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October 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm #1338
My husband and I are hoping to make it to the ice together in the coming years. I’ve been reading everything I can online about the process of getting hired, as well as the realities of working in Antarctica. (and if Spidey’s plight has taught me anything, its that patience and perseverance are the golden rule)
My husband’s qualifications are pretty well in hand. He has a computer engineering degree and has worked many years in IT for a major university supporting the research professors and staff. I think it will be just a matter of preparing the right resume and some luck with an available position for him.
My journey will be more challenging. I have some decent work experience (clerical, non-certified dispatch, and residential mailroom) – the catch is that it was all 10+ years ago. I’ve been home raising our three kids in the interim, and have worked on supporting my art career. (currently represented by one gallery) I am currently working on getting MOS certified (Microsoft Office Specialist) and am hoping to get some part time work under my belt before March rolls around. However with the current market, and my employment gap, that is proving to be extremely difficult. I will probably look for some volunteer work if I can’t get anything to shake out soon.
So now you have some background about me. What I’m hoping to do is have a few targeted resumes and cover letters ready for the job postings in March. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of jobs or their descriptions. I would love to work for the mail room, a clerk position, or any kind of administrative support. I’d be willing to do inventory or other data entry positions, but I don’t think I have the right kind of experience history. Is there anyone who can point me in the right direction for required qualifications for any such positions, and what things I should scramble to beef up now? I’d love to talk with someone who has worked on the ice in similar positions – so if anyone knows of someone, I’d love to be put in touch.
Any and all advice is welcome. It has been a real pleasure to read through the archives here, and I look forward to participating regularly.October 26, 2011 at 6:12 am #11293
Tau, There are tons of jobs here. Lots of clerical. There is a mailroom. There are also the unskilled jobs. Most require some experience but not always. IF you have worked in a warehouse anywhere along the way, there are supply jobs. Waitress? try the galley positions,
I’m off to dinner, but will try to answer more later.
MikeOctober 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm #11294
Thanks for the reply. Any idea how competitive the clerical positions are? My main concern with the unskilled posts is my ability to be up to the physical nature of the job. I’d hate to be the weakest link on the team, you know?October 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm #11295MATKATAMIBAMember
Assuming that the hiring process stays even remotely similar with the new contractor, there are some things that can help I think.
1) Get your resumes in on the first day. Resumes are evaluated first-come. You greatly increase your chances if you apply early and get in the first group.
2) Get through the first HR cut. HR selects the resumes they think are best and forwards about 10 or so at a time to the hiring manager, so write a keyword resume. I have seen an applicant’s resume where keywords were actually underlined. There is a discussion of ice resume-writing suggestions in another place here somewhere that could be helpful.
3) Both you and your husband should mention that you have a spouse also applying. I would do that in the cover letter. Knowing that, your husband’s hiring manager could ask HR for your resume specifically to see if you fit any job in their department. Also, hiring managers in different areas do talk to each other from time to time, so one could ask another to consider an applicant’s partner for a position. Again, the idea is to get your resume out of HR and into the hands of a manager, any manager.
4) Apply for as many jobs as you think you might qualify for. Within reason, don’t limit yourself by what you think you are technically qualified for. Antarctica has more people who used to do something entirely different than any work environment I have ever been in. McMurdo particularly (more than the Pole) is a small port town, so there is every job a small town would need and then some.
5) Don’t ignore your art background in your resume. Although you will have to meet the general qualifications, it could tip the balance. I was told by my hiring manager that my four years as an artist was a big plus for me. His exact words were “We really liked that you would have a hobby other than drinking”, lol. In the same way don’t minimize that you are a stable parent. Managers crave stability and reliability, especially for winter positions.
6) The cover letter is a powerful tool. Explain why you think you would make a good employee in Antarctica – and in that particular job. Let it introduce you as a person rather than as facts on a resume. And don’t rely on just being enthusiastic – everyone who applies is enthusiastic! (And leave out that you once camped out in a snowstorm – it is not going to help. lol)
Good luck.October 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm #11296
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the advice. Its good to know that my art background might be a plus – I had considered it a throwaway.
We are already going through all the possible positions, and starting on building resumes for each one. Honestly, the cover letter is a bit more daunting. Trying to sum up who I am, and why they want me, without sounding like a loon is a delicate balance to be sure. 🙂
Really, you’ve given me a lot to work with. Thank you!October 29, 2011 at 12:31 am #11297SciencetechKeymaster
You’ve come to the right place.
Matkatimiba is right about “don’t limit yourself by what you think you are technically qualified for”. Seriously. The Ice is the world’s most southerly trade school where people hopscotch careers at will.
Regarding deploying together (you and your husband), that is more problematic. There are two schools of thought… 1) If the company really wants someone, they may go out of their way to find a position for their spouse; and 2) some hiring managers shy away from applicants that say they want to go as a couple.
The perceived problem with hiring an [unknown] couple is that, if one NPQs, isn’t hired, or doesn’t want to go, the other may bail-out too. That leaves the company with two vacancies, often at the last minute. All other skills being equal, some managers may preferentially select single applicants — or ones who don’t mention that they’re trying to go as a couple. Once you’ve been to the Ice for a few seasons your credibility goes up, you have more contacts, and deploying as a couple is generally easier.
So it’s a gamble whether you should mention that. You should also plan for the contingency that one of you is offered a position and the other isn’t. What will you do? FYI.October 29, 2011 at 3:34 am #11298
We’ve given that a lot of thought over the past week or so. I think we’ve decided that if only one of us gets a primary offer, we’ll still take it and hope that we can go together the next year. Based on what you’ve both said, we’ll probably mention that we’re applying together but add that we intend to go regardless of whether or not the other goes.
Here’s another forward thinking question. If we both got hired, what are the odds that we would get a room together? I know that new folk tend to get stacked in rooms with 3 strangers. Should we just count on being separate, or is there a chance we’d get to share space?October 29, 2011 at 5:04 am #11299SciencetechKeymaster
If we both got hired, what are the odds that we would get a room together?
Depends on the station, how crowded it is, the housing coordinator’s mood, etc. Realistically, I’d say the odds are excellent. In my experience couples may need to be apart during transitions, like when you first arrive, but they do everything possible to get couples in the same room together. (There would be hell to pay if they didn’t.)
Mike may be able to give you a more definitive answer regarding McMurdo, I haven’t been there in a few years. At Pole and Palmer it’s often no problem at all.October 29, 2011 at 5:13 am #11300
You have better than reasonably good chances. At the transition when winter people haven’t left their rooms and the summer people are flooding in, many have to wait for their final room and get put in temp rooms. There have been a few couples split up for a few days or more, but I don’t think I’ve heard of anything longer than that in years. There are some extremely cramped two person rooms in one of the dorms. That’s where you would likely end up. As you gather icetime credits, you will eventually be able to move into better and better rooms.
That said, we will have a new contractor next year and it might all go out the window. We’ll have to wait and see.October 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm #11301MradyfistMember
You’d definitely get a double room at Pole, although you’d probably be out in Summer camp unless one of you had an on-call job or was staying the winter. And I can tell you from experience that managers will want to know whether or not one of you will deploy without the other if it comes down to it (and there’s a good chance that it will). Make sure they know you’ve already discussed it and decided to go regardless. Also, if one of you gets an alternate and the other gets a primary, both of you should still take the PQ and hiring process very seriously – even if you don’t deploy as an alternate, you still have a much better chance of getting hired the next year, but if you get an alternate status and blow off the PQ nobody will be interested in hiring you for a primary.October 30, 2011 at 3:26 am #11302MATKATAMIBAMember
Lot’s of good advice. Finally, don’t make that cover letter too long – you want it to actually be read!
The above comments are correct that as soon as one of you gets a successful season under his or her belt it will become much easier to get down as a couple.October 30, 2011 at 4:57 am #11303
I’m glad to learn that there’s a decent chance we could room together. (even if the place is tiny)
Ive read a lot about how PQ can mess up a timeline entirely, so we’ve already got plans for our dental work and hope to get our doctors on our side before any medical forms would come through. (it helps to live in a smaller area) Neither of us want to blow this chance.
Thanks for all of the help, its already made an impact.October 30, 2011 at 5:47 am #11304
The only thing I can add is that it can be a long process to get hired. Some get it on the first try, others go for years with nothing. Keep that in mind and don’t give up. If somebody does interview you get their name and ask if you can keep in touch. If you don’t get hired this year, you may have a contact for future years.
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