Where do I start?

The key word is contacts! Gather names and contact information from every available source. All are bound to have some practical advice and suggestions for further detective work.

Talk to other students who have been on the J1 USA Work & Travel programme in the last couple of years for names and addresses of employers and accommodation sources. They'll also have the best tips on where to live, what the summer jobs are really like and where to go for the best weekend fun.

Applying for a summer job

For the best results, you should send potential employers:

  • A one page resume (CV) emphasizing your experience See this blog post for more information
  • A cover letter explaining that you will have a valid work permit, a US Social Security number and insurance
  • Letters of reference from previous employers or academic contacts (optional but useful). When applying for a summer job, do not send the same cover letter to each prospective employer. Remember to personalise each letter as much as possible, since you are competing with other students who will be applying for the same jobs. Explain why your experiences make you the best candidate for this particular job

What kind of jobs can I do?

Any summer job, whether or not it is included in the list below, must be generally compatible with the rules, regulations, and intent of the program. Participants must be able to balance their work responsibilities with time spent exploring their local community, learning about the U.S. and getting to know Americans. In addition to the above, any job that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program is expressly prohibited by the program regulations.

It is also important to note that you need to ensure that all Work & Travel USA jobs are "seasonal" and not taking work from American Citizens. The typical Summer Work Travel job is in seasonal/resort areas in a seasonal business. There are seasonal needs outside resort areas and there may be suitable jobs in these areas. If a summer job is in an office environment, it should be seasonal and NOT an internship i.e. if there is intent for professional development or some sort of career experience, then it likely belongs on the Intern side. In addition, you need to be careful that you are not working in isolated/remote areas.

The following job types are currently prohibited by the US Department of State

  • Any job that is unpaid or does not pay at least the minimum wage for that state
  • Sales jobs requiring the participant to invest his/her own monies to pre-purchase inventory
  • Domestic help positions in private U.S. households - e.g. au pair, servant, gardener or chauffeur
  • Housekeepers, Dishwashers, Laundry; restricted to approved job placements
  • Vacation home cleaning crew
  • Jobs in the adult entertainment industry
  • Jobs on the Department of Labor's "hazardous jobs list"
  • Jobs in warehouses
  • Jobs with moving companies
  • Jobs in factories
  • Jobs in manufacturing
  • Jobs in construction or located on construction sites
  • Jobs in catalog / online distribution centers
  • Jobs in the fisheries industry
  • Jobs that are substantially commission-based and thus do not guarantee minimum wage
  • Jobs at mall kiosks/carts
  • Employment that involves driving as a primary job duty
  • Jobs with exposure to dangerous chemicals (e.g. pesticides)
  • Jobs on the gaming floor of casinos
  • Jobs with travelling carnivals / concessions
  • Jobs where the participant is hired as an independent contractor / hired on a 1099 form
  • Operators of pedicabs, rolling chairs, other passenger carrying vehicles for hire, and/or vehicles requiring a commercial driver's license -Jobs providing clinical care, medical services or involving patient contact, hands on therapy, counseling, administering treatment or making diagnoses of medical, psychiatric or psychological patients, or veterinary work involving hands-on care.
  • As ship or aircraft crew members, or as pilots, except as crew members on ships that travel only within domestic U.S. waters
  • Teacher, teaching assistant or coach
  • Camp counselor
  • Jobs through staffing/employment agencies
  • Jobs entailing sustained physical contact with customers (e.g., body piercing, tattoo parlor, massage)
  • Overnight/graveyard shift jobs
  • Lifeguard with a pool management company (CIEE)

There are some areas of work which are not covered by the J1 Visa, please visit the Prohibited Jobpage for more information.

Summer Job Hunting Tips

Always make it clear that you will have legal status to work in the US when communicating with potential employers. i.e.: I will be participating on the Work and Travel USA Program sponsored by a US Department of State recognized Sponsoring Agency. My US Sponsor is authorized by the US government to issue the necessary documentation for me to obtain a J1 visa, allowing me to work legally within the US for up to four months.

When applying for an advertised vacancy make sure to carefully follow their instructions as to how to apply for the position. Most employers will require you to post, fax or email a copy of your information.

Be persistent. Don't be afraid to make follow up calls on your job applications after a few days. That way you'll stand out from the many applications that employers receive

Prohibited Regions & Restricted Job Locations

Locations where students plan to live and work must provide opportunities for regular communication and interaction with U.S. citizens and allow participants to experience U.S. culture. You cannot work in remote/isolated areas and/or locations that may cause safety concerns. You must be able to keep in contact via phone, email, etc. with your US Sponsor at all times. US Sponsors hold the right to refuse locations that may be deemed a concern for J1 Summer Work and Travel participants.

Some examples of locations where jobs may not be approved can be seen in the below CIEE prohibited and restricted areas lists.

  • Tijuana metropolitan area in Mexico (includes Rosarito)
  • Alabama (AL) – Gulf Shores/Orange Beach
  • California (CA) – Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Goleta
  • Florida (FL) – “Panhandle” including the following cities; Apalachicola, DeFuniak Springs, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Marianna, Panama City, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Tallahassee.
  • Kansas (KS)
  • Maryland (MD) – Please visit the following link for a full listing of restricted locations - Chester/Easton region:
    AnnapolisCurtis BayGlen BurnieMcdanielRosedale
    Annapolis JunctionDavidsonvilleGlenn DaleMillersvilleRoyal Oak
    ArnoldDealeGrasonvilleNeavittSaint Michaels
    BethlehemDundalkGwynn OakNorth BeachSevern
    BowieDunkirkHalethorpeNottinghamSeverna Park
    BozmanEast New MarketHanoverOdentonShady Side
    BrooklynEdgewaterHarwoodParkvilleSparrows Point
    ChestertownFort George GLaurelQueen AnneTracys Landing
    ChurchtonFort HowardLinkwoodQueenstownTrappe
    ClaiborneFriendshipLinthicum HeightsRiderwoodUpper Marlboro
    CordovaGalesvilleLothianRidgelyWest River
    CroftonGambrillsLutherville TimoniumRivaWittman
    CrownsvilleGibson IslandMayoRock HallWye Mills
  • North Dakota (ND)
  • New Jersey (NJ) – Atlantic City
  • New Mexico (NM)
  • Pennsylvania (PA) – Please visit the following link for a full listing of restricted locations - Harrisburg/Hershey region:
    AnnvilleElmJonestownMount GretnaRossville
    BainbridgeEmigsvilleLandisvilleMount JoySchaefferstown
    Boiling SpringsEnolaLawnMount WolfShermans Dale
    Camp HillEttersLebanonMyerstownSilver Spring
    CampbelltownFranklintownLemoyneNew BloomfieldSummerdale
    CarlisleFredericksburgLewisberryNew BuffaloTower City
    ColumbiaGranthamManchesterNew CumberlandWellsville
    CornwallGrantvilleManheimNew KingstownWilliamstown
    DillsburgHarrisburgMarysvillePalmyraYork Haven
  • West Virginia (WV)

Restricted Job Locations

In certain geographical areas, housing has become an area of concern as affordable, suitable housing options that offer safe transportation options to job sites are limited. In order to ensure student safety and support program success, we will be limiting students’ job placements in certain locations in regard to housing.

The following communities and/or U.S. states have become areas of concern as suitable housing options for participants are limited. Employer placements in these locations must provide suitable employer housing for participants.

East Hampton, NY
Jackson Hole, WY
Kittery, ME
Montauk, NY
South Hampton, NY

The following communities and/or U.S. states have become areas of concern as suitable housing options for participants are limited. Participants must secure housing at least two weeks in advance of their arrivals. If housing is not provided with the job offer, participants must be advised to start early in seeking housing in these areas and work with their employer to secure housing.

Cape Cod, MA
Myrtle Beach, SC
Ocean City, MD
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Virginia Beach, VA

Second Jobs

As a reminder, all second jobs must be vetted by your US Sponsor before participants start work. If you are in Ireland, you must contact your USIT in order to get approval. If you secure a secondary job while in the US, you must contact your US Sponsor directly, they will need to approve this job before you can begin working.

If you locate a potential summer job in America and are unsure if it is suitable for the Summer J1 USA Work & Travel programme please contact USIT at programmes@usit.ie with your job description, etc.

Second jobs are subject to the same rules that apply to primary jobs, with the exception of rules regarding housing.

CIEE’s Rule for Change of Employer in a Restricted Area

If a participant is placed with a CIEE employer in a restricted region and a Change of Employer (COE) is granted in-country, the participant will be required to relocate.

If CIEE deems, or if it is advised by the State Department, that a participant’s housing and/or work placement is unsafe or unsuitable, we may request the participant to relocate to new housing and/or a work placement without delay. Failure to cooperate may result in termination of a participant’s program and requiring the participant to return home immediately.