Any jobs left?

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    This is my 5th year applying for contract work in Antarctica and once again it looks like a season is slipping away from me. I feel like if I could just sit down and talk with a hiring manager I’d easily get a job – or at least after 5 years of trying… 🙂 But since that is not possible, how do I get anyone’s attention so that my information rises to the top of the huge stacks of applications? Perhaps here? Yes, doubtful, but in the spirit of trying everything here I am.

    Very quickly, I have a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, 15 years of experience as a Mechanical Engineer in a corporate context, and have volunteered for the last 3.5 years with Engineers Without Borders including 5 trips to the remote Panamanian jungle to implement a clean drinking water and health education initiative and twice high in the Peruvian Andes to implement an irrigation project.

    In short, I’ve applied for many jobs (59 at last count) – from shoveling snow to managing people. At this late stage in the process I’d happily be an alternate so that I could get PQ’ed and then be able to fill most any last minute opening very quickly.

    So how about it? Can anybody help me out?


    That’s certainly an impressive resume! As for what is happening, it’s hard to say. A couple of things are going on–one being that the station populations are shrinking–due to budget cuts, lack of major construction or science projects, and what seems to be a (not unwelcome) look by management to streamline things and make them more efficient. What that means is that there is less room for new folks (vs those returning) to break in to the program.

    Another thing I see–in previous years the job postings were more focused–if they needed a plumber, that job was listed; if they hired all the plumbers, that job would come off the list (and perhaps reappear a month or two later if someone dropped out or didn’t qualify). Now many of the job listings appear to be general and static, so it’s hard to know if all of the positions are filled. In some cases the last-minute or hard-to-fill positions appear on other recruiting sites, although I don’t know if that is due to intentional action by the project contractors.

    That said, (and with the caveat that I’m not presently involved with the program) I DO know that many positions particularly for winter remain unfilled. So it’s early yet. Lets see what other folks have to say about this.


    Thanks so much for the kind words and the background info. One spends so much time waiting, and hearing nothing, after applying for these positions that it is very refreshing to get feedback. I’ll keep a positive attitude and continue to throw my name into the ring whenever possible. I mean, it has to eventually happen, right? 🙂

    Anybody else?


    There’s always jobs left… it’s just a matter of applying for the right thing at the right time.

    With your level of experience, I’d skip applying for the snow-shoveling and entry level positions. They’re highly competitive, and I imagine the hiring managers would shy away from someone of your caliber.

    It takes most people several years before they get hired. Five seems long, so I’m wondering if there simply isn’t a good match for your skills. The only position I can think of that might fit is Research Associate (what I do). Seems like they’re always looking for South Pole RAs. Also, maybe the water plant at McMurdo.


    Thanks for the advice. My thoughts were to apply for anything that I qualified for since there is really no way of knowing which position might not be already filled by a returning candidate. I had also read somewhere that the entry level positions were a way to get your foot in the door. It is disappointing to hear that I might be looked past for a job because of my experience. Maybe I should highlight that I just got back from Peru where I was mixing concrete by hand (with a shovel on the ground – at 11,000 feet) to boost my qualifications for moving snow. 🙂

    Of an interesting note I was rejected for a Steward position (cleaning and restocking) because I didn’t meet the minimum qualifications. Really?!? Not to minimize this position, it is important and needs to be done correctly, but it is certainly something I could do.

    Oh well, I just keep trying…


    I might add that historically there are a lot of people that apply for everything. If you don’t have previous verifiable work experience, you will probably be turned down. janitors were a good example. You would think it would be easy to be a janitor, but much of the time it’s really nasty work that disgusts a lot of people. IE somebody was sick and threw up and crapped all over floor and now the janitor is expected to clean it up. The experienced Janos don’t even flinch. They know how to do it fast and safe and what to do with the contaminated leftovers. Even though it’s a relatively easy job, it does require skills and experience that the average person does not have. As adaptable as you are, that is more than likely the reason for not getting most of the jobs you are applying for. Nobody wants to find out after you get to ice that you haven’t really done the job before.
    The jobs you are qualified for are few and far between. Many of the engineers are full time employees out of Denver and mostly work there. They do hire engineers on the ice, especially related to big construction projects, but usually it’s no more than one or two.


    Thanks again for all the great feedback. It would be ideal for me if they brought back the job fairs so that I could get that one on one interaction that is so important in promoting your abilities – but since they are getting plenty of applicants without a job fair I fully understand why they don’t go through the hassle of having one.

    So my dilemma is there are very few openings that don’t have a returning candidate. To increase my odds of finding one of the few available openings I apply to everything I’m qualified for. But with such a wide range of job types it is hard to tweak my resume to highlight everything. My qualifications for much of the entry level stuff I did 15 – 20 years ago, the technical stuff more recently. A three-minute conversation with a hiring manager would convince them of my skills, work ethic, motivation, and compatible personality – worth 10 different resumes. Ahhh, but like they say, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”


    I think it has been about 5 years for me as well, this might be season 6.
    Only sent in two apps this time around.
    Hard to say what the thing is that gets you over the hump. I get through the first HR part usually, but don’t end up hearing from the hiring managers.
    Best of Luck!


    It’s been a pretty weak hiring year. Last time I spoke with a recruiter at GHG they stated they are being affected by the sequester cuts. They only posted 7 jobs for all 3 bases for this fall 🙁


    A new posting on the Lockheed Martin website showed up last week for Engineering and Sciences Support. I applied for it but am now wondering if there is anything else that can be done. I don’t have contact info for HR or a hiring manager, so I guess it is the same old wait and see?

    Sciencetech had mentioned being an RA, and that it might be a good fit for me. This recent job posting seems quite similar to an RA, so perhaps Sciencetech has some insight or insider info about it?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.


    Sorry for the delay… I’ve been deploying and in transit. Things are settling down now.

    Do you have a Job # for the position you mentioned?

    Here’s the science-related Ice jobs on the LMCO site as of today:

    S&TPS Science Planning Manager Arlington Virginia 270830BR 21-Aug-2013
    S&TPS Science Planner Arlington Virginia 269766BR 14-Aug-2013
    Peninsula S&TPS Manager Centennial Colorado 264102BR 15-May-2013
    Instrument Technician – Antarctica, Palmer Station Centennial Colorado 260747BR 28-Mar-2013

    … and some thoughts…

    The planning positions really require someone experienced in the USAP, and they may or may not deploy. Mostly administrative stuff.
    The Peninsula S&TPS Manager position is filled. I don’t know why they don’t close that out.
    The Instrument Tech position is filled for the summer; winter may be up for grabs. If you know how to repair and calibrate lab equipment it may be the right thing for you.
    There was a South Pole RA position listed last week. It’s disappeared now, and I assume they found someone.
    The Palmer RA position (what I do) is not listed…. yet. Winter RA at Palmer may be coming open. It’s a 7-month deploying position, March-September.


    Thank you Sciencetech, and no worries about the delay. I’m sure this is a very busy time.

    The post was for Engineering & Sciences Support, 273057BR. It did not specify a location, but said it was for deployment to Antarctica for a contract length of over one year (approx. Sep 1, 2013 – Nov 12, 2014). It was posted on Sep 12, I applied on Sept 13, and the posting was taken down sometime within the last day or two. The wording on the job description was almost identical to the Research Associate positions previously posted (one of which is still open, but the post has been down for a long time, I applied on March 14 but have heard nothing – McMurdo 259837BR).

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