What It’s Really Like to Work a Seasonal Hospitality Job in Alaska

A seasonal hospitality job isn’t quite like any other professional experience you’ll ever have. It’s impossible to describe it perfectly to the uninitiated, but there are some universal industry truths. Here are ten things for you to bear in mind if you’re considering seasonal work in the Alaska hotel business. And who knows—maybe one day you’ll be passing on your own sage wisdom to someone wondering the same thing!

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  • 1. It’s not for the homesick. Journeying to Alaska for a new job is a big move! If you are fiercely independent and eager for adventure, you’ll thrive here. If you are closely tied to your hometown, friends, and family, you might want to consider a summer job closer to home.

    2.Your apartment might be a tent. Though there’s limited dormitory-style housing available at some locations, many Alaska lodge employees live in RV parks or campsites near lodges. Work camping is very common in Alaska, though not many people have heard of it in the lower 48. If you like living simply and close to nature, it could be perfect for you. If you need a ton of amenities and a big floor plan, you might be disappointed.

    3.We want people-people. If you don’t consider yourself a “people person,” this isn’t the job for you. If you’re a true introvert who feels like they have to be “on” to say hello or enjoy a brief chat with a stranger, the hotel business will leave you feeling drained rather than energized. But if your smile comes as easily as your sparkling conversation, you’ll love it here!

    4.All hands on deck. The hotel employees work together as a team to ensure a great experience for guests. You can expect to work alongside a rotating cast of characters in the hotel. True team players who make sure they pull their weight will go far in the hospitality business!

    5.You’re Alaska’s fair weather friend. Seasonal hospitality jobs typically run from May to September. This means you’ll be missing the worst of the Alaskan winter. That’s ideal for exploring the outdoors in comfort and safety, but you can expect a little ribbing from the year-round locals! It takes a full calendar year to “earn your stripes” in the eyes of many.

    6.Cars are king. If you’re able to drive to your seasonal position in Alaska, do it! There are shuttles available from most camp locations to the lodges for work, but cars are invaluable for your day off. If you want to explore the surrounding countryside or municipalities you’ll want wheels. (And maybe four wheel drive!)

    7.High energy work. Hospitality work can ask a lot out of you, both emotionally and physically. It might mean being on your feet for most of the day or going up and down the same set of stairs a dozen times. It might mean dealing with customers who are frustrated, upset, or unreasonable. You’ll probably be working 5-6 days a week and 8-10 hours a day. This is a great job for someone whose spirits stay high no matter what. If you get tired and burnt out quickly, the hotel industry isn’t right for you.

    8.You’ll make friends from around the world. Even though you might be living in a small city in the Alaskan wilderness, you’ll be meeting people from all over the world. That doesn’t just go for the guests—many of the other hotel employees are also seasonal transplants. When you leave at the end of the summer, the other seasonal employees you worked alongside will be going back home, too. That means you’ll have new friends dotting the globe. Maybe one of them will become the destination of your next adventure!

    9.Vacation is expected. Seasonal hotel work in Alaska is not like most jobs in the continental US when it comes to time off. At many hospitality positions in the lower 48, it’s difficult for employees to take vacation. In Alaska, it’s expected that people come here for the opportunity to explore. You can also leverage your employee status for deeply-discounted rates on cruises and accommodations!

    10.You’ll be sad when it’s over. Every seasonal hospitality worker experiences pangs of sorrow when the job ends. It’s hard to leave a place you’ve come to call home, and hard to say goodbye to surroundings as beautiful as those in the pristine Alaskan wild. But that melancholy will quickly turn into treasured memories and great stories. And maybe you’ll come back to make some more of both.

    There’s only one thing that’s certain about working a seasonal hospitality job in Alaska: there’s no way to know what it’s really like until you’ve tried it for yourself. If these insights intrigued you, maybe it’s time to find out!