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Tips for Retirees Looking for Fun Summer Jobs

Here's a sampling of openings and how to apply

By Nancy Collamer

Ever see the bumper sticker, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work?” If that message makes you eager to retire full-time, but you’re not quite yet ready for that, you might find inspiration in Keith Larson’s story.
Larson, age 52, did what many boomers think of, but never do. In 2006, way before he was old enough to retire, he quit and began working a series of seasonal jobs at places like national parks, resorts and tourist attractions, allowing him to combine work and play.
With summer just around the corner, there’s still time for you to consider doing the same this year. Below, I’ll tell about openings at some popular seasonal spots and I’ll offer a few tips for retirees applying for summer jobs.

(MORE: 10 Great Sites to Find Part-Time Work)
Why You Should Apply Now

Bill Berg, founder of, a site that specializes in seasonal jobs, says it’s a good time to apply; Cool Works has seen a 30 percent increase in job postings just this year.
Contrary to popular opinion, employers really do like to hire older workers for seasonal jobs.
“Retirees’ flexible schedules often accommodate this summer season,” says Berg, and “some employers are even retrofitting their on-site employee housing to suit more mature individuals.”
Larson will spend this summer in Cooper Landing, Alaska working for the third year in a row as a breakfast cook at the Kenai Riverside Lodge. It’s a job he adores, in a setting that provides ample opportunity to fish, hike and enjoy the glory of nature.

Summer Jobs Hiring Managers Need to Fill

What types of jobs can you expect to find as a seasonal worker?
To find out, I asked several employers at or near major National Parks. Here’s a sampling of their responses; if they sound tempting, apply soon because these spots won’t last.

(MORE: Secret to Retiree Happiness Is Part-Time Work)

Shawna Traughber, Recruiting Manager at Grand Teton Lodge in Moran, Wyo.
What types of summer jobs are you recruiting for?
Hospitality related positions, starting at $8 an hour with free housing. The employment season runs from approximately mid-May to mid-October.
What is your hiring process?
The first step is a telephone screen, followed by a phone or Skype interview. Background checks are required for certain positions. The best way to apply for jobs is online. If you have questions, please call 800-350-2068.
What are popular jobs sometimes filled by retirees?
Retail, reservations, maintenance/engineering, host/cashier, safety officer and drivers.
Anne Jo Rausch, HR Director at Wall Drug Store, a tourist attraction located outside Badlands National Park in South Dakota
What types of summer jobs are you recruiting for?
We hire for our café, retail, and maintenance areas.
In the café, duties may include cleaning tables, doing dishes, cooking, and scooping ice cream to name a few.
In the retail areas, employees ring up customer sales, assist customers and keep the work place clean.
Maintenance involves many different tasks that range from cleaning the dining rooms to unloading trucks and delivering packages.
Most jobs pay $9 an hour and there is an end-of-summer contract bonus for employees who stay through the season.
What is your hiring process?
Applications can be submitted online or in person. We process the applications, conduct reference checks and then interview — in-person for local candidates.
What are popular jobs sometimes filled by retirees?
Most of our retirees work in the retail areas. The employees get to have great customer interaction and learn about the different types of merchandise Wall Drug has to offer.


Meg Rudge, HR assistant director at Grand Canyon South Rim (run by Xanterra Parks and Resorts)
What types of summer jobs are you recruiting for?
We are still hiring for almost all of our front line positions in our hotels, restaurants and retail. 
We have many positions including retail associate, dining room host, servers, front desk clerk, activities desk clerk, cafeteria worker, cook and snack bar associate. 
Positions typically pay between $8 and $8.70 an hour.
We prefer a minimum commitment of 3 months, but we welcome longer work periods and many of these positions can also be offered as year-round jobs. 
We are a year-round property with a long peak season spanning February to late October.  As a result, we can offer seasonal jobs beyond just the typical summer months.
What is your hiring process?
We require an application, either online or we can mail a paper application if requested at 888-224-0330. 
Only some positions require an interview, but we do verify past employment before making a hiring decision and offer. A background check is also performed on all new employees.
When we send a job offer out, we also indicate what type of housing is being offered. Shared dormitory rooms are common, although candidates may bring their RV’s and rent a site.  
What are popular jobs sometimes filled by retirees?
Dining room host, retail associate or even cafeteria worker jobs could appeal to retirees, but we welcome applications from retirees for any position. We aim to make the best fit and that could include a position in one of our many support departments as well.

3 Tips for Summer-Job Retirees
1. Jobs at popular parks and resorts tend to fill quickly, so if your favorite spots are already taken this year, start exploring your options in the fall to snag an opening for summer 2015. Don't restrict your search to the National Parks. From Cape Code to the Florida Keys to Austin, hot tourist areas throughout the country need extra staffing during peak seasons.
2. In addition to searching for jobs at, be sure to check out summer job opportunities listed on the sites I highlighted in this post.
3. Check out the forum section on where you can ask questions and learn about living and working in great places during the summer.



Photograph of Nancy Collamer
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at (and you'll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter). Read More
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