How to Adjust to Moving for Seasonal Work
Embarking on the journey
Preparing for the season is a great way to ease your nerves before you start work and move into your housing. Most seasonal jobs will have emailed you a welcome letter or packet of some sort telling you what you need to bring and what to expect. Read these closely as they provide important information and definitely help ease your mind about what you are getting into.
If you get no packet, you need to ask your employer before departure about the three important topics below and anything else that is concerning you.
- Housing. What's not provided (bedding, towels, bathroom supplies, etc.), roommate situation (usually one or two of your own gender), and rules (alcohol? smoking?).
- What to bring. Your packet may suggest what you should bring with you for the season: sunscreen, bathing suits, clothes for warm weather, clothes for cold weather, games or toys, entertainment, food, snacks.
- Food plan. To plan your budget you will need to know when you will be fed and whether you have to pay for it. Some jobs will feed you breakfast, lunch, and dinner all for free; others will only provide 50% off a shift meal.
Arriving at your job: first impressions of your housing
When you first pull into your new job or jump off the bus, it's important to not let your snap judgements or first impressions take a hold of you. Some employee housing can be....how do I put this...rustic? My first seasonal housing at Grand Teton Lodge Company was a co-ed rustic dorm where I was warned not to breathe the air if a hole punctured the wall because of asbestos, a toxic insulation that causes lung cancer. It was also adjacent to the employee bar (I wasn't 21), and right next to the basketball court (J1 visa workers loved playing basketball at all hours of the evening).
Snap judgements and poor first impressions can hinder your experience. However there is a fine balance between settling for something that can ruin your experience and weighing out your options. Setting your priorities of what you are looking to get out of your seasonal job also helps you distinguish what is worth dealing with, or not. For me, I go into seasonal jobs looking to make connections with people similar to me. So arriving at Grand Teton Lodge Company for my first seasonal job ever, I was more concerned about my roommate than the housing. The employee housing coordinator first assigned me to a dorm room which already had 2 people living in it, so I went back to him immediately and told him I needed a different room. Next he gave me keys to a room where an older woman in her 50's with sleep apnea and a chain smoking habit occupied one half, already overflowing into my half of the room. I quickly went back to the coordinator again and apologized as I explained I wasn't actually a picky person, but I wanted a roommate my age who doesn't smoke. Third time is the charm! I moved into an orderly room occupied by someone who looked about my age, outdoorsy, and had some photos of her with friends. We turned out to be amazing roommates and great friends. Thanks Emily!
Setting your priorities for what you are looking to get out of your seasonal job also helps you distinguish what is worth dealing with, or not.
Tips to settle in
Don't get too wrapped up in meeting people right when you arrive and trying to make friends instantly. You will naturally get to know everyone at your seasonal job and find your place and your people. The beauty of a seasonal job is that everyone is living and working at the same place for the same amount of time so you will have opportunities to meet everyone at some point. Here are 4 tips to help you settle in:
- Attend any events the company offers. This is an easy way to meet people quickly and start having conversations and seeing what type of people are out there. Some seasonal jobs will have a welcome dinner, orientations, or even a party to kick off the season
- Accept invitations from others. If your roommates asks if you want to go out to dinner, take them up on that offer to get to know them. It helps you settle into your new home faster
- Make yourself available. Sit outside on the employee porch, join others at the lunch table, and volunteer at the beach cleanup.
- Decorate your housing. Creating a space that is yours and comfortable is important for you to recharge. For me, I like hanging photos on my walls around my bed. Whatever it may be for you, making a spot that you can escape and have to yourself is important throughout the entire season your working
Again these are all tips to make yourself feel comfortable and settled in so that you can get the best out of the experience as possible.
Creating a space that is yours and comfortable is important for you to recharge.
Getting Into a Routine
Getting into a routine is a great way to stay mentally and physically healthy during your seasonal job. Even if it is something as simply as waking up and brushing your teeth every morning...that is a healthy routine to get in!
Once you've started working, you likely won't have a ton of free time. So it is important to spend the time wisely and taking care of yourself before anything else. Small things such as going for a 20 minute jog after work will help you have a more successful time. Of course, always remember what you are trying to get out of your time during that seasonal work.
Lastly, don't forget to have fun! It's okay to forget to brush your teeth one morning because you are going for a 4 AM sunrise hike. Sacrifice of routine for what you're at your seasonal job for in the first place is always okay.
It is important to spend the time wisely and take care of yourself before anything else.
Lastly, don't forget to have FUN
Seasonal jobs are supposed to be fun. It's seasonal after all...meaning it only lasts for around 6 months. Those 6 months are there for you to make with it what you will. People from all over the world are there to create memories and have new experiences. Explore the area that you are in as you may never be back. Once you realize everyone working there is in the same boat, you can feel more of an instant connection with people even if you have nothing in common with them.
So don't forget the reason you decided to work a seasonal job. However, there are times where that seasonal job is not providing you with what you expected. If that is the case, it is time to reevaluate if it is worth the experience you are having..Whether that experience be something good, or bad, is it worth it?