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Worktraveler’s #1 problem – not enough work hours

Sunday, June 26, 2011 by

Work and Travel program - not enough work hours

Not enough work?

Of all the problems that people encounter on their worktraveling trips around the world, having too few work hours is by far the most frequent source of disappointment. It’s scary too, because you probably borrowed money for your program, and you need to pay them back.

So let’s have a look at what are the reasons for not having enough work hours and what you can do to get more.

1. Don’t fret!

If this is the most common problem, and tens of thousands of people still participates in these programs every year, the outcome generally can not be too bad, can it?

2. It’s common at the beginning.

Think about it, last week, you weren’t working there. And the company managed without you. Now you arrived and? 40 extra hours worth of work magically appeared? No, unless they were already short of help and you arrived as their savior. They probably expect their business to gradually pick up and need more help, that’s why they hired you. So you can expect your hours to pick up as well.

3. An example.

When people arrive in the Yellowstone N.P., first-time students are despairing that they only made $180 in 4 weeks. Repeat participants go hiking and horseback-riding, because they know they’ll make all the money they need after American students go back to school in early August.

4. May it not improve?

Sadly, it may. If the company misjudged how much business they will have in summer, and that can happen, they might have hired more staff than they are going to need.

So what to do?

5. Find out what’s normal

Like we say, in many places it is normal that there are very few work hours at the beginning of the summer, and a lot at the end. Try to find a few people who worked there in previous summers (other international students, American employees, even managers) and ask them. Having responses from several sources will give you an idea if you can expect improvement or not.

6. Try “Second job” within the company

In some places, they let you do more than one thing. Maybe your real position is housekeeping, but if you have nothing to do, they may let you mow the grass, clean the pool or paint the handrail if you ask. Look what seems like it needs to be done and ask if you could do it.

7. Get a real second job

If you can’t get more hours inside the company, it’s time to look for extra work outside. In next installment we’ll talk about how to find a second job, what people did (some students are pretty creative) and what are some of the difficulties involved in trying to find one.  Note: You can only have a second job if you participate in the Summer Work & Travel program, interns and trainees can not legally work outside their internship/traineeship.

Tip: Ask people in your primary job! They live there, they know other people and businesses. In many cases, second jobs have been arranged with the help from the primary employer.

8. New job? Give it 2 to 3 weeks

As outlined above, most people find out soon that things are actually not as bad as they seem. So don’t panic and run from the job after one week. But if things haven’t improved in 2+ weeks and you can’t find another source of income, contact your program sponsor and ask if they know of any jobs elsewhere. They may, because many employers only call them after the summer starts.

9. Don’t give it two months though

Some students wait too long before they start to think seriously about  a replacement. If you are in the country for just 3.5 months and you wait almost two months in an impossible job before you start looking for a new job, it may no longer make any sense to move somewhere else.

10. Don’t end up with no job at all

If you are trying to get a completely new primary job, make 100% sure that you have your new job secured before you leave your old primary job. And doubly so if you have your accommodation arranged by your employer. There are students every year who quit their primary job only to be told in the new one “errm, you know what, we changed our mind”, and they end up having no job at all.

11. Survive and come again next summer!

Especially if you really like the second job that you found yourself as a result of your lack of work hours, it can be a small victory for you. Apply next year as self-arranged, save and go directly to the job you arranged for yourself! After all, you couldn’t find that job without being in America in the first place!

Obviously, we wish you all as enjoyable summer as it gets, but if troubles strike, read again point one (Don’t fret :-) and follow these steps.

And  if you’d like to, you are the most welcome to contact us and ask what we’d suggest that you do.

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

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