On paper, jobs in Maine could be based anywhere. They all include a certain salary, a couple weeks of paid vacation, health benefits and a promised work-life balance. But beneath the contract that you sign on Day One, I’ve found that there’s no place like Maine when it comes to work.

Throughout my life, I’ve worked for Maine-based companies, minus one retail job that I held in high school. Each company has been a family-owned and -operated business that built their foundation on the community. A greenhouse in central Maine, where I learned how to plant strawberries inside a hand-built greenhouse while the snow fell outside, and where I rang up birdseed and geraniums on sunny Saturdays in May. A heritage clothing company that is well-known countrywide, where I learned about a true work-life balance and what it means to get outdoors and truly enjoy it. A small bagel shop in Augusta, where I learned about values and hard work – and the beauty of working early morning breakfast shifts to spend my afternoons on the lake. And now, a family-owned shoe company where I’ve learned the importance of teamwork, and where I’ve had my ideas listened to and recognized.

While the basic differences between each of these jobs are obvious, only people who have lived the life of working in Maine know the similarities. Whether you find yourself working on the fifth floor of an office building in downtown Portland, hauling lobsters at sunrise off the coast or running a local business, you’ve seen firsthand how working in Vacationland is unlike working anywhere else. You can attest to the hardworking co-workers who you’re surrounded by, the drive to succeed in the state we call home and the attitude of “Let’s get this done so we can get outside.”

As all of my college classmates packed up their dorms to work for big agencies in big cities, I followed my big dreams to give back to the state that raised me. Most people were supportive, while some laughed and said, “You’ll never grow if you go back to Maine.” But after holding a few jobs in high school with companies that I still respect today, I knew where I belonged. I craved kayaking, hiking, trips to the ocean, my family, my friends and lobster.

Now, here I am, three years later, living and working in true Vacationland. My friends come from many different fields of work, but we all share the same qualities and experiences in our workplaces. After work, we enjoy walks on trails, not to the subway. On the weekends, we find ourselves on boats or skis, not on crowded rooftop bars with a $20 cover charge. Maine is a gift, and being able to work here while enjoying the beauty of living here is nothing less than a blessing. And we are truly blessed.

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