By: Julia Rabin, Greenheart Exchange Cultural Outreach Assistant

You’re on your way to an amazing Summer Work Travel experience in the United States! We’re so excited for the adventures that are ahead of you. While preparing for the program, many questions and concerns can arise. Don’t worry – this is natural! Traveling to a new culture, a new place, and getting to know a new work environment can bring its own challenges. Below, you will find some common expectations from your host organization and what you should do in the workplace!

  • Hard Work: Your supervisor expects you to work hard and do all of the work requested of you, as it is listed in your job agreement.
  • Be Punctual: In the United States, being on time and respectful of other’s time is very important. Our culture puts a large emphasis on timeliness! Always arrive to work 10 minutes early to make sure you are there with plenty of time to start your shift.
  • Look Presentable: The clothes you wear to work should be clean and presentable, and you should also look professional! Your host organization will expect you to have good hygiene and look nice for work.
  • Communicate: It’s important to understand what is expected of you, and to ask for clarity if you are confused! Always ask questions when you don’t understand something. If you are having a problem at work, discuss it with your host organization! This is the best way to address any potential problems. If you are not comfortable doing this, contact Greenheart Exchange and we will help you.
  • Speak English: Always speak English while you are at work! It is your responsibility to make the most of your program. Your host organization is not responsible for improving your spoken English – but every day you go to work you have the chance to improve your language skills. Opportunities to practice are all around you so take advantage of every chance to work on your skills.
  • Smile: You’ll find that Americans like to smile a lot and are often very friendly! Try to smile back and make an effort to get to know the people around you.
  • Have a Positive Attitude: Respect the different cultures that are surrounding you and all of the different people you will get to work with. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know others, see your similarities and differences, and get to know them. Consider your program as an adventure, not a chore.
  • Be Resourceful: Before embarking on your program, research the area where you are working and see what it has to offer! The best way to get to know your community is to get involved – discover what the community has to offer. Remember that you are required to work from the Start Date to the End Date listed on your DS-2019 form. Your host organization hired you to work for these dates and it is not acceptable to arrive late or leave early without notifying your host organization and Greenheart Exchange first. Keep in mind that you signed a contract, and in the United States, it is considered important and respectful to maintain that contract. Try to think through the impact that your actions might have on the people around you!
  • Wages and Taxes: Your host organization should pay you as indicated on your job offer. You should earn at least minimum wage for your work. See the Department of Labor site for minimum wage requirements by state. Some host organizations provide affordable housing within the area, which may be deducted from your check. Look to your placement agreement for information regarding your rent. Other host organizations may offer you a bonus at the end of a season to commend a job well done. Be sure to carefully review your job offer so you know what wages you will be paid. When you start working, you will have to complete a W-4 form. All J-1 Summer Work Travel participants should pay taxes. You will get most of this money back the following year. Your host organization should support you with advice and assistance when you need it. If you are having a problem, let them know. They are usually happy to help!

We’re here to help you have a safe, successful, and compliant program – so be sure to do your research ahead of time! Contact Greenheart Exchange if you have any questions or concerns – and you can always find more information in the Resources section of your online account!