One of the perks of being a university student is a long summer holiday. The summer after my first year of university sailed by rather painlessly involving only a part-time job in a school uniform shop and three weeks’ interrailing through Europe which – although a great deal of fun – wasn’t particularly productive, and certainly didn’t live up to my mother’s expectations of keeping out from under her feet! After this I made the decision that my next summer holiday would not be spent loafing around at home and TV channel-hopping (don’t judge me, it’s not like the weather in Scotland is appropriate for outdoor activities). The problem was that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Travelling would be fun, but too expensive, and as far as work experience went, I had no idea what I wanted to do yet, being a student on a non-vocational English degree.
Planning the Summer in USA
It was then that I discovered BUNAC (www.bunac.org), a company that specialises in sending young people overseas. I learned that as a full-time student at university I qualified for their summer Work America program, allowing me to apply for a J-1 visa to live and work in the USA for four months in the summer. After that the process was very easy. The company helped me sort out my visa and arrange my flights over to the US, so I simply had to write to a lot of employers trying to find summer work. After a phone interview I managed to secure a place working in the reception of a campground on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Despite my initial excitement, I was a nervous wreck when the day came to fly to America. Leaving my family and friends to live across the ocean for four months by myself was pretty daunting, but I needn’t have worried. When I was through check-in I met plenty of other students with the organisation in the same position, and when I got to the island I was housed with 6 other students my age, all working there that summer. It was just like being back at halls in university, and we all got on really well.
Summer Job in the USA
It was something of a culture shock to move from living in a city back home, to staying on a little island with small towns and only two tiny grocery stores. However, Martha’s Vineyard was great in that we could bike everywhere because it was such a small place, perfect for getting from one glorious beach to another. I was also excited to discover that Barack Obama was holidaying on the island while I was working there, though sadly we didn’t manage to find him – not through lack of trying!
The work I was doing at the campground was mainly office based, working with computers and answering the phones, though it also involved a lot of customer interaction. I found I always had something to talk about with the campers because they loved to hear my accent and talk about the UK with me, where a number of them claimed their family was from.
Student Summer Job in the USA Helps
When I came back to the UK I found that the general office skills I had obtained from working in the US looked great on my CV, and helped me in gaining work experience placements in the publishing houses I started applying to my next summer holiday. Not only this, but the summer abroad was a great thing to talk about in interviews and seemed to impress people – the organisation that goes into arranging your summer and the willingness to take a chance and do something different looks good on a CV. I would recommend a summer working abroad to any student who is at a loss on what to do during their holidays. I did empty my savings to pay for the flights over, but I more than made up for this while I was working, and had plenty of dollars left over to do some travelling in the US afterwards. I also fulfilled my childhood dream of going to Disneyworld, what more could a girl ask for?
ABOUT AUTHOR – Lauren Houghton
Lauren Houghton – is a third year English literature student at the University of Aberdeen. She does writing and copyediting in her spare time and is interested in a career in publishing, currently undertaking work experience placements in this area.
She blogs from: http://fictionalhonours.blogspot.com
Follow her on Twitter @fictionhonours