How to get a seasonal job on Mackinac Island

Published on March 3rd, 2021

It takes a lot of hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions to serve the hundreds of thousands of guests who visit Mackinac Island each year. And it takes a lot more people than Mackinac Island’s 500 year-round residents to run things.Mackinac Island’s horse-drawn carriage tours, places to stay, shops and restaurants depend on seasonal labor hired each year.

That’s why each year Mackinac Island broadcasts to the world a very important two-word message:

HELP WANTED

Lots of help. Mackinac Island needs about 5,000 seasonal workers each year to work as baristas, front desk attendants, wait staff, retail clerks and housekeepers. There also are one-of-a-kind employment opportunities including being an historical interpreter at Fort Mackinac, driving a horse-drawn carriage, making world-famous Mackinac Island fudge or working as a deck hand for the ferry companies.

If you think a memorable summer working on Mackinac Island is something you’d like to experience, here are the steps you can take to make it happen.

  1. Search jobs on Mackinac Island

    The best place to see what kinds of jobs are available is to check out the Mackinac Island Jobs page on Facebook. The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau provides the page for Mackinac Island employers to promote job openings for the upcoming season. Some employers also will post openings on job sites such as Indeed.com

  2. Apply for a job on Mackinac IslandMackinac Island’s seasonal job opportunities include fudge maker, wait staff, barista, housekeeper, retail clerk and more.

    Once you have an idea of the kind of work you’d like to do, then fill out this job application. The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau will forward your application to prospective employers, based on the kinds of work you’re interested in. Of course, if you dream of working at a specific Mackinac Island hotel, restaurant or attraction, it doesn’t hurt to reach out directly and let them know you want to come work for them!

  3. Follow up on any job leads on Mackinac Island

    Many employers begin posting job openings at the start of the new year and have their staffs in place several weeks before the start of the new tourist season in late April. Don’t wait until the season starts to follow up on any job opportunities. By then it might be too late!

  4. Plan where to live on Mackinac Island

    When you decide to work on Mackinac Island, you should figure out where you’ll live and where you’ll eat. Many employers offer shared dorm-style housing right on Mackinac Island for a relatively inexpensive price, while others are willing to pay for ferry passes if you live on the mainland. Be sure to ask what your prospective employer is able to provide. Some larger employers on Mackinac Island also offer meal plans that are more cost-effective than eating at a restaurant for every meal.This Mackinac Island infographic outlines four steps to getting a seasonal job working on historic Mackinac Island.

RELATED: Tips for working on Mackinac Island

College students and people in their 20s make up much of the seasonal workforce on Mackinac Island, although older single adults and retirees get jobs on Mackinac Island, too. About 1,000 seasonal employees are international workers who come to Mackinac Island through the H-2B visa program.

The typical work schedule on Mackinac Island is six days a week for a total of 40 to 45 hours. Some people even add a part-time job to their seasonal full-time job in order to get more hours.

While some seasonal employees begin working in April, others don’t arrive until after their college classes end in May. Then they return to college sometime in August, while other workers may stay on Mackinac Island until the end of the travel season in October.

Working on Mackinac Island keeps you busy. But it’s kind of a “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality. After all, when you’re off duty you’re living in a place where people go on vacation. Mackinac Island is not only one of the world’s most unique and beautiful places to explore, but there’s also so many things to do on your days off. And seasonal workers get discounts at many attractions including butterfly houses, ghost tours and carriage rides.


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