At CIEE, we know that you and your team are busy preparing for the summer ahead. We’ve put together some resources and best practices to help you effectively prepare to welcome your summer students! Below are some of our favorite, tried-and-true best practices for every part of the CIEE Work & Travel USA summer season:
Communication with your students is crucial in laying the groundwork for a successful season. If you have not already done so, please reach out to your students. Below are a few key pieces of information that we recommend including in your pre-arrival communication with students to make for a smooth arrival. For more specifics, please visit our Knowledge Base Communication page.
• Send information about housing. If housing is not provided, share with students housing resources and ask them how their housing search is going. If you provide housing, remind students about any security deposit procedures and the check-in process when they arrive.
• Remind students about specific arrival instructions. What airport do you recommend? How do students get to their housing from the airport? If you provide transportation, what details do you need from the student to arrange it?
• Provide students with a packing list. Do they need specific pants or shoes for their work attire? What is the weather like? What should students bring with them on their first day of work (important paperwork, specific clothing, etc.)?
Students’ first days in the U.S. can be overwhelming, but there are many things you can do to help! Below are some best practices on welcoming students to the U.S. (you can also read more on our Knowledge Base Cultural Adjustment page).
• Greet students with a welcome kit! Include miniature toiletry items, a list of favorite local shops and restaurants, and a list of exciting events happening this summer in your community.
• Make students feel welcome! A smile and friendly conversation can go a long way. Introduce students to the domestic employees.
• Share information on the local banks and give students information on how to open an account.
• Remind students to call CIEE to register in SEVIS. Make a phone available to them to call, if they do not have one. Call CIEE at 1.888.268.6245. For more information, please refer to our SEVIS.
Following SEVIS registration, students should apply for their Social Security number (SSN). It may take several weeks for SSNs to be issued. If students see delays, it’s best to contact the office with which they applied for updates. For more information, please refer to our Knowledge Base Social Security page.
• Ask students to put the business address as the address where their card should be sent, as students may still be in temporary housing by the time it arrives.
• Remind students to bring a copy of their receipt showing they applied for social security.
• If your payroll system requires a SSN to be entered in order for students to be issued a paycheck, you can use the first 9 digits of their DS-2019 number (found on their DS-2019 form) as a placeholder until their actual number arrives.
Payroll and Taxes
Every CIEE Work & Travel USA student must pay federal, state, and local income taxes. Students do not pay Social Security tax, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes. For more information about payroll and taxes, please visit the Knowledge Base Compensation page on our website.
• If you offer direct deposit, strongly encourage your students to enroll. This can reduce the number of students who are unable to cash final paychecks when they return home.
Program regulations require all Summer Work Travel students to report second jobs. If you wish to hire a CIEE Work & Travel USA student for a second job, please remind them that he/she must have approval before beginning work at your company. Students can reach CIEE at 1-888.268.6245, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reporting second jobs.
• Have a copy of the CIEE Second Job Offer Form on file to provide to students.
• Keep your business license and workers compensation information up to date with CIEE to reduce delays in processing Second Job Offer Forms.
Most students come from places in the world where bicycles and walking are common forms of transportation. They may not realize that American drivers have different levels of awareness around cyclists and pedestrians. Help keep them safe by talking to them about transportation safety.
• Send students a link to the Transportation Safety Video created by a partnership between CIEE, the Department of State, and other sponsors.
• Remind them to wear helmets, use bike lights, and wear bright clothing if biking at night.
• Print out a map with the safest walking and biking routes so students know the best way to avoid highways and busy roads.
• If students will be walking or biking from their worksite to their housing, consider providing transportation after dark.
Cultural exchange is at the core of the CIEE Work & Travel USA program. As an employer, you have a fantastic opportunity to cultivate this exchange, which is more important than ever.
Best Practices: Try some of these activities with your staff!
• Organize a talent show, fitness challenge, game night, pot luck dinner, or barbeque.
• Create a “bucket list” for students. This is a great way for students to share what they hope to experience during their time in the United States.
• Encourage students to volunteer by partnering with local charities and community organizations.
• Organize a buddy system between your international and domestic employees. This is a meaningful way to foster communication and learning between students and your domestic employees.
• Utilize email or social media to update your students regarding schedules, things to do in your community, or fun activities they can sign up for.
Stay connected with CIEE
You are welcome to contact us at any time, but it’s especially important to contact us in the below situations:
• A student does not arrive as expected
• A student has a medical emergency
• The termination of a student’s employment
• A student quits before his/her agreed job end date
• There’s a performance issue – let us know right away, so we can work with you and your student
• Department of State visits your business - Each season the Department of State (DoS) conducts site visits to employers as a continued effort to monitor the Work & Travel USA program. CIEE does not know in advance if you will be visited or when you will be visited so we recommend educating your front line staff on what to do if the DoS stops in. We encourage you to spend a few minutes with the DoS representatives to discuss the work and cultural opportunities you provide to your students and then allow the representatives to speak with as many students as possible. CIEE has received positive feedback both from the employers visited and the DoS. These visits are an opportunity for you to showcase your program and the cultural exchange experiences your students are having.
For more information about how CIEE supports you and your students, please visit the Knowledge Base In-Country Support page. For more resources for a successful summer, please visit our Download Center on CIEE’s website for easy PDFs you can share with your team on a variety of important topics!
-Kelly Enberg, International Recruitment Consultant