Now is the perfect time to plan your next outdoor summer job– here’s your guide!
By Haley Gamertsfelder (she/her) | Field Coordinator
It is time to apply to seasonal jobs for 2024! These types of jobs offer the opportunity to blend passion with profession. Even though it feels as if the summer season has just ended, outdoor organizations are already hard at work gearing up for another season. Here at CDTC we are busy planning our project schedule for next year, writing grants to fund those projects and finding great partners to host projects with. We hope this post helps clarify the need to apply to summer jobs now, acts as a rough guide to applying to seasonal jobs and makes these unique opportunities a little more approachable. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a conservationist at heart, or simply seeking a unique work experience, you have a place in the outdoor industry and we’re just awaiting your application.
Understand their mission
What is the number one priority of the organization you are applying to, or maybe their top 3? Not all outdoor organizations have the same mission. Some are focused on the on the ground conservation, others focus on equity in the outdoors, or politics and lobbying. This is important to understand as it will likely come up in your interview, you also want it to align with your values. In an effort for increased transparency, most organizations will have their mission statements readily available on their website along with actionable items. As an example we maintain, “The mission of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition is to complete, promote, and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.” This mission statement guides everything we do on a daily basis.
What’s the gig?
There are plenty of opportunities catering to various skills and interests. Into science? Biological Science Technician or Research Assistant for a Graduate student. Passionate about diversifying the outdoors? Advocacy and Justice Program Director or Outdoor Educator. How about a labor job? Trail crew member or leader, Forestry Technician, Wildland fire fighter hand crew. Think about what you’re really interested in doing. You can always try a position for a season and then determine that it’s not for you. CDTC is hiring for a Field Crew Leader for the 2024 season. The job details for this position include: co-lead volunteer trail crews in trail maintenance, co-instruct trail maintenance adopter trainings, oversee basecamp operations, and maintain accurate reporting. This is by no means an exhaustive list! The details and duties of any one position can change and adapt to an applicants strengths and interests.
How do their applications work?
The outdoor industry is diverse in the types of organizations that exist within it. There are Federal Agencies (National Park Service, National Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, etc.) There are nationwide non profits, think Student Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy. State and regional non-profits, such as Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Wild Montana, New Mexico Wild, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. The list goes on and on. There are also Conservation Corps, one in almost every state or region. As well as Tribal organizations, state parks, and so many others! Just as the organizations are diverse, the application processes are never identical. Federal Agencies famously use USAjobs.gov for all of their recruiting and hiring. (Check out the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centers’ article on applying to jobs through USAjobs) Often though it will just be a resume and cover letter. Make sure you have someone read them over to catch mistakes you may have missed!
Be patient and flexible with the timeline
Because these positions are open nearly 6 months in advance and tend to take place over the holiday season, it takes some time to set up interviews and then make final decisions. You generally won’t hear back from Federal Agencies until February at the earliest. Smaller organizations may start scheduling initial interviews in December and January, with an ultimate decision by February. It is never a bad idea to reach out and request an update.
Good luck and have fun with it!
Instead of viewing this as a time of stress, think of the reward you will have when you finally get out there in the field on the first day of a project. Think of that first sample you’ll take of riparian soil. The first swing of that pick mattock. The first awesome meeting you have with a project partner. Remember that every hiring manager/staff that you’re applying to has been in your shoes at some point. We all have to start somewhere. So never hesitate to reach out to find out more about a position or get some clarifying details. Seasonal jobs may be short in time, but the skills, enjoyment and growth you get from them will stay with you for years to come.