AWESOME PERSON #10 – Jamie!
Meet Jamie! From Florida, to Alaska, to Antarctica…she’s one of many stories! This badass has seen and done more than most do in a lifetime. Jamie and I met in Anchorage as she was getting ready to head back to “the ice” for a full-year deployment…talk about crazy!! Her adventurous spirit and free will was inspiring to say the least 🙂 When starting up these interviews, I knew Jamie would be a great one to talk to – read for yourself! Seasonal Living: How in the world did you get started in this type of lifestyle?! What happened after Your First Seasonal Job?
I started a semi-seasonal job the summer before college as a lifeguard at Pensacola Beach in Florida. There I was able to get a taste of having a solid, full on 40+ hour a week, and fun summer job… After 5 summer seasons and 2 winters of Ocean lifeguarding… I decided it was time for a change after I graduated college–I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to be or if I wanted to embark on the Masters Studies path that I always assumed I would follow (I felt that would always be there but my youth and adventure might not). I left Pensacola, Florida and took off to volunteer teaching English in Chile for 6 months. After that was done I headed to my Birthplace: Anchorage, Alaska. I grabbed a “real seasonal” gig and landed myself a job at Denali Air Flightseeing Tours just 10 miles south of Denali National Park. Here I was able to work hard as a reservationist and fly around the most majestic place in the world. I was able to spend these months adventuring and backpacking in the backcountry of my favorite place! I also fell in LOVE with flying. After my first seasonal job I would say I realized how much more of the world there was to see—I definitely caught the travel bug!
So you worked somewhere for 6 months or so, how did you continue on or move elsewhere?! Did you find another seasonal gig to fill the gap?
I spent a good amount of time researching jobs in places I always wanted to go- like bucket list locations. On the list was Antarctica. Before even taking that first gig in Alaska I had already applied multiple times to the United States Antarctic Program, however, I had never heard anything back until that summer in Alaska. So early June as the season end was approaching- I had a gig lined up to deploy to Mcmurdo station in Antarctica for a contract spanning September-February… I felt lucky to get the experience and around January I decided to spend the winter! I started out washing dishes in the galley (which is not a pretty job) I was able to network and find my niche. I have had a plethora of different jobs at mcmurdo now working as a Galley attendant, Winter Dispatcher, and now currently a Fuels Operator. All my jobs in past have accumulated to give me a rare variety of skills. I have been returning to Antarctica for the past 4 years. I am currently on my 2nd full year deployment. The “Ice” has given me some of my best friends, and the relationships you build both socially and professionally are irreplaceable.
What made you pick being a desk attendant as your first seasonal job?
I had just graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art and no particular career base. I wanted something new and I was interested in everything… but did not know where to start. I knew that seasonal work was an easy way to live in an area you wanted to experience. I just went for it… whatever “it” was! Often you have to start somewhere to work your way up the ladder.
What do your non-seasonal family & friends think of your lifestyle?
I get a lot of remarks about how tiring it must always be to jump around so much and have no foundation. I mean, I live out of a storage unit now… But my family has always been slightly uprooted so this always makes me laugh when they say “when are you gonna settle down” Because growing up—we never were very settled in one place. So I think deep down my family completely accepts me this way. However, I do feel most of my friends from college and highschool are at different stages in their lives and have a different viewpoint which I can respect as well. Most of my close friends totally know it’s just me. And along my jobs and travels I have made friends with the best and most enjoyable people that I am lucky to call upon for anything… They get me, they know what it’s like and I can count on them to always understand! Hopefully I can return the amazing favors and have a “place” for my friends to crash in the future! Working in Antarctica— no one can visit… so I don’t get to be hospitable.
What are the common criticisms you hear?
Mainly the settling down thing–Oh and that question of how I afford to live like this!
What are things you do to plan for the off seasons?
I am always looking for what is next. I am job searching (CURRENTLY), listening to peoples past jobs, and asking people all the time what is out there. What would be fun and where would I like to go… I never know what is next…And I like living that way…
How do you feel a seasonal lifestyle has benefited you?
I feel I have always been an open minded individual. Seasonal gigs have opened my perspective on social norms and I realize more and more that cultural stigmas don’t have to rule my life. If I don’t get married and have kids- THAT IS OK… If I want to live a certain way, I can! I feel as though I have the ability to create my own definition of a “normal life”! I have my independence financially and have been able to travel and experience a different perspective of life, and for that I will be forever grateful!
I have made so many great contacts in my life. Some of my best friends are the product of this seasonal lifestyle. I feel there is always freedom and creativity in having this flexible schedule.
Does this lifestyle come with hardships? If so, what?
YES, it is not easy to feel uprooted at the end of a season. I always hate the end of a 6month or 13 month contract… So many decisions! Of course, Travel is a HUGE bonus! But there is always some transition stage. Being flexible is not always the most comfortable feeling. And then running low on money never makes me feel good. I think about it in my personal life quite a bit- I mean I have dated amazing gentlemen that I have meant along the way- but we never end in the same spot… which makes for great long distant friendships… and I think that can be challenging!
Have opportunities opened because of this lifestyle? If so, what?
Every opportunity is born within another opportunity…
Do you have any regrets or things you would have changed while living seasonally?
Save more money…Spend less.
What are your fears and reservations about the present or future?
What’s next, is both exciting and scary… but always a bit of fear in there that I overcome- GO FOR ANYTHING!!!
What would be the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far?
Travel insurance. Travel insurance. Always be prepared for the worst situation when traveling and I make sure I always have an insurance plan (accidents can happen to anyone at anytime no matter how safe you are)!
Friends- they come in every form –appreciate them for everything they are!!! New ones, old ones, and everyone you connect with!
….And believe you are good enough for a job- you never know what you can do until you believe that you can do anything! GO FOR IT! Apply.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
That is scary…I have no idea. I try not to think about that.
What is your advice for a person wanting to embark on the seasonal path?
-Apply for anything that interests you.
-Work on your resume to cater for specific jobs.
-Look for a job that allows you to travel somewhere new!
-Housing, it may suck but it’s always nice to have a place sorted out to live (at least your first season)!
-Understand that working seasonally means “WORKING” seasonally. Certain jobs will not give you vacation during their busy season. It makes sense if you think about it, but a common misconception.
**If you have a seasonal story to tell, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can be my next featured seasonal AWESOME person!