Any chance of getting to the ice?


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  • #1326
    Canadia
    Member

    Howdy,

    I’ve been wanting to go to the ice for about 4 years now… Ever since I was stuck doing a research project on the continent for my grade 9 biology class, I fell in love. Even then I tried finding a way there, only to realize you had to be a science type to get there. Fast forward 4 years. A couple of month ago after watching The thing, I decided to do more research. For the past month, I’ve been almost obsessed with reading everything I can get my hands on that has to do with Antarctica or life at 1 of the 3 American stations. (If you haven’t already seen it, encounters at the end of the earth is absolutely amazing). Much to my gloom, I discovered on the nana and raytheon services pages that to apply, you must be a U.S Citizen or be a permanent resident. Considering our countries are best buddies, you’d think the nafta agreement would allow more freedom. Anyways, I’m wondering if they can and do hire people with working visas such as (j1,H2B,???) or if a green card/dual citizenship would be required (way more expensive, takes FOREVER).

    Appreciate your responses,
    cheers,
    Canadia

    *more info*
    graduating high school in 13 months (would like to head out there for a year, before applying to university)
    will be 19
    No higher education or long working experience (duh)
    Really wants to go next year, rather than wait 4-7 years till uni graduation :/

    #11117
    m0loch
    Keymaster

    Here are some things you might look into:

    make a friend at Kenn Borek air services, see if they have anything for you.

    since you’re graduating high school, look into universities that study things in Antarctica, go to the ice, get an education.

    marry an American or a Kiwi or otherwise get citizenship/residency in one of those countries.

    stop watching bad movies!

    #11118
    Canadia
    Member

    I’d like to work at one of the three american bases. My question is, would a working visa suffice or would I need a full citizenship? I ended up emailing raytheon a couple of days ago and I got was an automated message saying ”All the answer to your questions and more can be found in the faq…. blah blah blah” :/

    and lol @ green card marriage!

    #11119
    Mradyfist
    Member

    I believe if it’s legal for you to work in the US, you can work for RPSC. However, my understanding is that things like H2B visas are applied for by your employer (ie, Raytheon would have to want you enough to get you a visa) and also, they’re very hard to get. Lots of competition, not a lot of slots.

    Also, honestly none of the positions are really available to someone who doesn’t have much work experience. I hate to burst your bubble, but you really should go to university, find a job that would have a place at a station and do it at home for a few years, and then apply. We joke about GAs being Antarctic interns, but the reality is that you still need at least a year or two of employment to be a GA, and most of them have a 4-year college degree or more, on top of that.

    #11120
    Canadia
    Member

    I finally got through to a real person and they confirmed that yes, anyone with a valid U.S.A working visa may be part of the USAP. This is great news! (confirming what mrady said)

    I know my chances are rather bleak. There are many things I’m willing to do to ”up” my chances so to speak. whether it’s singing a longer contract (less expenses for them) or taking a 10% ay reduction or whatever else. Hell, ill even fly to denver (350$ flight) to attend a job fair and argue some reasons why I should be hired. Ill bribe or coerce my previous employers/people I volunteered for their (slight) over exaggeration as to how amazing of an employee I am. Ill argue that because I’m young, I’m much more physically and mentally apt to handle the change, and that my lack of a house/girlfriend/pet/education is actually a good thing. (less chances ill opt out of contract early because of problems at home).

    I know this is all extreme, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get on the ice now, before I end up in a situation that would make life there more miserable/difficult. I believe in what Shackleton said ”better to live a donkey than a dead lion”. *slightly misquoted but you get the point*

    Thanks,
    look forward to hearing your input/heavy criticisms (not so much the latter)
    Canadia

    ps: I plan on getting a U.S work visa somewhere about a month before rayjobs ”opens” and simply transferring as to avoid raytheon from having paperwork to do. (if that works)

    #11121
    Iceman
    Member

    @Canadia wrote:

    ps: I plan on getting a U.S work visa somewhere about a month before rayjobs ”opens” and simply transferring as to avoid raytheon from having paperwork to do. (if that works)

    Rayjobs, hopefully, will not be opening in the near future. Raytheon’s extended contract ends on March 31st, 2012, and it will be a new contractor after that. So you’ll be applying to the new contractor or sub-contractor, if you want to fulfill your dream.

    Your best bet would be going after a DA/GA position (unless you’re some computer/IT savant that has a bunch of certs, or a mechanic genius), but just realize you’ll be competing with people that would probably have more experience. Maybe you should try and get a dishwashing or janitor part-time job so you can help your resume.

    I actually had a Canadian work with me last winter and that was his second contract, after he wintered the previous winter at Pole. So Canadians can definitely work in USAP.

    #11122
    Canadia
    Member

    Thank-you iceman… Your post gives me hope 😀

    Though knowing the NSF, they will extend rayjobs contract yet again…. :/

    #11123
    spidey
    Participant

    Best of luck to you!
    Don’t want to burst you bubble, there is always the chance that you can somehow beat the odds, but for all your arguments it will be near impossible to have them heard.
    The Rayjobs option is click on apply to an open position. You can then send in your resume and a cover letter to a black hole. A computer will use some sort of algorithm to select potentially viable candidates and forward them on to a stage where a real person will scan them. Not sure how you could get through that without some experience related to the position. If you do then get past that, you may get a Are You Still Interested email which gives you a person you can communicate with. That person however can only forward your info onto an anonymous hiring manager. I don’t think they can/will put you in contact with the hiring manager at your request, you would need to wait for them to reach out to you.
    NANA may work differently, I can’t speak to that.
    If you are really serious, I’d study the types of spots you think you would do well at on the Ice and dedicate at least 1 or 2 years to building out your resume with that in mind. Look for jobs at northern mining facilities, work at the local university cafeteria, whatever. Then you will also want to get yourself into a position where the visa question does not even come up. An employer looking at two similar candidates where one has complications…will always take the path of least resistance.

    #11124
    Iceman
    Member

    @spidey wrote:

    Best of luck to you! Don’t want to burst you bubble, there is always the chance that you can somehow beat the odds, but for all your arguments it will be near impossible to have them heard.

    I don’t want to sound negative either, but they probably have a better chance at becoming a professional poker player and making some serious bank and then fly into Pole from Patriot Hills as a wealthy tourist, than getting through as a contractor. Maybe they can find work in the Canadian Arctic Program, then use those skills to get to the opposite pole.

    #11125
    Canadia
    Member

    I reading somewhere that there was an 18 year old that overwintered a couple of years back…It was the world record for the youngest person to do so. So, I have hope. Albeit very little at this point. :/

    Anyways, to increase my odds, I plan on following your advise and getting a job washing dishes. I also plan on volunteering, either at a hospital as a general assistant (more or less, that position exists) or at the local youth cafe, once again, washing dishes and the such. When schools done, ill drive my ass 1500 km north and work somewhere up north for a month before finally applying at the new hiring firm…

    did I miss anything, or is there anything else/anywhere else I can work at to help my odds?

    edit: Or, would it be better to work up north in the northwest territories for 5 months or so, then apply for a winter over position? Are winter-over positions even more competitive or are people generally weary of signing themselves up for months of cold and darkness? (personally winter interests me much more than summer).

    Appreciate the responses!,
    cheers,
    Canadia

    #11126
    Mradyfist
    Member

    Winter positions are more competitive because there are drastically fewer positions available, the positions that are available are more likely to require more experience, and you’re also competing with people currently on-station for the summer who decide to apply for a winter season. At Pole especially, it’s much rarer for someone to deploy for just the winter (although it does happen).

    #11128
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    I’ll also add that at least the first year or so the pay for the non techincal jobs is more or less set in stone. If you get hired as a GA you’ll get the standard wage for that position. Nobody goes down as a volunteer, with the possible exception of students who accompany the scientists on projects. For them it’s more school than a paid job.

    #11127
    Canadia
    Member

    Thanks for the insight… yeah, there is no way in hell I would volunteer at raytheon. 54 hours work weeks, for free? fuck that! When I talked about volunteering (did i?) I meant at one of the Canadian arctic stations in Nunavut (83*N). I figure a couple of months work/volunteer there will looks damn good on my resume.

    Anyways, on the off chance that dedication and bullshit meet luck, I look forward to seeing some of you on the ice! 🙂

    #11129
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    For the most part, arctic experience might help you out with a science project job. They are the ones that live on the ice in field camps. Mostly they are not the Raytheon jobs, although there would be some technical outdoor jobs like mountain climber or camp managers to run things. Most everything else in McMurdo would be standard jobs and would need standard old experience. Dining Attendants (DA) need to have experience working in food service jobs. Janitors need cleaning experience. Plumbers, electricians, heavy equipment operators all the same.Cold experience is only a minor benefit at that.

    Each of these would also have entry level no experience General Assistant (GA) positions as well. Basically low pay helpers. For those you need a good attitude and the ability to throw your name into the hat with ten thousand other people with no experience who will work any job for a chance to go down to the ice. They can be be worst jobs there or the best. In the trades, you may get to learn plumbing or electrical, or engine mechanic at low pay. Or you may be under a building chipping away at frozen urine from a broken pipe. Then again, the broken pipe might be at a field camp and they had to fly you out in a helicopter and a snowmobile trip just to get there. Sometimes the worst jobs end up being the best job you ever had. Just depends on what breaks and where.

    Whatever job you end up with, put the pay and hours issues aside and attack it with gusto. People like a hard worker that is willing to learn new things and adjust. We all rely on each other and people who are strong members of the team get noticed. It’s a lot easier to get rehired in a better job later if you fall into that catagory.

    In the end, persistance seems to be the key. You need to make sure that your resume supports the jobs you are applying for. I’ve heard it said the resumes get passed around if they look good, however, at least one manager has told me he gets really suspicious when he runs across a second resume for a different job that highlights different things. IE in one you are the world best chef and have worked for years doing such and the next you are a diesel mechanic. Maybe true, maybe you supplemented your income, but at least with some, it raises doubts about the honesty of the resume.

    I’m far removed from the hiring process and only get my knowledge from hearsay, so take my words with caution. The only thing I can say for sure is that the hiring managers get the resumes from HR and HR screens them first to make sure that your work experience matches the job. A bad resume won’t get passed up the ladder.

    #11130
    Mradyfist
    Member

    Honestly, at least at Pole the GAs also have some work experience. Nobody is deploying as a GA right out of high school, I’m 26 and I was a little surprised to discover that most of the GAs on station were actually older than me. They were trying to determine who was the youngest on station, and I think the winner was someone who was 22, which was still an outlier. I know there have been younger GAs, but I’d imagine that with the job market the way it is managers are getting plenty of older applicants, and it’s unlikely they’ll hire a kid with no degree and minimal job history over someone with a degree and a proven record of good employment.

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