Tuesday Career Expo

Students crowd the PMAC to explore the variety of career opportunities offered at LSU job fair on Tuesday, September 9, 2014.

It was this past March when I was studying with a friend on campus and I realized how close summer was. As a college student who had recently changed majors, I was not going to secure an internship any time soon. I had three months of free time ahead of me and I needed to find a job.

I randomly got the idea of working in another state for the summer. Little did I know that I would end up staying in a cabin, for free, on a lake bordering Canada as I bartended and made plenty of new memories and friends.

I hear people talk about the importance of finding internships and doing career-oriented volunteering during your summers in college. But for those of us who are still early in our career paths or who have yet to decide on our post-college plans, these opportunities may not be available. This doesn't mean that you can't have a fun summer, though, because seasonal jobs around the country can provide invaluable life experiences. 

I used the job-searching site coolworks.com, which mostly posts adventurous seasonal work at national parks, resorts or summer camps. Many jobs also provide free room and board to their employees. 

Summer is the busiest season for these types of jobs, which makes it perfect for college students on break. Workers can quickly be hired with minimal experience and leave after only a few months. 

I applied for about 20 jobs, and the first one to call back was a bartending gig at a resort in the northern woods of Minnesota, right on the border with Canada. The resort offered free housing in a cabin on the premises with a much higher salary than I was used to in Louisiana. 

I accepted the job soon and after drove 24 hours up the Mississippi River from southern Louisiana to northern Minnesota. I quickly fell in love with my cozy lakeside cabin in the woods, a mere 20-second walk from the bar where I worked. 

It was my first time bartending, so it took me a while to learn the different drinks and find my groove in the bar. Luckily, all of my new coworkers were friendly and patient with me as I learned. 

My home for the summer was a small vacation town filled with other resorts, each of which had seasonal workers my age that I could befriend. 

My summer was filled with bonfire parties, kayaking, paddle boarding, cliff jumping and boat rides on the clear, deep blue lake. It was freeing to swim and feel fish brush against my legs without a lingering fear of being eaten by an alligator. 

Right after the bar closed at 1 a.m., a lot of us seasonal workers would jump in the lake. The town was so secluded that there was no light pollution, so the sky looked magical. Lying on my back in cold lake water while I stared at the open sky full of stars will always be a special memory for me. 

I will admit that the bugs were terrible, but the rest of the landscape made up for it. 

Looking back, I am thankful that I decided to get a job somewhere new for the summer. Seasonal work is an excellent option for college students looking for something different and rewarding, and I hope that more students can have experiences like mine. 

Kathryn Craddock is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Patterson.

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