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Summer, seasonal and short term jobs in San Francisco


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Seasonal work is an excellent way for students to earn some cash in their time off from school. These jobs are most frequently available in the summer, although some places hire extra help for the holidays.

Job Hunting in USA

Unless you plan to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program, before departing it is essential that you make sure that you can obtain an entry visa (see our information below on visa).

Plans to work in restaurants, bars, ski resorts etc. in the USA may sound flexible and readily available, but such casual work is in fact illegal without an a H1-B Temporary Worker Visa, J-1 Student Visa, or a Q Cultural ExchangeVisa, which can involve a long application process.

Shops in malls often hire unskilled labor for the summer and holiday season, but the jobs tend to be low-pay and not very challenging. To apply, go to whichever location you prefer and drop off résumés and/or fill out application at places that are hiring.

Listings for students are often placed on college campuses, in the school paper, and on the school website. Many short-term or seasonal employers offer jobs through the school which is mutually beneficial. Schools themselves are also occasionally in need of seasonal help so inquire at the elementary, high school, community college, or university near you.

For a wider variety of options, the classified's in newspapers and on-line listings often have a short-term or part-time section. One of the best sites for on-line listings of any kind is sfbay.craigslist.org/jjj/. Users can post offerings for free and browsers can look at the well organized and much used listings.

Other sites to try:

If you are in need of a visa and would prefer a program set up a work environment for you, there are several companies and options:
Interexchange is an agency that arranges for international university students to work in the USA. The jobs are short-term, entry-level seasonal staff seeking work under the J-1 Visa program. Summer jobs frequently include opportunities to work at children's summer camps, house cleaning, kitchen work, or other possibilities. Work & Travel USA Summer staff arrive between May and July and can work until September or October. Winter staff arrive in December and can work until March or April. Participants are legally authorized to work for a maximum of 4 months. Program fees depend on position. To fill out an information request form, click here. To apply staff must be ages of 18 to 28, full-time student, able to attend orientation and interview in home country, flexible, hard-working, and open-minded.
The Taproot Foundation is another source for community conscious work. Responsible for many community-oriented programs, the organization is often in need of help from administrative to project leaders. To apply, go to http://www.taprootfoundation.org/about/jobs.php.
Camp America offers opportunities working with children in the United States. Jobs vary, but positions are along the lines of being a summer camp counselor teaching, cooking, and cleaning etc. in a children's summer resort. For more information and to apply, check out the website www.campamerica.co.uk/index.php.
BUNAC's Work America is another excellent option. The program is set-up for university students to spend up to four months living in America. BUNAC arranges for a variety of employment opportunities at their website: www.bunac.org/uk/workamerica/. Check out the BUNAC's Job Directory for potential job leads.
Real Gap offers Gap year opportunities working in the US. This program is for people between the ages of 18-30 and is a low-skill level job that features the experience of living abroad. To sign-up, go to www.realgap.co.uk.

Working holiday visa

Visa requirements are crucial to your trip planning.
This section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up to date info.

In the USA

In order to work in the United States you will need a J-1 visa. You have several categories of J1 visas, so you will particularly focus on those for foreign students, missions and internship and seasonal jobs.

Applicants for exchange visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.

Required Documentation: Each applicant for an exchange visitor visa must pay a nonrefundable US$100 application fee and submit:

  1. An application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. Blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. consular offices and on the Visa Services website under Visa Application Forms;
  2. A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;
  3. Photo Requirements
  4. For the "J" applicant, a completed Form DS-2019.

J-1 visas for Seasonal Jobs in the USA can be renewed several times, as long as the candidate is between 18 and 30 year old. They take place during summer (betweem June and October), for the chosen duration (1 to 4 months).

You can also be candidate for an internship on this programme, as long as the same conditions apply. You just need to ask your employer to sign an internship contract. However internships or missions are valid only once in your life. You cannot either do an internsphip, then a short term mission or contract. For internship the student must be between 18 and 30 year old and for short term contract he/she must be between 20 and 40 year old. In this case it must be related to your qualification or a previous job.

In France, CIEE is the only company to have a mandate from the American government to apply for the "J" visa on your behalf.

Discount Cards

A youth card or student card can offer you a lot of advantages abroad and is a recognition of your status. Two international cards will give you discounts and are essential for those taking a gap year or going backpacking:

What the Cards offer:

  • Valuable discounts on air, travel, bus and ferry, transport and accomodation (gap year backpacking discounts).
  • Access to over 33,000 discounts in over 100 countries.
  • Reduced admission to museums, galleries and historic states.
  • Access to student travel organisations in over 90 countries.
  • 24 hour emergency, legal and medical help line services.
  • Basic sickness and accident travel insurance.

You can apply directly online to get the cards (http://www.isiccard.com) or buy asking your University or youth centers

You will find information on voluntary jobs or internship abroad in our other articles on the left column of this page.

Update 2/01/2009


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