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Blogs, Understanding & Tips

How to find a second job while in the USA

Monday, July 18, 2011 by

Two Work & Travel USA participants working in a cafe on a New Jersey beach

Summer? Beach job!

It’s mid-July and some of you either already have a second job or even have changed jobs. For those who are thinking about it, let’s first have a look at the rules and then how to go about it.

But! Even if you already have a second job, have you realized that you can find yourself your dream job for summer 2012, apply as “self-arranged” and even save? You can’t find your dream job in your dream location from your computer back home in December! You have to start finding it now, while you are still in America!

Let’s start with the rules..

  1. Who can have a second job?
    Only participants of the summer Work & Travel USA program can have a second job. If you are an intern or a trainee, it is illegal for you to work in the USA outside your internship.
  2. Who can change job?
    Again, only participants of the summer Work & Travel USA program can change their job.
  3. Who can find him/herself job for the next year?
    Everybody! Find your dream job or an internship and apply as “self-arranged”!
  4. What jobs are not allowed?
    Summer Work & Travel USA participants must not work in childcare (no babysitting girls!), healthcare (where you’d get in contact with the patients), domestic jobs (no housekeeping in exchange for room and board) and as a crew-member of a ship or an airplane (working for instance as a waiter or a cook on a ship is OK).
  5. What about self-arranged internship/training?
    Your job must be in your field of study, or in a field in which you’ve got more than 5 years of demonstrable experience.
  6. How to start in a second job?
    There are currently no specific rules for having a second job. Just make sure that you still perform well in your primary job. Especially if you have your accommodation from your primary employer, you don’t want to get fired from your primary job and find yourself on the street.
  7. How to change your job?
    If you want to change your job entirely, do this:
    – Talk with your sponsor and explain why you can’t work in your original job.
    – Ask them for permition to  find yourself different job.
    – Once you have the new job, give your sponsor all the details and ask for updating your SEVIS record.

OK, so we know the rules, now how to find the job..

  1. Ask people around
    They live in the place! They may have seen a “help wanted” sign somewhere, or maybe they even know somebody who needs more help.
  2. Ask your primary employer
    Not every employer is so nice, but many are! And it’s much easier for him to call his friend who owns a pizza restaurant and ask if he’d have something for a few international students.
  3. Keep your eyes open
    Many stores and fast-food restaurants post “help wanted” signs on their doors. Watch for them when you are going to shop or eat.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to food-service
    Many students only look at what we just mentioned as an example: restaurants, fast-food, etc. Be bold! Maybe a local car-repair shop (or boat repair shop by the water) or a marketing agency needs some help!
  5. Research on the Internet
    These two websites are particularly useful: http://www.snagajob.com/ and http://www.groovejob.com/. Use them also to research jobs in your dream location, if you are planning to travel there later and find yourself a job for next summer.
Work & Travel USA who found herself job by this beautiful lake

Job by a lake

Work & Travel USA participant working in Yellowstone National Park

Job in a National Park

Two Work & Travel USA participants who found a job in a city - rare

Job in a city

How to get the job..

  1. Visit every place with potential
    Start at one end of the town and enter every restaurant, cafe, supermarket, gas station, bakery, hotel, motel, and every other place that your previous research indicated that it may have potential.
  2. Fill out application everywhere
    Many managers only look at people who have filled out a job application. Fill it out everywhere where they use one. Don’t forget to leave your phone number, they must be able to get in touch with you if they decide to hire you.
  3. Call them back
    In many places, they’ll tell you “we’ll call you if we need somebody”. They may, but why take chances?! Call them yourself a few days later and ask if the manager had a chance to look at your application.

Major problems..

  1. Scheduling
    If your schedule changes several times a week, you’ll probably be unable to find yourself a second job. Simply because you can never tell them when you are available. Talk with your manager, but if he’s unable or unwilling to give you a more stable schedule, you may need to consider how important is your primary job to you and possibly change your job entirely.
  2. Transportation
    Unless a group of you buys an old, beaten cheap car, or unless you at least get yourself a bicycle, you will probably be unable to get yourself a second job either. Simply because you will have no way of traveling to it.

Interesting stuff..

  1. Veteran’s advice
    These girls found their own jobs not just in the USA but also in New Zealand and other countriers. They even brought jobs for other students from their travels. So heed their advice!
  2. Articles
    These two articles from a traveler’s magazine are not specifically USA-oriented, so be aware that some of the jobs (notably working with children) are illegal under the American Work/Travel visa, but they are pretty good. Recommended!
  3. Interesting jobs that students found themselves
    – Tennis instructor
    – Piano-player in a restaurant
    – Rafting guide
    – Horse-riding trips guide (this girl made the highest amount of money ever reported to us, including her first job, it was almost $15,000 in 3.5 months)
    – Assistant accountant in a large amusement park
    – Self-employed (two students working near an RV park decided to put a small note under windshield wipers of every motorhome and camper, saying “RVs cleaned! Quality, Fast & Affordable service. Just $XX”)
Exchange student working as parachute packer SWT USA

Parachute packer

Exchange student who worked as a journalist in Los Angeles SWT USA

Journalist in LA

Exchange student working as a bartender SWT USA

A bartender

Exchange student working as cranberry harvesteer SWT USA

Cranberry harvesting

Exchange student working as a housekeeping manager SWT USA

Housekeeping manager

Exchange student working as a wrangler SWT USA

A wrangler


If you have found a good job yourself, write us where you have looked and how you have found it! We will share your experience with students who come after you, just like we are sharing experience of your predecessors with you here.

Write us what you found and how you did it

Questions? Ask below :-) In English, please.

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