For those who have spent the last nine months in Spain teaching English, summer work at a summer camp or as an Au Pair may seem like the most logical fit. However, if you’re looking for a different summer experience, there are plenty of possibilities outside the education realm. They’re by no means glamorous or lucrative in most cases, but if you’re looking for something to tide you over until your teaching job resumes, they’re worth looking into.
Spain is the fourth most visited country in the world, drawing millions of tourists every year to its major cities, islands and villages. Take advantage of the seasonal spike over summer months by looking for work at resorts and hostels, bars and restaurants or even as a tour guide.
Resorts and Hostels
As tourists flock to Spain’s top attractions, travelers on budgets both big and small will be booking accommodation. The first step to landing a job at a resort or hostel is updating your CV or curriculum vital (similar to a resume but with a different format). Make sure to include your language skills and any past experience relevant to the service industry.
Most of Spain’s resorts are concentrated along its eastern and southern coasts or in the Balearic and Canary Islands. Expect to live on sight and work long hours for a decent wage.
Landing a job at a hostel can be tricky as positions are often not advertised and the supply of possible workers almost always exceeds demand. However, if you do nab one, you’ll enjoy a free bed in exchange for a few hours of work a day and a never-ending stream of young international travelers that will surely make for an unforgettable summer.
Hostel Spotlight: Daniel, who worked for a small youth hostel in Granada
|1. How’d you find the job? Through a friend that was already working there.|
|2. How many hours did you work? Around 10 hours a week.|
|3. What was pay like? I wasn’t paid but I had a free room|
|4. Your responsibilities? I showed people to their rooms, washed and folded laundry and manned the reception desk. If there was nothing to do I could do whatever I wanted, like watch films or use the internet.|
|5. Did you like it? Honestly, not much, because my hostel was poorly run and in a bad neighborhood.|
Bars and Restaurants
Temporary work at a coffee shop, local diner, fine restaurant or hip nightclub might be one of the easiest jobs to land in Spain. Despite the county’s deep economic crisis the service industry continues to grow, with both Spaniards and tourists packing eateries and bars from the early morning hours until night.
Expect most establishments to be open at least six days a week with a short break at midday. Restaurants tend to close after lunchtime and open again before Spanish dinnertime, around eight o’clock. However, if you’re working in a larger city, hours may be straight through as tourists eat on a different schedule. Bars and nightclubs may be open for afternoon coffee or not even start their day until the sun goes down.
Waiters and waitresses, as well as kitchen staff and hosts are paid an hourly wage of anywhere between 5€ and 8€ while some swankier cocktail bars and nightclubs might garner you closer to 10€. However, don’t expect to make up for your low pay in tips, as the custom is not practiced in Spain.
As for finding work, hitting the pavement is definitely the best method for landing these types of jobs. Dress smart, have several copies of your CV on hand and be ready to be interviewed on the spot.
Restaurant Spotlight: Mickey who worked at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Seville
|1. How’d you find the job? I got an interview after a friend who was working for the restaurant told her boss about me and was hired on the spot.|
|2. How many hours did you work? I usually worked a lunch shift from 1-4 and a dinner shift from 8 to midnight with Mondays off. However, on weekends we often weren’t able to finish cleaning until 2am.|
|3. What was pay like? I was paid 4,70€ an hour under the table with no tips. Any small tips that were left had to be thrown into a bucket that my boss would count and divide among everyone by adding them to our monthly pay. I was paid in cash.|
|4. Your responsibilities? I sat people, set tables, took orders, and delivered food and drink, typical waitress duties.|
|5. Did you like it? I didn’t like waiting tables, but at the time I loved having a way to make money to continue living in Seville. The best past about the job was that I was immersed in an authentic Spanish atmosphere and it was a great way to pick up Spanish. However, the pay and the double shifts when everyone else is out for lunch or dinner was difficult to get used to.|
|6. Any advice? You do need a pretty decent Spanish level in order to communicate with the customers. It is definitely an interesting experience and I would recommend it if you’ve just arrived and are looking for other work but need money in the meantime, want to improve your Spanish fluency and want to get integrated fast.|
* Mickey worked from 2005-2007. The hourly wage for restaurant workers has gone up since.
While the Spanish tourism industry is regulated and only professionally licensed guides are allowed to give tours through certain major attractions, privately run tours, certain museums or local wineries, among others, often employ native English speakers when demand peaks. Curious about how to land the job? Try taking the tour yourself then engaging your guide in a quick Q&A. You could also approach the business directly with your CV and inquire about possible tour guide positions.
Tourguide Sporlight: Kay who worked for Devour Spain Food Tours
|1. How’d you find the job? I met the c0-founder of Devour Spain at a Guiripreneurs meet-up here in Madrid. It’s funny because we both had the same idea to do food tours, but her concept was far more developed. I sat down with her for a coffee and a week later was asked to sign on.|
|2. How many hours did you work? Anywhere from 6-10 hours a week depending on my tour schedule. Tours would last anywhere between 3 and 5 hours.|
|3. What was pay like? 50€ guide fee for 2 person tour and 10€ for every additional person, plus tips.|
|4. Your responsibilities? I followed designated tour routes where the company had already established relationships with the owners of the different bars, restaurants, and markets. During the tours, I explained the food and history of Madrid and ordered the food and drinks in Spanish based on each tour group’s personal preferences.|
|5. Did you like it? I enjoyed meeting and listening to stories from travelers from all over the world, from Canada to the Netherlands to Singapore. I also loved getting to discover new parts of the city I wouldn’t have seen otherwise — especially getting to try new food! The only “downside” I would say was when the weather was rainy or cold, but you learned to bundle up accordingly and to bring extra umbrellas for guests!|
|6. Any advice? As a Tour Guide, you learn to be flexible and quick on your feet. You have to be really familiar with the city. One tour route I led was cut off by a huge protest. Another tour had a stop that was closed for the summer. In both cases, I had to improvise a new spot to go. You also learn to deal with all kinds of personalities, situations, and cultures, and you learn to be sensitive and accommodating.|
Have you worked in the tourism industry in Spain? Tell us about your experience!