How to Find a Summer Job Working Abroad

Golden afternoon in Stockholm
••• Stefan Cristian Cioata / Getty Images

There are some steps you can take to find summer employment in another country which includes getting a work visa, enrolling in special programs dedicated to connecting people with work overseas, and searching job sites dedicated to working abroad.

Before you commit to working abroad, you might want to consider the pros and cons involved.

Pros

  • You’ll have an opportunity for personal growth and independence.

  • You’ll be exposed to foreign culture and sites.

  • You may learn or master a foreign language.

  • You can develop international contacts for post-graduate employment.

Cons

  • You risk the chance of spending more money than you make.

  • You may run into difficulties if you lack foreign language skills.

  • You may have difficulties getting a work visa.

  • You could be far from friends, family, and home without much chance to visit.

Types of Summer Jobs Abroad

The most common summer employment opportunities abroad include:

  • Hospitality work at resorts, particularly those catering to English speaking tourists
  • English teaching or tutoring
  • Farm work
  • Au pair and nanny work
  • Camp counseling, especially at camps that teach English

Getting an Overseas Work Visa

Foreigners need a work permit to be legally employed in almost any country in the world. Typically this involves an employer petitioning their government for a work visa for the prospective employee. It can be very challenging for a young American working on their own to convince an employer to take this action on their behalf when there are many native workers available with similar skills.

Enrolling in an Overseas Work Program

Almost all Americans working abroad for the summer secure employment with the assistance of an intermediary organization with contacts in the host country or with access to positions designated for cultural exchange for young people. These programs charge a fee, which can be modest in some cases and rather costly in others.

  • BUNAC is one of the most common services that American students use to secure work visas for Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and France. BUNAC charges a reasonable fee for a work permit and provides assistance with finding accommodations and work but does not actually place participants in a job.
  • Planet Au Pair secures matches between au pairs and families in Spain without a fee. Au Pairs receive room and board with a host family as well as 70 Euros of pocket money in exchange for about 25 hours of childcare per week.
  • CulturalVistas offers a paid summer internship program in Germany as well as unpaid internships in Chile, Argentina, and Spain. The organization does require a $75 non-refundable application fee.
  • IAESTE places students in technical disciplines including engineering, computer science, physical and natural sciences, architecture and agriculture into paid summer internships through their network of contacts in 80 countries.

Overseas Summer Job Listings

Several websites that list summer jobs and provide information on working in overseas locations:

Studying Abroad

Another option is for students engaged in a spring or full-year study abroad program to use that time to make contacts with local employers while they're pursuing their studies. Faculty and staff at your host college can be good sources for referrals as can the families of any native college friends whom you meet. If your study abroad experience includes staying with a host family, you can often gain access to some of their connections in the surrounding community.

In most cases, students can either work or intern during the semester in conjunction with their studies and if these experiences are highly successful, an employer might sponsor them for work during the next summer. Consult with your college's study abroad or international programs office to learn more about how this might work in various countries.