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Education and Work Experience hinder employment for Older and Bolder

I am an older and bolder who plans to take an early retirement this next year to work in the national parks. I noticed a blog about advanced degrees causing some problems for getting jobs in the parks. I do not have an advanced degree, but do have extensive work experience in management positions. I would like to know if others, especially those who have retired or taken an early retirement, have found any problems finding jobs in entry level positions due to their past work experience. apppreciate any feedback... thanks CJ

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cj...i will be an older and bolder worker in a few years...i also have noticed"information"that would lead me to believe that "overexpirienced" might come into play...i'm also interested in starting out "low" and working my way up in the thought is to not include "all" of my talents and go from there.right or wrong?i'm not sure thats the way to go but thats my thought.i honestly dont think getting a job is going to be the tough part.i'll let my work ethic do the talking for me after i get a job...feel it out a little...get settled it by ear...good luck to you....just have fun...i'm sure,like me,you have worked all your life "working for a living" its time to jusy live....would love to hear where you end up....take care...
Thanks for your reply. I am also hoping that my work ethics and my references will reassure an employer that when i make commitments, i follow through. i have never had a problem "pitching in" wherever needed regardless of the task. My primary goal is to live and work in the national parks, so an entry level position is fine with me. This is a big step and major change for me. Have you been wrassling with questions about making this change? Would enjoy hearing from you. CJ
here's how i look at it...some people worry about it...some sell yourself on your know you can do the job...thats no i look at it as no priorities are...
1.where do i want to go
2.who's hiring for what in that area
3.go through the motions of getting all the information you can...basically your interviewing the employers
4.start applying for jobs
i'm like you...i want to start somewhere at the bottom...aside from higher managment and a chef's position...i can do any and everything i have read in the job descriptions...and dont have a problem doing it...sure...every employer has their way of doing things but it all boils down to the basic fundamentals.i want to try different things...learn along the way...after a few seasons of "settling in"..ill be able to choose what i want to do...but remember...have fun...experience things...try new things...most of us have worked our entire lives...with the pressure...the stress....thats not what this is all about...its not even really about the money...i need it to survive but its deeper than that...cj,i honestly think its a combination of nerves and excitment and the know deep down you can only excell at dont sound like youll make a great friend and employee and become part of the seasonal family...there are many yourself...
i heared this the other day somewhere and it really made me think---"i'm at the point of my life where time has stopped giving but has started taking away"...this could not be any truer...stop thinking about it and get out and do it as soon as you can....
I really like your take on making the change from working for the $s and under pressure to doing something you really want. I've been at this long enough to know what i am capable of and don't have anything in particular to prove to myself or anyone else in that regard.

I'm interested in being a part of other people having fun, relaxing and enjoying the beauty of our country (kinda sappy ...i know). i really am an adventurer at heart and have been holding back. It is now or never!

I'm at 11 months and counting... i have to sell my house and probably find a home for my old cat, Freddie. Even with the market as it is, it is the later that will be the hardest for me to do. Also saving the pennies so i can keep my current health insurance when i retire from work. i'll also be trying to decide "take the car" - "don't take the car"? Can you tell I'm a planner??

Thanks again for your message. It makes me want to pack my bags tonight and go!!

I found it to be more of an issue in the "real" world. Most seasonal work is somewhere between 3-7 months and people are more willing to take a chance than hiring someone permanently. It probably depends on competition for the position also...I'm on the cooking side and if you look at the listings there tends to be more opportunities open. "Overexperienced" is one of those words that people use when they're not quite feeling right about something...but it's difficult to pinpoint anything might be easier with a story...true story...

Another chef and I applied to the same place as a line cook. We both are about the same age, with more than 20 years cooking experience on all levels...baker/cook/sous chef/head chef. There was more than one position we weren't really in competition for the same slot. We were working at the same place and we talked about the process and possibility of working together again.

In his interview he stressed how much he could bring to the position. He talked about what he's done, where he's been, emphasizing his strengths... When asked if he had any questions...he asked the normal "what do I get", housing, benefits.

My interviews I let the written stuff---cover letter, resume, application--take care of my experiences. If they haven't looked at them before my interview, I probably don't want to work for anyone that unorganized anyway. I actually start out seeking out what they can offer me as a challenge...something new. This specific resort had a sushi night. I didn't have much experience rolling a lot of I asked them if they could teach me. (It doesn't always work that way...a lot of times it's been there done that) But when it does come time to ask any's about what not material items they can offer...skiing, horseriding, golfing, boating, hiking....In this specific case it was at a ski I asked questions about available lessons because I wasn't very good at skiing.

Anyways, I was offered a job immediately at the first interview. The other chef got a "will get back to you" and then got an "overexperienced" rejection. Can't tell you which was more important...and maybe it was just an overall feel...

So good to hear about your experience about seasonal work. i can see where interviewing for seasonal may be a bit different than what you call the "real world". I think I'll let the written stuff speak for me too.

A focus on how they are set up and what they need will probably be my route (my interest is more in line with camp stores, gift shops, anthing involving $s, and maybe front desk). I also know that in the past it has been my interest in the organizartion and enthusiam for the job that has stood me well.

Hope you are enjoying the spring and summer around the corner.

CJ - I don't think you will have a problem... again it will be what you kind of work do you want to do. Good seasonal employees are hard to find and if you have an advance degree.. that is great too... I have hired PhD's to work as retail clerks because they wanted that type of job. You just have to make a couple of decisions...

1... Where do I want to work
2... What do I want to do there
3... Get going!

We have people who have retired early in life and now are enjoying driving buses because they can... so choose and jump. You will be happy that you did...I know I am.

Hi Annie,

Choose and jump sounds good to me! Your comments have really reasured me that my "past life" will not be a hinderance in seasonal work.

I know from past posts that you tend to work more in the "accounting" area in seasonal. I think I have that right. If so, can you let me know if you have found any longer term positions in this area with seasonal work. I'm thinking, like others right now, that the increase in fuel costs may put a bit of a crimp on moving around as much as i had in mind.

Yes I have.. I've done stints as human resources manager as well as "accounting"... you just have to think of what you are good at, choose a job that is similar in that vein and go. I've also worked on the Delta and Mississippi Queen as a HR Officer.. that was a very fun job and I would go again if I ever got the chance.

Here at GTLC, I'm an accounts receivable full time person, meaning that I work full time year round. I will admit, that when the season ends and people start to leave, I start counting my blessings because I have a longing to go again...

Have fun though.. the commute is worth it. (Mine is about 1/2 mile each way and in the winter, it can be done on skiis in about 8 minutes)... lol.

Hi CJ,
I have worked at more than 50 front desks since 1985 when I left the teaching world and became a resort worker. Nowhere has 5 college degrees been anything but a help.
Hard-to-fill jobs like dishwashing, of course, take anyone. Better jobs have more competition and skills such as inventorying, scheduling, payroll, cash handling, budgeting, supervising, technical operations, all have a value.
My suggestion to you is to get more familiar with the types of jobs offered and also the reputation of the places you want to work. For instance, there are resorts where the premium jobs provide very fulfilling summers or winters while the more common jobs might be greatly less so.
Otherwise, some jobs are about 90 days only - Memorial Day to Labor Day, for instance. Lake Powell, on the other hand has a full 8 months "season" running from the first of March to the first of November. If you can figure out what you might like, gift shop/convenience store retail for instance, and how long you might like to do it in what kind of an atmosphere, then you can go a long ways towards realizing a good fit.
There are desert resorts in summer or winter and mountain resorts in summer and winter. The biggest time of the year in New England resorts like Stowe is actually Fall, "leaf peeper" season.
Jackson, Wyoming's big time is summer. Naturally, Vail and Aspen have big winter seasons from Thanksgiving to Easter and those dates about approximate the real high season in the Florida Keys also. Glacier Park opens about late-May and closes about mid-September. Grand Teton National Park opens about the same time and closes about the first of October. Yellowstone has so many jobs in so many locations that their season can run a little longer.
Once you've got an idea if you want to be in a fishing camp or an RV park or a National Park or a dude ranch or a ski resort and so on, and once you've got an idea about waiting tables as opposed to being a security guard or a dock hand, then trying to get the word on cool jobs at said destination is a great idea. Flying jumps often lead to rather disastrous results - a bad manager or bad housing, low wages or extreme isolation. Bad weather and poor employee meals, harsh working conditions of unfulfilling duties exist side by side with the jobs of a life time and most wonderful jobs of your life, often in the same summer and at the same hotel.
Oftentimes, the driving jobs are much sought after and pay better. Oftentimes, the resort will pay you while you train and get a commercial driving license that you can take with you as a valuable asset. Older folks often enjoy the rather uncomplicated guest interaction in gift shops and convenience stores, in fishing shops and as entry gate attendants. Big money is often in waiting tables or working in a bar at tipped positions. Some bell/valet jobs have enormous tips.

A niche job is hotel night auditor, where you usually work alone at a hotel overnight at the front desk, doing some accounting and some front desk work and often times acting as your own security guard and maintenance man, not to mention janitor/housekeeper. Internal jobs such as mail man, dorm supervisor and the like are often filled by retirees. Security can sometimes be hairy in almost all resorts and takes a certain type of older guy but there are some out there.
Many supervisory jobs, such as shift manager at a camp store, will train and the main attributes sought are honesty, dependability and organizational, i.e. if you can get along with people and run a cash register and be responsible for opening and closing a store, they can get you up to speed on the other procedures like the paper work and scheduling.
The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to be considered for the better jobs. That is certain. Dishwashing, bed making and laundry fill last.
It is possible to have a rather nice salary, single housing and a very low cost or free room + board package in paradise if you apply early and bring some common attributes most commonly represented by responsibility.
There is no substitute for for searching the resort world. Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park has a phenomenal 50% return rate for its seasonal employees and Deer Valley's average employee has been there something like 7 years. However, at Signal Mountain you will probably have shared housing if you don't have your own RV. The spread between wages and rents in the Park City area is not especially attractive like it is in, say, Steamboat Springs.
Scuttlebutt often clues you pretty well about how cool or uncool a resort is. Still, there will be bum departments in cool places and cool departments in rather desultorily run properties so the further you can check things out, the better you can do. Many long-term resort employees only move to new jobs they are completely familiar with, often transferring to a more desirable job within the same resort of same company.
If this is your first resort job, read here to see where people are describing having the times of their lives. I've heard that said about Signal Mountain Lodge and Glacier Park often enough. If you are interested in a nice hotel, I would personally recommend the Lodge at Vail, a Vail Resorts' Rock Resort in the heart of Vail Village - great in either summer or winter!
Oftentimes, a call to an HR department and asking about the 'most fun' or 'best paying' job is all it takes you to get into the nicest niche. Vail Resorts for instance, has hotels all around the country. Glacier Park has five properties scattered around the Park, each has its own personality. Grand Teton National Park has three locations and Yellowstone Park has more than a handful.
There's no substitute for talking to people who have worked where you plan to work but watch out if you speak to just one veteran of that property as it seems like a single opinion can leave you in the dark sometimes almost as much as if you just leapt blindly, something I've regretted more than once.
I think the happiest seniors I've ever seen were the group living in the RVs at Lake Hotel in Yellowstone, working their various jobs and then coming home to gather at one RV or another and barbeque and swap war stories of the day. Serious skiers or boaters might find almost anything worth the ability to ski free or boat free at their dream location. Some locations have dorms just for older employees and there are some unusually nice deals for couples sometimes, such as a couple of small locations that a couples run with very little assistance in Glacier Park.
Granted, all the scuttlebutt about various resorts is often the result of months of lunchroom conversations and even after 27 years, I'm still all ears about some of the newer places or places I haven't visited yet. No one has worked up a system of rating resorts by employee satisfaction yet and the AAA and Mobil ratings can vary sharply from the employee experience of the same place.
Unfortunately, a place that is great to work for a few years can change dramatically with a new owner or manager or even unaccountably, so there is no denying the value of recent direct word-of-mouth feedback from an employee. The pay on Nantucket and in Jackson is great these days but rents are rather unbelievable - $900 for a cheap place makes shared housing almost inevitable for jobs usually maxing out at about $2,000 per month take home or so. To do otherwise, you have a difficult time having anything to show but memories for a season. Some people like room mates resulting from the luck of the draw, I guess. Some people don't mind having little or nothing to show for a chunk of a year in none-too-plush accomodations. Those feelings make resort living much easier and give you many more choices that will be satisfying.
You can often get a feel for how you will fit if you speak to someone with authority for your job. I believe if you speak with the owner of many establishments, you can pick up much on how you would feel working there. A cafe on Nantucket or a dude ranch outside Jackson, owners have a personality that often permeates their establishment for good or ill a great interview that makes a real personal connection is a valuable clue about a resort's personality, and if they can't be bothered to be even personable when they are trying to sell you on the place, what are they going to be like once you're there and have your moving time and expense invested?
It isn't too ill advised to still go further in fine-tuning your search. Do you hate rain?
Can you stand mosquitos? Are you going to be able to get along without a car or TV or internet access?
Will you be able to get up at 6am, stand in line to use the bathroom and walk a quarter of a mile to a chow line, then start selling gifts at 7am six days a week for 5 months? Will you be happy in a monkey suit in a fancy lobby, checking the ashtrays and bathrooms hourly and cheerfully getting the same guy's car out 3 times in a morning?
Can you sit with 5 other people in an unairconditioned office all day? Are you independent enough to take off with a busload of strangers for the best part of the day, being entertaining while you navigate really steep mountain roads in the rain?
Can you stand being around all young people or all old people? Do you get along with Indians or Jamaicans?
Can you fold sheets in a hot laundry for 8 hours? Would you like being on the hot seat all day at a bar or front desk?
If you have been a reliable worker in the regular world, you should haven no trouble about overqualification in the resort world. Our dorm boss, was a retired child psychiatrist - a real M.D. - and he happily left at the end of the season and drove a tram all winter in Florida and loved that too.
Start reading all the conversations in and then research the resorts/hotels/marinas that sound good. See what jobs they look to fill and what you can determine about the finer points like schedule and housing and perks.
Glacier had free tours on antique buses and you could ride around the whole Park on you day off, stopping for meals in the employee cafeterias of the other locations. The hiking was so wonderful that non-hikers became real serious hikers and numerous people came back summer after summer.
Some resorts are very communal and others scarcely at all, i.e. you have or do not have a built in social life. So far I have pretty much gotten the impression that I'm not the only one who finds the resorts of the West, and particularly the Rockies, to be kind of the standard bearers for conviviality.

Thanks so much for the wealth of information in your note. I have been balancing what is most important (location, work conditions, housing etc.) in my mind to help me determine which direction i want to go. Remembering that these are most likely shorterm positions will really help balance it out.

Although i have a great deal of experience working with finances, I really would love to work in a camp store or gift shop. Just the variety of stocking the shelves, tracking the sales and interacting with the people appeal to me.

Knowing the season runs for the different locations is great information. thanks for including it. It sounds like you have moved around quite a bit over the years and really enjoy your lifestyle. After hearing about all the places you have lived and worked, I can't believe I have waited so long to jump in and try it out.

thanks again for responding to my post. The information you have shared is so helpful.

CJ, You are more than welcome. It is a great lifestyle.
FYI, the campstores and gift shops in Glacier Park have been
very popular with many of their employees. Each is different,
sometimes year to year. The campstore at Swift Current Motor
Inn has a unique wilderness atmosphere somewhat akin to the
old Hudson's Bay trading posts located nearby in the old days.
There is a small store on Two Medicine Lake that's unbelievably
beautiful and the gift shop in Glacier Park Lodge was so well run
for a number of years that all the olders and bolders wanted to
work there particularly as there were managers'-type dorms where older employees could live with less music and uproar sometimes found in the regulation dorms. Your summer usually depends a lot upon your manager. A friend of mine loves working in the gift/boat shop in Lake Powell and they have $75 private dorms rooms complete with bath... The employees in retail at the Lake Hotel in Yellowstone were pretty happy, especially the ones who brought their own RVs and trailers. That's an added fact: trailer/RV dwellers at Old Faithful and Lake in Yellowstone and East Glacier's Glacier Park Lodge in Glacier were ecstatic about how that worked out.


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