My Experience Working In The Wild, Wild West After Graduation


Finishing the last day of exams was like receiving a pat well done on the back.

I was exasperated from studying and finding out I hadn’t gotten into any grad schools.

I felt scared, battered and bruised, so to speak. Walking to the pub to meet friends, I tried to think about my immediate future.

Not only will you have the time of your life, but you will also bring back a set of relatable soft skills that are sure to help you in your future job search – not bad for only stepping a few provinces away.

I was done undergrad. I now had to say goodbyes to the friends who had been on the journey with me, and we didn’t know where or when we would meet again.

None of us really knew what the heck was going to happen next.

So what next?

Grad school wasn’t an option and summer was fast approaching, so I made a list of things I hadn’t been able to accomplish while in undergrad. This was my time!

First, my boyfriend and I decided to be closer than we had been the summer before. He was tree planting in British Columbia last summer and decided to return. And, while this occupation may seem intriguing to some, I was not quite prepared to join him and his crew on the block. However, heading west was something I’d always wanted to do.

The Rocky Mountains had always attracted me, but mostly for their ski hills. So even though it was summer, I decided to follow that dream. While I couldn’t do a ski season, I could hike, bike, swim and live in nature’s playground. Picking out some common locations close to my beloved tree planter, I began to search until I found one perfect job in the perfect location.

The perfect job at the perfect spot

The location was the perfect combination of commercial tourism and Rocky Mountain lifestyle: Jasper National Park. With the Athabasca glacier nearby, the Athabasca River flowing right through town, and lakes the color of the bluest ocean, I knew I would never tire of my surroundings.

The job: Tram guide for the Jasper Tramway, a system that brings tourists from the base of Whistlers Mountain (not to be confused with the ski hill in B.C.) to the top in a mere seven minutes.

Awesome! But what about when I have to look for a “real” job?

How can temporary jobs abroad or even just a province away help you in future job searches? As fun as it is to get away from the ordinary, you’re still (hopefully) applying general life skills that employers are sure to ask about when they meet you, such as flexibility, teamwork skills, adaptability.

Well, the work experience of temporary jobs, along with the practical considerations and preparations you’ll find in any relocation, lends well to those sought-after skills.

Here’s an example from my experience with the Jasper Tramway: One important skill I learned was the ability to adjust to my new surroundings. The Wild Wild West did take a little getting used to. For example, in a small town such as Jasper, you have to deal with opening a new bank account, setting up your Internet on the only day of the week that the company is in town, and furnishing your apartment with no furniture stores nearby.

Another example: Meeting, mingling and making friends with snow bunnies from all over the world – basically, building great soft skills and broadening my horizons.

So not only will you have the time of your life, but you will also bring back a set of relatable soft skills that are sure to help you in your future job search – not bad for only stepping a few provinces away.

Fellow travel-holics: Does travelling to work in Canada satisfy your itchy feet? How far have you gone, and how far are you willing to travel to work?

Photo credit: Williamina Deneault
About the author

Williamina Deneault Willa is a recent film studies graduate who has not quite figured out what to do next. Travelling and holding jobs in the interim she is trying to navigate the "real world" as best as she can. She is an avid filmmaker and loves settling down to watch films and watching cheap television. Currently living in Montreal, she is a "cultural sponge" hoping to soak up ideas and learn more about her surroundings everyday.