I am a 62 year old veteran of working in National Parks almost my entire lifetime. At this point in my life, I have worked and lived in almost every major National Park west of the Mississippi River.
Back in the days before personal computers, the internet, and Coolworks, seasonal employees of National Parks were referred to lovingly as “park bums”. We would generally hear about other National Park concessionaires from other park employees via word-of-mouth only.
Back in those days, I did not own a vehicle and would quite literally hitchhike from one National Park to another, simply showing up on their doorstep and hoping they were looking for someone to hire.
The very first National Park I ever worked in was Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). I was lucky enough to get a job as a porter at a hotel where I cleaned restrooms, chopped firewood, emptied garbage, and generally swept and mopped almost the entire resort by myself.
One day, a woman who worked behind the front desk at the hotel where I was employed asked me to come behind the front desk so she could show me something. I had no idea what she was going to show me, but back in those days we didn’t have computers and almost every hotel in this country used a posting machine behind their front desks that resembled an extremely large old cash register called an NCR4200.
The woman behind the desk showed me how to post a very simple transaction to a guest’s account using this machine and I paid very close attention to what she had showed me as it fascinated me for some reason. After she showed me this, I asked her why she was showing it to me and to this day I can still remember her exact words: “You never know, someday you might be able to use this knowledge”.
Well, from there I went to Death Valley National Monument as it had not been deemed a National Park yet back in those days. I noticed right off that the Furnace Creek Inn and the Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley both used the NCR4200 machine behind their front desks (which was pretty typical) so I applied for a job as a desk clerk exaggerating my extensive previous experience using that machine.
I was hired as the Night Auditor and given on-the-job training and was taught just about everything anyone would ever need to know about not only using that machine, but working behind a hotel front desk in general.
From there I went from park to park. Mostly seasonal positions at resort front desks, but occasionally landing year-around hotel front desk jobs where I worked several years at some park locations.
Now, years later, I have over 30 years of front desk and hotel management experience under my belt and I no longer have to hitchhike from park to park hoping to be hired. Now, I simply log into Coolworks to see who is hiring and fill out an online application. Coolworks has led me to more jobs since they have been around then I care to admit (thank you Coolworks gang), but I DO have one complaint for them….Where was Coolworks 40 years ago when I needed them?!