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Working Holiday Today = Leaders Tomorrow

Brett Raven’s original goal was to be in Australia at the time of the Olympics, get some work in IT, and live on the beach for a year.  Crediting the connections and ‘mates’ he has made in the business community (too humble!), Brett has since risen to the role of Co-Founder of Entitlemate and Chief Technology Officer of the AussieCommerce Group.

Sarah Mak, Managing Director of TheStoryBoxes Moving Image Studio, was working in international aid and traveled around the Pacific Islands for work whilst on her working holiday visa.  This allowed Sarah to experiment with different roles and enabled her to explore various avenues which helped reframe her priorities and passion.

Jesse Desjardins came to Australia on holidays and loved it so much that he decided to do a working holiday.  Today, Jesse successfully runs Tourism Australia’s social media and content programs globally. He is a much sought-after speaker at events organized by marketing, public relations, advertising, and tourism industry peak bodies.

Chatelaine Jao was a young auditor taking a career break when she was inspired by her Canadian friend to embark on a working holiday adventure in Australia. She is now Schneider Electric’s Head of Financial Accounting for the Pacific Region and feels her working holiday experience is what made the difference in her success.

Brett, Sarah, Jesse and Chatelaine were able to undertake a working holiday in Australia through

International Experience Canada (IEC), a Government of Canada initiative that provides young Canadians the opportunity to travel abroad and obtain overseas work experience.  The concept began in 1951 as a reconciliatory cultural exchange between Canada and Germany following World War II. Today, IEC administers Canada’s Youth Mobility Agreements (YMAs) with 32 countries and territories. It also facilitates youth mobility opportunities through recognized organizations, and several university and college co-operative education inter-institutional agreements covering work placements.  The valuable learning, growth, and networking opportunities accorded to the youth mobility participants of today truly contribute to developing the industry leaders of tomorrow.    

The Canadian Australian Chamber of Commerce (CACC), in its support of IEC and in recognition of the important role it plays, set up a free Working Holiday Job Bank to better connect Canadian working holiday participants with Australian employers.  Similarly, previous working holiday participants shared their travel and work experiences in this video compilation to help encourage others to broaden their horizons.  (In the spirit of the IEC, the video soundtrack was also a collaborative project between an Australian and a Canadian songwriter.)

To get to know more about some of our Canadians who turned their working holiday adventures into career success stories, check out the slideshow above.

Editor’s notes: If you or someone you know have participated in International Experience Canada or Working Holiday in Australia or in Canada, we would love to hear your stories!


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Canada Down Under is an on-line portfolio of Canadian-Australian stories produced by the Consulate General of Canada in Sydney and other contributors.

Canada Down Under est un portefeuille en ligne d'histoires canado-australiennes produites par le Consulat général du Canada à Sydney et d'autres contributeurs.

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