Over the past several years, the Department of Tourism English at Ansan College has developed overseas training programs in Guam, Saipan, Australia and Germany. So, this piece naturally drew my attention:
University students and graduates seeking jobs and internships overseas are complaining that companies that arrange the positions are in some cases defrauding them.
The students say they made deposits with the companies which in turn failed to produce work visas. Others who succeeded in obtaining jobs said that instead of the office positions they had been promised, the work consisted of physical labor...
Another woman, identified as Ms. Choi, paid a deposit when she was promised she could intern as a receptionist at a U.S. hotel. Ms. Choi returned to Korea recently after six months working in the hotel's laundry.
"Most Korean students who obtained internships at the hotel worked as maids," Ms. Choi said.
Because of jerks like the ones who ripped off these kids, the US Embassy in Seoul has been getting tougher with J-1 visa applicants. Right now, I am dealing with six students going to two different hotels who have had their training programs rejected. When I talked with the person in charge of the non-immigrant visa interview area at the embassy, she explained that their goal is to protect the students. A direct quote; 'we don't want the students to spend their (training) time pushing mops.'
So now, I am working with the hotels involved to get the training programs up to requirements.
BTW, I am not too worried about our kids getting riped off like this for a couple of reasons. First, our college developed relationships with reputable hotels that need people to serve Korean-speaking guests. Both parts are important. When I was in Saipan a couple of years ago, I decided not to even bother talking with a couple of hotels there because my research gave me some doubts about how they might take care of their trainees. Also, the hotels that we have relationships with like to have Korean trainees because they want to better serve their Korean guests. For that reason, the hotels want to train our students in areas were they will interact with guests (such as F&B and front desk). Those just happen to be the same areas where our students want to train and which will help them get a good job when they return to Korea. So the program works well for everyone involved.
We also send professors to the hotels every year to talk with the students and HR people at each hotel. That lets us check on how our students at doing and how we can better prepare future students for overseas training. That way, we try to insure that both our students and the hotels are happy with the program. I've been to Guam three times and Saipan twice over the last several years (sounds like fun but, by the third time you go, it's actually like work).
Let the buyer beware. Do your homework.
(BTW, if you teach in a similar department in Korea, don't bother emailing me to ask how to start your own program with those hotels. We have enough competition as it is.)