“Can I Work During My Study Abroad Program?”.
This is a question that I am asked often as I advise students and generally when they reach out with curiosity on my website or via social media. And it makes sense since most students are expected to contribute financially in some way to their educational experience, even if it’s just for pocket money.
Not to mention, as a study abroad student, you are often facing international tuition fees, an altered cost of living compared to your home country, and an exchange rate that changes by the day but may not always play well in your favor.
Before I take you further into some of the common types of jobs that Study Abroad students have worldwide, I have to provide a disclaimer that you’re probably not going to like, so here it goes:
There is nothing noble about working in a foreign country illegally and as a student, if you get caught and removed, it IS something that will follow you forward in your career. There is also NO guarantee that your home country will be able to assist with any legal recourse, and even if you (your family) can afford your own, each country around the world has its laws and can enforce them as they see fit.
I am not here to make a political statement – I support anyone’s goal to make an honest living. However, working illegally is not only a risk for you but for the employer as well. Fast money off the books may seem like a good idea, but if you get caught, it will be the worst mistake you ever made as we now living in a world where most nations around the world have tightened down on immigration laws.
I always recommend students live by this motto, especially when it comes to their student visas:
Enter legally, and leave on time. It’s that simple.
Most visas around the world provide clear rules around any expectations for work, including how often you can work. Some also determine what type of work specifically can be performed by an enrolled student.
Thanks for listening to my rant, now back to regularly scheduled programming.
Oh yes…..so jobs.
I want to stress that the list below is NOT all-inclusive and will be heavily dependent on the country where you choose to study abroad. Some industries are not as popular or relevant in different parts of the world. However, based on feedback from my students and what I knew to be true even when my fellow peer cohorts were studying overseas, these are still very much in fashion.
Similar to what you might find in your home country, service industry jobs are very popular with college-aged students for a semester (or longer abroad). The primary reason for this is that the barrier to entry is fairly low both for the employer and the student. Jobs working as a server, bartender, or station attendant can often be taken on in part-time shifts (perfect for your student visa since you will not be permitted to work full-time) and there is no extensive paperwork that needs to be completed.
Students who are searching for a variety, of hourly jobs in the service industry may bid well if they are looking for the chance to pick up multiple jobs (but remember, you still need to have time to study!) throughout their study abroad experience.
Even though hospitality does overlap with the service industry, in some parts of the world, part-time roles in this sector can be a wonderful entry point for students to not only make great pocket money but also build interpersonal skills. The wonderful part about hospitality as well is that it overlaps with so many other sectors and goes beyond the traditional concept of a receptionist or working the front desk at a hotel.
In 2019, I had a student that I advised who was able to snag a very fun hospitality role serving as a fashion industry trade show runner in China. For this particular role, she worked part-time around her school schedule with fashion houses to help plan outreach for VIPs within the industry.
This included working with key people in the company to do everything from planning seating charts to designing goodie bags and more and during the shows, she got to serve as a connector between the VIPs and other members of the staff. This is just one example, but for me, I always think of Hospitality as being the meeting point of the service industry and customer service. When blended together, they can create a magical opportunity for everyone involved.
Interested in learning more about the other popular jobs for study abroad students? Start the video below to hear about 3, 4, and 5!
Are you planning to work while you study abroad? If so, have you started searching for an opportunity or will you wait until you arrive? What are your target industries? LEAVE A COMMENT!
Until next time,
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.