Re: Year Contracts And Psychological Winter Exams


Hello, Jeff —
I’m in the IT Dept. down at McMurdo (not there right now, but will be in October).  Maybe I can shed some light on how things work on the ice…
Typically, there are contracts of 4 mos. (October-February: Mainbody), 6 mos. (August-February: Winfly), 6 mos. (February-August:  Winter), 8 mos. (February-October: Winter/Winfly), 12 mos. (October-October:  Summer/Winter), and 14 mos. (August-October: Winfly/Summer/Winter).  Just saying summer and winter isn’t quite adequate enough.
The contract a person receives is entirely dependent on need, and availability. The population of McMurdo is about 1000+ during the summer.  Obviously, there is need for more personnel.  The winter population is only about 200.  The IT department is trimmed back to maybe a dozen people.
Believe me, it’s definitely best if FNGs start out at summer, rather than winter.  You will need to get some time in under your belt before biting off a winter contract.
Go to the job fair, get a feel for what’s available, work a summer, and, if you like it, make sure the bosses know you’re available for the winter.  Obviously, previous winterover personnel have priority in filling the winter slots.  Many of them even have contracts for the next season before they leave at the end of their current contracts.
Yes, you do have to pass a psych eval.  They don’t want people ‘losing it’ over the four months of cold, isolated, darkness, with no way to leave.
That said, I’ll be doing my first winter, next year.  Yee haw.
What job is it you’re interested in, Jeff?
Let me know if you have any other questions.