Meet Candace: Artist Working Her Way Around the World
It’s the first Seasonal Worker of the Month in 2014, and it’s an awesome one!
I’m stoked to introduce you to Candace Rose Rardon, the spectacularly talented travel blogger behind The Great Affair. It’s rare to meet anyone who does one thing so well — and this lady has the spectacular ability to do THREE things at an insanely high level: writing, sketching, and photography. (And that’s only what I know about from her blog.) She also has an amazing ability for introspection and reflection that makes every one of her blog posts a work of art.
As if that weren’t enough, she’s also worked a variety of seasonal jobs AND traveled the world. Though I met her only briefly at TBEX, I could tell she was a kindred spirit. (I mean, she loves jumpy pix… what else is there to say?) I’m honored that she agreed to do an interview, and she’s got some great stuff to share.
Here are my three favorite takeaways from Candace’s interview:
“You hear about a lot of people who save up a large sum of money before quitting their jobs and traveling – if you’re ready to travel now, though, a seasonal job is a way to get you on the road sooner. ” Click to tweet!
“My advice is to do your best at any job, whether or not it’s something you’re super passionate about, because you never know what doors it might open for you.” Click to tweet!
“Maybe you’re in a career you don’t love, but you’re not yet sure what kind of career you would love – think of a seasonal job as a bridge between the two, a way to slowly work towards something you’re more passionate about.” Click to tweet!
Name: Candace Rose Rardon
Hometown: Suffolk, Virginia
Current location: Home for the holidays
Current job: Travel writer, sketch artist, and blogger at The Great Affair
Life philosophy in one sentence: Leap and the net will appear (a Zen saying often attributed to John Burroughs).
Spirit animal: I just did two quizzes for this and both times I got an owl – so it looks like I’ve got my answer.
Favorite quote: “The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Favorite condiment: Guacamole (that totally counts, right?)
Fun fact about you: I get my middle name from my grandfather, Webb Rose Rardon.
Candace’s Seasonal Life
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
This isn’t exactly the most adventurous position ever, but my first job overseas was as a personal assistant to two professors at a London university.
What led you to getting that job?
A month before my college graduation – right as I was realizing just how wonderfully practical my English degree was not – I ran into two old friends. The first thing they said to me was, “Candace, come to London with us.” They were moving there for six months through an organization called BUNAC, which facilitates work exchanges in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
My friends’ serendipitous invitation to join them in London was what kick-started these last five years I’ve spent living abroad and traveling the world. Although BUNAC didn’t guarantee us employment, they provided heaps of contacts and sure enough, we all had office jobs within a week of landing in London.
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
After London, I went south to New Zealand as a part of their working holiday scheme. Rather than spend the entire year living in one place, I decided to work my way around the country. In Christchurch, I found temporary office gigs through Adecco and also began waitressing at a Mexican restaurant through the help of a new flatmate; in Queenstown, I was a check-out chick at a local supermarket during the day and bartended at night; and in Wellington, I waitressed at a fast-paced Italian restaurant right on the city’s beautiful harbor before switching to hospitality temp work with a company called The Temp Centre. It was a busy year!
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
Hands down it was bartending in Queenstown during the winter season. Everyone else was there for the snow, so while I bagged groceries all day, they were busy carving their way down the Southern Alps. At night, I loved stepping behind the bar of a gourmet pizza restaurant that converted into one of the town’s most popular bars after hours.
Queenstown has an awesome energy about it and is a crazy melting pot of nationalities, so I’ll never forget the feeling of working next to new friends from all over the world – I had coworkers from Canada, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Malaysia, and even India. And in what other job can you dress up like a pirate for a night and get away with it?
How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?
I got the job through the owner of the Mexican restaurant I worked at in Christchurch. My entire time in New Zealand was a lesson in the amazing power of connections – not only that people had so many, but also that they were incredibly quick to help you out if they could. My advice is to do your best at any job, whether or not it’s something you’re super passionate about, because you never know what doors it might open for you.
Have you tried a traditional “grown-up” job? If yes, why did you stick with it or why did you quit? Do you see yourself working one in the future?
My path has been a little unusual in that I’ve never actually had a traditional 9-5 job. After my year in New Zealand, I moved back to London to get my masters in travel writing from Kingston University. Ever since then, I’ve been pursuing a career as a freelance writer and author, one that’s slowly evolved to include doing on-location watercolor sketches as I travel as well. For the foreseeable future, I plan to continue building a creative career for myself writing memoirs, putting books of travel sketches together, and leading sketching workshops overseas. We’ll see how it pans out!
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
For me, the experience of working my way around the world through seasonal jobs got me on the path to discover my passion. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do – all I knew was that I wanted to travel.
Seasonal jobs, especially the ones I did in New Zealand, gave me the freedom to keep seeing the world while still building up my savings account – two things that don’t always go naturally together. You hear about a lot of people who save up a large sum of money before quitting their jobs and traveling – if you’re ready to travel now, though, a seasonal job is a way to get you on the road sooner. You won’t need to save up quite as much since you’ll be earning money as you go.
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
The goodbyes! They never, ever get easier. You meet some truly awesome people through seasonal jobs, so for me, the hardest part about them was having to say goodbye to great coworkers after just three or four months of working together.
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
My first few years of traveling were closely tied to the seasonal jobs I worked. I prefer having a purpose on the road – whether it’s working, volunteering, researching a story, etc. – so taking an extended period of time off solely to travel has never really appealed to me. Seasonal jobs are the perfect solution to this – you can still experience a new country while working a job or two.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
My jobs didn’t require any special skills in and of themselves (unless you count learning to mix cocktails at record speed on a Friday night a skill), but I think I learned quite a few larger life skills that will serve me well no matter where I am in the world – flexibility, initiative, the ability to pick up new tasks quickly, and just a bit more courage and belief in myself. After you’ve moved to a new country without a job or apartment set up, there isn’t much else in life that seems quite as terrifying.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
My seasonal jobs have been quite unadventurous in and of themselves – waitressing, bartending, office work – but they still left plenty of room for adventuring on my own, especially when I was in New Zealand. I loved sneaking away for a weekend to hike the Franz Josef Glacier or swim with dolphins in Kaikoura, but my favorite thing had to be hiking Mount Ruapehu, the largest active volcano in New Zealand. Although I’d signed up for a group hike, I ended up being the only one there that day and essentially had a private guide to lead me up the slopes and show me how to slide down the scree.
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
I would say that one of the most important things is to be open to possibility. Sometimes I’d arrive in a new city with a certain idea of what job I was looking for, but being open to whatever came my way or was available at the time gave me a greater chance of finding work (i.e. I never expected to work in a supermarket in New Zealand, but I got the job through a friend before arriving in Queenstown and was definitely grateful to show up already employed).
The other thing I would say is to just be patient – even though it’s the hardest thing in the world for me to do. Every time I moved to a new city and was waiting to find a job, I would get all worked up and anxious that nothing would materialize and I’d have to keep digging into my savings. Here’s the thing, though: something always worked out.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
Take the risk! I promise it will be worth it. If the only reason you’re scared of quitting a more traditional job is because of losing the stability and security – not because it’s something you love – then I would absolutely recommend looking into a seasonal job. Maybe you’re in a career you don’t love, but you’re not yet sure what kind of career you would love – think of a seasonal job as a bridge between the two, a way to slowly work towards something you’re more passionate about. Like it did for me, maybe it could be the very thing to set you on a different path in life.
A big big thank you to Candace for sharing her wisdom and beautiful art with us! Please go subscribe to receive updates from her blog The Great Affair. You won’t regret it. And if you can think of someone who’s interested in art + travel, please share this interview with them. I’m sure they’ll be inspired!