Finding Summer Travel Jobs in Europe
By Heather Wynn
You may be able to guide a tour in Rome during the summer, but more likely you will have to find other forms of work 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 are strongly protectionist to favor EU citizens due to high local unemployment, it becomes increasingly difficult for employers to justify hiring
There is, however, still one corner of the
European job market in which Americans can fine jobs in: 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.
Summer Tour Guide Jobs
Competition for a position as a tour guide can be fierce and
often require certifications only found in Europe, 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 important. Many companies
provide their own training and/or even a scripted tour, however
that all-important EU passport is so often an obstacle.
Tour guides spend day after day with large groups of strangers,
and it is their duty to ensure everyone has a great time.
position requires wit, humor, an easygoing spirit, patience,
and increasingly a great deal of experience (see the requirements
for summer job positions for some sense of what is required,
e.g. an average age of 26). 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
summer employers. 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. The company
for which I worked, 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.
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.
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.
Other Summer Job Options in Europe
Teaching English and Au Pair Jobs
For those who are not inclined to the working
the earth, teaching
English in Europe, provided you have a TEFL certificate
and a college degree, is still an option if you can find a company
to sponsor you. Alternately, you can go through a teaching
Being an au
pair in Europe is often a very good option for the summer,
since you can learn the language and immerse yourself in
the culture while living with a local family. You often have
a great deal of time off to explore your location while the
kids are with their parents, in school, or otherwise occupied. InterExchange
Working Abroad and GEOVISIONS offer
Short-term Work at Youth Hostels
For short-term summer work, English language tour companies and youth hostels are the best place to begin your search. Quite often youth hostels will hire summer travelers in exchange for room and board. Youth hostel websites 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 engines can be especially useful for gathering names to search and
collect contact information about specific companies.
Organic Farm Work
Realistically, working on organic farms via WWOOF, HelpX, and other organizations are a common way to work in Europe during the summer in exchange for room and board, often in very beautiful locations all over the continent. Is the work easy? No. But the options to meet people and experience a new culture are tremendous and come at a low cost.
Heather Wynn, a freelance writer and translator, has been living in Munich for four years.