During the fall semester of my senior year, I decided that after graduation, I was going to live and work with a bunch of strangers on a dude ranch 2,000 miles from home. As friends were lining up interviews and grad school applications, I was devising a packing list and planning my flight to Colorado. Jumping into this new environment was daunting, but one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I recommend it to anyone looking to push their comfort zones with a paid post-grad adventure. Yes, you heard that right; I was paid to live seasonally in one of the most beautiful places in the country. It was hard work, but it allowed me so many new adventures I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced in taking a more traditional post-grad route.
Although I was anxious to meet so many strangers, living, working, and playing alongside the same people every day forged friendships very quickly. I spent my free time trying fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and seizing any opportunity to take day trips with these newfound friends to explore towns like Durango, Pagosa Springs, Taos, and Santa Fe. Fortunately, working a seasonal job allowed me to save money, because room and board were included, so I was financially prepared for student loans and “adult life” when I returned. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I’ve learned there are questions you should ask and things you should know before you embark on this seasonal employment path to really get the most out of it.
When and where do you want to go?!
There are plenty of seasonal jobs that would fit just about any interest. You could work a Colorado ranch job in the summer or a New Mexican ski resort gig in the winter! Most seasonal jobs require four to six months of employment. Sometimes, they’re flexible, but most times, they want you to say until the end of their season. Websites like coolworks.com help filter out job postings geographically and seasonally.
Ask your employer about EVERYTHING!
Ask about room and board, how many people you will be living with, and what the work vibe and atmosphere is usually like. I lived with 15 other girls in one cabin, had no cell phone reception, and the closest major retailer was a 2-hour drive away. That might not be your cup of tea. Know what you like and ask!
Research the Area!
There was so much to do in so little time! I bet if I would have researched the surrounding areas a little better I would have been able to fit in a couple more better executed day trips.
Having a car helps.
I flew to Colorado and was fortunate enough to bum rides off friends anytime I needed to go into town. Living in the mountains has its perks, but ease of transportation is not one of them. Also, the ability to have an end of the season cross country road trip would have been awesome!
Ignorance is bliss until reality hits…hard.
Sooner or later, the season ends, people go back home, onto other seasonal jobs, or permanent employment. When living in a vacation world, it’s easy to forget about looming responsibilities like student loans, updating resumes, job searching, and buying a car. If you decide to do something like this, live in the moment, but remember, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, there’s always a new adventure to embark on and I’m happily employed and starting a new chapter in my post-grad life.
by Kyile Johns