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As previously covered in an earlier blog, searching the USAjobs website can get confusing. There are hundreds of jobs out there and their job titles might not sound anything like what the position actually entails.  Even though you now know how to search for jobs according to their series and grade, you might be thrown off by the jobs that your search comes up with. For the next several months, I am going to be spotlighting specific starter positions within our public lands that you might not necessarily think to apply to. However, these are jobs that you should be applying to, as they offer an excellent foot into the door in the forestry field. This week’s spotlight is on the Visitor Use Assistant position- one that is near and dear to my heart, as it was the job that gave me my foot in the door.

The Job: Visitor Use Assistant

The Location: Any public land that charges a fee, has a campground, or takes in money through a bookstore etc.… In short, pretty much everywhere.

The Schedule: Can vary widely depending on season. Typically hours fall between 7 AM and 10 PM. Schedule is usually a 9/4/5 schedule where 9 hours are worked a shift and you alternate between working four and five days each week.

Experience Required: The only experience required is simple cash handling, which most people already possess, making this particularly easy to land, especially for people new to the forestry field.

The Duties:  Visitor Use Assistants (VUAs) are the frontline of our public lands. They greet people as they enter the parks, collect money, sell passes, and answer any and all questions the visitors may have. However, working at the entrance station is not the only task that VUA’s have. Often they will staff visitor centers, manage campgrounds, direct traffic in emergency situations, keep track of inventory, give informal talks, and rove trails.

This job is for you if: You are an extrovert, enjoy interacting with a wide variety of people,  can be extremely patient, are excellent at multi-tasking, and can be assertive.

This job is not for you if: You can’t stand for long periods of time, get annoyed easily, are bad at math, can’t multi-task, don’t do well in a fast paced environment, are sensitive to rude comments, or get claustrophobic easily.

The most frustrating part of the job:  The visitors. The lines that never seem to end. The thousands of repetitive questions. People getting upset that they have to pay to enter a place that their tax dollars should cover. People who take out their frustration with the federal government out on the first fed they see (you).

The most rewarding part of the job: The visitors. Being the first interaction with someone as they enter a place they have dreamed about for years can be incredibly special. Watching them fall in love with a place that you yourself are in love with, is even better.