The United States is one of the favourite destinations for work placements and to gain professional experience in Spanish and American companies. Fellows, interns, camp assistants, au pairs… Whatever the job description, there are opportunities to learn and work for a summer or a longer period; especially for young students, recent graduates and people under 35 years of age.

The need for a visa is intimidating, but it is really a matter of information and having a clear idea of what you want. The Spanish Department of Employment and Social Security in the United States – which has its own web and office in Washington, DC- acknowledges that approximately 7,000 J-1 visas – the type associated to exchange programmes for those who come on work placements – have been granted.

Records are kept of all type of visas, from the ones granted to work as an au pair to those obtained by young researchers.
According to the said department, the type of programme aimed at “those who seek to improve their level of English or to live a new experience for a few months” are the au pair type, designed for students up to 26 years of age who come to look after children, and the summer work&travel type. This entitles young people under 28 who have completed at least one semester of university studies to live and work in tourism-related jobs, such as nature or theme parks and hotels. Both require a certain level of English and visas need to be processed through one of the agencies approved by the State Department.

The organisation can issue these documents within 48 hours. They must then be submitted to the US embassy. The process involves three parties: the interested party, the company and the sponsor – in this case the Chamber-. The fields with most job offers for young people are: finance and economics; law and public administration; and marketing and communications. In the past two years, however, there has been a change in trend and the demand for architects and engineers has increased.

Cortijo recommends that young people make the most of networking -work contacts-, which is practised here almost 24 hours a day. “In their case, I would try to go to all networking events and I would sign up to business forums”, he comments. Whether for summer jobs or longer stays, English is essential. In the former case, the required level is lower, but necessary. For work placements and specialization courses, a good level of English is essential. “Nobody expects you to have a perfect accent, but you have to know how to speak and write”, explains Cortijo.