Seasonal jobs can have a lot of benefits that traditional open ended jobs don't. The obvious advantage of seasonal work is the ability to travel and make money at the same time. Additionally, seasonal jobs offer you the ability to fully customize your lifestyle to fit your desires. In this article we've put together a list of hidden perks we've discovered after 3 years of living as "seasonal nomads," working random jobs and moving from state to state.
There are SO MANY JOBS
Your situation may be very different from what ours was, but when we were living in NY finding a job was damn near impossible. It wasn’t much easier when we moved to Oregon either. The seasonal job market, however, is very different from a traditional job market. The seasonal job market is very much in your favor.
Seasonal employers face a lot of challenges with hiring. They have a lot of positions to fill, and finding good, employable people who are willing to relocate for a temporary job can be difficult. If you’re willing to move, then you’re almost guaranteed to find a job that suits you.
You can get a job doing literally anything seasonally.
One of the best places to look for jobs is in National Parks. When we started working at the Grand Canyon we came to realize that a National Park is actually like a small city in many ways. There are grocery stores, retail, restaurants, bars, security, health care services, utilities, groundskeeping, etc. Any job that you would find in a regular town you can find in a National Park.
A seasonal job can get you out of a jam.
We were in a bad situation when we got our first summer jobs in Skagway, Alaska.
Basically, I lost my job in Oregon 10 days after our landlord sold our house and gave us 30 days to move out. We had just moved there from New York a month before and didn’t know anyone.
Gabby was the one who knew about the seasonal job market in Alaska. That day we made a few phone calls, and the next day we were hired. 14 days later we were in Alaska and moving into our new summer home.
Getting that job saved us from becoming homeless. We didn’t have a lot of money when we arrived in Skagway. Probably about $600. There was enough there to buy us food and cover our expenses for the first 2 weeks while we were waiting to get paid.
Our rent, that would be deducted from our pay. (more on that later)
If you want to go somewhere amazing and do something awesome this summer, then the time to start applying for jobs is now. If you don’t know where to start, or you need some more inspiration, please download our seasonal work handbook. You’ll find tons of tips on choosing a destination that is good for you, and finding the right job.
I know there’s a lot here, but congratulations if you’ve made it this far. Working seasonal jobs completely changed our lives and allowed to me to live the RADICALLY FREE, counter culture, lifestyle I so desperately wanted.
A seasonal job can improve your resume
Seasonal employers usually have a lot of positions to fill. Finding highly qualified people for the job from the pool of applications isn’t always a possibility. This means that you can often score seasonal positions that you wouldn’t have a chance of getting hired for otherwise.
Let me give you an example: During the winter we spent in Colorado, we were working at ski resorts. Gabby started as an entry level employee working the skate rental counter at a large outdoor ice skating rink. Within a few weeks she was promoted to Assistant Manager mostly because she was the hardest working and most qualified person for the job. She had no previous experience with management of any kind, or any experience working in that kind of business. The best part was that they put her through management courses paid for by the company.
By playing her cards right, and gaining more experience and qualifications in the winter, Gabby was able to get a much higher paying job the next summer as the Sales Manager of a local tour operation.
Grow Your Network (make friends from everywhere)
Seasonal places are often filled with diverse, interesting people. People come from everywhere to work and enjoy the place, and therefore you meet so many different kinds of people. By the end of the season you’re going to walk away with dozens of new friends and acquaintances you never would have met otherwise. Each season the process will repeat itself until eventually there isn’t a single city in America where you can’t find a couch to crash on.
Think of your seasonal work friends like your summer camp friends. When you go through an experience like that with someone, you develop fast, deep bonds with them. At then end of the season is not uncommon to see friends sobbing and holding one another at the ferry dock or outside the airport. Don’t worry, when you reconnect again, you’ll pick right up where you left off with an endless supply of beautiful memories to reminisce about.
Customize your lifestyle. Do what you love.
Seasonal work isn’t actually about the job. It’s about what you can do in your off time.
Maybe you love snowboarding but you live in Texas. Maybe you love rock climbing but you live in Kansas. Getting a seasonal job can allow you to live and work in the ideal place to do what you love to do.
Our friend Daryl is a rock climber. Daryl loves to climb. Daryl thinks about climbing when he wakes up, and when he eats his breakfast. He also thinks about climbing while he’s at work.
Daryl is a plumber at Yosemite National Park, and while he’s not keeping everyone’s water running, he’s climbing the world’s best crags.
Put yourself in the place to do what you want to do.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
In order to be an effective seasonal nomad, you’ll need to be able to save some money to get you from one job to the next.
Luckily, seasonal jobs typically pay very well compared to regular open ended jobs.
They need to offer a tempting wage in order for people to be willing to relocate. Many jobs will also include a bonus for finishing the season. One of the places we worked gave all of the employees an extra $1-2 for every hour they worked (for the entire season) in their final paycheck.
Many seasonal jobs also offer subsidized housing. You may have to live with a roommate, but you won’t have to shell out for a high end apartment in an expensive destination. By keeping your rent down you’ll be able to save a lot more each month.
If you’re able to budget well, then you stand the chance to save up a decent chunk of money by the end of the season. In some places it’s easy to stack up your money. Like the Grand Canyon for instance. If there’s nothing to spend your money on, then you won’t have too difficult of a time saving it.
Other places, however, give you plenty of opportunities to spend your money. Whether it’s expensive tours, expensive restaurants, expensive excursions. **cough cough** expensive drugs *cough* You’ll need to be ruthless with your budgeting, or you’ll end up in a tight spot when the end of the season comes.
Live in the world’s most amazing places.
In the 3 years we were seasonal nomads we were able to spend summers hiking and camping in Alaska, and winters skiing the rockies. We even lived inside the Grand Canyon Natl. Park for several months.
Have you ever been on a trip before, and at some point you said to yourself, “Man, I wish could just live here…”
Well, you can.
All you really need is income and housing.
I’ll say that again.
All you really need to live ANYWHERE…is income and housing.
On our first visit to the Grand Canyon we decided that we were not satisfied with seeing the sunrise at the Grand Canyon just once in our lives. That day we started asking the people working in the bars and restaurants around the park about their lifestyles. How did they spend their days off? Do they like the company they work for? Etc.
3 months later we were back with jobs and housing.
Get a local’s perspective on a place
Some places you just can’t experience in a few days...
The town of Skagway, Alaska completely changed us as people. We were indoor kids until we went there. The tiny town is tucked deep into a long fjord and is surrounded by the most majestic wilderness. There are over a dozen trails totaling to hundreds of miles of hiking.
Unfortunately for them (and good for you) only about 7 miles of those trails are ever accessed by tourists. The vast majority of visitors come on cruise ships. This leaves hundreds of miles of untouched, untouristed wilderness for you to explore all summer long….or perhaps for many summers to come.
By spending several months in a place that most people are only able to see for a day, you’ll be able to achieve somewhat of an insiders perspective. You’ll see beyond the veil of what is shown to the tourists. You’ll know what it’s like to be backstage. Before long you’ll actually start thinking of yourself as a local...hence the name of our website, Local Nomads.
While it may seem like a downfall at first (and sometimes it definitely is), one of the hidden benefits of seasonal work is the ability to disconnect from social media. After two summers in Skagway, we had no idea what a snapchat was, and had to completely relearn how to facebook.
Not every seasonal job is in a place with limited internet, but when you’re living in a small isolated place with so many cool new friends, social media just doesn’t seem as important as it once did. You’ll be spending more time outside and less time in front of the screen.
At some point social media just starts to feel like noise. You may be surprised how much you enjoy the freedom of being disconnected.
End dates prevent boredom and burnout
As I said before, the main downfall most people recognize with seasonal and temporary jobs is that they are well….temporary.
If you’ve ever worked a job you hate, than I’m sure you can relate to the feeling of desperate hopelessness that sometimes goes along with a permanent job. It’s called burnout, and it happens when you’ve had just about enough of whatever kind of bullshit they’re serving up at your place of work.
All jobs come with a certain level of bullshit, that’s what they pay us for.
But, It’s amazing how much bullshit you can actually put up with when you already know that your job has an end date. Having an end date prevents you from feeling trapped in your job. By the time you start to get burned out, it’s about time to move on to the next place.
Knowing your end date gives you lots of time to prepare for your next employment.
Extended time off
Who says you can only have ten vacation days a year?
Most Americans are lucky if they get ANY vacation time. The only jobs that guarantee vacation time are salary jobs, or regular 9-5 style office jobs. People in hospitality, food and beverage, or any other service industries do not receive vacation time.
Working seasonally offers you the opportunity to schedule time between the end date of one job and the start date of the next. This way you are able to really take your time and enjoy your travels from one season to the next.
Our first Skagway jobs ended in October. Our new jobs in Colorado didn’t start until late November. So for a month, we road tripped around the Pacific Northwest, camped in redwood forests, and made some extra pocket money working on weed farms.
You can do whatever you want with your time off as long as you save enough money to live on until your first paycheck.
Always have somewhere to go back to
In a seasonal place like Skagway, a lot of the hiring from season to season relies on returning employees. You’ll have the least amount of negotiating power on your first season with a company. But returning employees are valuable.
Returning employees already know how to do their job well. They don’t need to be trained, and they can be useful in training new staff. As long as you maintain a good standing with your employers, they’ll likely be very eager to hire you back again down the road.
This can be a good ace in the hole in case you ever need a job in pinch.
We know that if we’re ever in a tough situation in spring or summer, that we’ll always be able to find a home in Skagway. The same goes for wintertime in the Rockies. As long as you can get there, you’ll be just fine.
That’s called a safety net, folks. And when you’re living without a much of a savings, even a small safety net like that looks pretty good.
Finally, the biggest perk of seasonal work is that you’re going to have some of the most amazing experiences of your life, with some of the closest friends you’ll ever make. In just one Alaska Summer, we were able to camp more than 20 nights, hike 5,000 ft peaks, see humpback whales up close, celebrate my birthday with a helicopter ride to a glacier, and encounter brown bears in the wild. The list continues, but I’m going to stop my bragging right there.
Seasonal jobs put you in a perfect situation to have the best time of your life, all while making new friends, and saving money.
Why spend your summer doing the same thing you did for the whole rest of the year. Do something crazy this year.