Employer Interview – Alaska Wilderness Adventures

JobMonkey spoke with the hiring manager for Alaska Wildland Adventures. She provides great insight into what their company is looking for in its seasonal staff.

What sets an application apart?

For me, first impressions are everything.

So if someone has taken the time to use a full-size envelope, present the application well, and write a really good cover letter – no grammar or spelling errors – that’s important.

We have a really extensive application with a lot of essay questions, so if they’ve taken the time to write full paragraphs instead of just scribbling something down that says something. Presenting yourself well is a great guide quality to have.

What skills do successful tour guides have?

It’s important to be an effective multi-tasker while having a great attitude. You have to manage the safety of a large group of people and make decisions constantly. For tour guide jobs it’s important to have a good knowledge base so when something happens on the trail or the river they can make it a teachable moment. I like my wilderness guides to be able to admit when they don’t know something and go look it up. It’s really important that people are passionate about their people skills, the place they’re guiding in, and the activity so they can always make it fresh and convey their excitement to our clients.

How is your internship program different from your regular seasonal jobs?

Interns are definitely jacks or jills of all trades. We expect them to do a little bit of everything from scheduling to leading hikes. Instead of having one job title, they get to sample everything. Our whole program is definitely into nurturing people to stay in our company. We only have two formal student internships, but a lot of times we’ll have someone in a hospitality job who wants to learn to guide, so we’ll set up some after-hours training opportunities. We really encourage lateral movement.

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What would you want applicants to know before applying?

50% of the summer job is the actual job and the other 50% is communal living. A lot of the skills we’re looking for are the ability to interact with your co-workers – good communication, good conflict resolution skills, the ability to take care of your own needs without impacting the group. You have a roommate, eat communally, and share a lot of the same space. Our company also has a really strong environmental ethic, so every decision we make from the ground up we think about the impact on the environment and the local economy.

When do you do most of your seasonal hiring?

We start in December and I’m usually done by February. We have a couple jobs left in March, but I like to get done early. We also have a huge number of returning staff every year. The spots fill up, so the earlier you apply the better.

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