Are you a Canadian between the age of 18 and 35 with a valid Canadian passport and looking for an incredible experience abroad but not sure where to start, or intimidated by the administrative process of applying for visas? Look no further! We have an amazing resource to share with you.
Stepabroad is a working holiday and internship placement agency passionate about helping you obtain personal and professional growth with work abroad experiences. As a Recognized Organization (RO) by the Government of Canada, Stepabroad gives young Canadians the opportunity to experience work and travel in destinations around the globe. As one of Canada’s fastest-growing travel agencies, based in downtown Vancouver, Stepabroad coordinates every aspect of the work and travel process for Canadians across the country. Stepabroad started out of an initiative by the Government of Canada in 2015 to help more Canadians to go abroad to gain work experience, and has a sister company called Stepwest that brings foreign youth to come to Canada.
What does it mean to be a “Recognized Organization” of the Government of Canada?
A Recognized Organization (RO) is a status designated by IEC (International Experience Canada) and is an organization that offers work and travel support to Canadian youth going abroad and also foreign youth coming to Canada. Recognized Organizations have been officially nominated by the Government of Canada to provide these services and the nomination is for a period of 3 years at which point the organization has to then apply again. That way, the Canadian government can ensure that the support being offered to Canadians going abroad and foreign youth coming into Canada consistently upholds the highest standards. Additionally, as a Recognized Organization, Stepabroad is listed on the Government of Canada’s website as a support organization. This helps to differentiate the company from some of the larger organizations that offer similar programs and support all over the world. Those organizations don’t necessarily know the processes that Canadians need to go through to go work abroad. Therefore Stepabroad is backed by the Canadian Government, which means their services and support are tailored to young Canadians.
What is International Experience Canada (IEC)?
International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program developed by the Government of Canada. In this program, Canadians can go abroad for work and travel experiences. There are partnerships with 30 countries, which are called Youth Mobility Agreements. Youth mobility allows Canadian youth to go abroad to a foreign country, and foreign youth from that country to come to Canada.
What kind of person might engage with Stepabroad?
Program participants are usually first time travellers, or someone who has travelled before but has never worked abroad, and might be overwhelmed or confused by the process of everything you need to take care of before you go work in a foreign country. Typically, the age range of Stepabroad’s program participants is between 17 to 30 years old. These could be high school students thinking about doing a gap year after they graduate, or maybe a recent grad from a post secondary program and before they jump into the work force they want to go explore the world and earn money while traveling and/or gain work experience for their resume. Additionally, program participants could be youth who have already entered the work force, and have saved up some money and are looking for an international experience.
What kind of services do you offer young Canadians?
Services differ between different programs, but in general, Stepabroad offers tons of support prior to leaving Canada and then also when arriving in the country of choice.
Stepabroad offers resume support from a writing guide to 1:1 revision support. Stepabroad also walks participants step by step through work permit application to ensure they have a deep understanding of the application process for the specific type of visa. In some programs, they will place participants in a job and their accommodation prior to leaving Canada. Stepabroad also works with participants to ensure they have all the tools available to land a job in the particular country of their program, which gives them more freedom to start working when they want and where they want, and in the type of job they are interested in. In the weeks leading up to a participant’s departure, they have Pre-departure Orientation. Which consists of helpful information including: traveling around the country, how to find an apartment, how to file taxes, different resources for meeting people, finding a job, and other helpful pieces of advice.
When participants arrive in the country (depending on the program), they will have airport pickup, the first few nights of accommodation, and then attend an arrival orientation to learn about public transit, working culture customs, as well as information to set up with your cellphone, bank and tax account. During the entire time abroad, Stepabroad is a participant’s go to resource to help with anything they can, for example from travel tips, to meeting new people, and even help with filing taxes when they come back to Canada.
What is the difference between a Working Holiday vs Internship?
The Working Holiday Program provides Canadians the opportunity to obtain temporary casual work while abroad. These temporary casual jobs are paid and are designed to help you support your travels. They are usually in customer service, tourism, sales, retail or even labour/construction. To apply for the Working Holiday Program, you must be between the ages of 18 to 35, hold a valid Canadian passport and be eligible for the Working Holiday visa of your chosen destination.
The Internship Program is designed for anyone between the age of 18 to 30 looking to obtain professional work experience in a specific field like business, communications, engineering, science or even law. You do not need to be a student in order to the Internship Program, it is open to students and non-students alike! Please note that since the internships do not require any previous work experience and are designed as a learning experience they are unpaid.
Did you know? In total, Canadians can actually get working holiday visas in over 30 countries?
Which destinations are available to Canadians?
Stepabroad currently has work and travel programs in 5 countries: UK, Japan, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
Working Holiday (learn more):
- United Kingdom (UK)
- New Zealand
International Internship (learn more):
- New Zealand
What’s the application process like?
First, fill out the application form available on Stepabroad’s website. It’s simple and involves providing some personal information, an emergency contact, and the program the person is interested in applying to. After the form is received, Stepabroad will first verify that you are eligible for the visa, and that the program is really a right fit for them. Then a quick phone interview is done between Stepabroad and the candidate before officially accepting them into the program. Once the candidate is accepted, a deposit is made or the full program fee is paid (depends on the timeline of departure), then Stepabroad begins the candidate's services right away!
What do the program fees cover?
Program fees cover the cost of the services that Stepabroad provides. In addition to the program fee, candidates are responsible to pay for their own flights to the destination country, travel insurance, and in most cases their accommodations and food while they are abroad (however some programs have accommodations and/or food covered, but check the details on their site!). Finally, most countries charge a fee to apply for the working holiday visa which needs to be covered by the candidate.
Note: in general, participants have to pay for their own living expenses while abroad.
Fees for the program are a one time payment, and is the same fee no matter how long you plan to go abroad. However, programs do differ in cost, depending on the one you select, as the services offer differ depending on the program!
Visas and Travel Documents
Sometimes visas can be a bit of a headache as there is no standard way to apply to them as each country is different, but don’t worry! Stepabroad is there each and every step of the way to help you with your visa application.
To apply for a Youth Mobility Visa (aka Working Holiday Visa) you need to be a Canadian citizen with a valid passport, and not reaching the expiry date within the next year. Most countries do have a financial requirement, where candidates must prove “support funds”. This ensures that someone who is going abroad has enough money to support themselves while seeking employment.
If you have any specific questions, Stepabroad has a great Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page as well as a live chat!
2018 Stepabroad Ambassadors
Want to know what it's like to go abroad with the help of Stepabroad? Read below to learn about two of Stepabroad's Ambassadors from 2018 and their amazing experiences:
Genevieve Latour: Chile Working Holiday
Genevieve is from Gatineau, Quebec and in 2018 traveled to Chile on a working holiday to experience living in South America. She worked on the colourful island of Chiloé before traveling up to the capitol, Santiago, to experience the bustling city life. She worked in tourism in both cities doing translation, social media, and reception duties while welcoming travelers from around the world for small hospitality businesses. Highlights from her trip included going horseback riding in the Atacama Desert and taking a vacation to explore Buenos Aires, Argentina and Punta del Este, Uruguay. She is currently living in Toronto working as a Lifestyle Manager creating travel guides and booking trips for clients. You can follow her travels on Instagram at @genalaventure.
Ian Saunders: Australia Working Holiday
Ian is from Toronto, Ontario and in 2018 traveled to Australia on a working holiday. Ian was looking to experience travel while gaining relevant work experience between semesters of his Business Administration program at Wilfred Laurier University. He worked in Brisbane for three months for a digital marketing and web design agency doing research and assisting with client services. Highlights from his trip Down Under included camping on the world's largest sand island, working on his photography, and swimming in waterfalls in northern Australia. Ian has started his own creative agency and will be graduating in 2020. Check out Ian's photo journal on Instagram @locatian.
So, what are you waiting for?
In addition, to growing their portfolio of countries and services they offer, Stepabroad is excited to be apart of a bigger movement to encourage more Canadians to go abroad to experience working, and travelling and help the next generation of Canadians become global citizens! They are there to guide and support you from the moment you decide to leave, throughout your stay, and all the way until you return home. Don’t just take our word for it, check out the testimonials from Stepabroad’s alumni.
In the end, It’s so easy to come up with excuses, that "now isn’t the right time", "I don’t have enough money", or "I can’t leave my job" - just to name a few! - but remember, money will always return but time doesn’t! So take a chance, and get out there! Take advantage of this incredible organization and your Canadian passport!
LOKATE Travel Podcast Interview with Stepabroad