United States – a dream destination for many people. Josip and I always wanted to go there, to see how it is on the other side of the pond, to learn about the culture, traditions, visit all those famous places, and of course, to practice English. For me, it was always just a big dream of a small town girl from and I thought it would never happen, while Josip always somehow knew that he would go there one day. As it turned out, we both managed to make our dream come true – Josip for the first time in 2014, and I in 2016.
But the question we are often asked is, how did we do that?
Our experience is based on an amazing Work&Travel USA program, which is a program for students. The basic idea of it is to provide students’ with valuable work experience while making your dreams come true by allowing you to visit the US. You don’t need to have any experience in job (but if you do, it doesn’t hurt), all the things you need are conversational level of English, willingness to work and learn and money.
If you decide on going, you need to choose an agency that will go through all the documentation with you and will help you find a job. Since we are from different countries, we will divide this post into two parts – an agency from Poland and Croatia, separately. Mind you, some steps are very similar so Croatian part will be a bit short.
I was checking different agencies that I could choose from and I decided to go with one with the best opinions and good price – THE BEST WAY, from Poznań. Don’t worry if you’re going for the first time and you are scared that you will not know what to do – girls from the agency will help you with EVERYTHING and they will answer all your questions with extreme patience and understanding. There are three simple steps:
STEP 1: DECIDE WHERE EXACTLY YOU WANT TO GO
Every year there is a list of available places on the TBW website together with all the details about companies and jobs. Go through it carefully, check the places, the job offers and when you decide on one that you particularly like, send the email with your choice to the agency. After that, you will need to sign the contract with the company you are going to work for in the USA. Everything will be prepared with the help of TBW, you just need to sign it.
STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR OPTION AND PAY FIRST RATE
The agency offers you two different options – SELF and FULL. If it is your first time, it is good to choose FULL option is a bit more expensive and it means that the agency will help you with finding a job, contacting the employer and getting all the documents you need to be able to work for them. SELF option is good for those who already had taken part in the program before and they have contact with the previous employer.
I used both options for when I went to the US – first time I used the FULL option and the second time I went with SELF option since I was going back to the same location and already knew my employer.
The price of the program includes:
- A DS-2019 documents which allows you to ask for visa J1,
- Health insurance for the whole stay in the USA (till 1.10 because that is the date when, theoretically, you need to come back),
- A mandatory registartion in the SEVIS system (which is 35 USD),
- interview in English, giving you all the information connected with the program,
- help with filling in all the documents,
- access to all the job offers (FULL option),
- verification of the contract (SELF option)
- support during visa application,
- TBW’s and J-1 sponsor’s support during your stay in the U.S.
- WAT Orientation and additional materials.
More details about the pricing for the program and everything else you can find at their website here.
STEP 3: apply for your visa
As many of you probably already heard, Poland will not need visas to go to the USA anymore soon. But, to be able to work there from the Work&Travel program, you will still be required to have J1 visa. It is a special type of visa that lets you stay and work in the United States, for particular period of time (in this case it is about 3-4 months).
And that’s it! After getting your visa approved you can buy your plane ticket (some people buy it even earlier but it is not the guaranty of getting the visa) and to pack your bags! It is that simple.
Apart from the agency in Poland, you need a sponsor in the USA – you don’t need to worry about choosing it yourself as every agency works with one, maybe two of them, and depending on which one you choose in Poland, you will automatically have one in the USA. The one I had was CIEE – they are responsible for making sure that you are okay when you arrive and through your whole stay, wherever you are. Before you leave, they will send you an email with all the things you have to do which are: filling out the application online with your details, your employer details, etc., reading an instruction and answering a few questions so they are sure you read it, signing a few agreements and you are ready to go! They would send you a few emails during your stay in the United States with the survey that you HAVE TO fill in monthly. I never had to use their help when I was there but I know that they are helpful and ready to do whatever it is to make your stay as nice as possible.
The whole process might look a bit overwhelming when you first think about it but it really is very simple. Especially if you have an agency like The Best Way!
This one will be very short, as the process in Croatia is very similar to the one in Poland.
Josip went on the Work Experience program to the US three times, from 2014 to 2016. Probably the best agency in Croatia is CCUSA, with best jobs and positions available. Between November and March there are many meetings in Zagreb and several other places around Croatia where you can hear more about the program, prices and listen to the stories of the people that spent their summers on the other side of the pond.
Process of getting a job here is basically the same as in Poland (you can check it up above), the prices are slightly different. You can check more details about the program on their website.
Josip did need to communicate with CCUSA for one reason or the other, and it was very easy. The people working in their US based office (if you need help with anything while you are in the US, you communicate with the US office) are very kind, helpful, understanding and patient.
Hope this information was useful to you! If you need any additional info, and if we can help, let us know! And if you do end up going to the US, we hope you will have as much fun there as we did!
Next post will be about working in Yellowstone so stay tuned and follow our footprints!