Alaska Summer Staff Interview
Here’s an interview two summer workers in Alaska. They were both hired to play in a bluegrass band at a number of venues in the state, and then in the month of July to be a part of the staff of a resort (as ranch hands), lead groups, and play music. They share their thoughts and experiences below.
Why did you want to work a summer job in Alaska – what attracted you to it?
Natalie: Well, I have always wanted to visit Alaska and so when my group got invited to come up here to tour/work on a ranch, I jumped at the opportunity.
Victoria: I actually never wanted to come to Alaska because I thought it was really cold here, but when Diamonds [Diamonds in the Rough is the name of the bluegrass band] was invited to Alaska, I began doing some research on the state and it sounded really exciting.
What job did you work (job title) and how hard was it to get the job?
Nat: We were actually invited up and offered a job, so it was really easy to “get” the jobs. However, on the music side of things, I have been working for years through lots of practice, competitions, and traveling around the lower 48s performing in order to reach the point I am at now that has brought me to Alaska. So a lot of dedication went into being able to reach the point of getting invited to a place like Alaska. The ranch hand work I have also been preparing for without realizing it. As a 10-year 4-H member and having lived in the country on a farm for most of my life, I was adequately prepared to take on the challenge of working on the Diamond M Ranch.
Victoria: Nat needed a new guitarist for her band so she asked me to do it. I jumped at the chance to go even though I had never played rhythm guitar before. So there was a lot of hard work and preparation that went into this new job.
Describe the work that you performed.
Nat and Victoria: I do all kinds of things. The first two months was a LOT of traveling around the state and lots of performances. The month of July is almost solely dedicated to ranch work. Because it is an RV park, along with cabins, “tenters,” and a bed and breakfast, there is lots to do. I mostly clean and keep the bed and breakfast running along with Victoria. It is not rare to see me running after a loose horse, taking people to see the eagles nest, helping in the office, or chasing after goats or llamas that escaped the pastures. You can pretty much name it and I do it. DITR (Diamonds in the Rough) are also the house musicians so whenever we have potlucks or group ranch events we are there performing.
How hard was it for you to get to the job location – was it in a remote area?
Nat and Victoria: The ranch itself is in a fairly populated area. We are about three hours south of Anchorage. We are located right between the Twin Cities, Kenai and Soldotna. I would compare them to rural towns in Indiana.
However, there are moose and caribou and bears in your front yard! We have had to travel to some harder to reach areas for certain gigs. Seldovia is a place that can only be reached by boat or air along with Juneau. We find the traveling adventures fun though.
What did you like the most about the job, and what did you like the least?
Nat and Victoria: I love seeing this part of America. The people here are amazing and it is so BEAUTIFUL here! It truly is a frontier and it is not polluted with frivolous things like most of the lower 48 states are. It is peaceful and the people work very hard and expect the same from you. It is not a place for sissies. I love that I get challenged in everything that I do here. Nothing is easy here so you learn how to use what you have around you to accomplish the job.
There is really not much I don’t like. Because of my situation, many times are HIGH stress and that can be very difficult. Some days I do not get much sleep and it can wear your body out, but all in all I love every bit of Alaska!
If you could work in Alaska again would you do so?
Nat: Heck, I am ready to MOVE to Alaska! Why just work here when I could LIVE here! 🙂 But yes, I would work here again.
Victoria: I love Alaska and I love the people here, but I don’t think I’d want to work here for so long again.
What tips and/or advice would you give someone considering a summer job in Alaska?
Nat and Victoria: Be sure you are prepared for a lot of hard work. Also, be prepared for the prices. Everything is quite a bit more expensive. (At least it is pretty different from Indiana.) Come and be sure you have fun and lots of it.
Get to know as many locals as possible, because they are super nice, and they can tell you all kinds of places to go that are free that many people may not know about. Also, the locals will become your family. Most of the towns here are small so you get to know everyone pretty quick. When you’re this far away from home, everyone here quickly becomes your Alaskan family. They are loyal and from what I have seen trustworthy. Seek out the Alaskan experience because it is unlike any other. Even though you’re here for work be sure to step back long enough to soak in the beauty.