Thoughts?


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  • #1367
    jpan18
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    As I mentioned in my previous thread, I’m a newbie to the world of Antarctic employment, but am hoping to scale this steep learning curve quickly. I have a rough plan in place and wanted to get any feedback from those who have worked at Amundsen-Scott before.

    1) I’m on track to obtain my US Citizenship by the end of 2012 (I currently an a legal US resident with a green card)

    2) Assuming the open positions will be the similar for 2013, my first choice would be to apply as a Carpenter Helper through PAE (http://curaportal.mindscope.com/paegov03055cw/Aspx/JobDetails.aspx?Job_ID=10244), 2nd/3rd would be Prep Cook/Steward through Ganayoo.

    3) I have not had any meaningful employment in any of the 3 fields (with the exception of shop class, fast food, and being hired by a private party for cleaning services), HOWEVER, I hope I can gain some carpentry skills through a great program at Habitat for Humanity. They offer a training program that “covers hand tools and power tools, framing, siding, drywall, installing interior trim (case and base), caulking and painting.” (http://www.habitatla.org/get-involved/volunteer/construction-training/cornerstone-training/) I am hoping to maybe take some carpentry classes at my local technical college as well as continue to volunteer with Habitat to put my skills to work.

    And onto my cornucopia of questions…

    Has anyone worked in any of these 3 positions before? Did you have relevant experience prior to working in the position? Do you think gaining skills through Habitat and/or a technical college is enough in lieu of paid employment in the carpentry field? The job descriptions don’t specify start dates or the length of the contract. I would like to work during a Austral Winter, but ideally would like to be employed for the whole year. Is this a possibility?

    Please feel free to reply to the post here, PM me, or email my personal acct at jpan18@gmail.com.

    Thank you all SO MUCH!

    #11540
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    Well, here is the problem. There is a new contractor with new ideas about how to run the program. This is the first year and nobody really has an idea yet how this is all going to shake out. If they do things anything close to the last contractor, I would say any experience you have or can gain between now and then would not be a bad thing. Carpenter helpers traditionally did not have to be carpenters as they often did the grunt work. However, you will be one of thousands applying for an unskilled job. Having a least a minimum of experience might make you a better choice.

    #11541
    MATKATAMIBA
    Member

    Given your experience I would abandon any hope of being the carp at SP during the winter for the time being. The position is too critical given the remoteness of the base. An experienced and capable carp could save lives if the unexpected happened. Carpenters helper is a much better starting position for you. Those do not require the same level of experience, and the Habitat for Humanity and shop classes could look good. Your problem is that there is no carrpenter’s helper at Pole during the winter, although there probably is during the summer.

    I would suggest you think about a GA position (General Assistant), which is a summer and winter position and requires little to no experience. GA at Pole in winter is actually quite an interesting job in the Facilities Engineering group – you get to see all the systems, walk through all the -70F ice tunnels, and do a lot of inspection and maintenance in every area imaginable. The GA during my winter had only one summer’s prior experience. The job title GA may change with the new contractor.

    As thepooles98 said, your biggest problem is competition. The more general the job the greater the competition. To overcome that issue try to get any job at any Antarctic base in any season. Once your foot is in the door your path is greased for future seasons and for more responsible positions (assuming you do a great job).

    Look at some of the older posts here about how to write a resume that makes you stand out for polar work (key words, etc). The first thing you have to do is get by that first cut and get your resume into the hands of the actual hiring managers. Your resume has a profound influence on whether or not you get considered. One of the biggest pluses in getting hired is previous ice experience, so get that first ice job no matter what it is.

    #11542
    jpan18
    Participant

    Thanks for the advice, guys! THIS is the reason I’m so grateful for this board. I had no idea the GA position even existed…or I just thought I wasn’t qualified so I just skipped over it.

    I understand the great hurdle of competition among unskilled positions. I’m hoping that others who are in the application process and who have secured jobs this year will share their experiences so I have some idea of what’s to come for me in the following years. Thankfully, I currently work in the entertainment industry and while it gives me no help in securing a job on the ice, it certainly has prepared me for feeling like a dime a dozen and waiting and waiting and WAITING to be called in for any sort of interview or chance at work.

    I will definitely follow Matkatamiba’s advice about looking through archived posts about resume writing. I struggled with that a lot on my last post.

    Last question, since I am applying for unskilled positions, would it be frowned upon if I applied for more than one position (eg. carpenter helper and general assistant?)

    Thank you again!

    #11543
    thepooles98
    Keymaster

    Another hard one.
    If you are applying for unskilled jobs, mostly I think anyone would expect you to apply for all of them.
    I know of a few bosses who have seen resumes from people doing this and have noted that the resumes of some make them look like experts in numerous fields. The comments the bosses were making is that there are people obviously padding the resumes and that they tended not to want those people.

    You need to target a resume for the job, but you also have to put yourself in the position of somebody who wants to follow up on your resume because of your work and skill history, then sees a second resume that looks like you never did anything you listed in the first one. Resumes need to be short and concise. These days nobody looks at a resume that is two pages or more long. How do you cover all your bases and be honest in one page? It’s a tough world out there. I can’t tell you what to do.

    Other entry jobs you might consider. If you ever worked at a restaurant and waited on tables, try a DA Dining Attendant job. If you had to clean the toilets daily at one of your jobs try the janitor jobs. In addition there are GA josbs and a number of GA jobs specific to trades. Carpenter Helper is just one, there could be electrical helper, plumbing, mechanic and other helper jobs that might pop up. Keep your eyes open for those.

    The GA jobs as a whole can be the worst and the best jobs all at the same time. They do the worst jobs that nobody else wants to do. If there is frozen urine from a broken pipe that has to be chipped away, mostly it’s a GA who will do it. If the frozen urine is at a field camp at a penguin rookery, it’s still a GA job and you might be flown halfway across Antarctica to do it. GA’s often get to go places the rest of us never have an opportunity to see. Still, it can be nasty drudging work.

    #11544
    jpan18
    Participant

    Thanks for the reassurance! And good advice about the balance between tailoring a resume to a specific position but not excluding or discrediting skills that might be of value for other positions. Definitely food for thought. I think I’ll need to spend a lot of time on each resume and also my cover letter.

    I appreciate you giving me more insight into the GA jobs and also the other plethora of “helper” positions. I actually have cleaned bathrooms at McDonald’s before and I would assume that frozen urine would be better than room temperature! 😀

    It sounds like the GA job is similar to a Production Assistant…must be good at doing any job assigned to him/her and do it well in a timely manner and with a good attitude. I definitely think I could do it…now I just have to convince other people that I can do it!

    #11545
    Iceman
    Member

    @jpan18 wrote:

    I definitely think I could do it…now I just have to convince other people that I can do it!

    Oh, you definitely can do it, along with thousands of other people who also can and want to do it as well down there, all vying for maybe a dozen or so GA spots, depending on what the contractors need and NSF allows them to hire. I applied for maybe 20 different jobs each season, when I was in the program, mostly science related (that’s what my background is in) and I would always apply for my current/past job, just to see if HR thought I was still qualified enough.

    The odds are definitely stacked against you, but don’t give up, it might take you a few years or maybe even a decade to get in, but never surrender!

    Spidey, who posts on here, has been trying to get down there, for I think 4 years now, he wants an IT job, and has the degrees and more than enough experience and qualifications to do the job and still gets shut out year after year, but he still hasn’t given up. The IT jobs are some of the more competitive ones down there.

    #11546
    jpan18
    Participant

    Thanks for the reality check, Iceman! “Perseverance” is definitely the word that comes to mind when I read your reply. I will continue to tweak my resume and pray for good luck until my citizenship comes through and then hope for the best when I start the long journey of applying and waiting.

    Spidey, if you read this, I am sending you well wishes and think of you as an inspiration to keep following the inner calling to this unique and life-changing place. Best of luck!

    #11547
    MATKATAMIBA
    Member

    Green Card is perfectly acceptable to get hired. You simply have to be legally employable in the US. Citizenship is not required.

    #11548
    jpan18
    Participant

    Aw crap! I wish I knew that before spending $800 to get my citizenship. Oh well, at least I’ll get to vote! 🙂

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