Some find job opportunities overseas

March 22, 1992|By Alfred Borcover | Alfred Borcover,Chicago Tribune

With a lingering crummy job market, college students, graduates and other unemployed young adults continue to search for other work experiences to enhance their lives until the economic situation eases in the United States.

For the adventuresome, the most attractive opportunities lie overseas.

Kristin Murphy, 22, of Evanston, Ill., who was graduated from Washington University in St. Louis last June, chose Paris and found short-time jobs with two advertising agencies and then as an au pair, looking after two children for a French family in Brittany. Her next mission: to take the Mongolian Express from Prague across Asia to meet friends in Japan and to join them in teaching English to business people.

Kristi Knight, a 23-year-old senior majoring in speech and hearing sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus, learned about short-term job possibilities in London through a British Universities North America Club presentation on her campus.

Ms. Knight signed up with the British club, which works with the New York-based Council on International Educational Exchange and offers free assistance to U.S. students. The group got her a six-month student work permit and helped her find a job and housing. So off she went to London to work as a wine steward and behind the bar in a pub near St. Paul's Cathedral, work she had never done before.

"It was a wonderful job," Ms. Knight said, "despite working 55 hours a week. I was paid 180 pounds a week (about $360)." Ms. Knight, who took 10 weeks off from school, spent eight weeks working and two weeks traveling around the Continent.

"I was able to save money, but used most of it to travel," she said. "I ended up with a little extra money."

What was important to Ms. Knight, who graduates in June and plans to go to graduate school, was getting the experience of living in a different culture. "I'd like to return to London and work this summer, or the summer after. I have four months remaining on my work permit."

Those in search of a similar work experience should turn to the CIEE for ideas and assistance. With offices throughout the United States and in major cities overseas, the organization assists people such as Ms. Murphy and Ms. Knight in broadening their experiences.

Its book, "Work, Study, Travel Abroad: The Whole World Handbook 1992-'93" (St. Martin's Press, $12.95), while not a what-to-see, where-to-eat kind of guide, is chock-full of information, from how to get a passport and visas to how to find cheap ways to travel.

Founded 45 years ago to re-establish student exchange programs after World War II, the CIEE, a non-profit membership organization, has since developed and administered educational and work programs around the world.

Last year, not a great one for travel abroad, the CIEE sent 6,524 Americans on work-exchange programs, 219 to volunteer work camps and 1,207 on study-abroad programs.

"Work, Travel, Study Abroad" explains the CIEE's many functions, one of which is to assist U.S. students in getting temporary work permits.

The book is available through bookstores or the CIEE, 205 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10017; (212) 661-1414.

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