I was knee deep in exams, 2016, when I wondered, what am I actually going to do after I graduate? I was sold on the prospect of jetting to the other side of the world, getting out of my comfort zone and exploring the possibilities.
IEP has a great range of options, and I settled on the Work Canada program due to my unavailability for a pre-arranged Winter Job. Work Canada provides all of the assistance that you need with your visa and in-country support, with the flexibility of applying for your own desired work.
I arrived in late January 2017. After attending an orientation and getting my accounts setup with SWAP (IEP’s Canadian partner) I was battling with the paradox of choice. After 2 weeks, I was successful in securing a job in Lake Louise, Banff that was advertised through SWAP. Little did I know that I had just landed a job in one of the most photographed and beautiful destinations in the world.
I arrived to a mid-Winter Wonderland and -16 degrees. I settled into staff housing and began what was one of the most unique experiences of my life. I was a server at Deer Lodge, a rustic hotel operated by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts situated minutes from Lake Louise, a pristine glacial lake that you can walk across in winter and canoe around in summer. Its turquoise waters and incredible glaciers draw thousands of people every year.
Come August 2017, it was time for a change of scene, and after exploring the breath-taking Rockies and Banff National park, I re-settled in Victoria on Vancouver Island. A quaint small city, Victoria is full of students and incredible whale watching, outdoors and history as the capital of BC. With the help of SWAP and Work Canada, I secured work at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and another restaurant downtown – my aim to meet as many people as possible, that I did. Finding somewhere to live was easy enough, through online accommodation resources available with other students.
After a quick stint back in NZ over the summer, I returned to Canada in February 2018 starting from scratch again. To try something completely novel, I ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as east as you can go in Canada. A fantastic hospitality scene with great craft beer, wine and seafood, Halifax hums in summer with thousands of cruise ship passengers pouring into the city. Being the maritime capital of Canada, Halifax is rich with naval history. After throwing my resume everywhere, I ended up bartending at a waterfront restaurant and working in banquets, bringing the opportunity to meet others my age.The beauty of Nova Scotia lies in the fall months around Sept-November, where the change of seasons brings about gorgeous red and orange landscapes. The Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in fall was a highlight of my east coast experience – known as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
My Canadian working holiday experience was a wild ride, but the most rewarding decision I have ever made. Without the support of the IEP Work Canada program, I would never have got close to experiencing what I was fortunate enough to experience and meet lifelong friends. A working holiday changes you. The different perspectives, your experiences and the people you meet enable you to grow as a person in a way only possible by getting yourself out there. Don’t just imagine, make it happen.