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Advice on working abroad?

over 1 year ago from , Designer, NZ

Looking for a bit of advice - has anyone here had experience working abroad as a ui/web/graphic designer?

I have 3-4 years of experience as a designer in New Zealand and now I'm interested in doing a year or two in Canada. But despite a few days research I'm still a little lost on where to start. Any tips on how to find a job, manage travel and work (financially), get a visa etc? Are those online companies that offer to find you a job placement / internship reliable or should I look for myself?

I'm open to the possibility of doing other types of work (ie fruit picking, ski resort) but obviously using my existing skills and qualifications would be preferred.

Thanks :)

14 comments

  • Justin Alm, over 1 year ago

    I’ve never worked abroad as a designer but I am a Canadian designer living in Vancouver, Canada. I know quite a few people who moved here to work at various tech companies and agencies. I think you should consider how much you want to focus on work vs play. Vancouver has a great balance of both because there sea and mountains in close proximity to the city. I have friends from Vancouver who moved to Toronto and Montreal and found good work. Keep in mind that Canada is huge and you probably want to live in Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. Each city has its pros and cons. As for finding work, look on Designers News, Glassdoor, Authentic Jobs. You can also search for companies you like that have offices in those cities. Reach out to their designers and ask for work. Even if they’ve don’t have any, request to meet up for coffee and some feedback on your portfolio plus any leads they may have for you. All the best!

    4 points
    • Renee P, over 1 year ago

      Thank you, that's very helpful! I kinda had Vancouver in mind as I've heard great things about it, but also very open minded at this stage. Thanks for the advice and the job boards, I'll check those out :)

      0 points
  • Tyce Clee, over 1 year ago

    There's a fantastic 2yr working visa for Canada if you're under 31 that I would highly advise looking into. Canada is an incredibly welcoming and fun country to be in -- no matter which side of the country you land in. I would just say save as much as possible, apply for the visa and as some have said below start reaching out to companies you're interested in (maybe it's better after you have the visa so it's one less thing the employer will need to do?).

    2 points
    • Adam Karpisz, over 1 year ago

      Just a quick question: is it under 31 or under 35? I get mixed information.

      2 points
    • Renee P, over 1 year ago

      Thanks Tyce :) My friend and I are hoping to do a bit of travel in Canada potentially before settling in and starting work so getting the visa first would definitely be the way to go I'd say. Thanks for the advice!

      0 points
  • Account deleted over 1 year ago

    Hey Renee. I'm from NZ and I've moved to both Berlin and London for work. My advice is to find as many recruitment companies as you can and email them your portfolio. Also apply for jobs on job sites similar to monster or seek (or whatever the local equivalent is) as they sell your CV's and portfolios to recruiters. That way they'll start getting in contact with you pretty quick.

    Also remember the usual design-y hacky stuff, like if you're a web designer, you're now known as a 'digital product designer' or a UI/UX designer, and you'll find a lot of recruiters dont really know the difference between the two, so just roll with what they say.

    Also if you get paid on a day rate, with each new job that rolls in ask for $50 a day more than you were getting at the last job.

    1 point
    • Renee P, over 1 year ago

      Hey Todd! Cheers for that, its really helpful getting tips from someone who's been there, done that. I'd be interested to hear how you found it working abroad compared to NZ. How much experience did you have before you left and did you find it hard/easy to find work being a foreigner?

      0 points
      • Account deleted over 1 year ago

        Hey! I had 23 months experience when I left but thankfully I had a massive portfolio of web and digital work due to my job before I left. I've found working abroad much much easier than working in NZ. In NZ you kind of do whatever your told to do and adapt to different jobs as they come at you. In London especially you only do one job, and it is a much more relaxed atmosphere. In London it took me three days to find a job, and I freelanced for two years and the longest I was without a job was those initial three days because the demand for designers greatly outweighs the supply.

        One thing that recruiters really notice is what brands you have designed for, so shout that out on your portfolio.

        Don't do the typical shy-kiwi thing, talk about how good you are to them.

        Berlin was a bit trickier than London as there simply aren't as many jobs here. However that is rapidly changing and Berlin's startup scene is getting bigger by the day. Compared to London where I'd get hired after having a coffee in my 'interview', in Berlin its normal to have a Skype interview, in person interview and then some sort of design challenge, and the process can take 1 or two months.

        As far as Vancouver goes, I'm not too sure - Some of my friends who work in design moved there and they didn't have too much trouble getting jobs, but from what they said there are far fewer jobs there compared to London, but probably more than Auckland.

        Sorry for the rant, hope that helps

        1 point
        • Renee P, over 1 year ago

          Sweet, that's awesome, glad to hear you found plenty of work! Interesting that you found London more relaxed, if anything was kinda worried that NZ would be more relaxed than most places and going abroad might be a little more intense haha. I'd be keen to try a bit of freelancing too but I guess, like you say, it depends on how much work is available. Cheers for all the tips man, definitely super helpful, chur.

          0 points
  • Helen . Helen . , over 1 year ago

    I'm a freelance designer based in Toronto, about to start a year long contract at a company. I know a friend who I worked with that got sponsored by the startup we were at, and after, another company.

    Work-wise, it wouldn't be hard for you to find opportunities. There's lots of recruiters that will be able to find you work as long as you're good and your portfolio shows what you can do.

    You could probably try to reach out to some recruiters through LinkedIn at reputable recruiting firms at companies and talk about yourself and see if they'd be open to sponsoring you a work visa.

    1 point
    • Renee P, over 1 year ago

      Hi Helen, thanks for the advice! How do you find freelancing in Toronto? Is there plenty of work to keep you going? Would you recommend it to someone new to Canada or do you think finding a company to work for is a better option to start with? Thanks :)

      0 points
      • Helen . Helen . , over 1 year ago

        To be honest, most of my freelance clients are from outside of Canada. I've been able to get some amount of work through my brother who's also a designer and word of mouth but I'd highly recommend working with a company first, and networking from there for freelance work.

        1 point
  • Marcin B, over 1 year ago

    Hey, I've moved to Canada without any connections. At first to Montreal just to move to Toronto after couple of weeks.Happy to talk and share some tips about visas, job market, neighbourhoods and design/start-up scene in Toronto. Previously, I've done the same in Australia (for 2 years). Originally from Poland, drop me a line at martinblicharz@gmail.com

    1 point
    • Renee P, over 1 year ago

      Hey Marcin – great that would be super helpful, when I get a bit of free time I may get in touch and ask you a few questions. Thanks! :)

      0 points