International student program working to fill seasonal jobs in Door County

These international students are here as a part of the J-1 Visa program, which is helping Door County businesses hire for the summer, June 20, 2018. (WLUK)

STURGEON BAY (WLUK) -- Tourism season is well under way in Door County.

There are plenty of visitors, but businesses are struggling to find seasonal help.

And it's groups of international students that are helping businesses keep up with demand.

"It's really a new experience for me to work and travel here," said Ruby Sun, who is from China.

Sun will be spending her summer at 'The Lodge' at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay, as a seasonal worker.

She is here as a part of the J-1 Student Visa Program.

"J-1 students are collegiate students from other counties, that have an opportunity to travel to the U.S. and work. But also, to experience our culture" explained Jon Jarosh with the Door County Visitor's Bureau.

Jarosh says the program is becoming more popular among seasonal employers, who often struggle to find workers this time of the year.

"Local workers are harder and harder to find meaning people up here," said Jarosh."Or even college students, American college students, there's just not enough of them to go around."

Paul Meleen, Owner of The Lodge, says this is his fourth year hiring international students.

"It's really helpful to fill some holes for us." he explained. "Not just us, but as other Door County businesses grow, and you're in business to grow, with that there's more demand for more help."

The program is helping to fill the gap. But Jorash says finding seasonal workers remains a challenge.

"It' still a very small piece of the puzzle in terms of finding employees, and workers to work all the available jobs in Door County," he said.

Jarosh say the international workers fill about 15-percent of the 32,000 jobs that open up this time of year.

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