U.S. Students Vie for European Summer Jobs
BORED WITH the prospect of the usual hometown summer job--but put off by the price of a European grand tour--many Harvard students are discovering they can have their vacation and earn it, too.
"I worked eight hours a day, but because I was in France it didn't feel like work," says Mark A. Hurwitz '85, who worked for Kodak's Paris branch last summer. "I thought the whole time I was on vacation."
Hurwitz got his job through the Association Atlantique, a program run by OCS-OCL which finds jobs in France for about 20 undergraduates each year. But other students choose to go it alone--some prearranging a job through parents or Harvard contacts, some simply taking off for Europe with work permit in hand.
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) supplies about 200 work permits each year to American students going abroad, providing a way around the red tape that accompanies most requests for work visas. (Without a CIEE permit, a student's prospective foreign employer must request a visa through the government.)
For a fee of $60 to $80, CIEE issues permits to work in France, the United Kingdon, Ireland, Wst Germany and New Zealand. It takes only two or three weeks and the only requirements are that applicants be full-time students and have studied French or German if they want to work in those countries.
About 80 percent of the students who take out permits eventually find jobs, says Gerdine E. Joseph of CIEE's Boston bureau. But most of the jobs waiting in Europe are not any more glamorous than American summer jobs.
"You can't be too picky or expect a career sort of job," says Robin L. Dorfman '84-5, who spent last spring semester in London. She searched unsuccessfully for work in publishing before finally taking a job at a health-food restaurant.
But waitressing in London was usually fun, she says, while "doing the same job here would have been a drudge."
About 1400 of the permits CIEE issues each year are for work in England--one of the most popular countries for work abroad because it presents no language barrier.
Also, says Duncan J. Griffin '85, "one reason Americans can find jobs in England is that the dole supplies so many advantages to a British subject, it's cheaper to live on that."
For a fee of $60 to $80, CIEE issues permits to work in France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, West Germany and New Zealand. It takes only two to three weeks and the only requirements are that applicants be full-time students and have studied French or German if they want to work in those countries.
Low-paying jobs, like the one Griflin found in a restaurant, terid to be taken by foreigners, he says. "There were people from all over, so we [Americans] weren't treated as outsiders."
Edward L. Widmer '84 found a delicatessen job after two days of walking around his London neighborhood. He had written to the British University of North America Club (BUNAC) for a work permit, then headed for London with no particular job in mid--just a desire to spend the summer in England.
"The job gave me a sense of function within the huge panorama that is London," he says. "It was better than going the usual tourist route or sitting in my apartment there watching TV," he adds.
Students who plan further ahead--and have some financial experience--can find openings in European banks.
George A. Craddock '84 applied to the Association Atlantique expecting to spend his summer in France at a teller's window. Instead, he found himself in the currency-trading department of the Kuwaiti-French Bank, getting "exposure to the Euromarket" and as many days off as he wanted.
"Because my job was in a new bank, they thought accepting me was a way of establishing relations with the U.S.," he explains. "They thought treating me nice was a way of treating the U.S. nice."
Gary B. Martin '84 found a job through OCS-OCL in a management training program at the National Westminster Bank in London, where he shuttled around between international and domestic divisions and met "everyone from 15- and 16-year-olds at the lower levels to upper management people" and got an insider's tour of London pubs.
"London is a city you can't see in a few days," he says. "There are nooks and crannies, parks and pubs, you don't see unless you're with locals."
Other students agree that working in Europe gave them a different picture of what it is like to live there. Griffin discovered that "Londoners could be very polite on the surface, but if you assumed they were being friendly that was making a mistake." He says if he went to Europe again he would probably choose Paris.
Hurwitz, who boarded with a Black family in Paris, found that racism is more prevalent in France than here. "The family was suspicious of me when I first arrived," he says. "They expected me to be a racist."
While most students say they picked up job skills, language skills and certainly experience working in Europe, none says that they picked up extra cash.
"It was a net loss," says Craddock. "The airfare was more than I made in the entire summer."
"The job I had would probably have paid twice as much here," says Dorfman. "But rents there aren't half as much, and food isn't half as much!"
Finding housing can be difficult, too; some students searched through newspaper ads for rented rooms, while others moved in with friends or boarded.