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Summer jobs info


Is it hard to get a summer job in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is an exciting place to live and work, and many students assume (probably correctly) that a summer job in Hong Kong will look good on their resumés. Still, that's hardly a sufficient reason alone to travel halfway around the world for summer employment.

First, the bad news. Unless you already live in Hong Kong, or have friends who are willing to let you stay at their place for the summer, you can be nearly certain that what you earn from a summer job here will be less than your overhead - that is, your cost of living plus your travel expenses. So if you need a summer job that will pay for itself, Hong Kong is not the place to look.

Now, the good news. In recent years, every Yalie who has come to Hong Kong has been able to find a decent summer job, if he or she planned ahead and had least some Chinese language ability. Even those who didn't speak Chinese have usually been able to find something - again, if they planned ahead.

The key phrase here, though, is "every Yalie who has come to Hong Kong," as opposed to "every Yalie who is interested in coming to Hong Kong." Our long-time experience is that students who plan to come to Hong Kong only if and when they line up a job here will wind up never coming. Prospective employers simply won't focus on you until you have definite plans to be here and can give them specific dates you'll be available for employment. (No Yalie would expect to land a summer job in New York without visiting New York. It's just as unlikely that you could nail down a position in Hong Kong before you actually get here.)

This doesn't mean that you should come here blindly, of course. There are several things you can do while still in New Haven to help you hit the ground running once you're here. But your first step is to throw your hat over the fence, so to speak: choose the dates of your summer stay in Hong Kong, book your flights, and only then begin laying the foundations for finding a job.

Can the Yale Club help me?

Once you know the specific dates when you're going to be in Hong Kong and available for summer employment, we can post your C.V. in the Current résumés section of this website and then call attention to it in the regular newsletter that goes to Yale alumni here by e-mail broadcast, inviting them to visit the website to see your full résumé and then contact you directly if they have any leads for you. This may not get you many nibbles while you're still in New Haven, but it will put your name in front of everybody so there's a better chance they'll know who you are when you get here. To be eligible for this service you have to become a Member by paying dues, which are discounted for current students. Please visit the Membership section of the website. If you're interested in this approach, please contact Alex Chan (Yale Graduate School '96) or Caroline Van (Yale College '79).

When's the best time to start looking?

First, as we've mentioned earlier, don't even think about looking for a summer job in Hong Kong until you have your air tickets in hand. Aside from that, we'd recommend that you get in touch with the Yale Club of Hong Kong around spring break, and then begin sending out resumés soon after that. Ironically, an early start doesn't always help: it often happens that employers don't know what their summer employment needs are until just a few weeks ahead of time. Even so, an early start will definitely increase your chances of finding a job, or of finding a better job.

What should my résumé include?

Aside from the usual contents, be sure your résumé includes:

  • Details on how people can reach you in New Haven, especially e-mail address. If you include only a postal address and phone number, no one will contact you.

  • A brief "job objective" that states what kind of job you're interested in, or at least why you want to come all the way to Hong Kong to work: perhaps possible directions for future career choices, etc. Even if your job goals are a bit vague - which is often the case for current students - this will still help people mentally connect you with possible job leads that they might not think of otherwise. And declaring a certain affinity for one kind of work or another will help prospective employers focus on you, too.

How much do summer jobs pay?

As you can imagine, pay will vary a lot from field to field. But the experience of Yalies working in Hong Kong in recent years indicates that the typical summer job will pay between HK$8,000 and $14,000 per month (US$1.00 = about HK$7.80).

Do I need a visa for a summer job?

U.S. and Canadian citizens can visit Hong Kong as tourists without a visa for three months. However, this doesn't allow you to enter employment, either paid or unpaid. Technically, any foreigner wishing to work here for any length of time must obtain an employment visa prior to arriving in Hong Kong. The visa application process isn't speedy, however - it was designed with permanent employment in mind - and going through the proper channels could take most of the summer.

Multinational corporations with established summer intern training programs in Hong Kong generally require you to be a Hong Kong resident or to possess a Hong Kong employment visa even to consider you for such an internship. A few smaller or local firms will assist you in applying for an employment visa, knowing full well that by the time the application is considered (and perhaps rejected), the summer will probably be over. But since you're officially not allowed to work until the visa is approved, most companies simply won't get involved in employment visa questions, leaving you on your own.

With all this in mind, many students quietly take on summer jobs of less than three months. We've never heard of any of them having trouble, even though the Immigration Department is no doubt aware that such short-term employment is going on. Still, you should be aware that it's officially illegal for anyone to visit Hong Kong as a tourist and then take up any kind of employment.

What about living costs?

This subject is addressed at length under frequently asked questions, above.

Where can I stay?

Unless you have friends you can stay with, the cheapest way to live in Hong Kong for the summer is to house-sit. Even if the dates of the house-sitting don't completely cover the time you're going to be in Hong Kong, you can still reduce your overall expenses considerably.

However, house-sitting jobs are few and far between. Once you know the confirmed dates of your stay in Hong Kong, you can ask the Yale Club to put out a call in its newsletter to see if anyone needs a house-sitter for all or part of the summer. This, too, can be arranged through Alex Chan (Yale Graduate School '96) or Caroline Van (Yale College '79). Since demand for house-sitting jobs will always exceed supply, we would ask that you seek the Yale Club's help in finding one only if you're serious about wanting one. And in any case, be sure your budget for the summer can survive even if you have to pay for all your accommodations.

Suggestions on inexpensive places to stay are given under frequently asked questions, above.

What if I haven't found a job by the time I'm ready to leave the U.S.?

Actually, that's the way it usually happens. Despite your best efforts, chances are you'll have to get on the plane to Hong Kong at the beginning of the summer with no concrete job offers in hand. If this makes you really nervous, we'd recommend you find a summer job in the States.

But if you're willing to tolerate the temporary uncertainty, and if you've planned ahead and laid a foundation, you'll almost certainly find something in Hong Kong. It may not be the world's greatest summer job; it may or may not fit in perfectly with your overall career plans; and, as we mentioned earlier, it probably won't cover your travel and living expenses for the summer. It will, however, give you the thrill of working in the one of the world's most vibrant cities.

What else can I do?

We'd recommend you talk with some of the current Yale students who've had experience in finding summer jobs here over the past few years. The best way to locate them is by talking with any friends you have on campus who are from Hong Kong . Most of these students have family in Hong Kong, so they may have a built-in advantage in seeking employment here, but they'll be able to give you some tips anyway.

Also, we'd recommend that you read through our tips above on finding a permanent job in Hong Kong. Much of the advice we offer there will apply more or less to your efforts to find a summer job as well.


Posted Friday 01-Nov-2013

Interested in hiring Yale Undergrads next summer?

Interested in hiring Yale Undergrads next summer?