What is an OE?
The term ‘An Overseas Experience’ (OE) originated from New Zealand, and describes an extended working period or holiday abroad. Such trips date back to the 50’s but were described then as a working holiday until the term ‘OE’ was made popular by NZ cartoonist and columnist Tom Scott in the mid-1970s. These OE’s were mainly centered on working in London to earn the means by which to then travel around the very easily accessible Europe.
How long is a typical OE?
Due to the nature of the OE typically being for at least a year (and very often several more years after that) it is often referred to as “The Big OE”, and has always been seen as a very positive, exciting, character-building adventure that any self-respecting young Australasian would be mad not to do (we really couldn’t agree more!). Whilst experience shows that the OE often lasts much longer than originally planned, it is generally expected that the wanderer returns after a few years armed with a whole host of new life and work experiences and generally a much richer and fulfilled outlook acquired from their time overseas. The length of time spent on a professional OE is often dictated by the type of Visa the traveller has and therefore how long they can legally work in another country (one of the conditions of the very popular Tier 5 Visa is that you must leave the UK at the end of the two-year period).
When do people go on their OE?
Typically an OE is mostly or entirely self-funded (unfortunately) and in our experience, most people take the plunge usually within a few years after graduation from Uni. The typical OE traveller is in their mid to late 20s (influenced by restrictions on their eligible visa criteria). They have often worked for a few years before deciding to travel in order to build up their work experience and savings to ensure that they have the skills and funds to be able to get the very most out of their trip.
Why do people want to work on their OE?
Working abroad brings so many professional and personal benefits. Gaining wider experience from taking on different responsibilities and developing new skills opens the door to many more work opportunities when you return home. Not only can you enhance your skill set in a completely different culture and working environment, but overcoming the challenges of living and working abroad, accepting different working practices, and surviving without your usual support network of family and friends can really increase your resourcefulness, resilience, and adaptability, making you much more marketable to future employers. The other obvious benefit of enhancing your career whilst on your OE is the great salary rates that you can earn, particularly if you are contracting, to fund all the fantastic European travel opportunities available to you.
How easy is it to work in the UK on a professional OE?
In order for you to work in the UK you would need a current UK work visa. There are a variety of UK working visas, work permits and passports that will enable you to legally work in the UK and each has its own eligibility requirements and restrictions. Choosing and applying for the right Visa for you can feel like a daunting task, with the constantly changing legislation and seemingly endless red tape and bureaucracy – but it really doesn’t need to be if you do your homework, or get well-informed help. A more in-depth explanation of which Visa would most suit you, and the main points to consider are explained in this MyOE article.
So a professional OE sounds appealing to you? So what next?
Planned well, a working OE can end up being the best and most rewarding experience of your life! We at MyOE know this because we’ve done it ourselves and have learned first hand all the things you need to ensure great success for your trip. Get in contact with our OE experts in Australia or in the UK for an informal chat about what your different options are and how we can help you plan for your departure. Alternatively, we have created a comprehensive guide in the My UK Move handbook of all the essential next steps you need to consider to make your professional OE dream a reality.