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How to Find Summer Tour Jobs in Europe

Finding a job in Europe for the summer can be difficult, especially if your only language is English. As the laws in Europe change to accommodate EU citizens, it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to justify hiring Americans.

There is, however, still one corner of the European job market in which Americans flourish: tourism. English-language tour companies, abundant throughout Europe, have good reason to fill their summer vacancies with young Americans, because the majority of their clientele is American.

For short-term summer work, English language tour companies and youth hostels are the best place to begin your search. Hostelworld.com is a good resource. The website provides online booking services, so it is useful for finding the names of prospective employers. If you have your sights set on a certain city or country, the search engine can be especially useful for gathering names to search and collect contact information about specific companies.

Competition for a position as a tour guide can be fierce, and the chances of securing a job without a face-to-face interview aren’t very high, but it is not impossible. For tour guides, personality, not necessarily a prior experience, is most important. Many companies provide their own training and/or even a scripted tour.

Tour guides spend day after day with large groups of strangers, and it is their duty to ensure everyone has a great time. The position requires wit, humor, an easygoing spirit, and patience. It is up to the tour guide to ensure that everyone in the group is entertained, informed, and has a memorable experience. If one is shy or has trouble speaking in front of a crowd, guiding tours can be nerve-wracking work.

Word of mouth is incredibly important for the reputation of tour companies. And it is the tour guides themselves who shape the experience of the tour.

Unfortunately for applicants, the traits prospective employers seek are usually difficult to glean from an email or a letter. So when you apply from abroad, do not send a formal cover letter. Rather, write an entertaining letter about yourself, try to inspire a few laughs, don’t take yourself too seriously, and try to express your personality. This is one case in which you don’t want to make your letter short and sweet. Prospective employers are looking for the people who stand out, because applications often come in overwhelming numbers. Last year, the company for which I work, Rad City Tours, hired only one tour guide before we ever actually laid eyes on her, and we did it for the reasons listed above. Her email made an impression on us, and it was a decision we did not regret.

The best way to find summer work in the tourism industry is to arrive in Europe in late winter or early spring and apply in person. Many companies start their tours as early as March. This is also the time when hostels start their hiring process for the busy summer season—especially since many of their winter employees themselves go back to jobs with tour companies in the summer months.

If the type of job is less important to you than actually finding a job, positions in sales are much easier to come by and can be found throughout the season. Sales employees are the unsung heroes of the tour business. They are the customers’ first point of contact and must make a good impression. The job itself entails chatting up tourists, distributing brochures, and, of course, selling the tours.

The experience itself is well worth the difficulties in finding a job. You have the chance to make lasting friendships, meet people from many different backgrounds and nationalities, and get to know the area you are living in more intimately than many of the locals themselves. Every day brings something new. And, of course, the money isn’t bad either.

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