Episode 69 – Marc interviews Kelcy Fowler and Matt Moore, Owners of CoolWorks.com
Coolworks is a website that is focused on jobs in great places. The site has been around for 23 years. It launched in 1995 from the Tower Ranger Station in Yellowstone National Park, and ever since then, its focus and mission has been to connect employers in destination locations with adventurous job seekers that are looking to take on a different type of career or maybe just have a brief adventure and everything in-between.
Matt learned about Coolworks long before he became a part of it. Matt grew up in North Carolina and got a degree in business but on graduating he wasn’t excited about traditional banking or finance roles. He had more of an entrepreneurial spirit. He wanted to take some time before jumping into a career to find something he was excited about. He went out West to find a job somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. He found Coolworks, found a job in Grand Tetons National Park, and it really changed the trajectory of his life. That seasonal job turned into a short career in hospitality that led to Matt and Kelcy meeting. She hired him for the position. Kelcy had also found jobs through Coolworks. They started traveling together and Kelcy began to work for Coolworks. Matt joined the team a little bit later.
Kelcy was at a crossroads. She was 21 and had used up the resources her parents had set aside for her to pursue higher ed. She either needed to get a loan or to leave school. She decided to take time to evaluate what she wanted to do. She stumbled upon the Coolworks website. She had had a cousin who worked in Wyoming. That’s how she learned about the subculture environment that exists around seasonal jobs. On the website, she found a job in a wonderful little spot in Grand Teton National Park. She took a front desk agent position for six months. Then she was promoted to an HR Assistant position, which was a year-round position that allowed her to work and live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. After a year, she was HR Manager. She lived in the Tetons for just about six years. She hired thousands of people over that time, including Matt Moore. She calls it a full circle adventure. It is a great resource that puts a pretty powerful “magic wand” into each of our own hands to choose and make our own destiny. It has charted the course of Matt’s and Kelcy’s lives. Without a college degree, Kelcy received workplace training for a career in HR that she had never imagined she would be interested in. It’s a very powerful opportunity and potential for folks to do something different. Maybe that balloons into something couldn’t really ever have imagined.
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[1:11] Marc gives an overview of the podcast series. The first in the series is an interview with an expert. Last week, Marc interviewed Marcia LaReau and Neil Patrick, co-authors of Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code.
[1:31] This episode is a special interview with Kelcy Fowler and Matt Moore, owners of Coolworks.com, the Mecca of seasonal jobs at places like the U.S. National Park Service and other cool places. Next will be an interview with Barbara Weibel, owner of HoleInTheDonut.com travel blog. She has an inspiring reinvention story.
[1:59] March and April episodes may vary a bit, as Marc and his wife leave for Mexico on March 14 for four weeks as they are exploring the possibilities and working on all of the uncertainties. Marc will record several episodes in Ajijic, Mexico.
[2:23] The last week in the series is a Q&A episode.
[2:28] Marc introduces Kelcy Fowler and Matt Moore. They begin by telling their story so Marc does not read their bios.
[8:17] Kelcy and Matt are not the first Millennials on the podcast. Marc also interviewed Taylor Pearson who wrote the book End of Jobs. This podcast is focused on people in the second half of life. Marc asks what Kelcy and Matt would like Marc’s audience to know about Coolworks.
[8:39] The opportunities on Coolworks are for individuals at every stage in life. We get a lot of questions from folks in the second half of life that are really interested in the potential of these positions and opportunities. People of all ages use Coolworks.
[9:22] Recruiters at these locations are thrilled to get applications from folks in the second half of life. Some are in retirement, some are looking to change careers. Those candidates show up, they have a great work ethic, they do their job, they’re reliable. They have the opportunity to be mentors to younger employees. They add diversity.
[10:26] Kelcy says from her HR experience, it’s really important for people to know they will be wanted, valued, appreciated, and celebrated. They will be able to form incredible relationships across generations. Kelcy lists a few of the locations available.
[12:08] Marc tells of summer jobs he had growing up in New Jersey working for Manpower and the variety of people he met.
[12:39] Kelcy speaks of the wide variety of jobs available on Coolworks. A large portion of the employers is in the hospitality and tourism realm. There are all sorts of wonderful industries focused on guest services. The one qualifier is to be in a great place.
[14:39] Every employer that posts on the site goes through a screening and registration process first to make sure it’s a good fit.
[15:00] A few years ago, a person posted for a personal assistant to manage their administrative affairs sailing around the world on a sailboat for a year.
[16:04] For a more gritty and unique opportunity, there are positions in Alaska at fish processing plants or canneries. They make great overtime working hard in a short season Marc notes the North Dakota sugar beet harvest has similar conditions.
[17:21] Matt says people in the second half of life are eligible for the majority of these jobs. Recruiters welcome people in the second half of life for reliability and their work ethic. Some of the younger generations are still learning. People in the second half of life bring life experience.
[18:46] We see a lot of Boomers and a lot of Millennials striking up great friendships, working alongside one another and really gaining some wonderful value from that relationship.
[19:38] Boomers were raised to get an employment resume. Millennials work for a college resume. Most Millennials don’t get a job until after high school or college.
[20:41] Kelcy talks about housing options. It is different at every property. Just ask the questions you need to know. For people in the second half of life, RVs are popular, but there are diverse options.Right now it’s a job seeker’s market and there are so many opportunities available. Make sure you get the right fit.
[23:37] The unemployment rate is low. Matt says this is definitely the most difficult recruiting year they have seen in over a decade. There’s just a very limited supply of labor.
[24:34] Matt says if your thinking about seasonal employment at all, just go for it. Over 20% of the traffic on the site is from people in the second half of life. Sometimes people hesitate because they think they won’t be hired. Matt invites you to reach out if there are any concerns you have.
[27:25] Coolworks just published an 80-page e-book with a supplement workbook that answers questions and helps people educate themselves, written by Susan Shain.
[28:35] Kelcy says most people on the site are flying solo. It’s very intimidating to pick up your life and move to a new state where you will not only work, but also live alongside your coworkers. Making the journey is very much worth it. Whatever’s holding you back, reach out and drop Coolworks a note.
[31:24] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode and are now ready to try seasonal work in someplace great.
[32:24] Check back next week when Marc interviews Barbara Weibel. It is one of the most inspiring interviews Marc has done for this podcast.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code, by Marcia LaReau
and Neil Patrick
The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5, by Taylor Pearson
Nomad Land: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, by Jessica Bruder
The Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Jobs: How to Have Fun, Make Money, and Travel the World, by Susan Shain in Partnership with Coolworks.com
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