When it came to making money in my early 20s, I was game for all sorts of interesting jobs. I was always looking to earn more in my spare time, so I needed to get creative. I participated in consumer and college research studies, took online surveys, read pay-per-click emails, and scoured Craigslist for random gigs, in addition to seeking out part-time work. It was during this time that seasonal employment showed up on my radar, and I discovered just how awesome it could be to make quick cash in a short time.
Trick, or Treat?
I was a college student and had just moved from Pennsylvania to Florida to attend UCF. I needed to find a flexible job fast, so I signed up on Monster.com and Career Builder. One day, an email showed up in my inbox from one of the sites. They thought I might be interested in a seasonal position at a pop-up Halloween costume shop. The pay was more than minimum wage, and I thought okay, this could be fun!
And fun it was, among other things. This wasn’t your typical retail job. We started setting up the store in September, building makeshift dressing rooms, arranging rows upon rows of frightening masks, and hanging up hundreds of overpriced costumes.
It was a busy few months, but I learned a lot about seasonal retail. I also learned that Halloween costume shopping really brings out the crazy in people. We dealt with a lot of weirdness at that store, like the guy who came in just to stand by the dressing rooms and watch young women showing off the sexy costumes they were trying on. (Don’t worry, he was eventually escorted out by security.)
Once the Halloween season was over, it was time to break down the store and pack it all up until the next year. By mid-November, I was back to being unemployed, so I started looking for the next seasonal opportunity. I found it right down the road at a “specialty cafe”.
Now, I don’t want to name names, but I’m sure you can probably guess where I’m talking about. It’s a company that specializes in “handcrafted hams”, and they make the bulk of their sales around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. During the rest of the year, they’re mainly a sandwich shop, or “cafe”.
I finished up at the Halloween store, and turkey day was right around the corner. The cafe had a big sign in the window- they were looking for seasonal help, for just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I went in and filled out an application and got hired on the spot.
I thought the job would be pretty easy; people come in, request a certain size and flavor of ham, I bag it up, the end. Nope.
It was probably the most disgusting job I have ever had.
People are surprisingly picky about their holiday hams, and I quickly found myself slipping and sliding across the ham juice covered floor to the refrigerators behind the counter, scanning the shelves for that perfect piece that would please the customer. By the time my shifts would end, I was literally saturated in sugary, sticky pork juices.
Simply put, this job sucked. By the time it was over, I never wanted to touch, smell, or even eat another ham ever again.
Adventures in Alaska
It was a while before I had my next foray into seasonal work. I returned to the Halloween shop for a second year but then moved on to full-time employment after that. As my time in Florida was winding down, I started making plans for the future, but I wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. Adventure awaited in the last frontier.
I had a friend who had been going to Alaska for several summers to work in a cruise ship port town. He kept returning year after year, so I thought there must be something really appealing about the whole experience. Since I love to travel and am always craving new adventures, I knew it was a perfect fit at that time in my life.
There are tons of jobs that you can do in a town or city that caters to summer tourists, from retail to food service, to hotels and even entertainment. I got hired to work in the same hotel as my friend. Hospitality was a new line of work for me, and I learned so much.
In that type of environment, you can expect to put in long hours. I sometimes worked 10 hour days, 5-6 days a week, for about 5 months. But there was always time to have fun, too. I met people from all over the world and had some of the most incredible experiences, all while making good money. I even met my husband, M, that first summer.
We loved it so much that we returned to the same town for the next 2 summer seasons. To anyone seeking a real change of pace and interested in putting in a couple of months of hard work, I can’t recommend this type of seasonal employment enough! It can truly enhance your life, not just your bank account.
So there you have it: my experiences with seasonal jobs. There are so many different options out there, in every season. If you need to fill in the financial gaps for a short time, seasonal employment can offer you an ideal opportunity to bring in quick cash for a few weeks or months of effort.
Have you ever worked a seasonal job? Have any good stories to share?