Hi guys!!! We are beginning to publish WAT myths from the Work and Travel chapter of the Half-American book.
Ready? Then let’s go :)))
Myth № 1:
I can easily make $6,000, and $10,000 with little extra effort. I recover program costs (~ $3000) in one month
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Sounds just awesome … It only sounds … But here is a sobering and rather sad statistics:
Usually 1 student out of 10 actually earns $5000 and pay back the cost of the program.
Only 1 student out of 100 brings back more than $10000. This is so rare that even WAT agents use those people as successful examples in their marketing campaigns. They always say you can make $10000 but never say how difficult it is. More importantly, they never say what student should do to to earn that much. Not surprising, since that is not their goal.
To demystify this myth, lets do a simple math based on 3 months or 12 weeks of the program:
Earnings from one job, per week: 320$ (see calculation below)
If you are lucky, you will get full 40 working hours per week. Most of the companies limit working hours and do not allow to work more than 30-40 hours per week. There is a constant fight for working hours. There are tons of half-legal immigrants from Latin America willing to work for 6 $/hour and sometimes even less. So don’t expect to get an overtime at 1.5x pay rate, it is almost impossible. What is possible, though, is that you are “politely” asked to work overtime but be paid at regular rate.
Let’s say your pay rate is 9$ per hour, subtract taxes (~11%) and you will get $8.0. Now multiply that to 40 and you will get around 320$ per week.
It is important to note here that if you are offered a job with higher hourly pay in a different state, you should remember that all living expenses will likely increase proportionally. For example, wages in the south of the country, somewhere in Alabama or Texas, are certainly lower than in the northeast of the country (Massachusetts or New Jersey). But it should be understood that the cost of housing, food and other expenses in Alabama is lower than in more expensive states. In general, your pay rate from job offer is like an indicator of the relative cost of living in different states. You can compare the proposed wages at the typical housekeeper position in different states and conclude where living expenses are higher or lower. For example, no one in Texas or Alabama will pay $11 an hour to housekeeper with no experience, it is a fairy tale, but living there is relatively cheaper.
The range of wages for Work and Travel students is quite narrow, since by the program terms you are supposed to be working at low-level and unskilled positions. This is explained in detail in the Career Myth. Therefore, any job offered by agents with a pay of more than ~$13 per hour is questionable. Either this is a state with very high living expenses, or it is a prohibited job that may cause problems in the future, or it is just another wat myth.
Expenses per week: >200$
Cost of living is high and varies a lot. Most likely you will end up living with other students to save money. This is not a bad option but not a good one either as you will see later. Let’s say, approximate cost is about 110$ per week.
If you don’t cook at home, eat junk and in fast food places, it will cost you around 10-15$ per day or min 70$ per week.
Other miscellaneous: 30$
Sky is a limit here and expenses really depend on your self-discipline. Some costs, however, are out of your control and you have no choice and some fees are hidden. Remember, nothing is free in states. Most common expenses include work uniform, training/certificate fees, housing deposit (that you usually do not get back), housing supplies (sheets, dishes, furniture), rental insurance and utilities (ac, water, electricity), services like cable TV, Internet and phone; transportation (bicycle, bus, train, metro, taxi), traveling to get SSN, clothing and other unexpected/hidden fees. Also from the airport you need to get to your work and back ($ 200-400). Assume with optimism, $ 30 per week.
Total earnings per week: 320-100-70-30=120$ per week.
Next multiply that to 12 weeks and you will get only 12×120=1440$ in earnings for the whole summer!
No, wait, no, no, wait a second, but where is my promised average $5000???
I just spent $3000 and half a year preparing for the trip…
I still need to pay back my parents and travel, right?
And I have to post those glamor pictures on my facebook and instagram…
And buy a new iphone, gucci bag and fancy levis jeans…
Parents usually don’t get their money back, since their responsible children prefer to travel and buy a latest iphone. It is ok parents, forget about your $3000, you knew you won’t get your money back, right? And instead of promised $10000, naive students are coming back with one iphone, in the best case scenario. They usually sell it next month for cash though. Or yeah, forgot to mention those fancy levis jeans – their exact destiny is unknown…
Sooooo…By doing this simple math, you can see how easy to dispel the myth of “average and easy” $5000 earnings and almost cosmic $10000.
Certainly, there are ifs and assumptions in this calculation but overall it perfectly proves the money myth of the wat program. Please see details and tips in the book.
Now, you are puzzled. Already forgot about $10000 and want to know how to make at least $5000? Or maybe you want to be that special 1 out of 100 and come back with pockets full of money? Pay back your creditors and buy a car, flat or open your own business? That is admiring my friend. Very admiring. If the answer is Yes, read further and study WAT section carefully. Study it carefully as it provides useful tips and discusses who usually makes $10000 and how.
So, my friend, let’s do it!!!
Best of luck to you!!!
Want to improve English, enhance your resume and refund taxes? Good luck but before you pay $3000 check out these myths about the program:
- English Myth
- Career Myth
- Tax refund Myth
- Medical insurance Myth
- Cultural Exchange Myth
- Sex. Money. Work and Travel. Part One.
- J-1 visa interview with commonly asked questions (more than 100)
as well as other useful Work and Travel tips in the book
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