CoolWorks, the hands-down best site for finding seasonal jobs, is hosting an event called CoolWorks 24/7-11 today. It’s meant to showcase days in the lives of various summer seasonal workers. I’m always interested in learning about the day-to-day of different jobs and am excited to participate.

Because, you know, sometimes jobs sound really cool in theory — but the day-to-day actually sucks. For example, I always wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger, but after learning more about what they actually do, I decided it wasn’t the right career for me. (No, they don’t just ride around on the backs of dolphins all day. Disappointing, I know.)

If you’d like to read some other perspectives, check out CoolWorks’ Facebook page or search Twitter for the hashtag #cw24. I’ll try to include some of my favorites in tomorrow’s link roundup.

Tough day at the office

Just to give some background, I currently work as the office manager for a sea kayaking company in Ketchikan, Alaska. It’s my third summer up here. I love it and am looking forward to sharing a day in my life with you.

Remember, however: this is just one example of one person’s experience. The beauty of seasonal jobs is that there are so many different opportunities in tons of cool places; you just have to find the one that’s a good fit for YOU. Read about more seasonal worker’s lives here, or check out my resources page for some of my favorite seasonal job sites.

A Day in the Life of a Seasonal Worker in Ketchikan, AK

4:13 am: Wake up in a panic. It’s already SO bright outside — I must be late. Frantically grab at my cell phone to check the time. Phew. I have over an hour to sleep.

5:40 am: Wake up, this time to the sound of my alarm. Hop out of bed, eat some oatmeal, and pack my lunch. Check the forecast but dress in layers and my XtraTuf boots (Ketchikan sneakers) anyway: you can never predict the weather in Southeast Alaska.

XtraTufs
Ketchikan sneakers

6:20 am: Leave the house that I share with three other seasonal employees. Take a deep breath and enjoy the misty view of the ocean. Load up a favorite podcast on my iPod (archaic, I know) and begin my walk to work.

6:42 am: Stroll past the docks where the cruise ships are docking, enjoying the brief sense of calm before all of the passengers descend and double this small town’s population.

6:55 am: Say hello my neighbors, the charter fishing guides, as I arrive at my floating office. Greet my boss and the kayak guides before clocking in and immediately getting a pot of coffee going.

Arctic Fjord, Ketchikan, AK
My floating office

7:02 am: Do a quick scan of voicemails, emails, and bookings to make sure that there won’t be any surprises for us today.

8:11 am: The first customers have arrived, a little late. We hurriedly get them outfitted in rain gear and life jackets before sending them out by boat to the place where they’ll kayak. I’ve always worked with either children or customers; it’s funny how the skills needed are the exact same.

8:31 am: Round #2. These customers seem to be a little more awake than the last. Cheesy jokes abound.

9:15 pm: The head is overflowing. Someone put something in it that they weren’t supposed to. I guess the “ONLY TOILET PAPER” sign wasn’t clear enough. Alas, one of the problems with having an office on a boat.

9:46 am: See that some of the paddlers are having trouble getting out of our lagoon. Run out and yell paddle commands at them. The number of grown adults who don’t know their left from their right is astounding.

Kayak camping in Ketchikan, AK
Kayak camping

10:58 am: Realize that the group of two for our 11:30 am trip is actually a group of six. Do some quick scrambling and changing around of kayaks. All good.

11:11 am: Finally start answering emails, returning voicemails, and double-checking bookings that came in overnight. I feel like I’ve only been at work for a little while, but it’s already been over four hours. Man, I love being busy!

11:26 am: Take photos of the little otter that is sunning itself on our docks.

11:40 am: Leave, with a paddle in hand, to go pick up a group of customers. As I’m walking, several people say, “Hey! Did you lose your canoe?” or “Look, she’s up the creek WITH a paddle!” Remember it’s their first time in Ketchikan. Smile and pretend it’s also the first time that I’ve heard the joke.

12:00 pm: Welcome back the first trip. They saw orcas! Could Ketchikan get any cooler? Continue to welcome back happy trips. It’s fun to make people’s vacations so awesome.

1:30 pm: The afternoons are much quieter. I take this time to catch up on any general admin work: billing, accounting-y stuff, and social media.

3:04 pm: Time to wrap up the work day. Pack up my stuff, organize everything for tomorrow, and start my (almost entirely uphill) walk home. At least I’m getting my work out in for the day!

Fresh-caught shrim
Fresh-caught shrimp

3:45 pm: Arrive home, completely ravenous. All I ever bring for lunch is a salad and fruit, and then I wonder why I want to eat everything in the house when I get home. Go straight for the Cheez-Its.

3:47 pm: Ugh, it reeks in here. We can only put out the trash once a week — otherwise, the bears will get it. I guess I shouldn’t complain: the reason it smells so bad is all the fresh shrimp we shucked last night.

4:01 pm: Back to work. Manage to crank out a blog post and some freelance work that’s due tomorrow.

Beach bonfire in Ketchikan, AK
Beach bonfire!

6:12 pm: Get picked up by some friends. When it’s sunny in Ketchikan, everybody goes a little crazy. Even the lines at the liquor store get super long. It’s BEACH BONFIRE TIME.

7:14 pm: Enjoy an Alaskan Summer ale and some delicious grilled (and freshly caught!) wild Alaskan salmon while watching humpbacks spout from a distance. I am so spoiled.

Humpback and baby spouting in Ketchikan, AK
Humpback and baby spouting

9:32 pm: Holy crap! Is it already after 9 pm? This light-out-forever thing always gets me. It’s time for bed!

10:03 pm: Get into bed and manage to journal for a few minutes before falling fast asleep. I love AK.

Did any of this surprise you? What else do you want to know about my daily life in Alaska?