Kelly Sullivan/The AS Review
College students are well aware that good jobs are always hard to come by, especially in the summer when everyone is on the hunt. One place you may not have thought to look is in the largest state in the U.S.
Over the summer, tourists flock from all corners of the country to see the beautiful landscapes, mountain ranges and wildlife which have made the Alaskan summers famous. This means that the Alaskan tourism, transportation and food processing industries all have jobs that need to be filled.
Associated Students Vice President for Student Life Jamin Agosti is a permanent resident of the state and returns home every summer to work at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria in Anchorage, Alaska.
Agosti said that summer tourism is a booming business in Alaska and that restaurants and lodges will often recruit out-of-state students through Craigslist.com and other online job sites to come work. He said generally a student can go up and make around $5,000 if they work for the entire summer.
“Tons of Alaska students go to Western, so chances are you’re friends with an Alaskan,” said Agosti. Even though he is able to live with his parents over the summer, he said that many companies provide housing for their staff.
Western student Kristi Louthan has worked for four summers at Snug Harbor Seafoods, a fish processing plant in Kenai, a peninsula on the southern coast of Alaska. She said that during her first year, she worked on the dock, unloading and sorting the fish that were brought in by boat.
Recently, she took a position as a secretary in order to work more hours.
“It is pretty cool,” she said. “You’re still dealing with a whole bunch of random people.” She said the company she works for employs about 100 to 200 people.
A great way to get a job at a cannery is just to show up at the plant as early in the summer as possible, she added. You can also find contact information for plants online and call ahead to let them know you are coming.
She recommended that those who plan to work in the processing industry should invest in fish slickers, rain gear and boots, although if you don’t come with these items the plant will often provide them.
“I like getting messy,” she said. “I have one sweatshirt I have used for all four years. You smell like fish all summer, there’s no way to get it out.”
Louthan also said to be prepared to work for long periods of time. The longest shift she said she has ever worked was 28 hours long.
Although Louthan lived five minutes down the road from the plant while she worked there, she said there was plenty of on-site housing for employees. In one month she made about $3,500, which easily made up the money she spent on her plane ticket, she said.
Western student Erin Curran-Tileston worked for two summers for tour companies on the Alaska Railroad. She said last year she worked for Salmon Berry Tours, a company that runs train tours through Alaska. Other similar companies are Princess and Holland America tours.
Curran-Tileston said she started work very early in the morning and gave tourists information about Alaskan landmarks. Shifts would usually be 12 hours long when going from Anchorage to Fairbanks, or four hours long from Anchorage to Seward.
Tour companies often provide their own scripts for the guides, but it is helpful to know a good amount about Alaska before you go, Curran-Tileston said. She said that a nice part of the tourism industry is that you get to know the people on the tour very well since you are with the same group for the entire trip.
Curren-Tileston said that an employee who works as many hours as they can will easily make around $7,000 in one summer. She said that when contacting companies, be sure to tell them if you can stay until mid-September.