Some travel far away for adventurous summer jobs
By Brooke Loisel and
WWU Office of University Communications Interns
Jobs in retail sales, restaurants and childcare are typical summer employment for college students. But summer may also be a time for students to stretch their comfort zones and seek a job out of the area. Because of its relative proximity to Alaska, WWU often draws companies recruiting for workers in Alaska's hospitality and fishing industry.
Through different companies, students may lead train tours through the Yukon, pull fish from nets in Bristol Bay, gut salmon in processing factories and lead tours in national parks and wildlife areas. Travel to Alaska, as well as room and board, are sometimes included in compensation.
For example, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises hired about 180 people from the Bellingham area for summer work last year, says Lev Tobias, an assistant transportation manager for the company. The company has more than 40 ships that sail to Alaska each summer, more than 10 wilderness lodges and hundreds of motor coaches along with rail cars that travel throughout Alaska.
Students also have the opportunity to work in national parks. Aramark, for example, hires hundreds of employees each summer for 50 different types of jobs in hotel, tour and resort operations.
Large companies that hire many seasonal workers in the summer often accept applications online. More labor-intensive fishing industry jobs are often obtained through word-of-mouth, but many canning jobs can be found and applied for online.
Fishing jobs aren't for everyone, though. The hours can be long and the while the pay can be substantial, it can also depend on the size of the catch. And anyone who's watched "The Deadliest Catch" knows working on a fishing boat in Alaska can be dangerous, so it's more important than ever to research the company before signing up.
Caryn Regimbal urges students to fully look into companies, especially when they are asked to sign a contract or when companies are not specific about how much the employee will be paid.
"Some jobs may be based on yield, and don't guarantee earnings," she says. "Be prepared to ask a lot of questions during the interview process."
For example, will the student be paid if he or she needs to quit and return home early because of an emergency? Can the student talk with an employee who's a college student before committing to the job? Potential employees need to determine if the company is a good match, Regimbal says.
Of course, students don't have to leave the region for an adventurous summer job. In the past, parks organizations, whale watching tour operators, resorts, aquariums and other companies have all sought out WWU students as potential employees. Check the Career Services Center database of jobs and internship possibilities, as well as the Student Employment Center's job postings.