A mosquito bite almost ended my life at sixteen years old. It transferred a virus that infected the fluid surrounding my brain, causing it to swell and squeeze it, leaving me in a coma for four days and with the complications of a brain-damaging stroke. It mainly affected my speech, which took about two years to fully recover from. And when I felt that I’d made it back to “the old me,” one major difference persisted: I no longer believed that I was guaranteed a full life. I understood that life could end at any time.
When contemplating whether or not to begin on a path of seasonal work, it became clear to me that I wanted to travel and work with like-minded people that speak my language – the language of wanderlust. In 2010, a life-changing opportunity occurred that I couldn’t ignore.
Denali stole my heart: wide open vistas, alpine tundra slopes, Dall Sheep grazing on rugged mountain peaks. Wilderness. Wolves. Grizzly bears. The challenge of it all. The freedom. The evolution of the short summer season, from an eager and intense spring to the snowflakes and stillness of fall. The hard work & the camaraderie. One season and I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, and everything had changed.
Before jumping straight into a career, invest in yourself first so you can enter the workforce as a person who knows themselves deeper, who can understand and love people better, and as someone who has stepped out of comfort to embrace the wonderful unknown. This could be the summer where everything changes.
The second I got home, I went online and played my own version of CoolWorks adventure roulette. Did I want a job in the national parks? Or maybe specifically a gig on the water? Did I want something in hospitality and service industry? Or did I want to return to my non-profit roots? If I hit the international job filter, things got REALLY exciting.
There is nothing quite like it, to think that someone is willing to pay you to live in some of the most ridiculously beautiful places in the world. You can walk out of your front door and only a few steps away be lost in the woods, or climb mountains, paddle your kayak on a misty morning lake.
To work seasonally is to have the world as your oyster.
I am resolute that not much can beat the self-confidence, wonder, and fresh perspectives on life as a whole that only travel can bring about. Never will I be the one to say, “I wish I could have done that when I was younger”, because I’m doing it.
I fall more and more in love with my life every day and as I get older, I realize more and more what a true gift that is.
Looking back, I never thought seasonal jobs would play such a huge role in my life. When I set off for Colorado after college graduation, I imagined I would spend a year working as a ski bum before returning to the “real world.” What happened couldn’t be more different. One season quickly turned into three, and seasonal jobs became the lifeblood of my 20s.