Working Holiday – Work & Travel USA Program


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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

 photo 29045_445303006208_1621478_n.jpg  photo 263874_10150317181751209_5661061_n.jpgThe Colosseum is probably the most impressive building of the Roman empire. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the era.The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of mo photo 282327_10151099490961209_609965721_n.jpg

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).

There are other companies doing it but their website looks a little inactive as of now: STA travel and AskMgt

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 😀

 photo 38511_465026291208_232399_n.jpg  photo 35304_461573546208_5236814_n.jpg

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 🙁

2. Jenkinson’s South web | facebook | instagram
 photo 29445_440967431208_6430064_n.jpg  photo 29445_440967316208_6338620_n.jpg

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.

 3. Don’t forget to try Shake Shack in New York webtwitter | instagram

everything together! photo 29845_443853731208_2648329_n.jpg 

This is the most awesome fast food I’ve ever eaten. You cannot miss this when you visit New York.

4. Wal Mart & Subway would be your best friend

 photo 29445_439488406208_3029793_n.jpg what the guys bought photo 29445_439488466208_2602026_n.jpg

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.

first subway lunch photo 32245_438956451208_3906604_n.jpg Last meal of the west~ photo 40430_469744261208_986032_n.jpg

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
  •  photo 30695_447675891208_6787858_n.jpg
    Cooking Pasta with Prego Sauce and Hotdog and Mixed Beans (optional) is on of the simplest meals to prepare.
  • 210510 Friday: Breakfast! photo 29195_441575566208_3442432_n.jpg
    Pizza Bread (Bread, Prego Sauce, Ham & Cheese) is a fuss-free option too!
  •  photo 28945_447003706208_463982_n.jpg  photo 13459_450088751208_6529751_n.jpg
    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!

jobs available in 2015

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  • It is surprising that no one leave a comment for this blog.

    Coincidentally, I was on this USA Work and Travel program also at the end of my 1st freshman year in university.

    I went to a highway rest station off I-95 highway, close to Aberdeen. My friend and I worked for about 10 weeks, and earned 3000 USD. Then we travelled around the east coast Washington D.C., New York, Boston (see Harvard and Wesley college), then took greyhound (the long distance bus) from D.C. to Chicago. Then flew from Chicago to San Francisco. Then joined a bus tour that goes from San Francisco, to Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Usomite (probably still missed some stops). I guess it helped that I had relatives in east coast and San Francisco, so we didn’t have to pay for some accommodation. But basically what I earned paid off the whole trip, just like you.

    That was one of the best things happened in my university time. Maybe when I have time, I would photo blog about it. 🙂

    • You’ve definitely traveled a lot more than me for your time in USA! I didn’t get to visit Chicago, Grand Canyon or Yosemite. I just did the usual touristy ‘been there done that’ places like Boston, Niagara, New York, Boston, DC, LA, LV and SF. If you have the time, do start a photo blog or something. I’m sure you have pretty awesome adventures to share!