Kimberly Webber, (European Union, Spring 2015), our IES Abroad 2014-15 Blogger of the Year, is based in Ireland for a year to work and travel on a working holiday visa. After graduating from the University of Puget Sound, she knew she wanted to continue to feed her hunger for travel. Kimberly tells us how she made her dream into a reality.
IES Abroad: Tell us what you’re up to in Dublin.
Kimberly Webber (KW): I just moved into a room in a house owned by a 30-year-old working professional after nearly two months of searching and moving around in Dublin. I haven’t worked much, but I am registered with two temporary recruiting agencies, which has helped. Since arriving, I’ve been very involved in City Church Dublin, which I found online. Most of my friends I’ve made were from there and much of my time is spent in ministry efforts and meeting up with friends from City.
IES Abroad: When did you decide you wanted to go back?
KW: I studied abroad on the IES Abroad European Union Program in Spring 2015. Over Easter break in April, I ventured to Howth, a coastal town north of the Dublin city center. I had been falling in love with Ireland the whole week, but experiencing Howth made me decide right then that, within a year of graduation, I would be living in Ireland.
IES Abroad: Why did you want to go back?
KW: I studied international business in college, so it only made sense to start a career abroad. I was totally enamored by Ireland and wanted to do anything to live there. People often ask my goals for moving here and my only goal is to exist as the locals do. Working is honestly a means to that end.
IES Abroad: Did anyone at IES Abroad influence your decision to go back abroad?
KW: Kerstin Spurk, the professor of Leading Across Cultures at the IES Abroad European Union Center, and Megan Markey, the IES Abroad Dublin Center Director, really influenced my decision to move abroad.
Kerstin’s class taught me I have what it takes to thrive in various cultures, particularly in the workplace, and her personal advice was really encouraging. I met Megan at the IES Abroad Annual Conference in October 2015, where I was named Blogger of the Year. While everyone I met there was obviously an adamant supporter of my international ambitions, Megan offered a level of comfort and support that have made the year since and the transition much smoother.
IES Abroad: What is it like living in Ireland and/or travelling after studying abroad with the IES Abroad European Union Program?
KW: I visited 11 European countries during my semester abroad (eight of them was with the IES Abroad European Union Program) and that nomadic existence begins to feel comfortable. I love figuring out public transportation in a new place. I love re-discovering sites visited the last time I was here. I love observing and succumbing to the cultural variances in a new place. And none of that would have grown on me if not for the program.
IES Abroad: How did you make it happen? Tell us about the process.
KW: I was already set on Ireland, so I started researching visa requirements. Luckily for me, Ireland is one of the easiest countries in the world where Americans can obtain a working holiday visa. This visa legally allows me to work and travel. I discovered Go Overseas and there was an article that served as a great launching point. From there I sought information directly from the Irish Consulate website.
Throughout my senior year, I applied to various internships and year-long jobs to earn some money before moving away. I secured a media internship (thanks to IES Abroad for appointing me as a video blogger and spurring the passion) in Texas for the summer.
I applied for my Work Holiday Authorization in Ireland and the application was straightforward. The visa was approved three days after mailing it to the San Francisco consulate. I then had to confirm some details and purchase a round-trip airline ticket to get my authorization finalized.
Once in Ireland, I still needed to register with the National Immigration Bureau, get a social security number, open a bank account, find work, etc. It’s smoother than I could have imagined!
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to study abroad students who want to work or study abroad?
- Sort out finances and overcompensate for things you’ll need.
- Look at application requirements far in advance in case there’s still time to add a résumé-booster or if you need more time to apply for jobs.
- Make sure your credits will transfer; seek counsel on updating your résumé/CV to fit the country of choice and make sure your skills are evident as well as you international experience and cultural competencies.
IES Abroad: Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
KW: Don’t plan your career path. It will be diverted and land you somewhere totally unexpected. Just do what you can, don’t fear mobility and flexibility, and enjoy the ride.
IES Abroad: Why do you think it’s important to try to live, work, and/or study abroad?
KW: I believe that people get so bogged down in their hometown or their college town and get too comfortable with staying. Allowing yourself to experience a different lifestyle and get to know inhabitants of other countries, even of our own country, then you are much better equipped to make informed opinions and decisions. That is why living and working abroad are important. We are not as far apart or different as we think we are, and our decisions affect one another.
For more information on our IES Abroad Alumni, visit our Alumni page.