Everyone wants to take a year off and travel around Central America – well, everyone I know – but most of us can’t afford to take a year off work. The solution is to find work that you can do while you travel. One option is to find a good telecommuting job and bring your laptop along, making liberal use of Skype along the way. But if telecommuting isn’t an option, or you would prefer to soak up some local workplace culture, finding part-time or temporary jobs that you can do on location may be the solution to your vacation financing problems.
How can you line up part-time work in another country while you are still at home, planning your trip? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- For general resources, including help in finding places to stay, try the following resources:.
- Try working with an international job agency. Here are a few possibilities:
- AnyWork AnyWhere gives you a search engine in which you can list the part of the world you are interested in and the type of work that you hope to find.
- Hospitality Net lists jobs at restaurants, hotels and resorts.
- One Small Planet lists work, study, volunteer and travel opportunities around the world.
- The Overseas Recruitment Association, Osrec, which specializes in screening and recruiting workers for jobs in more than 20 countries, including Mexico and Costa Rica.
- SeasonalJobs365 lists seasonal temporary jobs around the world. You might be surprised at the variety of positions listed here – for example, a quick search during the writing of this post turned up jobs in Guatemala teaching yoga, meditation, and scuba diving, as well as rain forest conservation-related work.
- Try working with a temporary agency that has offices worldwide, such as Kelly Services or Arquent.
- Read the newspaper online for cities where you are thinking of looking for work. Check the classified section. Or try the international version of Craig’s List – Craig’s List has listings for jobs in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico.
- Try getting a job on a cruise ship. This route may be a good option for you if you would like the security of having one job that will take you from country to country. You can check the career sections at websites for particular companies, or try a job board such as Work On a Boat, CruiseShipJob.com, or ShipJobs.
- Become a teacher of English as a second language. This route will take you some time, and also involves some expense, if you are not already a teacher. But you can start by getting your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification (you should be able to find a program near you or online). You may be able to get a grant or scholarship to cover your tuition for the program (try the TESOL site,for links to scholarships and grants, as well as a directory of reputable degree and certification programs). A good program will take you
several weeks to complete and will help you to find a job afterward. Try to find a program that builds in teaching experience, or volunteer in your community for a while after completing the program. Why is it worth it to you to try this? If you can teach English, a world of opportunities open up to you. I can’t even begin to list all the websites that specialize in linking ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers with jobs abroad. Just to start with, you could try Dave’s ESL Café, which is a wonderful resource for all things ESL, including links to certification courses, ideas for teachers, help for students going through certification programs, and most importantly, job links. Or you could try ESL Jobs, ESL Employment, ESL Jobs World, and ESL Herald, just to get you started. If you start searching online for ESL jobs and teaching information, you’ll be drowning in websites before you know it.
- Be prepared to do your job interview via Skype. For example, Dave’s ESL job board (see above) currently lists a job at Na’atik, el Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Na’atik takes resumes and applications by email and conducts all its interviews via Skype. If you are not accustomed to using Skype, set it up and test your connection with a few calls before you rely on it for your interview – and find a professional looking environment to make your interview call from.
- To prepare for your job interview – not to mention your working environment – make sure that you brush up on your Spanish. Most part-time jobs that you can get in Central America will require you to have at least a basic command of Spanish, though you may be able to get by without being fluent.
- Once you find a job, remember that in most countries, you will need to get a work visa to allow you to work. In some countries you may be forced to fly in on a tourist visa, get the job, and then fly out again to activate a work visa – but be aware that sometimes looking for work on a tourist visa is against local immigration laws. In many countries, to get a work visa you will need a BA and a specialized skill (speaking English often counts as your specialized skill). If you are a student, you may be able to get a temporary work-holiday visa, good for 3-6 months, which is all you really need if you are planning to travel from country to country. Check with the State Department to find information about the current visa requirements for the countries you are interested in.
Finally, when you are searching for part-time temporary jobs, don’t forget to activate your network, just as you would if you were looking for any other job. It’s a small world – literally. You never know when someone you know, or a friend of someone you know, may have done exactly what you are planning to do – and that person may have ideas and tips for you or may even know of temporary jobs related to your particular field of expertise. At the very least, your job search will give you a terrific ice breaker the next time that you need something to talk about at a party.