peter Snell


Registered Migration Agent | MARN: 0956898