Help Pay for College By Working in a National Park

If you’re like most high school students who’ll be responsible for at least partially earning your own way through college, you’ve undoubtedly already started exploring potential employment options — and you probably already know that typical student employment involves working in the service industry. Restaurant and retail jobs offer flexible hours that work well with student schedules, so you’ve probably resigned yourself to a bit of drudgery for the sake of your end goal, and it may be at the back of your mind that you’ll spend summers serving food or ringing up items in a retail store.

Consider a Job in a National Park

Why not think outside the box a little and do these things in a National Park? Even if you don’t live anywhere near a National Park, you can still take advantage of available employment opportunities. The National Park Service partners with over 500 concessionaires to provide hospitality and recreation services to visitors, and these concessionaires employ over 25,000 people — many of them college students. Because of the remote location of National Parks, local labor sources aren’t enough to meet the staffing needs of the concessionaires, so they provide on-site accommodations for the vast majority of their employees. Here’s what you need to know about working at a National Park for the summer.

You’ll Save Money

Although concessionaires in National parks typically charge a nominal amount for room and board, you’ll be able to put the rest of your paycheck directly into your college savings account. Because National Parks are typically situated far from urban areas, there isn’t much to spend money on. That doesn’t mean you’ll be bored, though — instead of spending the evening at a crowded concert, you’ll be far away from any kind of light pollution watching meteor showers with a few new friends.

You’ll Make New Friends From All Over the World

International students come from many countries to spend their summers working at National Parks in the U.S. to earn money for their education. You’ll learn a lot about their cultures by living and working with them as well as make a few lifelong friends.

You’ll Experience Life in Incredible Places

From the perpetual ice and snow of the pristine peaks in the Alaska Range in Denali National Park to the austere beauty of Big Ben National Park in Texas, all National Parks contain abundant natural beauty. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy kayaking, hiking, and otherwise enjoying the wilderness during your time off.

You’ll Gain Valuable Work Experience

One of the toughest obstacles faced by those trying to earn money for college is that they have limited work experience, but the National Park Service offers a variety of entry-level positions in everything from waiting tables to helping out with guided tours and recreational activities.

For more information on working for a concessionaire at one of the National Parks next summer, talk to your high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office and visit the National Park Service’s jobs and internships webpage.