Sand Bar and Grille, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Work and Travel Group
Experience with agency Work & Travel Group was positive.
Excellent! :) Since I've never went to America and that I decided to sign up to the program alone, it was very important to choose a good agency. I did a brief research, went in person to those agencies whose offers I liked and, without any hesitation, picked Work & Travel Group. My wish was to go to the Martha's Vineyard. Despite the story of my friend that I will not be able to go because Martha is for the students who have already been in America, I put it on the first place. In the program I applied at the end of November 2015, and the first interview I had at the end of January. At that time I had to prepare for this important day, a preparation which featured classes of English, which are included in the price of the program, potential issues that may happen during the interview, pointing to the usual mistakes while answering to the recruiter and guidance to leave a better impression to the employer. The first class we had with Charles Cather, who was in charge to evaluate our level of English and to guide us through a list of possible questions. I had an interview via Skype, and I got the job. The day after there was the last interview for that employer and position, and in the office of the agency there were students who have already been selected. However, the agency has contacted the employers, sent them my CV and managed to subsequently put me on the list. I went to the interview and got the job. And this is just to demonstrate the efficiency and professionalism of the agency, and that we should not listen to anyone else except yourselves. :) I got a job in a restaurant and the employer required from us to have ServSafe certificate. We had two hours with Troy Neuenburg, who teaches us very useful things for restaurants and pointed out the differences in working in a restaurant here in Serbia and in America. We had the preparation for the Embassy, when we once again have a time with Charles, who helped us in the best way possible to give answers to questions that will help us to set up for the interview. I got the visa. Then, the preparation before we leave followed. All the preparation that we need had been organized in the form of meetings at the agency and we always get all the information we needed for the next step. We had a big conference in Belgrade, where we received very useful tips about the way of life in America, what are our rights, how to ride a bicycle, which is the best way to send money (PayPal), we learned something about the banks, cards mobile phones, etc. I have traveled in the first round in mid-May. From Belgrade to Boston, then bus to Woods Hole and then by ferry to Martha. Because the greatest number of students goes in this period, the agency offered to us to organize a bus from Boston to the ferry. So it was. I remember when we got to Boston, we had a small problem to get the bus driver. :) And we were trying, the man did not answer for some reason, but eventually we found him and everything went well. :) I just want to emphasize that it was not the fault of the Agency, but there has been a misunderstanding between the driver and his company.
Experience with location Martha's Vineyard, MA was positive.
The island is beautiful! Nature is wonderful, especially when you have gone where there are not so many people. The houses are like a fairytale. I've lived in Oak Bluffs, where there was one part of the city near the port where the gingerbread cottages, and small, sweet, colorful house exists. They are, also, one of the main attractions that tourists visit. It is very colorful. It's nice to live on the island, because I could always spend spare time on the beach. I was enjoying in bathing, until the moment when I saw a couple of crab after which it was not so comfortable in the water for me. :) Main Street, Circuit Avenue, is very long and full of different shops where you can buy clothes, jewelry and souvenirs. There's a restaurant, but they are mostly on the main promenade, near the port. The most popular dish on the island is the lobster and seafood in general. Lobster was good, but the sushi is even better. :) Of course, you can eat a good burger. Some of my recommendations would be restaurants Nancy's, Sharky's Cantina, Slice of Life, Fat Ronnie's, Sand Bar & Grille, and if you want good sushi and dessert - the bakery ,,Back Door Donuts''. The island is mostly a tourist and very luxurious. Season begins somewhere with the feast of the 4th of July and lasts until the end of September. And that makes it very special, because people are excited, smiling, (but how could it not be, when you are on vacation in one of the most famous and most beautiful islands in the world), the inhabitants of the island are also friendly and always willing to please tourists. It is well known that President Obama with his family every year goes to Martha. I saw his daughter, then Bruce Willis, I was hostess to Cole, the demon from the series ,,Charm" and I got an autograph from a player of the Red Sox. :) What is interesting is that we, the Serbs, are almost like domestics on the island. There are a lot of us and we have even two Serbian parties during the week, which are always well attended. The law in Massachusetts is that everything can be working until 1AM, so that is why afterparties on the beaches, in forests and houses are the must! :) There are good shops in Oak Bluffs, but the greater choice are in Edgartown, which is very close. If you've never had the chance to see a skunk, go to Martha. They like to walk around at night and they're everywhere. Only at the end of the year I stopped running from them when I see them. :) lt could be useful you to know that they are afraid of applause, but if you're caught in a difficult situation, you'll know what to do. :) During the day you can see squirrels and rabbits. And after a very short time you will feel like you are always on Martha, because you will meet all the locals and you will not be able to walk down the street without pause with some of them to say hello.
Experience with employer Sand Bar & Grill
Finally, when I gathered all, the experience was positive. From the first days I worked as a hostess, and sometimes as a food runner and busser and I had direct contact with people, which meant a lot to me in order to perfect the language. I met many wonderful people, learned a lot about American culture and I was always beautiful and dressed up at the work. :) The restaurant has both inside and outside siting, but certainly to more people opting to sit outside on the sand overlooking the luxury yachts and ocean. What was fun is that it is completely normal to greet people passing by, ask them how are they doing and often start a conversation with them. I knew that to spend the whole day at the promenade, sunbathing and talking to passers-by. I had new friends, received flowers from people and just enjoyed doing my job. As for the employers and the restaurant, I can not say I was particularly pleased. We arrived on the island on the May 17th and I supposed to start on 21th, but we started a week after, because the maintenance in the restaurant have not yet been completed. This period came to me well because I was able to meet with people and surroundings, but I certainly was not happy because of the money I spent. Soon after we filed the document for social security number, and a month later we received it. Until then, I have worked only in the Sand Bar. As a hostess I had $10, and as a food runner and busser $5-plus tip, which was unfortunate, but I believe that it was only because season has not started and I hopped it will be better later. I had a lot of working hours and overtime, and we always have been paid by employers on time. I didn't look for another job, because Employer still did not have a fixed schedule for the entire year, and because they told us to be patient for a while, because perhaps they would have a job at one of their other facility, since they own rent-a-car, bike shop, gas station and a liqueur store, laundry, mini pizzerias. The house where I lived with another seven people who worked for them was also theirs and we paid $150 a week. Better not to know what kind of home is it. It would take a lot more space to describe it, a novel of letters. :) Anyway, a few times I went to the bike shop, I was doing some cleaning and renting of it, for the same $10 per hour and I was told that I will work here throughout the season. Still, I was working at the Sand Bar, was still waiting for my schedule so I could start looking for a second job and it was like that until the middle of July, when I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I suggested to the manager that I am willing to work as a hostess and only the first shift, since I liked it and the situation with tips has not significantly changed (in the season I had about $80, possibly $100, in a double shift from 10AM until 10PM, there were always 5 servers, and the restaurant was always crowded, which means that a lot of work values very little money). We managed to make a deal, and I immediately found two jobs and I had only one afternoon off. At the end of the season, most Americans servers returned to their studies, and instead of being upgraded to their positions in the restaurant for us who have been doing the whole season there and we knew everything about the restaurant, servers have become the people who worked in the rent-a-car or some who have had little contact with the Sand Bar, but they certainly were less qualified than us. When we objected, we got an offer to be trained for servers, but even then I was tired of injustice, and since I would leave soon I chose to stay until the end of the season. And yes, only the kitchen workers were entitled to a free meal, while the rest would pay 50% cheaper. So when I calculated that my paycheck every Friday was $280 weekly rent is $150 and each day I was eating in a restaurant, because I did not have time to cook at home and eat an average of $10, I almost earn nothing on the first job. But it also speaks about how employers are smart and real businessmen. :) Finally we came to the conclusion. Now, when everything passed, I could say that I am grateful that employer offered me a job and helped me to go and live on such a beautiful island. They were correct as to the payment. I have not had any major problems with them. They knew to meet my needs when it comes to paying the rent. On the opening day there was a private party for police officers, where lobsters have been served, and at the end of the day we got a lobster and some shells from the boss. All in all, as everywhere, there were also beautiful and less beautiful things. I have never regretted what I was doing there, because these less-nice-things strengthen me and I learned a lot. And here's the funniest scene during the whole year. On Saturday evening I was working as a hostess in a different restaurant for dinner and two women from New York came. All the tables were occupied, and put them on a waiting list, and in the meantime, we chatted and we met better. They had dinner and went home satisfied. The next morning I was working as a hostess at the Sand Bar, and behold, two of them! They approached, came forward to me, and continued to walk around. From 5PM that day, I worked at a boutique, and just when I got to the job, the two of them have been at the door! They stopped, they looked first at me, then at each other and then we all start laughing up to the tears! Because they had never heard of this program, I explained to them how it works and I'm not the only one that works more jobs. Unforgettable situation for the two of them and for me! :)
This review represents personal opinion of Jovana Vracar who was participating Work & Travel program in year of 2016 with agency Work & Travel Group, working at Sand Bar & Grill in Martha's Vineyard, MA.
Jan 5, 2017