After a brief hiatus, the popular Seasonal Worker of the Month series is back! And to kick it off right, I invited my friend Katelyn to share her story.
Katelyn and I met rather serendipitously. She responded to my Craigslist ad looking for a roomie in Ketchikan, Alaska. Since she was only staying for the summer, I couldn’t offer the room to her, but — since it was clear from her writing that we were kindred spirits — ended up continuing the convo email anyway.
A month later, she needed a place to stay in Ketchikan for a week before her lease started. Though I had never met her (and wouldn’t for a few more weeks), I just *knew* I could trust her and invited her to stay in my house. My gut was right; Katelyn ended up being a shimmery part of my life in Alaska.
Though she hasn’t worked any other seasonal jobs, Katelyn is a bright and adventurous firecracker of a person — and I knew she’d have great advice to share with you. (I mean, hello, she’s hiked the Appalachian Trail!) Read on for her advice on travel, adventure, and getting your first seasonal job in Alaska.
Name: Katelyn Stutterheim
Hometown: Port Sanilac, MI
Current location: Ketchikan, AK
Current job: Tour coordinator/marketer for Spirit of Alaska Tours
Life philosophy in one sentence: The trail provides. (Susan’s note: I LOVE this…)
Favorite quote: “The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude.” – Bob Bitchin’
“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Max Ehrmann
Fun fact about you: I can whistle like 6 different ways.
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
Tour coordinator/dock rep and marketing specialist for Spirit of Alaska Tours in Ketchikan!
What led you to getting that job?
A long long long Michigan winter with record breaking weather that trapped me indoors.
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
Besides summer jobs back home (waitressing/house renovation/etc.) nada!–However, I tend to acquire many many jobs/gigs throughout the year–whether freelance advertising/writing; painting; house sitting; picture taking; dog sitting; dressing up in costumes for kids parties (BLAST, and earned 75$/hr plus tips!)–basically any random gig I find on Craigslist, or walking down the street, I will dabble.
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
“Real summer job”–This. I simply love being in a new place, interacting with new people, and accepting that I can use my degree (advertising/writing) to help Spirit of Alaska Tours grow.
How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?
Easy, I said yes! I applied for several different summer positions all over the place–pretty much put my name on any application I could. Research travel blogs for the best sites to use, but most importantly: TALK ABOUT IT! The more it is discussed the better, who knows what advice you might be given, or what connection could be made.
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?
When I was applying for this job I had one internet browser loaded with “big-girl” jobs and one (with hundreds of tabs) for adventure jobs. My adventure job browser started taking precedence when a friend of mine asked where I saw myself in 5-10 yrs… and I realized that I was antsy! I didn’t want to be in the same spot for 5-10 yrs or for the 2 yrs it took to save enough vacation time for a 3 week adventure. Three weeks is just too short!
I want to explore, make connections, experience, completely immerse myself into something new–to gain those new perspectives and connections. Yes, this can be obtained with a “big-girl” job, but for me, at this moment in time. . . my big-girl job is to continue my life’s narrative and make it the best story I possibly can, hugged with tons of people/friends, twists and turns.
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
The community. Seasonal jobs really bring everyone together. Not only are there many other “lone” travelers that want to connect and hang-out, but the locals share their darn toughs and secret bonfire spots. I’m a newb to seasonal jobs, but I feel like they are generally located in an area that starts to buzz as the season approaches. This movement/excitement means everyone is excited and game to hang out: have fires, hike, try something new, share their salmon, everything!
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
Sleeping. Sleeping doesn’t happen. Especially because the darkness in SE Alaska is very little.
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel?
If yes, how and to where? HERE! of course. It’s probably one of the BIGGEST turn-ons for me.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
Adaptability. Hitchhiking. How to be uncomfortable.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
Growing up in Michigan, I am a lover of the water… fresh water that is. I have never really spent much time in the ocean and have been absorbing as much sea knowledge as possible. One of my favorite moments was swimming in the path of the supermoon while having a beach fire. Indeed it was quite chilly, but the Great Lakes have prepared me just fine for that–I swam forever it seemed. The luminescence was absolutely AWE-mazing. I loved it. Felt like I was in a fairy-world lol!
But, getting paid to go on floatplanes to the Misty Fjords, adventure karting, zipping–that’s all a plus too 🙂
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
Be energetic/friendly and open to/look for opportunities. “There’s a whole wide world for you to go and get your hands on, until then, COME AND GET YOUR DANCE ON!” There is one rule I always live off: Construct a contingency plan. Things likely won’t follow your original idea, be flexible, adjust, and accept the adventure.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
It’s just about priorities–what do you want? For me, I cherish all of the experiences/knowledge that I gain from traveling and such. The grown up jobs will come if you want it. I always wonder, what could come of it. Weigh the ROI. Weigh the itch.
If you have a grown up job, quit, get a seasonal and want to get another grown up job–you will. It might take some work, but if its what is wanted/needed you have the power to make it happen. PLUS who knows who you could meet during a seasonal job that might offer you an irresistible deal or a connection. You will never regret the experience. The stories.
If you hear about someone’s travels and say “Man, I wish I could do that.” realize that you CAN! Don’t be afraid to take that jump: alone. Actually, being afraid is okay, but accept it, plan for it, and make it happen! Don’t hold back. Don’t think that you are in a place in life right now that won’t allow for you to switch directions (could be a good job, a housing situation, family, anything), because there is never a perfect time.
My first travel experience was a solo hike on the Appalachian Trail. I had never hiked before. Had zero equipment. A golden opportunity with a prestigious company. And off I went. It was succcchhhhh an amazing experience. It taught me to just go with it, to jump, to work hard to save $$, to realize that there is so much good in the world and in people, to hitchhike, to accept help, to ask for help, to know that there are always options–we aren’t ever stranded, the trail always provides.
Secondly. Say yes. Start with Craigslist and see what type of gigs you can find! BUT BE SAFE! Keep that contingency plan evolving: always have an out, a fall back.
Thirdly. KEEP a journal. Send post cards. This is something I am working on and it is very important. Assuring that my friends are close, safe, and aware that they are being thought of and loved is so important to me. I love to travel and meander about, but it is hard knowing friends/family are so far away, it is my job to keep them close, it is my job to be invested.
Thanks so much to Katelyn for sharing her story with us! If you know someone who could use a little travel motivation, why don’t you share this with them?