Interview with Kari Quaas from Cool Works®

Cool Works® is the company to call if you're looking to make your summer an adventure to remember. The innovative company is operated by five individuals who have all been touched by working seasonal jobs in some way. They get a lot of satisfaction helping others find opportunities that will enhance their lives and broaden their horizons with new experiences. And according to Kari Quaas, her colleagues, and the many grads who have found opportunities through Cool Works®, seasonal jobs "really is cool work!"

Cool Works

G2G: So how did Cool Works start?
KQ: Cool Works began as a notion that Bill Berg, the founder, had while in the middle of an MBA program at UW in Seattle. He left the program, built Cool Works® that summer, and launched it in the fall of 1995. He himself had begun his cool working career as a young guy pumping gas in Yellowstone National Park right out of college, and through a variety of outdoorsy jobs after that, he realized the need for a job board that featured the employers in the national parks. Each summer they would bring kids from all over the country to work there, but there wasn’t a central place to advertise these jobs. Cool Works® was started to be that central job board. It’s grown to be not only a job board, but also a wonderful resource for people looking at this type of work and lifestyle.

G2G: What is the coolest job you think you've ever had on your site?
KQ: That’s a tough one. Our niche is based on job in great places ™ so I am always excited about the jobs way out there, way down there or way up there. Here are some examples of really cool jobs.

Cool Job #1:
Support positions (F&B, Hotel, Housekeeping, Boat Operations) for the Nature Conservancy on Palmyra Atoll, which is 1000 miles south of the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Cool Job #2:
Various jobs offered in Antarctica – currently both NANA Services and Raytheon are advertising on the site.

Cool Job #3:
Jobs at the top of the world with Work Arctic at one of their camps.

G2G: Have you done any of the jobs yourself or been tempted to take one?
KQ: One of my first jobs was working as a camp counselor at my local YMCA and my first adult seasonal job was as a tour bus driver in Seattle so I’ve done the jobs and know how cool they can be. The people that take these jobs tend to be a bit more adventurous and look at life as a series of wonderful experiences. So yes, I am often tempted by the jobs, but really working for is pretty cool in and of itself. To temper my desires of hitting the road, I interact daily with members of our social network, to live vicariously through them. I wouldn’t be surprised that in my Older/Bolder years, I hit the road again with my husband and we do some of these jobs ourselves.

G2G: What types of jobs are available for grads now?
KQ: Mostly hospitality driven positions in resorts, ranches, restaurants, and tour outfitters are available now. We also highlight summer jobs working with kids at a number of cool camps across the country. Lastly, I think as President Obama pushes through his budget, I anticipate more Americorps jobs that will amp up the number of conservation corps positions around the U.S. Being green and doing one’s part to protect the environment are definitely growing fields.

G2G: Are many of these future careers or something grads can do for a few months? What different types of opportunities exist?
KQ: Yes, typically the jobs last from three to six months and at times can lead to full time positions. I am a good example of that happening. When I took the job as a tour bus driver, I really only thought it would last the summer and I would do something else. Instead, it lead to a series of progressively more responsible positions in the cruise line industry. Another interesting trend with our job seekers is that they will job hop by spending their summer in one place and moving somewhere new for the fall and winter season. Some of them just can’t get enough of seeing new and wonderful places around the US and world.

G2G: Kari, thank you so much for taking the time to tell our grads more about Cool Works®.