Thai students pay to get fast food jobs in the US

Some snips from an interesting Global Post story: “McDreaming in Thailand

The girls bunked three-deep in a run-down Best Value Inn room, each of them far from home and earning minimum wage at the McDonald’s franchise inside Pittsburgh International Airport.

Jiratchaya Intarakhumwong and her friends — law, English and business students at some of Thailand’s most elite universities — had adopted an immigrant’s life.

Jiratchaya would wake before the first light, don her McDonald’s uniform in cramped quarters and catch a shuttle bus to the airport. The morning shift began at 6 a.m.

The days were long, the work was repetitive and customers sometimes grew impatient with her sparse English. But after her tour was over, she arrived back in Bangkok with a highly sought after bullet point on her resume: foreign work experience.

This summer, thousands of young Thais will replicate Jiratchaya’s experience in America, piling into cheap hotels and apartments to work jobs often left to poor Americans and immigrants with few options.

The Thai students, however, will actually pay for the privilege of frying burgers and bagging fries.

This phenomenon is known as “work trah-VUHL” in Thai. It’s fueled by Bangkok’s upper-middle class families, who pay work travel agencies upwards of $3,000 — a small fortune in Thai currency — to arrange fast food jobs in America. And it’s a testament to Thai employers’ high regard for American work experience, even if that experience consists of ringing up Big Macs.


In the highly competitive post-college job circuit, a stint abroad shows initiative. Even former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra once worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the U.S.

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