Meet Alicia: Outdoor Education Specialist
Welcome back to another edition of the Seasonal Worker of the Month! These interviews will hopefully inspire you to work seasonal adventure jobs and travel the world.
Alicia is a lovely and bubbly lady whom I met while working in Ketchikan, AK. She’s worked a variety of fun seasonal jobs, and I’m excited to share her story with you. She has a particularly smart insight about why it was good for her to work at a grown-up job. If you’ve ever been interested in working on a cruise ship, at a kids’ camp, or as a ziplining guide, read on!
Name: Alicia Gerber
Hometown: Ringle, WI
Current location: Running Springs, California
Current job: Outdoor Educator
Life philosophy in one sentence: I’m not the best with words, so I tend to take from those much wiser than myself. This is from Charles Swindoll: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it, and so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Spirit animal: Eagle
Favorite quote: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch
Favorite condiment: Mustard
Fun fact about you: I love the smell of snowmobile exhaust.
Alicia’s Seasonal Life
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
My first seasonal job was at a summer camp called Camp Starlight. It’s a residence camp for Jewish kids. (And no, I am not Jewish.)
What led you to getting that job?
I have always loved working at summer camps, but I had been limited to the day camp in my hometown. I really wanted to try out a residence camp and I wanted to travel, so Camp Starlight was the perfect fit.
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
After Camp Starlight, I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines for six months as a youth activity director. Then for the past two summers, I spent my time in Ketchikan, AK working as a Zip Line Tour Guide. My first year was as an assistant guide and the next as a lead guide. In between those summers, I worked in Southern California at an Outdoor Education School where I taught science, facilitated high ropes, and lead hikes and other outdoor activities.
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
It’s really hard to pick. They all appeal to different parts of my personality, so I don’t think I have a favorite. The cruise line was great, because I got to work with people from all over the world and I now have friends in India, South Africa, Eastern Europe, and many other places. Alaska is a beautiful place to live, and zipping above the trees is a perfect way to soak it in. California has mountains, ocean, and great national parks all within driving distance. Plus teaching kids in the outdoors is the only way to go!
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
I took this one woman named Patty on a zip line tour in Alaska. When she walked into our gear room, she was wearing a buff that read “survivor,” and I assumed she was a cancer survivor. After chatting with her, she told me she was still battling cancer, so a zip line should be nothing. Well, after zipping into the first platform, which is a 120 foot zip into a platform that is a little less than 100 feet off the ground, Patty was terrified.
She wasn’t the best zipliner I’d ever taken on tour; in fact, by the time we got to the last zip, Patty had managed to make almost every mistake you can make. But with a little coaching and encouragement, Patty made it through the whole thing. We finished the zip line and lead the group back into the gear room to hand everyone the coveted zip line medals. We did our usual schtick, thanking and congratulating them on being champions and hanging medals around their necks. When I got to Patty, she pulled me in and gave me a huge hug and began to cry. She thanked us over and over again, saying how important today was and what a big deal it was for her.
Ziplining every day, I had forgotten what a challenge it can be for people. It was an amazing moment being there with Patty and seeing how impacted by and truly grateful she was for the experience.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
I wouldn’t say that I’ve gained special or specific skills, but I’ve definitely learned a lot and have built up my resume. For Carnival, I developed my intercultural communication skills and ran an entire department independently. For the zip line, we were held to the highest training standards and were required to learn rescues and manage/entertain a group of terrified adults all at 130 feet above ground. And at my camp in California, I’ve been able to work on my public speaking skills. So they might not be special or unique skills, but they’re definitely important and I’m thankful for the opportunities to work on them.
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
I love the excitement of leaving home to try a new adventure. You get to challenge yourself and learn new skills. Not to mention the amazing people you get to meet. It’s very eye-opening.
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
Usually the pay. I have yet to accept a seasonal job because of the rockin’ pay; it’s usually for the experience. The housing is also less than ideal, and I haven’t really left the college-style dorm living since I left college. However, it is in these living situations that it’s the easiest to meet new people and make friends. Dishes, however, are a never ending issue
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
Working for Carnival allowed me to travel. It was a really great way to see a bunch of places in a short amount of time, and if you work with the company long enough, you can see some really amazing places. Just make sure you have a job on the ship that will allow you to leave at every port. (For more on working on cruise ships, check out Andrea’s interview.)
Have you tried a traditional “grown-up” job? If yes, why did you stick with it or why did you quit? Do you see yourself working one in the future?
The closest thing I had to a “grown-up job” was an internship with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I qualify this as a grown-up job, because I was at a desk in a cubicle. There were so many things about the job that I disliked, but I wouldn’t change the time I spent there. Had I not taken that job, I wouldn’t have realized that I was nowhere near ready to spend my days in an office. I would’ve gone on like my friends and pursued a job in sales or something of that nature, and I wouldn’t have all the wonderful friends, memories, and experiences that I have today.
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
Dont be afraid to ask plenty of questions in the interview. Ask about the people working there, what there is to do for fun, if traveling around is easy, the cost of living, and the list goes on. Know what you’re getting yourself into, because there are plenty of seasonal jobs out there. Just keep looking everywhere and anywhere until you find a job that really sparks your interest. For example, if you want to be a rafting guide, that’s great because there are hundreds of rafting jobs out there! Just be sure to find the rafting company that will give you the best experience.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
Personally, I would rather learn from a mistake than spend my life asking “What if?”
A big thanks to Alicia for sharing her seasonal job know-how with us. Know somebody who’s hungry for adventure? Share this with them — show them that life can be so much more than that!