Working Summer Travel: Experience without Expense

For the university student, nothing is too familiar or overly predictable when every weekend brings a fresh story and every class a fresh lesson. Our world revolves around growth and excitement, so it’s no surprise that the prospect of returning home for the summer months can seem to some like an extended layover before another much anticipated take off.

Maybe that’s why students are literally jumping on planes to obtain a dynamic traveling work experience over their summer months. Travel is a great way to continue experiencing new things in a different environment and to further your growth as an individual. But flight isn’t always necessary, whether it be a few hours or an ocean away from that restaurant job you’ve relentlessly returned to since high school, there are a lot of opportunities available if the search starts well in advance.

Working abroad

Carson Kolberg, AIESEC’s local committee president at Wilfrid Laurier University, spent a few months in India last summer on an internship teaching personal development, athletics and public communication at an Indian school. Laurier’s AIESEC program offers students international internships and has recently begun recruiting students for trips including a six week voyage in the first two months of summer most commonly to Czech Republic and China.

On a professional level, Kolberg explained that AIESEC prepares “students to be flexible, adaptable and gives them a new insight on cross cultural education and cross cultural work environments.”

But he was also able to enjoy the perks of being in a foreign country during his time. “With my teaching internship it was more of an 8-3 schedule and I had my weekends off,” said Kolberg, “so not only did I live and work in India but I got the chance to travel to the Himalayas and the Taj Mahal and the river Ganges where you could do yoga.”

Kolberg reflected on his experience with AIESEC as a notable investment in himself, remarking that “if you’re going on an AIESEC internship it’s not about making money, it’s about making experience.” This is the case with much international work. Although, with AIESEC the experience contributes towards your future while organizations such as SWAP offer a traveling work experience predominantly just for traveling’s sake.

SWAP assists students looking to work overseas with the appropriate resources to do so. The work attained through this system is far more general then an internship though, much like that of Western alumni Sean Hebert’s recent bartending experience in New Zealand.

Hebert remarked that although he was able to enjoy a beautiful, unfamiliar country through his experience, there is a difference between visiting as a tourist and visiting as a working traveler. “When you work abroad, you are an ambassador in many ways to your country, and you’ll find the experience the most rewarding if you approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn as much as you plan to contribute,” he said.

Adventures near home

Some students even choose to travel within Canadian boarders while working over the summer, like Laurier student Allie Hincks. Hincks traveled with a friend to Pender Island of Victoria, BC for four months last summer to work at the front desk of Poet’s Cove resort and spa.

She recalled that the small island attracted a lot of customers and employees from around the world. “I would say 50 per cent of the staff was from outside of Canada,” she said, “and because everybody is there on their own everybody’s so social and you make friends really quickly.”

In addition to making connections with interesting new people, she also came away from her experience with an enhancement of character. “When you’re on the other side of the country you are forced to be extremely independent. The whole traveling thing, living on your own and working on your own… you come away definitely more confident.”

Hotels and resorts are often seeking students to live and work at their residences over summer months, such as the Fairmont which has locations all across Canada. Hincks views her experience as a gateway to further exploration.

“It’s kind of a step to going to other countries because you get to go away from everything you know and see if you can deal with it… So we did that and met all these people and now we can go to other countries and have a place to say, have friends to visit and we know we’ll be able to do it.”

Canada has a lot to offer during the summer season, especially with its abundant natural beauty. This can be enjoyed through travel work that may not even involve leaving Ontario. Jobs like this include working as an overnight summer camp counsellor at such nature focused camps as Camp Tawingo, an employer of Laurier student Thomas Waite for the past four years.

“You’re in a place that thrives on creativity with so many people that are thinking outside the box completely,” Waite said. “Everything is fun centered. Even if you’re striving towards a goal, even if you’re doing something hard; you’re still having fun.”

Although camp counsellors have a reputation of being paid to play, there are certain life skills to be gained from this particular working environment. “You’re getting leadership experience, you’re learning how to manage your time and you’re learning how to interact with anyone from seven years old to fifty years old,” reflects Waite. Similar close to home camp employment opportunities can be found through an database.

It only takes a bit of exploring your options to have a working exploration during the tedious summer months that break up our thrilling but expensive university lifestyle.

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