Hotel Galvez and Spa, Galveston, Texas, Work and Travel Group

Experience with agency Work & Travel Group was negative.
When I've applied for the program I only asked for Martha's Vineyard. The first offer is the Grand Canyon which was not what I wanted and I refused it. The next offer was for Texas, also was not what I wanted. In the meantime, they sent me an e- mail, where they say that if we refuse minimum two offers they can not guarantee that there will be a third. In fact, I was on any job fairs, which were organized in January and February. The first offer I have received only just in March. I didn't had the opportunity to choose work rather than just what they offered me. So I had no choice. On top of that, their response was: "No one of employers has choosed you." Which to me was a little strange, because I have five years of experience in the hospitality industry, very good english and a degree in environmental protection, which is extremely useful to the Americans. As a participant in this program in this agency, I was not satisfied with their work, because of what I paid for I was expecting to get what I want. Which with this company, in my case was not done.

Experience with location Galveston, TX was positive.
Since I came to my place, right the next day I've started to work, and the day after that, I found another job. It was easy because it is the tourist city of Galveston and full of restaurants. I stayed in the apartments which was organized by the primary employer. There were plenty of people with the internship program, so it was a lot of socializing. When I received this offer my agency did not know anything about the hotel where I work, about the city, about how to get from the airport to the town. It's the first time they had this place in their offers so that they themselves did not know exactly where I'm sent. Therefore, I was extremely skeptical and quite mad at the agency, but to my luck I had a perfect experience. Let's put aside that the city is quite empty, ie. that not many locals only tourists, and sometimes it was extremely dangerous. I had the fortune to live and work in a city that is between civilization and let say, ghetto, I had a couple of situations where it was quite scary. They were stealing our bikes from the yard of the apartment, there was a lot of homeless people around the nearby shops. I can not say it's safe. But that's never experienced any great inconvenience. To my luck. The town has a couple of cafes, all weekend closes at 2am and weekdays at midnight. Realistically if you work two jobs, as I did, you are not in the situation to have a very active nightlife.

Experience with employer Hotel Galvez & Spa was positive.
Wage per hour 6 $ Number of hours per week : 32 Average tip : 300 After the contract was my job was pool attendant, but it also said we can be trained to be a busser , a cocktail server . When I started working , it was extremely difficult for the reason that , after the contract it was an agreement to bring black pants , black polo shirt and black shoes. It was supposed to be our uniform. Again , the failure of the agency. When I got there the manager told me : " How did you come to work in black ? In Texas you are working outdoors .It is summer and it is too hot. We have not brought you over here to be tortured . You need a white shirt and cream sorts . " These were additional costs that we have not counted , because we have already brought our " uniforms " from Serbia. When I arranged it , it was much easier to work in shorts than in black pants , but still can not say that this kind of work was not a manual labor . Takin dirty towels and bringing clean ones, taking out the trash, etc. Of course, since they gave us the possibility that we can make progress, I aspired to it. Two people from Serbia who came with me, soon transferred to a better position. This what we were doing was not work&travel program, for the reason that we have not had contact with people, have not learned about their drinks and their food. To me this is just a physical work, for which I paid to come. After a couple of weeks, I started to intensively work on it to get a position within the hotel. For the reasons that I wanted it so much more than collecting dirty towels on the heat of Texas, believe me, it was unbearable. And all this for $ 8 hourly rate without a tip. We also learned that we deserved a certain percentage of tip from cocktail servers but they did not want to give us with the excuse that "we earn more of them, because our hourly rate was $ 8 and $ 4 for them," which apsolutly has no sense because they have a daily minimum of 150 $ tip. I have extremely struggled to change the position, talking with one manager to the other, with HR. With everyone. To get an answer at the end that I can not work inside the hotel because I have red hair. What annoyed me extremely, and I felt discriminated. During the conversation with the sponsor agency and many people, I painted my hair dark red, and continue waiting for a better position. The reason that red hair was a problem because the conservative Texas, especially Galveston. After a month of fighting I got the job Room Service operator. Believe me, I really came to work smiling. I hated the days off, because I really wanted to go to work. I loved the job. I spoke to the guests, taught about food and the drinks, cocktails, wines. Extremely improved English because I talked every day with guests and colleagues. A money. The money was extremely high. But believe me, money was not an objective for me. Mine only intended was to be in the airconditioned areas. Because I worked both jobs outside and was unbearable. Maybe if I had higher hourly rate or tips, maybe that would be my motivation to be outside. But it was not worth that every day I get headaches from the sun. I finished my contract in the room-service. I got a really great experience which was the whole point of the program. Many people from other European countries remained at the position pool attendant, but only three of us in Serbia has managed to advance. Managers are first met with people from Serbia and were satisfied with our work. To my great sorrow, I can not go back next year because I finished college. But this is a wonderful experience that I would recommend to everyone, because despite the fact that I have made wonderful friends from Colombia, Moldova, Russia, the Philippines, Romania, Jamaica, Turkey, Jordan, America, I have gained great experience of all these cultures, the American way of catering and hospitality that mean very much to me in building my future career. As much as the beginning was terrible and difficult, the end was beautiful. If I could, without thinking I would come back again.

This review represents personal opinion of Tatjana Ciceri who was participating Work & Travel program in year of 2015 with agency Work & Travel Group, working at Hotel Galvez & Spa in Galveston, TX.

Aug 3, 2016