Minam River Lodge Shares the Benefits, Hardships, and Logistics of Working Seasonal Jobs in Hospitality
How many times have you been in the zen of prep, imagining yourself far away in a remote cabin or on warm sandy beaches?
How often have you taken that daydream and gotten as far as looking into resorts, considering the possibilities of packing everything up and working a destination job—only to crash back into reality and tell yourself it’s too complicated?
We’ve all been there, including Tevin Miller, Sous Chef at the Minam River Lodge. Except Tevin took that leap and is here with General Manager Margaret Smith to share the ins and outs of committing to seasonal work in a destination spot.
What Are The Benefits of Working Seasonal Jobs?
1. Explore New Parts of the World
Often, seasonal work happens in places where tourism is high during certain parts of the year. Think beaches, mountains, and other remote parts of the world.
For Tevin, getting lost in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Eastern Oregon was just the ticket. After working in regular kitchens for over ten years, Tevin felt the urge to find something different.
“The Minam popped up for me on Instagram through a cook who was here last year. I just saw the job, and I was like, that seems really awesome,” Tevin explained. “I looked up the place and was like, this is gorgeous. It’s beautiful out there. They’re right off the river, and it seems like a really cool concept that’s very different from anywhere else I’ve been professionally. So it was a big jump but definitely worth it.”
While the hours are long, and privacy is limited working on a small and busy property—Tevin described that escaping in the wilderness or flyfishing on his days off makes the experience worthwhile.
“On a staff off day, [they] have access to the property just as a guest,” Margaret shared.
”You can use the sauna, the hot tub, and you are free to roam the property or the wilderness. Some staff like to make little backpacking trips and just hike away for a few miles, camp out, and then return the next day.”
Don’t get us wrong. You still have to work. But taking on a seasonal job can be an amazing way to make travel and exploration a reality—and still make money.
2. Develop Specialized Skills
Depending on the atmosphere you seek for seasonal work, you could develop specialized skills you wouldn’t typically come across in an average kitchen.
For instance, some resorts have multiple restaurants you can jump around—usually covering different cuisines. Or you might just get exposure to opportunities you wouldn’t have time or space for elsewhere, as in Tevin’s case with open-fire cooking and smoking.
“You know you get a fire going, you have to think about how much wood you’re going to put in because if I’m going to sear this meat for this long on the grill, I need this amount of coals to put off proper heat,” Tevin shared. “It’s definitely a skill I don’t think I would have picked up, at least not as recently as I have, if I didn’t come out here.”
Tevin continued to describe that they had just updated a smokehouse where he’s explored smoking using cold and high-temp techniques.
“Food preservation is kind of a fun activity we’re exploring more each year,” Margaret shared. “We’re experimenting more with fermenting and preserving, canning, making extracts and tinctures.”
3. Build Your Resume
Organizing yourself to move and work a seasonal job is impressive enough—but the time you spend working in a tourist-packed resort, an isolated and intimate lodge, or a family-friendly cruise will set you up with experience to kick your resume up a notch.
For example, Margaret described that there is no set menu at Minam River Lodge. Chefs are free to explore their creative side with available ingredients.
While this sounds pretty awesome, it’s also a huge responsibility.
It requires learning to work well with limited direction, adapt and pivot on a whim, and collaborate respectfully with others.
“The chefs are really just working with each other, working with what’s in season, working with the farmer to come up with the best plan possible for each meal,” Margaret said. “So while planning is certainly important, there is a lot of pivoting and being resourceful with what you have at the moment to create the best possible food.”
Additionally—whether you live on-site or not—you’ll get a crash course in working with others and communicating, a skill everyone seeks on a hospitality resume.
What are the challenges of seasonal employment?
Of course, seasonal work comes with challenges (as all work does). Understanding the difficulties when deciding if a seasonal job suits you is essential. It takes a lot of courage and risk to drop everything and go somewhere for a set period.
“It’s a vulnerable experience, I guess I should say, because you have to kind of drop everything you know in your current life and go,” Tevin shared. “Especially going somewhere that’s like, as you described, a destination place.”
Taking the leap and leaving everything behind for a set time is not an easy task—leaving family, friends, and your life behind can be both logistically and emotionally challenging for many.
Luckily, most seasonal work is precisely that—seasonal. After the busy period, you likely return home or wherever makes sense for you during the off-season. It can be a great way to escape temporarily to try something new without making a permanent move.
In addition to the challenges of packing up your life, at the Minam Lodge, the team is pretty small. You must collaborate and communicate with others while having little time to yourself—which can test the best of us.
“You always have to practice respectful communication and collaboration,” Margaret said. “You have to be fair and take your ego out of many of your communications here because you’re living and working with the same people. There is a lot of opportunity for self-growth here if you’re willing to tap into it and stay humble, that’s for sure.”
What are the logistics of working a seasonal job?
Okay, so you made it this far, and you’re more convinced that seasonal work is just what you’ve been looking for—but still, how do you organize your life to take that plunge?
Pausing your everyday life to work for six months at a destination job requires thorough planning, but it’s not impossible.
Margaret said there are various ways she’s seen people make the transition. The most common is packing up personal belongings and getting a storage unit or having a friend or family member hold on to items temporarily.
While working, employees tend to save the money they’re earning since they’re in the middle of the wilderness. This allows them to leave with a little nest egg to do whatever during the off-season before returning or moving on.
“Another way to do it would be to sublet your apartment or rent your house, pack up your things, maybe in the garage, and fly out here,” Margaret said. “Then, at the end of the season, go back to your living [situation]. Go back to how it was when you left,” Margaret said.
Tevin knew he wanted to do something different and that his lease was coming up soon. He was able to coordinate the end of his lease with his transition to working a seasonal job at Minam River Lodge.
“I had decided that I wanted to get out of Indianapolis. So, I was like, alright, let me start looking for jobs in other places,” Tevin said. “I came across the Minam, and we were supposed to arrive on May 28th last year, and my lease was up on the 20th. I packed all my stuff the week before and took off to Grand Junction, Colorado, to where my dad lives to drop off my stuff and come here.”
For those with pets—temporarily leaving home can seem impossible, but it all depends on where you look for work. Some places, like Minam River Lodge, are pet friendly and do allow employees to bring well-behaved furry friends along.
There are plenty of ways to get out of dodge and participate in the world of destination work—it just takes a little research, coordination, and forethought.
Could seasonal work be right for you?
If you’re looking for a change and don’t have any significant commitments that would definitely hinder your ability to move away temporarily—then absolutely!
There are many fantastic opportunities waiting for you in the world. You just have to have the dedication and determination to find them.
Margaret at Minam River Lodge said that their hiring season typically starts in the Winter and early Spring, so they can have a lineup of workers ready to go come Summer. This is probably true for many destination spots unless it’s a ski resort. In this case, they likely start hiring in the early summer to prepare for Fall and Winter seasons.
So depending on the atmosphere you’re looking for, keep an eye out on Poached for jobs labeled ‘Destination Jobs.’
These are seasonal jobs posted by employers looking to recruit candidates nationwide.
We even have made a category so you can specifically filter your search to find seasonal opportunities.
There are so many developmental opportunities, personally and professionally, when working seasonal jobs—so don’t wait another minute and start planning your next career.
Additionally, if you’re like Tevin and Margaret and want to find an amazing opportunity in the Eagle Cap Wilderness—keep an eye out on Poached or follow them on Instagram to be the first to see upcoming opportunities at the Minam River Lodge.
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