Even MBAs are applying for theme park jobs

Each year, Carowinds must fill more than 2,100 seasonal jobs at the 112-acre amusement and water park off Interstate 77, near the S.C. line. The staff starts taking applications in January and after a week usually has about 1,000, said Sandy Cranford, director of human resources.

This year, Carowinds had about 3,400, she said, or more than triple the typical turnout.

"It has just been amazing," Cranford said. "They've just been coming in by the droves."

In a recession that has brought near-daily news of layoffs and rising unemployment overall, Carowinds is a haven for job seekers, even with the temporary nature of the positions available.

At the park's employment office one morning last week, more than a dozen people – from their 20s to their 50s, in blue jeans and business suits – filled out paperwork on purple clipboards or waited to speak with Carowinds staff in one of three interview rooms.

Cranford, who has been at Carowinds for 23 years, said her six-person human resources staff has handled the crush. The park has 107 year-round employees, she said.

Always a big draw for high-school students, the seasonal jobs are attracting older and more experienced applicants in the recession, Cranford said.

"We've had several with MBAs," she said, and not just for high-level jobs. "Some are looking for something to just fill their time, which is great."

To read the complete column, visit The Charlotte Observer.