Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WORKAMPING - INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Interview Questions to help you find a good match for your Best Workamping Job Yet!


  • So maybe you are new to workamping and are wondering how the interview process works for your prospective workamping jobs. 
  • Or you are an experienced workamper, but have had some bad experiences stemming from misunderstandings with employers.
  • Or maybe you are an employer that wants information on what workampers are looking for in a great workamping experience.

I hope this information will help you document your interview process to make the best decision possible for your next workamping job.


It is important to research your employers thoroughly before you start the application process. We usually start looking 9-12 months before we want to be in a location. We decide approximately what area we want to go to and research online by state, city, and campground. There are several websites that list workamping jobs. Just simply search workamping jobs and a lot of options pop up. We also look at social websites, review websites, and each facility's website to try to get a feel if this would be a good fit for us.

We are also members of workamper.com and definitely recommend them for finding jobs and  other resources. There is a membership fee but it has been worth every penny. We joined several years before we actually started workamping and always go there first for information. You can also put together your resume there and make it available for employers who are looking for workers. We also receive a Hotline email each day with all of the job listings for the day. This is something I look at daily. Even if the jobs listed are not of particular interest to us right now, if it is something I may be interested in the future, I write down the particulars on a sheet I have created to keep track of jobs by state. I use this as a reference for future job searches. You can also access and search the jobs on workamper.com.

I like to add scenic pictures to these "business" posts too to remind us of why we do this!


Every workamping job we have had so far has each had totally different ways of interviewing and determining if we were a right fit for the job. One job had a very extensive phone interview on 2 separate occasions. This seemed like a lot but at the same time we got a lot of information about the job and the campground also.  Another interview included a very brief phone conversation that only included one question - "Are you happy campers?" Of course we said yes and we were hired on the spot.  While that was very easy and we were excited to have the job, we realized later we should have spent more time "interviewing" our new employer. We did email them later with further questions and in the end it turned out fine, but it is best to find out the exact expectations from both you and the employer during the interview. Be specific as to your needs as far as campsite, job, schedule, your abilities and experiences.

We have a form that we fill out that has the list of specific questions we want to ask to make sure we don't forget anything. We want to be totally aware of what is expected of us, where we will be living and spending our time for the next few months. This form can also be used when you are doing your preliminary research of employers. Just fill out the information you know about the job on the form and keep it to complete at a later date if the opportunity arises. 

This is the form that we have created for our use. If you would like a copy, just subscribe to our email list in the upper right corner and we will send you a copy!


The first blank in the form is State so you can file them by State for future reference. The next section is the demographics - Name of Campground, Address, Phone Number, Website, Manager's Name and Email.  It is important that this information is accurate as you will refer to it many times in the future.

Job Responsibilities is probably the most important part of all the information you include on this form.  Let the Manager give you a list of responsibilities and then ask as many questions as possible about the details of the duties. Are there any certain skills needed for the job - learning a new computer program, etc. This is where you will really get a feel for the job and the manager as he explains the responsibilities, expectations and describes how you fit into their business. Feel free to elaborate on your previous experiences and skills but be realistic about the work you can and want to do.

The Work Schedule and Hours required for the job will be important as it will help you decide if you have enough free time to actually enjoy the area that you are visiting. This is all about personal preference as to how many hours you are willing to work compared to time off to visit the local sites. You will also want to know if you have the same days off and are they the same days each week. You should also inquire if overtime is expected.

The biggest deciding factor may be the salary depending if you need to work for an actual salary instead of just a site in order to survive on the road. Along with salary ask information on hours required for the site and what utilities are included. Ask specifics about the utilities as some may charge you separately for electricity, propane, etc. When inquiring about WiFi you may want to ask if it is at your site or just available in the campground. There may be other perks included  like laundry, tickets to events, etc.  Working for site and/or salary is a personal preference depending on your circumstances. Some people just work for the site if they have other income, while others need a salary along with the site in order to make ends meet. And that is where we fall in this workamping world! We are not eligible for Social Security and retirement income yet so we always look for a position that has a salary and a site provided. The variables are the cost of utilities and perks. In the past, we have worked some hours for our site knowing we wouldn't make as much money. However, the location was a place we really wanted to be so it was definitely worth it. If you have pets, be sure to also give that information to the interviewer although most places do ask about your furry friends.



Our Grand-Puppy!


The next few items may not be deal breakers in your decision but should be considered. Start Date and End Date may be flexible so if you have an opinion on this be sure to voice it during the interview. Weather, Location of Shopping, and Cost of Living are all very important factors but should be included in your research efforts before you decide to interview. 

The final questions are regarding how many other workampers will be working at the facility and if there are any workampers returning for another season. It seems to be a good sign if workampers return to a facility for a second season or more. If no one is returning you may want to ask if any workampers have ever left a job early, although you may get varying answers on the reasons. Also some employers will give you previous employees to contact.

 
It is always nice to work with other workampers and get to know them. They will make your job so much more enjoyable if you can connect with them! We have met some amazing people in every job we have had. It is always exciting to hear their story of why they are on the road and the places they have visited. Now we have friends all over the country! They are also a great reference when you are looking at future jobs. 

Remember to sell yourself along the way as you are asking and answering questions. Feel free to describe your previous job experiences. Also be prepared to provide references if necessary. Have name and phone numbers available.

Finally, on my form there is a place to list Pros and Cons. This is the place where we usually make the final decision. If you are looking at several jobs, compare all sheets and info. Once you see it all down on paper, it seems pretty obvious which choice is best for you.

Ask when they will be making the decision on hiring and when they will notify you. If it is a job you are very interested in, after a few days contact them with a follow-up email or phone call to thank them for their time.
 
Some places will offer a written contract for you to sign. While others may not offer a written contract, I usually send a follow-up email to reiterate the most important aspects of the job just to have them written down for both parties to see and acknowledge. If you do make a commitment to take a job, please honor your commitment. It seems to be a common problem for employers to hire someone only to have them not follow through on their commitment maybe because a better offer came through. If you are looking at several jobs, let them know you are unable to commit and give them a timeline. If we decide on a position several months ahead, I like to keep in touch with them every couple months just to make sure we are still on track.

If you would like to use the form we have created, simply subscribe to my e-mails and we will send it to you free!

Subscribe to Sentimental Sue by Email

I am in the process of developing other forms that may be helpful to Workampers to track information such as your RV Insurance, Health Record, Travel Journal, Planning Your Trips, etc.! So stay tuned!


If you have any suggestions for additions or comments, please let me know! This seems to always be a work in progress with new experiences and jobs. I will update as necessary!


Happy Trails!





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Monday, March 16, 2015

HIKING THE WAVE - COYOTE BUTTES NORTH - ARIZONA






While we were in Kanab, Utah for a workamping job, we had the opportunity to go hiking at one of the most beautiful sites in Arizona! It is called Coyote Buttes North or more commonly known as “The Wave.” I'm sure you have seen pictures of the unique formed rocks before, but maybe didn't know where this amazing place was. It is located in the Paria Canyon -Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness on the Arizona and Utah border between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona. To get there, take Highway 89 east from Kanab to House Valley Road, turn right, and then go 8 miles on a rough gravel road to Wire Pass Trail head. By the way, there is a "comfort station" in the parking area.



This hike requires a permit and only 20 hikers per day are allowed for day use, no overnight camping is allowed. Our hiking mentors had secured our permits 4 months prior to our hike. There are 2 ways to obtain a permit – one is online at the Bureau of Land Management website and the other is to apply in person at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitors Center in Kanab, Utah, the day before you would like to hike. The drawing in Kanab it as 9 a.m. and you need to be present before they draw at approximately 8:30 a.m. to fill out an application. They give out 10 permits online and 10 permits the day before the hike. The cost is $7 per person. When you receive a permit they give you a car pass and detailed instructions to get to The Wave.






Many areas on the hike are not on a specific path and many hikers have gotten lost. It is important to bring the instructions with you in order to find the landmarks noted. Unfortunately people do die on this hike every year as they are not prepared or get lost. We started early as the days get hot and there is not much shade. It is the Wilderness! 

 

We started our hike at 6 a.m. on July 3rd just as the sun was coming up. It was shining a bright pink on the clouds and it was gorgeous!  The clouds were a welcome site knowing the heat of the day was on its way.  The beginning of the hike is on a sandy path with beautiful views of the Vermillion Cliffs. There are many ups and downs over the rocks so you need to watch your footing. But don't forget to stop and look around from time to time as the views are breathtaking along the way!



Gorgeous Sunrise! Well worth getting up at 4:30 a.m.!

The next part of the hike is over a rocky, hilly area. This is the part of the hike where there are no paths so it is important to look for the landmarks noted on the instructions. There are a few posts along the way that point you in the right direction but they are easily missed. One of the main landmarks you look for is a big crack on the mountain that is located just above The Wave.


The mountain with the big crack is our destination!








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as you are about to arrive at that mountain you encounter a sandy hill that can be difficult and slow you down. But there is great anticipation for what you are about to witness! 




It is kind of hard to judge size and distance in this photo,but those are our footprints in the sand.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing "The Wave" for the first time you are treated to the most amazing rock structures created by wind, rain, and God! It is hard to describe and even the photos do not capture the true beauty! There are so many areas to explore! 



 

The hike is approximately 6 miles so come prepared with plenty of water and snacks. We stopped several times along the way to take in the view, to rest, and for water and salty snacks. You can get dehydrated very quickly in these conditions.









We knew we would be doing a lot of hiking when we got to Utah so we invested in some good hiking gear - good quality hats, hiking shoes, and Camelback backpacks to make sure we would have plenty of water. These are backpacks that also hold water. Mine is a little smaller Purple version (and it matches my shoes!) that mainly just holds water, cellphone and other small things. But Doug's is larger and also held our lunch and snacks. We are pretty frugal with our money so we checked several brands before we made our final purchases. We will use them on many hikes to come and bike rides.  Always have to find a deal!








We did run into about 12 other hikers that day. Some were just getting to The Wave as we were leaving and had kids with them - sure hope they made it back safely! We stopped in the shade for a snack and great conversation with our “hiking mentors.” It was very comforting to be with them as they had hiked The Wave before. It is so amazing to just look around and take in all the breathtaking views!





We always have to take a shadow picture! Love My Man!

We stayed for about 2 hours before heading back. Again, the landmarks are very important to finding your way back. You could really feel the heat of the sun as it was about 10 a.m. and we were very glad we had gotten an early start on the day. By the time we got back to the car we were  exhausted and it was as hot as those red rocks in the blazing sun! It always seems to take longer on the way back! Why is that? 

We did a lot of hiking while we were in Utah and it was spectacular!

See my post regarding workamping and living in Kanab here.

I would highly recommend visiting or workamping in that area. We also visited Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Look for future posts about those adventures!