You may have heard stories about working at an Amazon fulfillment center from reading not completely positive (or accurate) depictions online. Those are the stories of former Camperforce Veterans, who packed up their RVs and headed away from their assigned fulfillment centers, just as I have, but like many other former associates, I’ve enjoyed my experience.
What made Amazon such a positive experience? The campers who made every day special by showing up with a positive attitude and a smile. The campers who signed up knowing what they were getting into and were prepared to complete the assignment. These are the stories that somehow never make it to the masses. These stories are lost words of repeat Camperforce Associates, who enjoy their jobs at Amazon and come back season after season.
So why the big difference of opinion?
Why are there two opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to working for Amazon, inside the hustle and bustle of their busy holiday season? The answer is a combination of knowing what to expect, being prepared and planning wisely. So do yourself a favor, continue reading and grab a few tips from a Camperforce Veteran who experienced both sides of the spectrum and prefers the later much more.
Hey! I’m Sharee. That’s me smiling over there in that picture! I’ve completed two Camperforce seasons with Amazon.com, both at their location in Campbellsville, Kentucky. In 2013 I can honestly say, I didn’t have the best time. As a matter of fact- I hated it. I started out strong. Productivity was high and I was all about the numbers. Then, after a few weeks, I was burnt out. Fast forward 2 years later- and I was back in Campbellsville. I signed up for the exact same thing. Same position, same shift and this time for twice as long. I was determined to conquer Camperforce. There was no way I would let this job get the best of me twice! So with higher expectations for myself and a lot of planning and prep work to help me along the way, I managed to complete another season. This time was totally different though. I had a blast. Every day was full of new experiences and each gave me something new to talk about around the campfire. I had a schedule for this and a plan for that. Life was organized and I was stress-free. From one camper to another- the extra mental and physical ‘legwork’ I did before arriving in 2015, made a world of a difference!
Knowing What to Expect:
Even if this is your first time, you really do need to know what to expect. You should know what you’re signing up for. Reading every review available will give you information, both good and bad. Just try to keep an open mind and pull from each personal story whatever information is given about the job, the available positions, the workload, the schedules, typical days, location information, community details and the expectations for Camperforce Associates. Take notes on what you’ve gathered and transform these notes into questions. Once you’re called for your phone interview, make sure to refer to your questions for the information you need to know. You can also bring up any unanswered questions at orientation or in a quick email to the HR Staff at the site you’ve decided is best for you.
The first year I did Camperforce, I really did have a horrible time. I dreaded waking up at 5 am every day to go to a job I chose only to realize I didn’t like it. I had no idea what working in a warehouse was like. I had never even seen a conveyor system and barely knew what a tote was. As I looked around at all the smiling campers having a great time- I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong! Then it hit me- this wasn’t what I signed up for. I signed up to fill customer orders in a fulfillment center. This was not what I had in mind!
If you think about my first experience, you’ve probably already noticed- this wasn’t Amazon’s fault. It was actually my own. I hadn’t asked many questions when I agreed to take the position. I was excited and let that excitement overtake my rationale to ask any probing questions. I had absolutely no warehouse experience- but I never once asked what a typical day inside the fulfillment center would entail.
Going into this job with the notion that you’ll just ‘wing it’, is the worst mistake any Workamper could ever make. Showing up to a Campground to work in the store or maybe reservations for the Summer would be something to ‘just wing.’ However, signing up to work at Amazon during their Peak season- when millions of holiday orders are being pumped out at the very last minute, is something you should prepare for.
When I left Camperforce in 2013, I swore I would never return. Then I started thinking… maybe I should give it another chance. After all, my horrible experience was largely the effect of my own lack of preparation. If I knew what to expect, I could have prepared. And if I prepared, I would’ve had a really great time just like the other workampers®.
Working in a warehouse is mentally and physically draining, so preparing for your job with the Camperforce program will require exercise prior to your arrival. In the weeks and months prior to your start date, I recommend you slowly increase your physical activity level and try to walk as much and as often as possible. Training your body for long periods of movement and even just standing for extended periods of time will help you adjust easier to live inside the fulfillment center. In addition to physical labor, mental stamina will also be a major factor since employee safety is such a major concern. There are procedures and required protocols for just about every action you make and every job you will perform. You need to be constantly aware of your surroundings, as well as your own actions to make sure you’re upholding the high level of safety Amazon expects at each of its locations. Preparing yourself both mentally and physical will make transitioning into your new role a whole lot smoother.
After you’ve gathered all the information you need to know and have done your best to prepare your body for working in the fulfillment center the last thing you’ll need to take care of is planning your time wisely. I’m talking about your time outside of Amazon. The time that will make or break your experience. How often will you go grocery shopping? What are you planning on doing on your days off? When will you do your laundry? Will you explore the surrounding areas? Do you keep a blog that needs updating? Will you have campfires with friends? When is your cell phone payment due? Of course, you could just address each as it arises, but sometimes things get overlooked and then what?
In 2015, I had such a great time working in Campbellsville. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, would do and should do. Meals were made on a schedule, laundry was done on the same day every week, and free time was spent hanging out with family and new friends. Everything ran extremely smooth- and I can honestly say it was because I took the time before arrival to make a few plans to help me organize my life and make sure I had everything covered. I didn’t have to stress about what was for dinner- it was already cooked inside the crockpot when I walked through the door. I didn’t have to worry about having clean clothes- I did all my laundry on Saturday afternoon, it was already folded and put away. Having routines, I could stick to and also count on helped keep me stress-free, cheerful and happy! The difference between 2013 and 2015 was amazing!
Making a few meal plans prior to your arrival will help tremendously, especially if you focus on slow cooker meals- which can cook slowly all day and be ready to eat when you get home. After a long day of being on your feet, the absolute last thing you’ll feel like doing is standing in the kitchen to make dinner. Another lifesaver is a shopping and errands list. You can easily keep track of all the things you need to buy and take care of- and then cross them off as you complete them. Getting out of the campground and taking your mind off work is a great way to relax and trust me, you’ll need to relax! Having no plan is by far just as bad as being unprepared. You’ll find yourself scrambling to get things done in a pinch. Filled with anxiety about things unrelated to your job, being stressed will soon trickle into your job performance and attitude toward the experience as a whole.
Look at the Big Picture:
At the close of the traditional camping season, many RVers find themselves in search of a quick gig before heading South or West for the Winter. Keeping everything we’ve already discussed in mind, I consider working for Camperforce to be a great option for many Workampers including, singles, couples, and even families. They do a great job at accommodating all types of travelers and with several positions and schedules- there’s sure to be something that will suit your needs. If you can successfully prepare yourself, make a few plans and find out what to expect from your new position at Camperforce, you’ll be able to join the growing group of fellow campers who count on Camperforce year after year. Lastly, I will say that Amazon is not a walk in the park. Amazon is Amazon- and to know what I mean; you’ll have to experience it for yourself.
Safe Travels & Many Adventures-