1. Tell us your story. How did AMERICAN EXPERIENCE get started?
American Experience started its journey in 2002 with a clear vision of providing authentic experiences for the Romanian students. We understood the huge impact that international work experiences and cultural exchange programs could have on personal growth, especially for young students starting out. Our goal was simple, yet powerful: to offer students genuine life-changing experiences in the United States during their summer vacations and explore a different culture and lifestyle, while also supporting themselves and their goals, gaining valuable work experiences and interactions.
2. What makes AMERICAN EXPERIENCE different from your competitors?
What sets American Experience apart from our competitors is our unique approach and commitment to providing exceptional experiences for Romanian students. Our focus on personalization is a key factor. We understand that each student has their own interests and goals. As a result, we offer tailored programs that align with their specific needs and aspirations and we provide ongoing support each step of the way. Whether it’s finding the right work placement or location, our goal is to create a journey that is meaningful and relevant for each individual.
Beyond personal support, our strong partnerships with U.S. visa sponsors and reliable employers ensure diverse, high-quality experiences for our students. We’ve elevated our support by establishing offices in the U.S., making us more accessible, promptly addressing issues, and offering cultural activities for our students.
Above all, our work is more than just a business—it’s a mission to create meaningful and lifechanging experiences for Romanian students. This personal touch and our commitment to student success are what truly set us apart from the rest.
3. What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
Our favourite success story is, without a doubt, the results of the journey our students go through each summer season. It’s not about one specific story, but rather the collective achievement of the thousands of students who have participated in our programs over the years. Our greatest success has been witnessing students move beyond their comfort zones to improve their English, gain professional experience, and explore new cultures. Observing their transformation from shy individuals into confident, independent citizens has been truly rewarding.
These collective success stories of our students and the strong community they form – they’re not just travel experiences, but genuine life-changing experiences that shape their perspectives, ambitions, and future paths.
4. What can we expect to see from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in the future?
Looking forward, you can expect to see even more dedication and innovation from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. We’re continually learning from our students’ experiences and feedback, and we’re always looking for ways to enhance our program and offer even more enriching opportunities, based on evolving trends and adapting to our students’ needs.
We’re planning to expand our partner network across the U.S. even further. Our goal is to offer a wider range of job placements across more locations, giving our students the opportunity to access a wide range of experiences to choose from. We’re also developing
more comprehensive pre-departure and on-site training programs to better prepare our students for their American journey cultural differences. We want to ensure they have all the resources and knowledge they need to navigate their new environments successfully.
The future of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is all about growth and developing our program to offer even more transformative experiences for our students. We’re very excited about what’s ahead!
5. Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
Recent trends highlight a shift towards professional development and transferable skills. Young travellers are not only seeking adventures but are interesting on enhancing their resumes and cultural experiences. Financial considerations are increasingly significant as students aim to balance cultural experiences with income-generating opportunities. They value programs like ours that offer them the chance to support their travels and goals financially through meaningful work, which also enhances their resume, without interfering with their studies.
Another growing trend is the pursuit of premium, unique experiences. Students are drawn to unique locations like New York, San Francisco, and Hawaii, seeking enriching cultural experiences and stunning scenery. These places offer opportunities for skill development,
challenges, and deeper cultural appreciation.
6. How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE?
Ensuring the health and safety of our participants is our top priority. Through our partnering U.S. visa sponsors, all the employers and housing providers are vetted to ensure that they meet the safety and quality standards. We also maintain close relationships with our sponsors throughout the program to ensure that our students continue to have safe working and living conditions.
Each student has its own personal medical insurance throughout the program, supplementing the employer’s coverage for any work-related issues. To prepare students for their U.S. stay, we offer comprehensive pre-departure orientations with safety advice, emergency contact
details, and information about U.S. laws and customs.
Our partnering offices in the U.S., help us provide immediate assistance if needed. Our staff is available to help with any issues that may arise, from minor inconveniences to emergency situations.
7. What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
We were motivated to join the WYSE Travel Confederation to connect with like-minded organizations and industry professionals who share a passion for active youth travel and cultural exchange programs, being an essential part of personal and professional development
for young students. We value the opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge, and contribute to the advancement of the field. Being part of a global network enables us to stay informed about the latest trends, research, and best practices, ultimately benefiting our participants and enhancing the quality of our programs.
8. Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event? (WYSTC, STAY WYSE, WYSE Exchange Australia, WETM-IAC) If so, what was your experience with the event?
Yes, we have been attending the conferences since 2016. Our experience was extremely positive every year. The conference provided valuable networking opportunities and allowed us to forge meaningful partnerships with other organizations in the youth travel industry. The educational sessions and workshops were insightful, offering valuable insights into industry trends and best practices. Overall, be believe it was always a rewarding experience that contributed to our professional growth.
9. What is an industry challenging your organisation is facing currently?
One industry challenge we’re facing is the misalignment between student’s career aspirations and available job opportunities. As the J-1 visa program supports the U.S. Labor Department by filling vacant hospitality roles, it’s becoming harder to fill positions like housekeeping or
kitchen worker, as students seek more front-facing, tipped roles. These roles are perceived as offering greater language practice, interaction, and earning potential. As a result, the less desired roles can be harder to fill, despite their crucial place in the industry.
Balancing the needs and preferences of our students with the requirements of our partnering businesses is a delicate task requiring ongoing adaptation.
American Experience (AE) has been providing life-changing experiences for young people since 2002. We are the largest Romanian recruiter for the U.S. State Department’s Summer Work Travel program, matching nearly 1,600 students with designated sponsor organizations in 2021. In our program we emphasize the benefits of cultural exchange from the very beginning of the registration process. From our advertising materials to the attitude of our customer service staff, we work to remind students of the valuable lessons and experience they will gain in addition to their paychecks. Year after year students tell us that SWT is, “the experience of a lifetime” – that they learn about themselves, become more independent, and make friends from all over the world.
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