As I briefly announced on 'Round the Chuckbox Monday, I have secured a summer job at a camp in Eldorado National Forest. I couldn't have been more blessed in my job search, one that took much of my time this winter.
Although it's too early to reveal the camp's identity, it's among the handful of camps located within a two-hour driving distance from my Diamond Springs home. Of those nine or ten camps, I'm only aware of two that were looking for a chef for the 2009 season.
My search for a summer job stretches back to late 2006, when I signed up for summer and year-round job alerts from the American Camp Association. Looking ahead to my eventual retirement, I initially wanted to gauge the availability of summer jobs in the Western U.S. I learned the location of every camp near by home in the process.
My initial focus was toward summer jobs. I intend to continue my current off-season employment for the next two or three years. Ultimately, I'd like to secure a job as the chef for a year-round camp and conference facility.
I was prepared for an extended job search. Since this was my first experience in a segment of the food service industry that's much different from the experience listed on my resume, I didn't know what to expect.
I was prepared to convince potential employers how this chef would translate 30-plus years military and corrections experience into the camp setting. (We can talk more about this process if there's interest.)
The first thing I did after retiring in August was to post my resume on two camp staff websites. I used the ACA job search service and CampStaff.com. While I used other sites in my search, these two suited my needs because they offered periodic email job alerts. I was able to tailor my search to the six-state region where I was willing to work (California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington).
I learned long ago that you can't depend on the job finding you. You have to go to the job. In the seven months since my retirement, I only had two contacts from camp directors. The first came unsolicited from a camp direct in Wisconsin. He found my name on the ACA forums.
The other contact came from CampStaff.com. I have good reason to believe that the contact would've led to a summer job had I completed the application process. I didn't complete the process after my interview because I was offered the local job.
Although I don't have anything to compare my job-search experience to, I can say that you can't depend on resume boards. While a contact may lead to one or more interviews and a job, my experience shows that you have to be proactive in your job search. That means doing your own searches, emailing camp directors and submitting a well-prepared cover letter and resume, and filling out the application.
I continued my job search until I signed my contract early last week. In all, I submitted seven applications to five camps in Northern California and two out-of-state camps. It's interesting to note that it was the last three applications that resulted in interviews. Of those, I participated in two telephone interviews. I canceled the third because I had accepted the job.
Next time we meet, I'd like to talk about the four summer camp websites that I used to locate job leads. I can also address how I prepared myself for a change from large-volume feeding to the camp setting.
More to come ...
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