When your staff love Alaska it makes all the difference!

Taken at Summit Lake Lodge

We’re thrilled to have these two working for us! Taken when we stopped for brunch one trip to Anchorage.

One of the greatest challenges of a seasonal business is finding employees.  In recent years the easiest and best employees have been foreign exchange students participating in the Government sponsored Cultural Work & Study Program. The students were always hard workers and we’ve enjoyed and remained friends with all our foreign students; the hardest thing about using that program are the dates of work the students have.  Often the season has either started or lasts long beyond their work date windows, so we’re faced with the challenges of more temporary hires; which often need the same training. There have been some years that we’ve had to train as many as This summer we are to find 2 wonderful young women, one from Michigan and the other from Pennsylvania willing to come to Alaska for the summer.  Turns out they both love Alaska, are both great workers and better still, like each other and get along (they share our employee housing)!  We have our fingers crossed one or both will decide they love it here so much they’ll stay year round (at least for a few seasons)! 🙂


Where are the workers?

I really don’t understand – with the high unemployment numbers we keep hearing about, where are all the workers!? As the proprietor of a lodging operation in a tourist location I have need to hire a seasonal worker or two each summer; before I was self employed I worked at a local motel that had even more of a need for workers. Finding Americans who are willing to work hard at such tasks as cleaning rooms however, has proved to be a challenge only met by foreigners. Even young Americans graduating from high school or returning home after their first year at college, seem ill prepared to put in a full day, much less a long day. Over the years it’s been shocking how many kids expect 2 weekend days off as a part of their summer job’s “benefit package!”

How cliche to say “why, when I was a kid” …. But I fear I must….there was a time when a summer job was all about making the money, as much as you could, and you worked hard, willingly. Now, if you want to find someone to work hard at menial jobs like cleaning rooms, you need to look for a foreigner!

I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 10 years, and in that time, consistently the best workers have been the cultural exchange students. As word spread among local businesses, more and more have hired these students, and although there will always be a bad egg or two in any batch of workers, overall their quality far exceeds American workers.

What’s happened to our society that this should be the case, and what does this bode for our future? I don’t have these answers, but I continue to ponder this issue as I periodically search for employees of value.