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Hey everyone! I am currently working at a job I hate so I am planning on jumping into seasonal work for the summer 2014 season. I spent seven years self employed with lots of time to travel and that fell apart about a year and a half ago so I took a job that keeps me in one place. It is not a lifestyle or a job I enjoy. I've been lurking on CoolWorks for years hemming and hawwing about trying out seasonal work and I've finally decided to do it. I just turned 48 two months ago, I have savings and no debt so now is good a time as any!

I have my sights set on Yellowstone for my first season and have applied to Xanterra already, but I have a few questions about how this all works in terms of looking for your next seasonal position. From reading the forum it seems that people generally apply at several places, wait for the offers to come in and then pick one. How many places  do you apply for any one season and how much time do they usually allow you to wait before making a decision once they've made you an offer? If you turn down an offer, do they hold it against you for other seasons? Or is it just expected that everyone does that? I am thinking about applying for some of the other concessionaires at Yellowstone as well such as YPSS and DNC and maybe other locations as well, such as Lake Powell or Grand Tetons.

I know most of the hiring kicks off in earnest in January. If I apply for positions now with various companies that have already started posting postions, how early in January would you make a phone call to HR?

Sorry for so many questions on my first post! :)

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Sadly, I do not have a college degree. I've got a few years of credits under my belt, but not quite enough. Otherwise I would love to do that, but I hear it is difficult to get hired without that veterans' preference. 

Sorry this isn't an option for you Jennifer.  You are right about Veteran's preference .... it helps (I'm a veteran).  I don't agree with that policy BTW ... but it is what it is.

The fact that our gummint hires people based on their former military service, their race, and other non-merit-based criteria is why whenever you try to deal with a federal agency, you get the unmistakable impression that you're dealing with a pack of lobotomized baboons (think: Post Office; think: IRS). It is true that you can get hired for a GS-2 or lower position (GS-3=college degree) and work your way sloooooowly up the ladder, but it's very hard to advance in the NPS. Still, if you can snag a seasonal job cleaning campground toilets or handing out leaflets, it'll be a better job than working for a park concessionaire; the pay, housing, and food will be better, and your job will be more secure (though still not all that secure; for instance, if the Republicans throw another tantrum, then boom, furlough). The veteran's preference hurdle doesn't really apply to the GS-2/1 and seasonal grunt jobs, and if you work for one season and establish that you have a functioning cerebrum and can empty a garbage can without injuring yourself (thus putting you in the top 10% of all federal employees), then you have a great chance of being hired back the next year. The difference between a gummint job and a normal one is that the hurdles you have to jump over to get hired are much, much higher, and the hoops you have to jump through more numerous. But it can be worth the effort. You don't need a college degree to work for the feds; in fact, it can be inferred that you don't even need to have attended grade school.

Look on periodically for seasonal job announcements. The time lag is 3-4 months, so if you're looking for summer work, go on the site in February/March.  The odds of getting any one federal job are very low, but the good news is, you can apply for dozens of such jobs at once. The federal gummint is our nation's biggest employer, so your chances of finding something, somewhere, are pretty good. You just have to engage in the tedium of filling out application after application (and the disappointment of getting 99% of your applications rejected). Give it a try; the worst that can happen is that you waste some time. can be real funny Joe.  The other side of the coin is that many of the NPS employees I have met have been top notch public servants, and work their butts off.  This includes a few Rangers that have given their lives up in Denali trying to save lost tourists.  So Joe's picture may not be nearly as bleak as it sounds.... and we have folks working for NPS that have reasonable levels of intelligence and skills. A lot of Joe's descriptions I normally attribute to the concession companies, but that's just me I suppose.  The vast majority of NPS folks I know are top notch and do great jobs.  I totally agree with Joe .... it's worth a try.

Don't worry, I take it with a grain of salt! After all, he slagged off HR people too and I spent four years working in HR so I know we're not all dummies. lol

No, I agree, fully 2% of all HR employees can read and write and even form simple sentences if given enough time. Fully 1% of all HR employees can fill out a one-page form with 80% accuracy or better. Some dogs don't bark; some prison guards are really sweet guys; some Yugos are still running. There are exceptions to every rule. In fact, if I remember correctly, there was one girl working for DNC last summer who seemed really sharp. I perceived this mainly because everyone else in the office kept asking her for help and even though she comprised 10% of the employees there, she did 50% of the work. Hmmmm...maybe competence is overrated.

Yes, I probably should have qualified my statement by saying that the lobotomized baboons rarely wind up in GS-5 or higher NPS positions. Competition for NPS ranger positions is so fierce that only very competent people are hired. It's also the sort of job people tend to hang on to, so there aren't very many newbies doing it at any one time. I respect what the rangers do, moreover, they do it for relatively little money

I for one am leery about applying for a federal job; since the Republiholes had so much fun disrupting people's lives last fall, they might decide to shut down the government again, demanding that Obama kill himself or something before they relent. After all, they can't make the American people hate them any more than they do already. (Nobody whose livelihood is connected in any way with the national parks should ever vote Republican. For that matter, nobody who isn't a lobotomized baboon should, either.)

I realize that this board may be no place for politics, but what the Republiholes did and will no doubt do again to the country has a serious impact on just about everyone who posts on these forums. Shut down the national parks so that people can't get health care! That's certainly a logical course of action...

Oh, and as far as the lost tourists in Denali...the bears gotta eat too, y'know. Think of it as man's contribution to the ecosystem.


But are you going again to Alaska, Rick?  Actually Jennifer, this is a good start to working seasonally.  I have worked at Glacier Park, Grand Tetons and Big Bend.  All of these parks are great and if you are over 40, they do try to put you in an older people type dorm - at least they did me.   Have fun whatever you decide to do!  Annie

wow why is there always someone that has to tell someone what they can or cannot say and by the way doesn't know punctuation or spelling or grammar that's just wrong

I'm entitled to my opinion--and here's the real shocker, the bombshell--WHETHER OR NOT IT PLEASES YOU.


Hey Joe,

It seems you do have some strong opinions.  We appreciate all sides of the coin when discussing seasonal jobs.  However, it's nice when our members are kind and respectful to one another.  And, on this, it's our site and our rules - view them here.  If it seems that members are disrupting the informative discussions with rants, we reserve the right to remove the comments and the members themselves.

Please play nice the sandbox.


So, Kari, you have no objections to posts like Brenda's?

I'm always so amused by the fact that on the internet and in real life, it's never the person who starts a fight that gets blamed for it, but rather, the person who defends himself.

Also, as looooooooove for park concessioners and other employers, as in, play up the good, ignore the bad, is pretty much your meal ticket, I understand your objections, so I'll do nothing from now on but mention how wonderful wonderful wonderful these minimum-wage jobs are :)



I say apply for various companies at Yellowstone as well as other locations beginning now. I applied for my summer job for the summer of 2014 back in September of this year (2013). I was offered the job in October. I applied, so I could ensure I was able to get one of the jobs I wanted. I will be an ATV guide working just outside Denali National Park in Alaska. THe earlier you apply and more places you apply will ensure you are able to have a job that is more desirable for you in a location you can be stoked about. For example, if Yellowstone is your number 1 choice but they offer you a job in housekeeping as a room attendant and your #2 choice is Bryce Canyon but they offer you a job working at the front desk, you will be able to choose which situation will make you happier for a 3-6 month season. I hope that helps. Good luck with your seasonal job search. Have a great day and an even better conclusion to your holiday season / 2013 and summer of 2014 adventure.




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