Notice: Dear reader, please note that most of the photos in my blog are currently not available. They are currently held hostage by Photobucket (which requires me to pay $399USD/year). I am in the process of re-uploading the images on a different host and this will take some time. If you have any burning questions about my post, feel free to leave a comment. Sorry for the inconveniences caused!
Now that I’m working full-time, one of the things I love about being a student is that 3 months summer vacation from May till August. Not wanting to do any internship (since I’ll spend the rest of my life working) back then, I opted for
(1st Summer) 3 months working holiday in USA
(2nd Summer) Summer School in South Korea
(3rd Summer) Month-long Europe Grad Trip
If I had to choose 1 out of all 3, it would be the 3 months working holiday I had in USA. To date, it is my longest trip away from home (91 days) and you can have this opportunity only if you meet their requirements:
- be at least 18 and not more than 30 years of age
- be a full-time tertiary student in Singapore, Malaysia or Australia (this applies for local and foreign students) OR a final year, final semester student graduating from a full time course
- undergo an interview before you can be accepted on the program
Just a disclaimer, it is not impossible to work in USA apart from this program, it is just a lot harder to apply for a visa and a sponsor.
If you track back my entries of this blog, my first entry (December 2010) was about my Work & Travel USA experience. I guess back then, I wanted to document all these memories down and it seems like it set the foundation of my blog and thing went further to what it is today 😀
Back then, I applied for Work & Travel USA via speedwing as this was the company that my brothers (1 went Cedar Point, the other went Yellowstone) had used during their time (Yes, Work & Travel has exist for a really long time).
Here’s a rough idea of my timeline back in 2009
Aug 2009 – Saw advertisements in school about the program
Sep/Oct 2009 – Procrastinated and waited and finally applied for program via online website. Since we applied rather late, the popular theme parks were already full. We settled for a more laid back and chillax place – Jenkinson’s South at the coast of New Jersey. Had to pay $80 deposit at AXS machine to confirm application.
23 Oct 2009 – Program brief and interview. Interview is very simple and mine was done with my friends. Basically, they will ask you a few basic questions and then determine whether you are going to work as a ride attendant, in a gift shop, houskeeping or so on.
Mar 2010 – Visa Application at US Embassy
(somewhere) – Briefing prior to trip
May 2010 – flight to New Jersey, transit at Taipei
mid Jul 2010 – completed 10 weeks of work. Left Jenkinsons and went traveling
6 Aug 2010 – Left USA, stopover in Taipei for 3 nights.
Things worth mentioning:
1. It is possible to earn back the money for the program fee and air tickets.
As it was 5 years ago, I can’t seem to find the documentation of the expenditure I had for this trip 🙁 But here’s an estimation of the figures:
At South Beach Sweets, the candy and ice cream shop I was working at, the hourly pay was $7.25. We were also entitled to the tips, which would be given to us every 2 weeks. At the end of the trip, I worked out the numbers and found that the tips were sufficient to increase my hourly pay by $0.50 😀
Based on the contract, you will be “promised” a minimum of 30 to 40 hours on average. For myself, I managed to clock 61 hours & 45 minutes in a week with 6 working days. OT of x1.5 rate was tabulated for hours more than 40 hours/week. That was like $(72*7.25)=$526 USD in a week 😀
If I didn’t recall wrongly, I managed to earn approximately $2,800 to $3,000 USD (exchange rate was 1USD = 1.39SGD back in May 2010; now its 1.28..) for my entire 9 weeks. We were thankful that the manager scheduled us for more hours so we can earn more money. Then again, being well-versed in English definitely gives us a stronger edge over the non-native English speakers =p
The cost of the program fee (including visa application) and air tickes (EVA Airlines with Taipei Stopover) was approximately $3,000 SGD.
If you would like to earn even more money, you can consider taking up a second job by doing waitressing or chambermaid on your OFF days. I do know of people who utilized that option but it would have been really tiring and your “travel” would have been compromised 🙁
Though it may not sound like the coolest choice when compared to bigger players like Cedar Point and Six Flags, Jenkinson’s definitely has its own rustic and family boardwalk charm. It is home to a privately own beach where visitors pay $7/entry during summer (crazy i know), a rather dated amusement park (pay per ride or wristband nights), an aquarium (which i didn’t enter during my time there), a couple of arcades, restaurants and a lot of game booths.
4. Wal Mart & Subway would be your best friend
If you’re lucky enough to have a Wal Mart located near you, you’re blessed with cheap groceries. For us, WalMart was a good $2.10 bus ride away. (Bus 317 has a frequency one 1 hour and taxis are out of the question in USA) 4 people traveling to Walmart together for groceries meant an expense of $2.10 *8 = $16.80 before we made any purchase. As a result, we only visited this place once in our entire 11 weeks at Point Pleasant Beach.
Subway on the other hand, was a 10 minutes walk away from our accommodation. I think we ate the $5 footlong sandwich on an average of once every week. A foot-long sandwich would last us for 2 meals, lunch and dinner. Furthermore, the staff at that subway outlet always gives us “double meat” serving (5 slices of ham in a 6-inch sandwich). Initially, we thought that the extra meat serving was the norm in USA. It was only after we tried other subway outlets did we realise that the staff at the subway outlet we frequent always give “working students” the extra meat benefit 😀
5. Tips on Cooking
- You can cook rice using a microwave (Not sure about the health risk involve but I guess you should not eat the rice immediately after it is cooked.)
- Maggi Seasoning and Oyster Sauce adds wonder to your dish
Cooking Pasta with Prego Sauce and Hotdog and Mixed Beans (optional) is on of the simplest meals to prepare.
Pizza Bread (Bread, Prego Sauce, Ham & Cheese) is a fuss-free option too!
Pork Bones are very cheap in the Supermarket.
Use them to cook soup.
What are you waiting for? Click to check out the available jobs for next summer!