Editor’s Note: It’s not exactly an internship, but this is an interesting opportunity for someone who really wants to learn about Yellowstone National Park - and how the hospitality industry really operates.
Photo credit: Xanterra Travel Collection
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – June 17, 2019 – “I don’t know too many people who get to spend five weeks in Yellowstone,” gushes Bernd Linzbach of his experience with the park’s Helping Hands program. “It was a great opportunity to explore the park,” says the retiree from Prescott Valley, Ariz.
He’s referring to the year-old Helping Hands program run by the Xanterra Travel Collection, which manages the Yellowstone National Park Lodges. It offers part-time, short-term jobs to people who want to immerse themselves more deeply in the nation’s first national park by living and working there while offering a “helping hand.”
“It’s a chance to spend real time in Yellowstone and explore the park when you’re not working,” observes Linzbach, who first experienced the program with his wife Debra in the fall of 2018. They enjoyed it so much that they repeated it in the spring of 2019. The Lizbachs worked in the housekeeping department at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn, tidying up, re-stocking, and getting the rooms ready for the housekeepers to turn them over for incoming guests.
Helping Hands requires participants to work 20 hours per week, between four and eight hours per day. They live in the park in dorm accommodations, which Linzbach says are basic with no TVs and slow WiFi. Some rooms have private baths; others are shared. Meals are cafeteria style, which at the Lake Hotel means having the same cooks as the guests have, who turn out food “of a very high standard,” he says.
Highlights for the Linzbachs were viewing wildlife and meeting people, including other participants in the program. “It’s not like a vacation where you have to try to see everything in a few days,” says Linzbach. “(When you live there), if you don’t see an animal one day, you’ll see it another. We were able to see grizzlies, bison, elk, deer, coyotes, moose, and even a wolf. It’s very special and fantastic to see all those animals.”
What advice does Linzbach have for others? “I would highly recommend this program for anybody interested in nature,” he says. “It was so inspiring,” he adds, that he and Debra are already preparing to apply for the fall season.
How to Participate
Submit your application now for the fall season. Arrival is on Sept. 5 and 12, 2019, and departure is on Oct. 15, 2019.
You could be assigned to the lodging or food and beverage department. Jobs include housekeeper, dishwasher, busser, or host. Training will be provided for each one. Housekeepers do light cleaning and prepare guest rooms for the full-time housekeeping staff
; kitchen crew workers do prep, set up, service, and clean up ; and hosts provide guest services in the restaurants.
You will be assigned to work in one of the following locations: Old Faithful, Canyon Village, Mammoth, Grant Village, and Lake Yellowstone.
Program perks include employee discounts in and around Yellowstone.
For more travel experiences available from the Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
Stoddart is an award-winning travel editor and writer, and the former editor in chief of the Travel Media Group at USA TODAY. She has written for dozens of publications and websites.