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Now that you know why you should work seasonally and how to find the job you want, I’m going to tell you the things I think you should ask about that job. You know the part of the interview, at the end, where they say do you have any questions? and you probably say none that I can think of right now. Well, now you’ll have some. No, they won’t be anything deep about the company and where they see it going. It’s going to be useful stuff. So, let’s get started!
How to find a seasonal national park job
Why you should work seasonally at least once
What to pack for a national park job
What is the uniform?
This is one of the questions to ask later on, probably once you already know you have the job, but you need to know what you need to bring with you or what you need to get before you pack up and leave. Is it something you already have or something you need to get? Do they provide it? Better to know before being four hours from a town that you can shop in.
What is the pay?
They usually tell you this right away or you may even know when you apply, but if not, you should ask. One place might be $10 an hour for housekeeping and one might be $12. Those aren’t official numbers, but if you’re not totally set on a place, the higher pay would probably be a better option. Just keep it in mind when you’re comparing jobs and that some places have an end of season bonus if you complete your contract.
What is the dining situation?
I didn’t think about this much, but it’s good to know how you pay for food. Some take it right out of your check every pay period and some places have meal cards, which you get as you need or want them and they are taken out of your check. The meal cards are nice if you plan on cooking your own food. Then you aren’t paying for it in addition to your own food. If you don’t want to cook, the automatic deduction is nice because all food is just included with rent. The only downside is that the food might be awful, not that I can speak from experience or anything.. If you’re vegan or vegetarian or can’t have gluten or have other allergies, ask if there will be options for that. So much to think about!
Is there somewhere I can make my own food?
I kind of mentioned it above, but ask if there’s a kitchen with supplies to cook your own food. This may be easier if you have strict dietary restrictions. If they do have dishes, still consider bringing basics, like a pot, plate, bowl, and silverware. The community stuff can get a little, uh, gross.
Is there housing?
A lot of places have employee housing, but a lot don’t. Definitely ask and if you need it, make it known early. It’s usually first come first serve. It’s usually dorm style and sometimes there is couples housing, so if you need that, make that known as well. If there isn’t housing, you’ll need to look into apartments and figure out if living expenses are manageable on your wages. All that good life stuff. I tend to avoid places without housing just because I don’t want to have to worry about finding an apartment and paying bills.
Will I have a roommate?
Most places you will have a roommate. Some places you can get a single dorm. If you have a significant other, you can probably live with them and not have to worry about a roommate at all. I would just plan on having one and go from there.
What are the rooms like? Storage? Closet? Hangers? Fridge?
Are they big? Is there storage? DO we need to bring sheets? What about hangers? Is there a fridge in the room or just a community one? Is there a bathroom in the room? Is it just a toilet or shower, too? Is it a community bathroom down the hall? These are all things I was curious about.
Will weekends be two consecutive days?
A lot of places give you two days off in a row, but I’ve heard of it as two random days as well. Then, if you have a significant other, will you be able to have days off together? Definitely keep that in mind. It’s worked out for me so far, but I have also heard of places where couples never had days off together. That makes going on little trips and adventures difficult.
What kind of hours and schedule?
Ask how many hours a week it is. Most are 40, some will be more, others will be less. If they promise 60+ hours a week, I would still go in expecting less because sometimes that won’t be accurate. Better to have low expectations in that case. Also ask if the schedule is set, like all mornings or all nights or all over the place. You can ask if overtime is ever a possibility, but don’t go in expecting it.
Is there a shuttle?
This is pretty important if you won’t have a car. Ask about a shuttle to/from work or around the property. Some places you’ll live super close to where you work or in reasonable walking distance so a car won’t really matter for that, just for leaving the park. Definitely ask about this.
Are there trips to town?
Most places will have trips to town to get groceries or other stuff for people without cars, or with cars that still want to go. Definitely ask about this, though. Sometimes they’ll do trips to nearby hiking areas and other nearby national or state parks. It’s a great way to see a lot if you don’t have a car. Sometimes it’s free and sometimes there’s a small fee.
Ok, so you don’t have to ask all of those questions at once. You might have an interview with HR, or a small would you be a good fit kind of thing, then an actual interview with the department manager or something. I would save the uniform, pay, and hours kind of questions for the department manager. Use your best judgement in deciding what to ask and what not to ask. These are all things I wondered and are good to know before packing up to move.
Have you ever worked a seasonal job? Where? Is there anything you would add to this list or take off?
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