Seasonal Work: An Alternative from Going from the Classroom to the Cube

Graduation day is fast approaching. Your friends all have their jobs lined up at start ups and big consulting firms. Some are on their way to grad school. You still don’t know what you are going to do. You feel like there are 2 large monkeys on your back every day and everywhere you walk. When you hang out with your peers, its 10 monkeys. I have been there, and there is no getting around it: its no fun. Call it anxiety, stress, worry, whatever. Guess what?! There are other options after graduation. I will be speaking about one option where you immediately make money, get to meet an entirely new, exciting group of friends with tons of different backgrounds and interests, and that allows you to do some soul searching in the process. How does all that sound?!


In the United States, there are tons of destinations that tourists flock to depending on the season. Ski resorts, warm islands, and golf destinations in the winter. National Parks, lake and river towns, and hiking/biking destinations in the summer. The towns where these destinations are located experience a huge influx of business on a seasonal basis. And guess what? They need able bodies to work for them. Restaurants, bike shops, ski schools, raft services, hotels, and many more industries need seasonal workers! From town to town, park to park, job to job, every situation is different. But I am here to give you a general feel for what life is like doing this and how this whole thing operates.


Pick a place where you can partake in an activity you love or want to learn. Love to ski? Wait for the winter and get a free ski pass when you work at a mountain resort. Want to learn how to mountain bike? Go to a mountain biking town and immerse yourself in the culture. Fly Fishing look cool? River towns in Montana exist that you never knew about. By surrounding yourself with the people and resources, you can pick up any hobby and carry it with your for the rest of your life.


There is a wide variety of people who live and work in these seasonal situations. Anywhere you go, you can find any type of person. Generally, there are a few recurring types:


1. The Semi Retired
These folks decided to retire but still need some income. Many of them have an RV and cruise around from season to season. They are very pleasant and you can find them working retail, hosting in restaurants, or as the camp supervisor at campgrounds. Most of these folks have awesome backgrounds in REAL LIFE industries and love talking about them. Who knows, they might set you up with your first “real” job in the city!


2. The College Student
There are some young people who work in these towns during summer vacation. Or they planned to work the summer and never went back to school. Fun, young people from all over the country with tons of energy!


3. The Foreign Employee
Depending on the place you are, there can be a ton of foreign workers. Some of the most interesting people I met working seasonally fell into this category. You learn an entire new culture by working and spending time with them. I offered help to my foreign friends by letting them use my car, helping them with English, etc. This came back ten fold when I traveled to places like Bulgaria, Spain, Turkey, Peru, and Germany and was hosted by them!! Such a great opportunity to go outside of your comfort zone and establish worldwide friendships. I still stay in contact with many of them today.


4. The Seasonal Lifer
These people love the seasonal lifestyle so much they never left it. They will show you the ropes, if you are lucky, and let you know the best places to work and where to go next. Pretty fun to crack a beer with too!


5. The In-Betweener
Recent college grads, young people taking a break from the fast paced office life, and soul searchers are endless. Its really fun to become friends with these people as they all have a different story that you will likely relate to. Different life experiences and backgrounds lead to high level conversations.


-Time to figure stuff out
This is an interesting transition time in your life. Take a few months to process what you learned in school. Get yourself out of your element to learn about who you are and what you want to do with your life. Life is not a step by step process. Take a small detour, it might lead you to discover a new path you never knew existed.


-Still make money
You would be surprised at the money you can make in a short time during one summer or winter. Part of the reason you can actually save money is that you live so cheaply and spend so little. That being said, you need to choose your job accordingly. Apply for food service positions. Obviously, bartenders make more than housekeepers. But you likely cant become a bartender without any experience (I always hear my office worker friends say “I just wanna take a year off and bartend” and it makes me cringe when I hear that). You will need to start out as a busser or a day server but you can quickly move up in these seasonal jobs, and employee turnover tends to be high. Other high paying jobs include bellman, raft guide, ski instructor, and any job that includes tips. Working a job without tips will mean a low wage. So, I don’t want to hear “I can’t do this cause I need to start paying off my loans”. You can make and save good money in a short amount of time working at these places.


-Gain experience for backup jobs
Its 2028. The next financial crisis hits and you are fired after feeling completely secure in your corner office job. What do you do now? Nobody is hiring. Well, its likely restaurants are still hiring. The customer service experience you gain from just one season gives you a job to always fall back on. Maybe you are in a career transition and just need something to pay the bills for a few months before you land your dream job. Again, this experience will provide some insurance and not force you to take the first job offer that comes your way.


I have met some of my best friends in the entire world through seasonal work, and you will too. There is no better way to get to know somebody than working endless hours together, partying all night, going on epic hikes/floats/ski days/etc. Then wake up and do it again. Friendships that take years to form come together in weeks. I have climbed mountains, stayed up all night by a huge fire drinking with 20 strangers in the middle of the forest, skied endless runs for free, and have been opened up to much more of the world than I knew before working seasonally. Life is accelerated in these seasonal jobs. It could be because there is a definite end to the fun and madness and everyone feels like they need to fit it all in before its over. Whatever it is, its a great alternative to going from the classroom to the cube. Take a break, learn about yourself, learn about others from all over the world, learn about a new industry. You wont regret it!


Check out these links for seasonal opportunities:

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