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Do I quit my full time job to work at something I might love?

Hi Everyone! I'm new to CoolWorks and absolutely love the idea of working at a National Park or even a guest ranch. I love the outdoors, hiking, nature photography, horses and being active. I spent a week in Yellowstone last fall and fell in love.

I'm 24 and currently work full time at a really great paying but boring desk job, mostly because I have 4 years worth of school loans to pay off. I've been considering applying to a few jobs I've seen on the site, the problem is the majority of the jobs are seasonal. The few full time ones I've seen I'm not really qualified for. 

I'm nervous about quitting my job, which is what I went to school for, to do something that I might love but wont pay my bills. What would I do once the season is over? 

Has anyone else been in this situation? Any suggestions? Are there certain places that are known to pay more then others or that have more than seasonal jobs?

Any advice or encouragement is greatly appreciated :) 

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I personally would work for a few more years at least before making the jump to this life. In most parts of the country a decent job can be very difficult to find for anyone so a vacation may be more of what you need. We work at the locations, but the work itself in no vacation; at least for most of us that do this. I'm full time again at the moment with benefits, but I've worked seasonal for years as well. National park work is good, but mostly seasonal as well. Save your money, pay off your debt, then take a trip. Good luck. 

Hi Linda --

I say, "go for it" to your current employer, they may be willing to give yo a leave of absence.  I'm 38 and speak from experience, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." .  Bills will get paid, and you can work with your student loan people to adjust payments if you need to.  Working a seasonal Park or Ranch job will change your life and your outlook on things.  I say "DO IT!"  Good luck! :)

If money is an issue, being a server or bartender is the best way to make decent money seasonaly (for the most part). The trick is to put it away.... Too many party it away during the summer. It is hard not to join the fun sometimes...

Most jobs are very low pay, so you have to decide which is more important: Paying off debt or living a different way of life (seasonal IS a way of life). Perhaps quickly pay off your debt and then go seasonal?

Would your boss consider a leave of absence? Can you pay off more than the minimum payment (debt-free makes you free). Are you prepared to live very simply? There are many questions to answer for yourself and knowing what you value most will provide you with your answers. Good luck...  :)


If I were you, I wouldn't jump right into it this season.  Maybe next year, or even the next.  Get some of that loan paid off.  In the meantime keep coming back to the website.  Do a quick research on every opportunity that pops up.  Ask questions on the forum, if you see someone is going to somewhere that interests you try to make contact and see how their season progresses.

I had my bills paid off, but I was worried about the breaks too.  I kept looking at Coolworks, and then got offered a raise, or worried about the lack of insurances. For me, something personal happened in 2005 and I decided that whenever I'd get that settled I would be on my way.  I have been working seasonally since May 2006.

I had been a cook/baker/chef for  a couple of decades so I can find jobs sometimes easier than's just because those jobs are usually the most in demand.  The most time I have had between seasons has been 4 weeks, the least will be this upcoming May where I finish my current job on Sunday in Wickenburg, Arizona, fly out of Phoenix on Monday to Anchorage, Tuesday get picked by the company I'll be working for, Wednesday morning start work in Cooper Landing.  Most of the time it's been a week or two...perfect vacation time.

There are also several year round places...Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Big Bend, Ocean Reef...and several of the ski resorts actually have summer opportunities too maybe with a slacking spring/fall.

Not sure which jobs you are looking for.  Yes, serving and bartending tends to be the best paying jobs...they are also the most competitive and there tend to be more people looking than there are slots.  Some end up sitting a season or two out.  Food and beverage, housekeeping, front desk, retail...tend to be the most common.

In general...smaller parks tend to have slightly better pay than larger parks, and summer seasonal but not in parks tends to pay slightly better than those inside.  On the expense side...most ranches, some remote fishing lodges, a couple of odd others have free room and board.  Others vary.  Ski resorts tend to have the worse pay for first-year employees and tend to have the highest expenses...but they flash that free ski pass in front of your face and you just have to try it at least once.

If you didn't have those loans, I'd tell you to go for it.  But taking your time, looking over everything that you can would probably be a good thing in your case.

Thanks so much for all your advice! Looks like I've got a lot to think about. I wish I had known these types of jobs existed a few years ago... I would have tried a new one each summer during my college breaks!

I'm definitely going to keep searching and maybe I will find something that gives me that final push I need to make the plunge. If not, I guess I'll stick it out at my job another year... by then I should hopefully have a good chunk of my loans paid off.

From everyone's input, I can tell these jobs offer such a great and unique opportunity. I definitely want to experience this and want to meet like minded people who enjoy those types of places.

Thanks you all again! I greatly appreciate it!

True….You will not make much money in seasonal positions in National Parks. But, all of the companies (called concessionaires) managing the hotels and restaurants in the National Parks and in ski resorts have a full time year-round IT staff. Try Looking up some of those companies and seeing what full-time positions are available. I work for The Grand Teton Lodge Company and we are part of Vail Resorts. Their corporate headquarters has a huge IT Staff in down in the Denver area.

At your age, why not consider moving out west where the parks are? There are lots of jobs in large cities near National Parks. Consider moving to Denver or Salt Lake City or Seattle or Reno. All these cities are within an hour or less of great mountain areas or National Parks. 

Let me throw in my 2 cents. I agree with those that suggest you pay down your debts first before taking a lower paying seasonal job. Also look into the Park Service! Goto USAJOBS.GOV and see what's available. Many government jobs pay better and have better housing. If you have a college degree then you can likely get hired. Also government jobs earn vacation leave from day one! Good luck with your decision. Ranger Rich

i worked a job for 8 summers where i was away for 3-6 weeks

it didnt pay much, broke even but it was fun and alot of travel and incredible experience

go to to check it out

maybe u could get leave of absence

inbox me if u want more info

u musta spelled that wrong Jeff, because my laptop can't find


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