How to Apply to a Seasonal National Park Job

As a disclaimer, the seasonal work I am talking about is hospitality and customer service work that has food and housing provided. If you want more info on those types of jobs, feel free to read my introductory post right here!

Now, are you ready to embark on your seasonal work journey? If you are, I’m sure you’ll want some pointers on where to look, what to look for, and how to apply to your perfect summer or winter- or year round job. Let’s get into it!

Where to look?

The website of choice for me is Coolworks and that’s because it has been around for a while (since 1995) and has a bunch of businesses registered on its job board. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, this site is the perfect job search engine for seasonal work because it is catered to people who want to work in amazing and different places each year, or even season.

Another up-and-coming site is called Vagajobs– it has a very similar layout to Coolworks and has a pretty nifty way of categorizing jobs. This site is much newer and might not have as many options but on the other hand might have newer companies not registered with Coolworks.

Another resource that is a little more unofficial is the Parkies page on Facebook- it has a bunch of people in it that are veteran seasonal workers- and employers. Sometimes, those employers scout out potential employees right on the group’s page, and offer positions starting immediately.

How do you choose a job?

Both Coolworks and Vagajobs have intuitive ways of sorting through jobs that might include jobs by state, season, national park, experience level, and occupation. Whether you want to work in your home state, your favorite National Park, or are just looking to get away for the summer, there’s a way to filter down your search.

When you click on a company’s profile, they will have information on their season of operation, the housing and food they offer, the jobs they need filling, employee perks, and even directions on how to reach the location if it’s remote.

An important factor in seasonal work is housing and food- how independent or community-oriented do you want to be? While most seasonal gigs offer food and housing on site, there are some that don’t, and you’ll need to fend for yourself.

While provided housing and food is one of the things I love most about remote seasonal work, it isn’t for everyone, and it can vary widely. There is dorm-style housing, private studio-style housing, and even parking spots for your personal RV, so read the company’s profile or even go on their website to fully understand what they offer. This also includes food- some places will feed you three times a day for a fixed fee, while others have meal plans, and others still won’t provide food at all.

If you have pets, know that most places won’t accept them unless you have your personal RV and plan to live in it for the entire season. That includes service animals as well. If you are planning on bringing your RV, make sure there are open lots on property before you apply to the job.

Make sure you read about the season of operations for your potential employer. While most summertime lodges and ranches operate from early May to mid October, some only operate from mid June to mid September, Alaskan lodges being one of those places. Many ski lodges and hotels operate from October to April or May, and other places are open year round.

Many, if not all, companies that offer seasonal work also have perks such as free or discounted ski lifts, horse rides, ziplining, kayaking, and even skydiving! Make sure you investigate what a company has and take advantage of it when you are there for the season.

Who is the ideal candidate?

If you’ve found the perfect job listing, you are one step closer to becoming a seasonal worker. You will want to have a resume ready, filled with work history, references, and community involvement. Unless you are applying for a managerial position, getting the job should be easy because of the lucrative nature of seasonal work- there is a constant shortage.

Most companies will want you to stay for the entire season, but college and even high school students are common in seasonal jobs, which means the company must be willing to work with tight schedules. What will help your case is showing longevity in past jobs- this demonstrates that you can make a commitment.

Seasonal jobs are not at all different from regular jobs- a vast majority don’t require degrees or certification and provide training on the job. Most jobs are in the retail and hospitality industry, such as cashier, front desk, line cook, housekeeper, and waitress. There are more specialty jobs such as fly fishing guide, wrangler, and ski lift attendant, and those might require past experience in the related field.

When it comes down to it, the ideal candidate is anyone who is willing to stick it out through their contracted date and puts their best foot forward. I only had one job before applying for my first seasonal gig, and I got hired very quickly after my application. Don’t be afraid of sending them a personalized letter telling them how interested you are in the position, as well.

How do they hire?

If you are applying for a job that is far away, which, in most cases, you will be, how do you get hired? Well, every seasonal job I’ve had was obtained through a phone interview. Yes, these companies are ready to hire you without even seeing you in person!

While this kind of interview is less formal than a traditional in-person interview, it’s important to note that you should still know the answers to potential interview questions and be ready to discuss your past experience. Make sure to go through a list of commonly asked questions beforehand and tell your references that you’ve used them in a recent application so they are ready for a call from the company, because in many cases, the company will call them.

Some companies will request a secondary interview if the position warrants it. Sometimes it might be a video chat, some cases it’s still a regular phone interview. My advice is to have a list of answers ready for possible questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “Name a time where you had a difficult customer and how you dealt with them?”

Most of the time, companies will hire you on the spot or shortly after the phone call. if you want to boost your odds, send whoever you interviewed with a thank you email if you have their contact information. it goes a long way, really.

Last but not least

Choosing and applying for a seasonal job can be stressful, but if you break it up into parts, it becomes a lot more manageable. Make sure to make a list of prospective companies and list pros and cons on each of them, and make sure that wherever they are located will suit your lifestyle. You git this. Good luck.

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