By Radmila, Karavan Travel, Work and Travel Partner

In their first blog post, Serbian partner, Karavan Travel, describes their process for recruiting participants for the Work and Travel Program in the United States with CCI Greenheart. Be sure to see how their process continues as Karavan Travel describes their Journey of a Partner.

Since 1996, when Karavan Travel introduced the J-1 Summer Work Travel program to the region, the program has come a long way. There is hardly a university student nowadays who has not heard about it, participated, or plans to do so. 

Karavan Travel is based in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. With CCI Greenheart, we recruit students from a few Balkan countries – Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia.

Students who inquire already have general knowledge about the program and what it the purpose is. Most of them would not have the financial capability to travel to United States if it weren’t for the program. The working component of the program, thus, enables our university students to have sufficient funds to stay in the States for up to 5 months. However, during the recruitment phase, we at Karavan make sure that prospective participants understand that the Summer Work Travel program is a cultural exchange program – and that they should get to know USA through their own experience, by working, traveling, etc … possibilities are infinite.

Potential candidates usually hear about Karavan Travel and the program from their friends who previously participated. Others learn about it online, through our social network marketing, brochures, leaflets and posters posted in their university campuses, or through presentations. Most of them come to one of our offices directly to inquire. Our staff consists of people who have previous participated in an exchange program, so we have valuable personal experience, and not only professional expertise to rely on.

Most importantly, before students apply for the Summer Work Travel program, they are given program brochures which include the breakdown of expenses, list of necessary documents, program procedures explanations and so on. We check their university documents, to make sure they are actively pursuing their university degrees.

The program dates for our students are: May 21 – October 1. Knowing these dates, we explain to students that they should be ready to commit to the work dates they choose and that they cannot neglect their university obligations due to the program.

Last but certainly not least, we check our students’ English speaking and comprehension skills. It is essential to check if students can understand and speak English language, to be able to adapt to life in the United States. This interview time also gives us the opportunity to get know the students, explain program expectations, understand what would make them happy – job or location wise, and to give suggestions on the interview skills they can improve on for the future.

The recruitment phase is the first step and the beginning of the Summer Work Travel program journey for our students, and us as a sending agency. Like any journey, every student with Karavan and CCI Greenheart requires preparation, courage to take new steps and – an open mind.