If you’re currently studying abroad or have in the past, you may already know just how expensive the experience is—especially if you are studying somewhere where the exchange rate is not necessarily in your favour.
You may find yourself wanting a bit of extra cash to either alleviate some of the financial pressures, or just to spend as pocket change, having fun and sharing experiences with your fellow students. A sensible solution to do this is to get a job while abroad—though this is often easier said than done. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Rather than trying to sell yourself to a job that’s more geared as permanent, look into working holidays, part time while you’re studying or, instead of travelling home during breaks, staying in the country you’re studying in and work until term begins again. Take note though, working abroad is quite different to studying abroad and there are a few steps you should take before applying for jobs.
Working while studying abroad
If you’re studying abroad, you may already have a student visa, which is different than a working holiday visa. A student visa in some cases can cover you for work while you’re in another country, or as an alternative, unfortunately prevent you from trying to do so. This varies country to country and by influence of other factors, such as your proposed work hours. In Australia, for example, you can only work once your course has commenced. In addition, you may only be allowed to work a certain amount of hours. In the US, exchange students can only work 20 hours on campus as long as they have an F-1 visa. For jobs off-campus, they’ll need to approach Immigration. In many European countries, you cannot have an official job with a student visa–period– and it is not allowed to have multiple types of visas–thus meaning any money raised must be through cash. With the varying types of visas, limitations, and other legalities for students and employees, it’s useful to research and find out what the maximum amount of hours you can work while you’re studying (if at all) and calculate whether it’s financially worth the time and stress.
So What Jobs are There for Students?
If you’re studying in a country which doesn’t speak English as a first language, becoming an English teacher or tutor is a great way to earn money abroad. Many countries, such as China and Spain, don’t require you to have a degree—even to work in schools—just a firm grasp of the language. If you don’t have the time for a full teaching position (say, if you are in school yourself as well), tutoring might be an excellent option as you can do as much or as little as you’d like and for varying age groups. In some countries where knowing English is highly revered, parents will even go so far as to hire “tutors” for their toddlers–someone to simply come play with their young children a few hours a week to try and give the child a head start before they start school.
Alternatively, at the other end of the spectrum, bar work or running a hostel is also a popular choice for students wishing to work abroad. Simply make sure you have a professional, up-to-date C.V. or resume written up in order to apply. If you haven’t worked in busy bars or restaurants before, it could be a valuable experience in communication and will help you perform under pressure. Likewise, jobs in hostels can sometimes include free room and board, which will save you money in the end and also allow you the experience of being constantly surrounded by other young travelers.
Lastly, if you have a particular skill, for example, you’re a keen skier, horse rider, diver, or childcare worker, look for jobs which involve these in the area you want to work. Ski resorts may need instructor or stables may need farmhands to help look after their horses; dive companies might need someone to help abroad their boats, and there will always be children needing watching. Work to your strengths, use your available connections, and focus on what you enjoy about the job so you gain the most you can from the experience, making it worthwhile.
Should I Get a Job While Studying Abroad?
While working in a foreign country might offer new, unanticipated difficulties–for example, how to customarily address your employer, your interactions with your coworkers, even the logistics of getting to work (always drove to work before? Might not have a car while abroad!), getting a job while you’re abroad also has numerous advantages. In addition to the financial compensation, you can get valuable work experience, can become more confident in your interpersonal skills, and learn about a new culture.
As a final note, if you are abroad to study, finding a job shouldn’t get in the way of that. If you’re short on money and you feel work would get in the way of your course, speaking to your parents or partner might be a simpler way to solve the issue. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of getting a job in order to pass time during your spring or winter break earn a little extra pocket money, temporarily working abroad could be a profitable step for you both in terms of cash and life experience.
Lily Francis took a gap year before they became fashionable to do so. Her year teaching in Vietnam was a transformative experience and she has recommended doing the same to anyone who will listen. Currently she works from home as a freelance writer, but misses the times when she could both travel and earn at the same time.