The Summer Work Travel program—one of five programs included in the J1 Visitor Exchange Program—brings more than 100,000 college students from 100 countries to the United States during their summer break. These students typically work at amusement parks, ski destinations and hospitality small businesses during their peak seasons.
The key findings of the research show that the program delivers significant benefits in terms of public diplomacy: SWT participants leave the program with higher regard and understanding of the United States while making lasting friendships with Americans they met. The program also meets internal needs of small businesses.
The assessment included a comprehensive review of the program, surveys of participants from the past five years, interviews and surveys of employers, and labor market statistics for the areas where the program operates. Among key findings, the report documents:
- 76 percent of SWT participants have a higher overall regard for the US after the program. Three in four say their opinions of American people became more positive.
- 61 Percent of SWT participants reported higher regard for American companies.
- The SWT program helps US businesses meet seasonal labor shortages in areas and times where American workers are not available. The analysis concludes that SWT participants do not displace local workers.