Second jobs are a way of life in Vail Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – For many locals not blessed with lucrative jobs or help from wealthy families, working one job in the valley is simply not an option.
The seasonal nature of so many local jobs means many people work more than one job within a year, but there are plenty of locals who need to work more than one job at a time, too.
Liz Mulson, 34, grew up in the valley and loves living here. She said the quality of life here is something we all choose, and sometimes that choice means certain sacrifices have to be made.
Mulson, who works as a waitress and a landscaper, said people are forced to have second jobs partly because employers can get away with paying less than national averages for similar jobs.
“Employers can get away with paying less here because it’s a transient community,” Mulson said. “If you don’t take the job, someone else will.”
Mulson said she’s always had two jobs. This past winter she had only one job for the first time in six years, and she felt the sting in her bank account.
“That’s how I fell into landscaping – it’s a steady paycheck,” Mulson said.
The added hours mean there’s less time for fun, but when she has time off she makes sure to enjoy it.
“You make the best of the time you have off,” Mulson said. “I’m always going, going, going – doing something fun.”
Cassie Harrelson, a teacher at Red Canyon High School, is in the same boat as Mulson. Harrelson, too, said she’s always worked two jobs or more.
She said her father keeps telling her she going to go crazy from working so much, but Harrelson, 28, doesn’t mind it.
Working hard is something she does because she wants to live a certain lifestyle in this valley, and she can’t live that lifestyle on a teacher’s salary.
“The price is high, but life is good out here,” Harrelson said. “I think I squeeze so many more hours into a day than there should be in a day.”
Harrelson said she’ll do just about any part-time job that is reasonably fun. She doesn’t want to sit in a cubicle part-time, so she picks up restaurant jobs or teaching jobs.
She’s worked at Vendetta’s Italian Restaurant in Vail, Bagali’s in West Vail, and has recently been doing part-time work for Colorado Mountain College as an instructor or teacher’s assistant.
She said she even started grading papers for a teacher there part-time.
“I’m also that person at the school district that won’t say no,” Harrelson said. “I’ve taught summer school at Avon Elementary, and been the cheerleading coach at Battle Mountain (High School).”
Harrelson does it because she loves to travel and live an exciting life. She’s not willing to sit back and do nothing simply because she can’t afford it.
“I travel a lot, so if I want to be going to Costa Rica and all these places, then I’m going to have to have another job,” Harrelson said. “It helps me live a lifestyle that I want to live.”
Some people are just workaholics, like Sarah Klieforth, 27, who said she gets bored easily.
“I’m not good at sitting around and doing nothing, so it’s nice to have something to do,” Klieforth said.
Klieforth works full-time as a teacher at Battle Mountain High School. During the summertime she works at the Eagle-Vail Par 3 golf course, and during the school year she works as an adjunct instructor for Colorado Mountain College.
“I’ve always had two or three jobs going at a time, ever since I was able to work,” Klieforth said.
Mulson said she’s given up job offers in big cities because that’s not the life she wants. She’s not interested in sitting in traffic for hours a day just for a bigger paycheck.
“I enjoy what this community offers,” Mulson said.
Harrelson is moving to Aspen soon, and suspects she will end up working several jobs there, too. She got a full-time gig as a teacher with the Aspen School District. The pay is better than Eagle County, she said, but it still won’t be enough.
“I’m sure I’ll be doing the same thing over there,” Harrelson said. “I’m one of those people that always has a million part-time jobs.”
For Mulson, working a little harder for a high quality of life just makes sense.
“I want to live my life and be young at heart for as long as I can,” Mulson said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.