Pool Management Group
The Work & Travel program has been fantastic. We started recruiting back in 2003, and since then we’ve had over 700 students. A lot of them come year after year, as long as they can. The students do a great job, especially when the American students have to go back to school; to have them stay around until the end of summer has been really beneficial.
Our students, at their request, work a lot of hours, but they also manage to make friends, go to dinner, travel, and generally see how Americans live. We’ve known our students to go on trips with local residents, and one group was even invited to live with a local family for the summer. Our local staff enjoy getting to know these young people from around the world each summer. Our customers love having them here, some so much that they actually request that international students work at their pool for the summer.
Xanterra Park & Resorts - Yellowstone National Park
We’ve been dealing with the Work & Travel program for 12 years. It’s a great program and we get to experience diversity and culture in Yellowstone National Park. Our domestic people really embrace the international students; we have many students who are basically ‘adopted’ by a number of our staff. Definitely strong relationships are made all across the nation.
By the end of the season we have many students who are able to work front of the house positions that are cashiering, talking to guests, giving directions, talking about Yellowstone…by the end of the season their English skills have improved greatly.
We receive many comment cards and feedback from guests that they love the international flare, they enjoy speaking, sometimes in their native language, with students. So it’s really a very nice opportunity for the students.
Yellowstone National Park has been with CIEE for over 10 years and we have a very positive relationship with them. During those 10 years, I’ve travelled to many different countries and it’s been a really positive experience for me personally: to say that I’ve been able to see the Great Wall or walk in Red Square. More importantly, those events - getting to see where these students are coming from, to actually experience their culture, to see what they eat, to see where they live - to see that and experience it has been a very positive thing for me. And I think the program is serving its purpose in that I’m learning their culture, and they come to the United States to learn my culture. It’s just been a very positive experience.
The Work & Travel program has worked exceedingly well for our company. We’ve been involved with it or over 20 years. We believe in this as a public diplomacy program, not as merely a labor/staffing solution, so we offer a lot of additional opportunities for the students. It’s not just about their wage and their paycheck. Five years from now they’re not going to remember how much they made, they’re going to remember about their experience. So we like to offer trips to nearby cities. We go to Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, New York City. We offer trips to concerts and to sporting events. We have parties so people get to know each other better. Soccer is always popular. We like to do a lot of things to encourage sharing of culture, blending teamwork and team building, which ultimately benefits not just the participants, but benefits us as an employer. We have a good, strong reputation because we offer these extra things, and we build a good core team that provides and services our guests with a smile, and they’re very motivated to do so.
The CIEE Road Show experience is fantastic. Everything is considered, lots of details, lots of communication. When you’re interviewing a student face-to-face you’re getting a real sense of them and of what they’re looking for in their job experience, and they’re getting a sense of your company and of you. CIEE thinks of every detail and it’s a very good system, it’s very well communicated, and if there are any issues, they’re very supportive and there to immediately address them.
The Work & travel program has been very beneficial for our company, it really helps us out with the shoulder seasons; we have a definite need for employees at the beginning of the season and also at the end of the season, when a lot of our American college students and high school students start going back to school. It’s also been beneficial for us to bring diversity to our community, it really helps us to widen our horizons. The domestic employees that we have really talk about how the international program helps their experience, as well; it helps them become more rounded individuals. It might be their first job, and to go to your first job and have a coworker who is from another country is a really neat experience for them to take away. It’s really worked out for our company and I think for our community, as well. And it helps us with our staffing needs, helps us fill those jobs we might not otherwise be able to fill.
I have been on quite a few CIEE Road Shows. It’s been a pretty amazing experience for me, because I think that it’s really helped me to make the connection between the students that are coming and the countries that they’re from, translating to the jobs that they’re going to be working in the summer. I think that without going on the Road Show, I wouldn’t have had that same kind of connection. But going on the Road Show, I’m able to interview the students, find out a little bit about what motivates them, why they want to come on the program, why they want to come to Cedar Point. And it also allows me the opportunity to experience their culture, to taste some of their traditional meals, to go to the tourist sites and some of the off-the-beaten-trail sites that we can find, just to try to understand their culture a little bit better.