Working in the U.S.
The jobs InterExchange Work & Travel USA participants accept are seasonal and workloads depend greatly upon the weather. Do not be alarmed if during some weeks the work is slow and you’re not receiving as many hours as usual. Other weeks may be busy with many extra hours. Please be as flexible as possible when it comes to scheduling time off and work shifts. If there are any problems that you cannot resolve by speaking with your employer, please contact the InterExchange office in New York.
All InterExchange Work & Travel USA students are covered by basic minimum wage laws and overtime as it applies from state to state. As of July 24, 2009 the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage was set at $7.25 per hour. Where state or local law requires a higher minimum wage, the higher standard applies. If an employer deducts housing or transportation from a paycheck, the FLSA requires that such deductions be voluntary and not include a profit to the employer or any affiliated person. Paying a student for the “season” or a set wage for a “week” is not permitted as per InterExchange policy.
If you have a problem with an employer because of underpaid or unpaid wages, or unfair termination of employment, please call InterExchange and we will help put you in contact with the Department of Labor for the state you are living in. The Department of Labor in your state will instruct you how to file a claim against your employer. InterExchange will provide you with assistance and/or any letters you may need for completing a claim form.
Regardless of how much work experience you have had, there are many unique features associated with working in the United States. Sometimes, things that would be considered normal in your home country are not acceptable in American workplaces.
- Come to work on time. Punctuality is very important and repeated lateness can lead to your being fired from your job.
- Treat customers with respect. Smile! A common phrase in American business is, “The customer is always right.”
- Use “Please” and “Thank you” a lot.
- Work quickly and efficiently. Time is money, and workers are expected to have a strong work ethic.
- Try new things: new foods, sights and activities.
- Meet new people. Americans are generally friendly and outgoing and curious to learn about your home country.
- Take care of personal hygiene. Take a shower every day. Wear deodorant. Beards and mustaches should be kept neat. Brush your hair. Long hair should be pulled back.
- Communicate with your boss. Many misunderstandings are simply due to a lack of communication.
- Be patient. You may feel that the American culture and English language are overwhelming at first. Keep in mind that with time, you will learn and understand more.
- Dress neatly and conservatively.
- Practice your English as often as possible!
- Report any problems to InterExchange.
- Expect special treatment. As a co-worker you will be expected to work just as hard as your American counterparts.
- Get fired. Lateness, theft, drinking on the job, drug use or disobeying employer rules are all grounds for dismissal.
- Run away. You are expected to work for the entire time stated on your contract (unless there are extreme circumstances).
- Begin work at a job until it has been approved by InterExchange.
Below are some characteristics typical to Americans. Remember these are general and everybody is different.
- Do not be surprised if your boss is younger than you are, or if your co-workers are of a different race, sex, religion or sexual orientation. America is quite diverse and this is one of its strengths.
- A professional, mature, responsible and respectful attitude is expected at work. Flirting or physical contact is frowned upon and can get you in trouble.
- Life in the U.S. is fast-paced, so time management is important.
- Privacy is thought to be the right of every individual.
- Americans can be very blunt and honest.
- Ignorance about life outside the U.S. is common.
- Americans like to joke, smile, laugh and talk. They like direct eye contact, but do not like to be touched or stand too close to one another while talking.
- Nudity is not accepted in public.
- Many Americans greet each other with “Hi” or “How are you?” People that you see in elevators or in the street will often say “Hello” even though you do not know them.
Before participants may start work at a host business, an InterExchange staff member must confirm the job placements, whether it’s your initial job, a replacement job, or an additional job. For participants who wish to change or add jobs, they must first notify and confer with InterExchange; in these cases, InterExchange must still fully vet the potential host employers before the participant can begin work at the business.
Please be sure to review the list of prohibited positions before submitting an Employment Offer and Agreement Form.
Follow the steps below for InterExchange to check your job offer in an efficient manner.
Step 1: Employment Offer and Agreement
Once an employer has offered you a position at his/her business, an Employment Offer (job offer) must be filled out by your employer.
Step 2: Submit Employment Offer and Agreement
Step 3: InterExchange Verifies Position
InterExchange will contact your employer to review the Employment Offer details.
Your employer must provide the following documents before InterExchange can approve your position:
- Employer Identification Number (Federal Tax Identification Number)
- Business License
- Workers’ compensation deck sheet or policy’s cover page
InterExchange may ask for an Employer Seasonality Declaration form or revenue/occupancy numbers in order to demonstrate the seasonal nature of the positions.
Your employer can visit our Self-Placement page for employers for more specific information about the hiring process.
NOTE: If InterExchange cannot reach your employer or collect the necessary documents, your job will be rejected.
You will get an email notification when InterExchange approves or declines a job offer that you submit. Remember that you cannot begin work until you receive an approval email from InterExchange!