Three cheers — the summer season has begun!

I’m not sure if it’s leftover from when we were in school, but there’s a magical ring to the word “summer.” An added element of freedom and excitement that doesn’t come with with any other season.

Even though I’m up here in Alaska, where the temperature is more fall than summer, I’m still craving ice cream (yes, more than usual) and cranking up country songs on the radio. And, of course, drinking delicious Alaskan Summer Ales.

If you haven’t yet arrived at your summer seasonal job, you’ll undoubtedly be getting there soon. Unless you don’t have one — in which case, be sure to apply earlier next time. (Start getting your winter applications ready soon.)

So, now that you’re at your summer job, what next? How can you save money, have fun, AND get asked back? It’s not as hard as it sounds.

Summer happiness!
Summer happiness!

Whether this is your first or twenty-first summer seasonal job, here are a few tips to help you kick ass at it.


Make friends at different companies

The river of reciprocity flows heavily through towns full of seasonal workers. If you take a friend on your horseback riding tour, they might get you a free meal at their restaurant. If you have friends all over town, you’re saving money all over town.

Be cheap

Don’t fall (too deeply, at least) into the party party party mentality of many seasonal workers. If you do, then pregame, for heaven’s sake! Don’t go out to eat (homemade group dinners are way more fun, anyway), shop at the local thrift store (the best place to get geared up for the season) and walk or bike to work.

You’re not going to be rolling in the big bucks working these jobs, and if you want to save money, you’re going to have to be smart about it.

Playing in nature is always free.
Playing in nature is always free.

Buy health insurance

Wait, this doesn’t make sense. Spend money each month to save money? Yes. You’ll likely be doing lots of fun, adrenaline-pumping activities, and you don’t want to end up crushed under the debt of medical bills for a broken arm or leg.


Explore your surroundings

Though this sounds obvious, it’s often neglected. Time flies when you’re having fun, so this summer is probably going to whiz right by. So many times, I’ve heard people say, “Oh man, I wish I’d done that.” If you’re working a seasonal job, you’re probably in an awesome place with tons of stuff to see and do. Don’t work so hard that you don’t get to enjoy any of the incredibleness surrounding you!

Get involved in the community

Don’t stay in the seasonal worker bubble. Sure, it’s really easy to meet people that way, and you’ll have a lot of common with those folks — but you’ll probably regret not getting to know anybody from the community in which you’re living and working.

Join a club or team, volunteer at a local organization, or just talk up locals at bars. Examples of things I’ve done in the past: performed in the town musical, fished in the salmon derby, joined a beer-league softball team, and volunteered at an animal shelter.

To prove to you that I actually was in a musical... And, yes, my book is called "How to Seduce a Boy Scout."
To prove to you that I actually was in a musical… And, yes, my book is called “How to Seduce a Boy Scout.”

Don’t start planning for your next job too far in advance

It’s really easy to get too involved in researching and planning of your post-season or next-season adventures. Though it is important to find a job for the next season, it’s also important that you enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.

I usually choose a date that I’m going to start thinking about the answer to “What next?” I don’t allow myself to do any research before then. For summer jobs, I usually choose July 15.


Work hard

If your bosses are happy, you’ll be happy. Too often, companies deal with seasonal workers that, to put it simply, suck. They come to work late, hungover, or not at all. These workers figure that it’s “just a seasonal job,” so it doesn’t really matter. And because companies are so used to seasonal workers sucking, they reward good employees with raises, bonuses, invites back, and references.

Save the partying for your off days. When you’re assigned a task, do it right. Go above and beyond to do it better. Say “yes” to whatever you’re asked. Find ways to utilize your specific skills to help the company.

Do the local stuff -- like shrimping!
Do the local stuff — like shrimping!

Get good at remembering names

You’ll meet a LOT of people this summer. Whether they’re customers, locals, or other seasonal workers, there’s going to be a ton of names to remember. So start getting people’s names right. It’s an absolute difference-maker in customer service, and in building relationships with other people.

When somebody introduces themselves, say their name back to them. Don’t ever say, “I’m sorry. I’m horrible with names.” To me (and I’m assuming other people), that means, “I don’t care and am not willing to make the effort to get to know you.” Get better at it. Stat. I use a new friend’s name several times during our initial conversation, and then write down their name as soon as we part ways.

Make holidays special with your new family.
Make holidays special with your new family.

Be someone that people want to work with

This is an often-overlooked trait. Don’t assume that if you work hard and are doing what you’re asked, you’re a good employee. That’s only partly true. Since most of you won’t be from the area in which you’re working, your coworkers will become a sort of family. (While I lived in Breckenridge, I celebrated three Thanksgivings and Christmases with my coworkers — we even developed our own little traditions!)

How can you do this? Be nice, and be interested in other people. Be positive, enthusiastic, and willing to learn. Smile. If someone needs a hand with something, offer help without hesitation. At work, do your share and more. Remember birthdays. Be a good roommate. Employers want their employees to get along; after all, the more hand-holding the coworkers do, the less that they’re responsible for. You’ll all be working long hours together this summer, so be someone whose name people are excited to see on the schedule next to theirs.

Know someone who just started their summer job? Share this with them so they can make the most of it!

What tips do you have for kicking ass at your summer seasonal job?