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June 28, 2005 at 7:23 am #364
I have been reading here for a bit, and I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place to post a question, but it seems to be! I am an American female, 36, with a BS in Management, and I currently work as a certified Medical Transcriptionist. I really would like to have the experience of working in the South Pole, just not sure how realistic this dream is. I browsed the job openings and it seems like “normal” people are hired. By that I mean non-researchers. Do I have this correct? I’m wondering if my medical skills, as a transcriptionist, could be utilized there? I am not well-traveled, would this hinder my opportunity?
Any information is greatly appreciated!
June 28, 2005 at 9:05 pm #2553willKeymaster
[font=Arial:esbm74zd]Yes, there are many non-researchers hired to work in [/font:esbm74zd][font=Arial:esbm74zd]Antarctica[/font:esbm74zd][font=Arial:esbm74zd], but I’m not certain I would categorize most as “normal people.” ;-)[/font:esbm74zd]
[font=Arial:esbm74zd]As you’ve seen in the online job listings, there aren’t any transcriptionist positions. Would you be willing to take a different job just to get there? The pole is a bit tougher than the other stations, but every place needs janitors, dishwashers, etc. Take a look online & see which you might be willing to do, keeping in mind the typical accuracy of any written job description – it’s usually quite different than reality.[/font:esbm74zd]
[font=Arial:esbm74zd]Previous travel experience is unnecessary, but desire & the ability to adapt to new situations are important.[/font:esbm74zd]
[font=Times New Roman:esbm74zd]Erica[/font:esbm74zd]June 29, 2005 at 8:23 am #2554
Most of the jobs are non-researchers. Your best bet at getting into the system is to go for a job at McMurdo first. They hire hundreds of people that are just like you. Lot’s of people trained in one field that adapt to something else down here. On your first year take anything you can get. After you see what goes on then go for what interests you the next year. Most of the jobs for this year are probably filled by now, but lot’s of people will drop out between now and october so don’t let that stop you from applying. Next April take some time to go to the Denver Job Fair. Read back on some of our hints and follow them to the letter. Also keep in touch with us and we’ll help keep your spirits up along the way.
mikeJune 29, 2005 at 9:43 am #2555
Thanks for answering, I appreciate it. I did not realize you do not necessarily have to “qualified” for a job, be it janitor or whatever, for that matter. I do not really care what I do (within some semblence of reason, of course) just to have the experience. I am actually looking toward applying in approximately 2 years. What is the average timespan from applying to securing a position? I’m confused, McMurdo is the station where you fly into? Is that where the jobs are located? Is that actually in the Antarctic?
KelliJune 29, 2005 at 11:13 am #2556
Is McMurdo actually in the Antarctic?!? Kelli, Kelli, Kelli…
The only station we don’t consider IN the Antarctic is Palmer, but only because they lie outside the Antarctic Circle, up in the Banana Belt. Technically, though, they’re a part of the continent…
McMurdo is the largest research facility on the continent, and the primary logistics hub for South Pole, Scott Base, and numerous field camps. In the summer it’s home to approximately 1000-1100 researchers, support personnel, and military. In the winter (right now), the population is around 200 (this year it’s 241). The Pole is about 800 miles away, and has populations of about 200/50 (summer/winter).
Everything that Pole has, or wants, has to come through McMurdo.
And everything that McMurdo has, or wants, gets to us through Christchurch, New Zealand – 2400 miles due north. People and cargo come to us on US Air Force planes, or ships under contract to the Navy, or NSF.
I don’t mean to bust on you – Just helping you to understand the place.
Coming down here is a great adventure. Just finishing up my fifth season, and first winter. Once you do the Ice, you’ll never fully be able to go back to the ‘real’ world. This place gets in your blood. And, of course, you’ll make friends that will last a lifetime.
In the summer there is a large medical staff. There’s a couple of doctors, a PA, a couple of nurses, a lab person, an X-Ray tech, and a PT. The docs do all their own notes.
Typical first-year jobs include Housekeeping (janitor), GA (General Assistant – lots of outdoor work), DA (Dining Attendant – lots of indoor work, and early/late hours), and cargo (outdoors, and alot of work at the runways). If you have computer experience, Supply hires a number of folks to track the myriad of inventory we keep down here.
Basically, run down the list of available jobs, see what appeals to you, then go for it. Nothing to lose.
Regardless of what position you end up with, remember – free food, free housing, and a free trip through New Zealand. 🙂 Hope you have a passport…
Good luck, Kelli.
atlasJune 30, 2005 at 6:10 am #2557SciencetechKeymaster
Atlas wrote: “The only station we don’t consider IN the Antarctic is Palmer…”
Hey now. Careful there. You might think otherwise if you were here today and spent the entire day looking at your shoulders so you wouldn’t get a face full of blowing ice pellets.
Kelli, see what you have to deal with? People sniping at each other from either side of a frozen continent. You sure you want to get into this? (Say Yes.)
I agree with everything Mike and Atlas have said (except that bit about Palmer). A key point they made: don’t limit yourself. If you see a position that you think you’d like to do, apply for it even if you think you’re not qualified. In some ways, this is very much a southern trade school: they may be willing to teach you. Consider applying to work in Comms; I had a friend with skill similar to yours who spent the summer at Mactown working in MacOps as a radio operator — she enjoyed it.
gJune 30, 2005 at 7:23 am #2558
What Glenn is trying to say is that he couldn’t handle life in the REAL Antarctic, so he’s now living ‘outside the Circle’… 🙂
Got busted on my Chuck Kimball for that comment, too. Damn…
Kelli, come on down and work with us. You’ll love it.
atlasJune 30, 2005 at 8:54 am #2559
Every base has it’s own distinctive character and characters. McMurdo by the sheer volume of people who pass through here, tends toward a very active social environment. It also has a volcanic topography adjacent to water which often means great hikes and the sometimes opportunity to see wildlife. 2 varieties of penguins, Minke and Orka whales, one species of bird, and big sluglike Weddell seals. Summer is warmer and nicer than you would think. Summer is also vast vistas that look out across the frozen Ross Sea to the mountains in the distance. Winter is every bit as cold and wintery as you would think and dark for many months. It’s like being in another world
South Pole is remote flat and white. It’s far colder and far more spectacular in an Antarctic kind of way. It’s an experience no one forgets.
Palmer in some ways is the most special of bases. With only 30 or so people there it’s far harder to get to, but if you do you will be rewarded with a relatively temperate climate. It’s a climate that appeals not only to you but to a myriad of wildlife. Far more variety than McMurdo.
You will love whereever you end up.
MikeJune 30, 2005 at 8:58 am #2560
The bananas they grow in Palmer are some of the best in the world, and the nearby rainforest is amazing…June 30, 2005 at 10:12 am #2561
Aw, y’all are too nice! I’m happy to read that your senses of humor have not frozen! As my questions confirm, I was thoroughly confused about how many bases there are (stations), and what exactly is considered Antarctica. So I appreciate the overview! It’s becoming a bit clearer in my brain (that’s scarey!).
What do you do besides work? I mean, it’s not as if you’re outside sledding, right?! It is dark from February to October or just some of the months? By the way, this website is a great source of information. Do a lot of people apply for these jobs? When I have mentioned it to friends or family, it’s as if I am saying I want to go spend some time on a leprosy island or something.
Anyhow, hope your having a good day,
KelliJune 30, 2005 at 3:54 pm #2562
Howdy, Kelli —
The most difficult thing about coming to the ice is overcoming your preconceived notions about it. Yes, it can be a cold, and desolate place, but in the austral summertime, when the sun is shining 24 hours a day, it’s warm, and vibrant, and chock-ful of activity – indoor, and outdoor.
McMurdo was originally a Navy base, established in the 50s. It resembles a ramshackle mining town, and is comprised of approximately 85 buildings. Being outside is a big a part of being here.
We have hiking on a number of nearby trails, we have Scott Base a couple of miles away, crosscountry skiing, rugby, Frisbee golf, biking, and yes, sledding. In the summer the temperatures will typically be in the +30s. Quite warm by our standards.
If you find you like indoor activities better, we have bowling, ceramics, Stitch & Bitch, Gutz & Butz, belly dancing, aerobics, martial arts, volleyball, basketball, dodgeball, a weight room, and a gerbil gym.
If you’re more sedentary, there are two movie stations on the TV, an AFN Primetime feed, AFN Sports, and AFN News. There are also four radio feeds, including our own local Ice Radio 104.5. We also have 19 public use computers, located in bldg. 155, the Coffee House, and the Library.
If you inbibe, there are three bars – the aforementioned Coffee House, serving wine and coffee drinks; Gallagher’s, a non-smoking bar, and Southern Expoure, a smoking bar.
Basically, whatever you conceive McMurdo, and Antarctica, to be, reality will prove it incorrect.
Trust us when we say this place will get in your blood, because it will. I came down for three seasons, then took a three year break to live a ‘normal’ life. I couldn’t wait to get back down here…
You’ll love it, Kelli. And if you’re thinking of coming down, and the people you’re telling it about think you’re crazy, then welcome to the club. After a season or two, you’ll think they’re the crazy ones for staying where they’re at, working a 40-hour a week job.
Oh concerning your question about light and dark – mid-October to February is 24 hours of daylight. Late-April to late-August the sun is below the horizon, with much of that being in total darkness.
Funny thing is, you get used to all the sun, and you get used to all the dark. It’s a very strange place…
“We’re all here because we’re not all there.” – Frequent Ice quote.
atlasJune 30, 2005 at 7:25 pm #2563DeSotoMember
You guys should get credit for recruiting. I think all the information that Mike, Glen and yourself are giving Kelli is very valuable. Keep up the good work.
Susan M. DeSoto__________________________________________________
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http://mail.yahoo.comJuly 1, 2005 at 12:40 am #2564
I find the 24 hour darkness easy to get used to. If you live in the north your nomal life in winter is to get up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, work inside all day while it’s light, then drive home in the dark. It’s the same here but it’s dark at lunch as well.
Getting used to 24 hour daylight is tough. You have to be careful, because if you are near a window in the evening it’s easy to lose track of what time it is. I’ve been many times chatting in one of the lounges, thinking it was 10 or 11pm, only to find it was 1 in the morning. It’s so weird having to wear sunglasses at midnight.
MikeJuly 1, 2005 at 3:36 am #2565
‘I wear my sunglasses at night…’July 1, 2005 at 6:39 am #2566SciencetechKeymaster
I came down to the Ice ten years ago for one season and I’ve been coming back ever since.
Be warned! This place will seriously mess you up. Atlas is right, after a while you’ll think people with “normal” jobs are the crazy ones. I’ve tried going back to a typical job, twice now, and I couldn’t.
They said there was a girl behind every tree at Palmer. I’m still looking for the trees…
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