JO - Work and travel programmes enhance learning
Work and travel programmes enhance learning
Career & Education
Career Advisor with Merrit Henry
Sunday, December 02, 2007
As the number of students on our campus seeking to become involved in work and travel programmes increase, career counsellors must begin to examine the benefits of such a programme to our students. Are they beneficial learning experiences? Are students' interests merely generated by monetary gains?
Work and travel programmes involve students ideally between the ages of 18 years and 30 years going to work overseas for the summer in places such as campuses, amusement parks, hotels and restaurants. During their stay they take time out to travel on weekends visiting places of interest. The wages they receive are usually at the lower end (minimum wages).
Students, however, are anxious to explore the rest of the world and, therefore, willing to seize the opportunity to become involved in an overseas work and travel programme. Their interest is not solely for monetary gains. Providers of the programme should ensure that the places of employment for students will facilitate learning experiences.
Preparing for the programme
Students, in preparing for this programme should research the various local organisations offering these services and select the one which best meets their needs.
They should ensure that before you arrive, a temporary job has been secured for the duration of your stay. However, that is not all, students should be assisted with suitable accommodation and travel arrangements (in some cases) for work.
Earnings should cover expenses, which include the money spent before on the job. This includes airfare, embassy fees and other incidentals. Also students should try to research the organisations with which they will be placed. What is its history? Are products offered in keeping with my values? Try to find out if there are other students who will be placed in the organisation or location.
This is helpful when it comes time to organise living arrangements. Remember to become familiar with the surroundings by using maps and try to find out the culture of the organisation and the people in the community.
Benefits of the Programme
Certainly there are benefits to be gained, however, if all the necessary preparations are not made there could be bad experiences. Student who have participated in the programme have attested to this. Some benefits include learning to be away from native country and surviving without the assistance of parents and relatives.
This gives a sense of independence and satisfaction.
It builds self-confidence.
Students learn to appreciate how people in another culture survive, both inside and outside of the working environment. Many develop a better appreciation for home.
They also learn to appreciate the value and inter-relatedness of work. All functions are important. They will be better able to make choices, upon graduating, regarding working in their country, the region or internationally. They develop linkages which will help in the attainment of full-time, permanent employment.
For students who gain employment in their area of study (Hotel or Tourism Management) credits can be gained. Assistance to finance school fees from earnings on return is also a possibility. If the programme is not properly organised many of the above-mentioned benefits would not be materialised especially for the student travelling overseas for the first time, this could be traumatic.
The students who participate in these programmes should try to ensure that they get varied working experiences preferably those related to their areas of studies. If this does not materialise, they should relate skill and competencies learnt to other work situations so that they can be beneficial generally.
Career counsellor/placement officers who assist students to become involved in work and travel programmes must put in place procedures to ensure that the students' experiences are beneficial not only financially, but holistically. The students should ensure that they register with an organisation which is recognised by the placement centre of their institution.