Do you want to spend more than just a vacation appreciating the incredible cultures and landscapes of America? Still trying to figure out how you want to spend your life? Want to make some friends in beautiful places? Interested in new experiences and growing stronger? Seasonal work is a great way to intimately acquaint yourself with diverse landscapes and yourself.
- Go Anywhere: Follow your dreams to that special place or go somewhere you’ve never heard of. Step outside of your environmental comfort zone. Two of the main excuses people use about not traveling often is finding the cash and the time off work. Why not get paid to hike, watch bears, or teach children by the beach?
- Get Educated and Pass it On: Learn what works, while it’s working. Information you can learn at a seasonal job in California makes you better at your next gig in North Carolina. Gleaning key insights from multiple positions prepares you for a diverse set of tasks in varying environments. The diversity of experience, skills and perspective has parallels to many seemingly unrelated jobs, in stewardship realms and beyond.
- Keep Making New Friends: The best kept secret of seasonal work is that the people are amazing. Seasonal workers start off closer than an average relationship because you share so many interests that are the core foundations of how you approach living. Meeting people outside of college isn’t always easy, but working with half a dozen people that also love Pileated Woodpeckers starts you off right. The management are usually also easy friends, most having started off in the field and reliving the glory days through the current staff. Organizations want to hire someone they know they can trust to do good work. One good contact can get you your dream job. In fact, many seasonal workers find their next gig from others they’ve networked with.
- Traveling deeper: The Zagat guide doesn’t have the real answers for the best local dishes, but the obese post man sure does. Working for a few months in an amazing location can start to bridge the gap from tourist to local. Who knows, a lot of seasonal workers find the place they’ll “settle down” in while working a non-permanent position.
- Opportunities not limited to Scholars: Seasonal work is more about inner strength to learn on the job, fueled by a passion for the environment and conservation goals. Success can be found without a college diploma if you start with volunteer opportunities to gain experience and focus on the kind of jobs you really want to pursue. Certifications with Leave No Trace, Wilderness Medicine, or a CPR class can be well worth the weekend of your time. Many personal friends of mine have gone on to amazing seasonal natural resource positions without having the best GPAs. That being said, academic degrees can be leveraged for your benefit.
- Living on passion: Many of these jobs won’t make you rich, but at the end of each day you can see a clear line to a bigger, more positive picture. Whether it’s a location, accessibility to your fun, or working for a better future, reward from passion always feels more valuable than a fat a paycheck. Plus, even the richest person can’t buy a house where you get to work every day!
- Find strength in yourself you never thought you had: Traveling to new places and doing new things is the start of really discovering yourself and developing an empowering independence. And if you’ve already flirted with vagabondism than you know the confidence you discover and rediscover with every new escapade.
- Perspective: Never underestimate the importance of living in other people’s shoes. The more places you live the more you get to know who really lives in this country. Don’t be surprised when you correct your friends about generalizations people make about the areas you worked in. You aren’t being pretentious, just protective. Even with mediocre experiences in a seasonal job it’s nearly impossible to not find something, if not an abundance, of great experiences that stick with you.
- Low Overhead: Many to all seasonal positions include supplemental compensations, like room and board. Think of these as stress reducers — no rent and no grocery shopping! You may make only a stipend per week but if food and/or a roof are included you’re getting paid much more. Never underestimate the importance of certifications and trainings they give you. Low paying jobs pay well in education and experience. If focused and adept, the chances of your wage going up in the span of months are extremely good.
- Keep Dreaming: Seasonal work doesn’t hold you back from long-term dreams. You can work for a year in Alaska, than go to Law school. A slight delay of the rest of your life gives you time to really figure out what you want, while coloring your life with rich, lasting and meaningful experiences.
Remember, each season will bring new and different job opportunities. Don’t get hung up on the specifics, since all jobs will teach you something. One way to navigate the sea of variety while maintaining focus is to have an end goal, like “I want to be a Forest Ranger in Alaska”. Use this broad goal to make decisions about seasonal positions that may play into that. So, a stewardship position in the Southeast and a dogsled position in Maine actually become quite related, and useful building blocks for your career. All seasonal work has value, you just need to connect the dots to point you where you want to go.