It’s April, and it’s seasonal worker of the month time! I’ve never met Eric in person, but he seems like an incredible guy. He came across TJ on the interwebs and got in touch because of our mutual love of seasonal jobs, adventure travel, and goats. What more can I say?
Work exchanges abroad, house sitting, adventure jobs — Eric’s done it all. He’s worked at a yoga center in Hawaii and has even created an iPhone app. Best of all, he’s clearly got a super positive karmic goodness vibe going on. This is one guy worth learning from! (If you want to learn more, check out his blog and site.)
Read on for his advice on working, playing, and doing good around the world.
Name: Eric Brown
Hometown: Leesburg, VA
Current location: Kapaa, Kauai
Current job: Renting beach and snorkel gear at a resort in Kauai
Life philosophy in one sentence: “Breathe, Smile, Love yourselves and Love each other.”
Spirit animal: Wolf and Hummingbird (most recently, though this changes depending on what “animal medicine” I’m needing for different times in my life) Wolf and hummingbird have been appearing in my dreams the past year.
Favorite quote: “We’re made of stardust.” ~ Carl Sagan
Favorite condiment: Tapatio hot sauce
Fun fact about you: I was once a stuntman
Eric’s Seasonal Life
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
First seasonal job was a work-exchange (food and board covered) at a yoga community on Hawaii’s Big Island, helping out with gardening, and even helping to build a house (which I had no experience with prior).
What led you to getting that job?
I was deep in exploration of yoga and heard about the community while on the mainland. I quit my full-time customer service job at the time (over 6 years ago and haven’t worked a full-time office job since). Doing a work-exchange job allowed me to be in a new and beautiful place with very minimal funds.
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
Various work-exchange jobs from gardening to taking care of horses, alpacas, sheep, chickens, dogs and cats. GoCar Tour rentals in San Francisco, UPS helper as seasonal Christmas help, part-time at a yoga studio, and working as a “brand ambassador” for various companies. I’m actively applying for a new seasonal job here on Kauai to be a tour guide for hikes and adventures.
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
So far my favorite has been two of my work-exchange jobs, which were at sustainable/intentional communities in Australia. It was rad to be helping a community of positive people doing their best to have as positive of an impact on the environment as they can. All while working along side other travelers. Though this new job as an outdoor tour guide may very well take the lead!
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
While living in San Francisco, I often worked “low-key” fun seasonal type jobs for the purpose of allowing me to travel freely. I found jobs that I could get away with traveling for a month or two and come right back to them. I traveled to Hawaii and Australia using seasonal jobs to make it financially possible for me.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
I’ve learned how to work with goats, alpacas, and horses, as well as some gardening skills.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
While doing a work-exchange housesit in Australia (taking care of a horse, dog, chickens, and house plants), I got a pair of wild parrots to eat from my hand! After the first time, they came to me every day for some handfed seeds. (See below.)
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
You get to live in amazing places, have great adventures and meet other adventurers.
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
Hmmm, well I try to always have a positive view on things so even if I have a day where I’m feeling “I don’t want to go into work today,” I shift that attitude to “I GET to work today and live in this amazing place.”
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
Ask locals… ask friends or friends who may live in or know people where you are traveling. Word of mouth recommendations are always great, though not always available. I’ve found many jobs over the years on craigslist.org, including my latest one. Contacting local “hiring agencies” as they often have temporary job assignments.
BE CREATIVE… often places you want to travel to are places many others travel to, so perhaps you have an art or craft, etc. you can offer to tourist. I have a few ideas in the works right now, one of them involving underwater photos taken with my iPhone (in an underwater case, of course).
Other ways/resources to travel inexpensively are by house-sitting and doing work-exchanges. House-sitting gigs (http://www.housecarers.com) can be great. I’ve landed two month-long oceanside house-sits in Hawaii and Australia, both of which let me use their car for the month (doesn’t always happen, but it can!). Couchsurfing is fun and the website name says it all. Work exchanges let’s you work in exchange for food and board, and often the host will take you on local outdoor adventures. (See WWOOF and HelpX.) Read online profiles of the people you’ll be working with/for when available, and use and trust your intuition. You can often “feel” if something will be a good fit or not.
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?
I’ve done a few “grown-up” jobs. Right out of high school, I started working as a photojournalist for a newspaper in Virginia. That was an exciting job, though it didn’t pay enough for me at the time, so I quit. I worked for a software company briefly, door to door sales, customer service jobs, and a bank. My favorite jobs have been my part-time jobs, which also give me the most flexibility to travel.
I do see myself working a “grown-up” job in the future, though it will be unconventional and my own business(es). I co-created an iPhone app which is one of my passion-projects. Doesn’t pay the bills yet but feeds my soul.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
This is totally normal to have fears around this. There is no right or wrong way to do this, so do what feels the most comfortable for you. There may still be some discomfort/worries, though if it makes you feel better to stick with your “grown-up” job until you have x-amount of money saved, then do that. But don’t put if off too long. If it makes you feel more secure to first land a job before traveling, start taking the steps to do that.
One of my new favorite quotes is “Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what’s even scarier? Regret.” When a big exciting and scary opportunity comes my way, I travel to the future (in my head) to visit my 150 year old self in my deathbed. And when I ask “Should I…” the wisdom of my 150 year old self always has the same wise answer… “YES.”
Any parting words?
The Universe/Life is truly magic. The more we believe and are open to the magic in life the more we will notice and experience. I’ve had “out of this world” synchronicities in my travels. One was landing in Kauai, and a week later, a long lost childhood friend unknowingly also moves to Kauai — and within a few days of him moving here, we are now roommates. The Universe speaks in many ways, we just have to listen and notice <3
A big thanks to Eric for sharing all of his shimmery goodness with us! Please support him by checking out his Mindful Moon iPhone app. We all are constantly distracted throughout the day — and this app will help bring you back to the present moment with positive reminders!