For May’s seasonal worker of the month, I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to one of my best friends in the world, Mr. Teddy Gowan.

Teddy and I were in the same pre-school class and have been friends for more than 20 years. We’ve been to six states and TEN countries together. There’s no way I could summarize the number of laughs and crazy adventures we’ve had. Teddy’s worked in Alaska, New York, Montana, and Argentina, and currently holds the position of HEAD BREWER at a craft brewery in Shanghai, China.

I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s one of the kindest, fun-loving, enthusiastic, and honest people I know. He tells me when I’m being an idiot, and I do the same for him. But I think that my favorite part about him is that he’s genuine — what you see is what you get. Banjo, beard, and all.

Ok, I know you’re dying to hear all about his seasonal jobs. Teddy’s had a bunch and has many awesome stories to go with them… a few that may or may not involve the cops. For now, though, I’ll just let him share his thoughtful reflections on the life of a seasonal worker.

Teddy stretching

Meet Teddy!

Name: Teddy Gowan
Age: Upper 20s, on the way to thirty. Yikes!
Hometown: Hamilton NY!
Current location: Shanghai, China
Current job: Brewmaster at Dr. Beer
Life philosophy in one sentence: Never forget where you came from.
Spirit animal: Ferdinand the Bull
Favorite quote: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”  – Albert Einstein
Favorite condiment: Fresh salsa
Fun fact: Snow Beer is the worlds best selling beer. Last year, they sold 16.5 billion pints! It’s sold only in China; unfortunately, it’s not worth the trip.

Dr. Beer & me in Shanghai
Dr. Beer & me in Shanghai

Teddy’s Seasonal Life

What’s the first seasonal job you worked?

I started as a hockey camp counselor — essentially tying little kids’ ice skates all day.

What led you to getting that job?

Hockey was my favorite thing, so I figured I might as well get a job around it. I’ve stuck with that theory, and now I work in a brewery.

What other seasonal jobs have you worked?

I’ve worked as a camp counselor at a summer camp for a youth development organization, as a hiking instructor in Alaska, and as a raft guide in Montana and Argentina.

Working as a hiking guide in Alaska
Hiking in Alaska.

Among those, which was the most fun and why?

Each experience was unforgettable in its own right, but if we’re talking pure fun, I would have to say my summer in Gardiner, Montana working as a raft guide. It was the summer after I graduated from college, and there was still the excitement from school — except no more classes. All you had to worry about was getting people safely down the river once a day, and occasionally try not to crash a bus full of customers. The septic in the guide housing broke, so I didn’t have to shower for a month… just take a daily swim in the Yellowstone! (Susan’s note: Of course, Teddy would look at that as a positive!)

How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?

I got that job through a friend of mine. In fact, both rafting jobs came through people I had met who’d worked for the companies where I ended up. I’ve also found work through sending out a resume, but I find the best jobs are those that come recommended by others.

Working as a raft guide in Montana
Raft guiding in Montana

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?

I’m currently the brewer for a small brewpub in Shanghai. It took some wandering for me, but I know I’ve found my career.  It’s the perfect combination, of fun, hard work, socializing, solitude, craftsmanship, and creativity. It’s allowed me to continue to travel, and it forces me to use every compartment of my brain on a daily basis.

(Susan’s note: I know Teddy really well, and I couldn’t agree more that this is the PERFECT job for him!)

What rocks about seasonal jobs?

It’s nice because there’s a built-in completion to your employment. Nobody is surprised when you decide to try something different. And everybody else walks away at the same time as you do. Through the entire season, it’s a finite amount of time, so all planning becomes more fun and exciting — because it’s so close to the first and last experience of everything.

At the same time, this makes it hard to make lasting relationships, especially when you know you’re heading home in a week. That being said, these time limits occasionally have the opposite effect on building relationships, and they allow you to bond with people very quickly.

With friends in Argentina
With friends in Argentina.

Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?

I think each seasonal job you find is a form of travel. It allows you to experience new places. You see places on a level that is more complex and meaningful than a tourist on their way through, but you’re still not a permanent resident. I used some graduation money to travel to South America. (Susan’s note: And Central America, with yours truly!)

When I made it to Mendoza, Argentina, I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would find a job and stay for a while. It took me about three weeks to make a friend and get introduced to the owner of a rafting company.

Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?

I can speak bar room Spanish, dance the salsa, and pull my skirt up in a kayak. At one point I had certificates in lifeguarding, CPR, and Wilderness First Aid. All I still have is a Commercial Drivers Licence, which I’m hoping will come in handy in the real world.

Raft guiding

What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?

I led a boat of drunk Argentines down the Rio Mendoza in the moonlight. At one turn, the river had dropped a bit, and where previously there was a big wave, there was now a hole. I put my boat right through it, and I lost two passengers out the front. I thought I was going to lose my job, but the customers absolutely loved it. They bought me drinks for the rest of the night!

Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?

Start by brainstorming. Think about something that you enjoy, for example “hiking” or “river rafting.” Start your online research there; you’ll find thousands of jobs you never even knew existed. The next thing you know, you’ll be taking people down a river in the middle of the Andes.

The most important thing is to be open minded and excited about the possibilities. I have a friend who can’t swim, and somehow she works for a sea kayaking company in Alaska. (Susan’s note: Ha! Very funny, Ted. For the record, I thought the doggy paddle counted?)

The pensive look
What’s the worst that could happen?

What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?

You already made it to this website, so the process has begun. Keep looking online, and send a resume to that awesome- sounding job you found at 3 a.m. while procrastinating from sleeping. What’s the worse thing that could happen?

Anything else you’d like to add?

Fuck it, Run it!  (can I swear?)

A HUGE thank you to Teddy for sharing his knowledge and insight with us. Know somebody who’s sick of their desk job? Share this with them — show them that life can be so much more than that!