Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Arches National Park in winter

Make the Most of Your Next CoolWorks Job

Matt Moore

From our own experience working at Jobs In Great Places, we know that there are a wide variety of motivating factors that vary among each job seekers. Some folks are wanting to get the most personal experiences out of their time in a new great place by fully exploring their new backyard or making as many friends as possible. Many want to gain professional experience, perhaps to have better opportunities, like a year-round management position, open in the future. Others are focused on financial goals, whether it’s saving up for a big trip, or just padding their savings for the future. Many may be focused on all three!

Whatever your motivations, it’s never too early to start thinking about habits and planning for how you’ll achieve those goals at your next job. We’ve got a few ideas based on our own experience (and things we wished we’d known about sooner) that hopefully will help you start thinking ahead and setting yourself up to maximize your opportunities!

See as Much As You Can

If you’re going to a new place this summer for the first time, hopefully you’re pretty excited! But we know from experience, it will go by fast. Start logging some ideas for the things that you want to see and do when you get there. That way once you’re there and you’ve got a weekend coming up, you can reference your list and you’ll have tons of ideas for what you can do on your days off.

If you’re into hiking, check out AllTrails or GaiaGPS to get some ideas for what big treks you want to do this summer. Either tool will let you explore the area where you’ll be living, discover and get in-depth information about individual trails, and save some of your favorite options. If climbing or summiting peaks is more your thing, check out, a free community-driven resource with route information on tens of thousands of mountains around the world, including logistical information about how to get to the approach trail, best time of year for conditions, risks/hazards, equipment you should consider, and detailed trip reports with photos uploaded by folks who have done it. There’s all sorts of resources out there to help you start planning your time off now!

Grow Your Résumé

Many of you are hoping to grow your skill set and advance your career, and that’s great! In the world of seasonal hospitality especially, organizations hire new teams every year. Many employees only intend to spend one season with their employer, so because of this there are often opportunities to move into higher level positions.

The best way to learn more and grow in any role is to ask questions and share your goals with a supervisor, manager, or anyone with more experience who’s willing to mentor. A lot of people really enjoy the opportunity to teach others, so find those individuals in your department, and, when it doesn’t interfere with whatever work is going on, ask them to show you a thing or two. If you have opportunities to meet with a supervisor regularly, let them know that you’d like to learn more, grow in your role, and are possibly interested in more advanced opportunities within your company. They will very often be able to give you some information or help you develop a plan for how to achieve those goals. A lot of your peers aren’t going to be interested in career growth at whatever stage they’re at, and that’s OK. By simply vocalizing your interests and showing up with a willingness and desire to improve, you can set yourself apart and be recognized for your contributions.

Think About Financial Plans and Habits

Regardless of what level of a role you’ll be working in, there are always opportunities to save a little bit more with some deliberate planning and habit forming. Here’s a few tips on how you can move some dollars from the expense column into your savings.

  1. Resist the Money Pits – There are so many opportunities to part ways with your hard-earned money, especially when you’re living in an amazing place and meeting lots of cool new people. New outdoor gear. The Bar. Eating out. We’re not saying anyone should avoid everything that might be enjoyable, but it’s really easy to over do it. Stretch your existing gear as far as you can (many companies will even repair damaged products for free or much cheaper than the cost of replacement). Have your friends over for drinks instead of spending $15 on huckleberry cocktails or generously picking up the bill for all your friends at the bar. And if your employer provides meals or has an Employee Dining Room (EDR), get the most out of it. You may get tired of it – even the best EDR’s in the country get old towards the end of the season, we all know the feeling. But you’re already paying for it – save that eating out money for your next big trip!
  2. Get A Carpool Crew Going – Gas is expensive, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a vehicle to explore your great new place, zipping back and forth from one side of a National Park to the other can really add up. There’ll be weekend backpacking trips, weeknight camping parties, supply runs into the closest town, etc. Don’t drive yourself everywhere, or always be the person who’s volunteering to drive. Plan those trips with a few friends. Throw them a few bucks if they drive, and ask them to do the same if you’re driving. You’ll all be saving on transportation costs in the long run.
  3. Learn about Long Term Savings Options – Here’s one that a lot of people who are in their 30’s or older will tell you that they wish they had thought about earlier in life, and here’s an illustration that explains why: If you start saving $100 a month when you’re 21, by the time you’re 60 those monthly savings will have grown to $187,350 thanks to compounding interest (we’re using a rate of 6% here). If you save that same amount, but don’t start until you’re 35, then your savings will be $69,646 when you’re 60. That’s a major difference. And if you’re able to increase your monthly savings over time as you make more, the growth is even more dramatic. Even it’s a small amount, it’s never too early or too late to think about setting some money aside for a way off future date. And your employer may even offer some benefits that will help add to your savings for free (like a 401k plan). There are a lot of options, so take some time to learn about what’s available when you have some free time. This article from Nerd Wallet is a great resource for learning all about long term savings options and strategies:
    5 Steps to Retirement Planning in 2023: An Introduction & How-to Guide

These are just a few ideas you can start thinking about today that will help you launch into your next opportunity with a game plan and clear vision for how you’re going to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment, value, and experience out of it!