Advice for starting a new line of work while in Melbourne for two years?
February 4, 2014 9:13 PM   Subscribe

My wife got a temporary academic position in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I have happily followed her here. After almost six years of working in childcare, I would really like to get into a new line of work. Something physically active and room for some actual advancement. I just turned 30 and feel a bit like I have been wasting too much time treading water in childcare. I have a few years experience as a prep cook and dishwasher, and years of experience volunteering in non-profits and community organisations. We don't have tons of friends here and I am feeling a bit isolated and discouraged. Any advice or motivation you can share would be greatly appreciated. More details below of course!

I don't think I can move into any professional/office sort of role. I'd like to do something active that pays somewhat decent and hopefully has room for advancement. A museum, hotel, casino, the Post- a bigger institution or company that can provide new jobs skills I can take back home. I feel like I am good with people and can be professional and personable in any customer service roles. I have a Bachelor's Degree but it's in Ethnic Studies and feels pointless for finding work. I also don't drive unfortunately.

I know there is government subsidised training for citizens and permanent residents, but I am not one. I might be willing to pay for courses but I have gotten the impression that some might not be worth doing? Any RTOs or TAFE programs you would recommend?

I have recently paid for a professionally done resume and have been submitting things left and right on Any other websites should I look into? Is it acceptable (or even worth doing at all) to just pop into shops and drop off resumes? Not trying to be "chat filter" here, just hoping to get some advice and thoughts from others. Thanks!
posted by Slimemonster to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's totally acceptable to drop off resumes in shops/restaurants - I've got jobs doing that before. If you want to work in hospitality you'll need a RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) certificate, easily obtained by doing a 2 hour course for $50.
posted by Wantok at 9:29 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If your wife is here on a 457 visa, that means you have unlimited working rights as her partner, and you can also study. Some government-type jobs will ask for permanent residency or citizenship as a requirement (I noticed quite a bit of that on Seek), so smaller businesses might be a better fit.

What are your interests? Your question is very very broad, so it's hard to give specific recommendations.
posted by third word on a random page at 9:59 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

In my experience in Australia, one can make a lot more money doing tradesperson related work than in an office or cafe. If you are into any of the trades, Australia is the place to learn them.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:07 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the replies.

Third word, can I really get government-subsidized training? The little I saw said That's welcome news to me, I will try to look into it more. As for your question - my interests aren't very well-suited for jobs. I do like cooking at home, working out some and kids - though I am thoroughly tired of being around them as a childcare worker. I'd be happy to work somewhere I am respected and am able to make more than minimum wage.

If there are any good training programs that could teach me an employable skills, I would love to hear about them. I am kind of overwhelmed by the amount of RTOs and certificates out there, and don't know which ones are worth looking into.

Thanks again for any and all replies.
posted by Slimemonster at 10:15 PM on February 4, 2014

100% agree with Wantok regarding resumes and kitchens/cafes. Print out some 1 page copies of your kitchen-related resume, pick your streets, and off you go. Walk into the cafe, ask the counter person for the manager, greet the manager, state your claim efficiently and leave your resume. If the manager is not there, ask the counter person to pass it on for you. I never fail to get a job this way.

As to other options... it would be good to know a few things.
Where in Melbourne will you be based.
How long do you think the temp position of your wife's will last?
What type of non-profits have you worked for in the past, or what are your non-profit interests?

If you are in the city, and you don't mind learning interior painting, I might have a lead. Memail me.
posted by Kerasia at 10:16 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm based right in the city, near Queen Victoria Marketl. My wife's job will be 2 years long. Thanks Kerasia (I also sent you a message)!
posted by Slimemonster at 10:28 PM on February 4, 2014

Having worked in kitchens, and having been a teacher, I can tell you that kitchen work is not all that great for advancement. Sure, I guess you can work your way up to chef, but due to the late hours it's a lifestyle choice as well. And the pay is shit.

You could always try working construction (I have done that too), although I have no idea how the apprenticeship system works in Aus, or whether or not as a foreigner you would be eligible.

Another physical job is working as a mover (I've done that too), but the pay is not great.

But for heaven's sakes, stay out of the kitchen if you can.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:08 AM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

For clarification, my motto is "aim high". I wish I had done that 25 years ago when I was trying to get work to pay for my undergrad degree, and drifted into kitchen life.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:14 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Ooh, you're in my area! Welcome to Melbourne!)

Can you leverage the program(s) that are available from your wife's employer? I assume it's a university; most universities have all sorts of short courses, and you might even be able to get a staff discount.

Even if not, there are several universities within walking (<30 min) distance of you with short courses open to the public. Here are some links: University of Melbourne short courses, RMIT short courses, Swinbourne, LaTrobe (although I'm not sure if the short courses are taught out of LaTrobe's CBD campus), Victoria ... without knowing what skills you want specifically I can't recommend anything in particular, but if you browse through you might find something that interests you.

There are also a ton of little training-y places around the city that teach specialised skills - for example there's a cooking school just a few blocks south of you.

By the way the minimum wage in Australia is $16.37 per hour (or $20.30 if you're a casual) so even a McJob isn't so bad over here, pay-wise.
posted by Xany at 1:56 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you are being a little self-limiting here. If you are planning to re-locate back to the US, you need to be mindful that university is not vocational training. You have a BA and that gets you over a significant hurdle for many, many jobs. What the BA is in is very often irrelevant; employers are looking for a BA + a skillset. The two do not have to be related.

Anyway, regardless, I would use the opportunity of lower-cost education to get a professional qualification in something that interests you with a keen eye to future employment and career planning: horticulture, or dog grooming, or EMT certification, or arboriculture, or whatever. Your BA qualifies you to take post-grad courses.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:54 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

can I really get government-subsidized training?

If you do not have permanent residency, then you're probably not eligible for any Commonwealth assistance. You can take a look here for more information.

The Victorian Government also runs study assistance schemes, in particular, the Victorian Training Guarantee. I am reasonably sure they also require permanent residency, but you can check here for more information.
posted by kithrater at 4:32 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you do decide to go door knocking at cafe's (and this is how I got most of my jobs in hospitality), make sure you time your visit after the breakfast rush and before lunch (11am is good), or after the lunch rush, around 2pm. If you ask for the manager during any busy time, they're going to get pissed.

One way to discover jobs you would like to have is to search on seek filtering just by location and work type. It's time intensive, but it means you're not just limited by job titles/industries you already know and possibly reject. There are lots of interesting jobs listed under obscure titles/descriptions and in unlikely industries. If you're willing to put in the time, you'll be very surprised what these kind of searches can turn up.

Good luck! And welcome to Melbourne.
posted by Zaire at 7:05 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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