Welcome back to another edition of the Seasonal Worker of the Month! These interviews will hopefully inspire you to work seasonal adventure jobs and travel the world. (Want to meet more seasonal workers? Here are Angela and Nick.)
This month, our featured seasonal worker is Andrea. She’s a fierce athlete with a bubbly and zany personality that I just love. I still look back fondly upon our days cruising around the Korean countryside and chatting in her kick-ass van. She has boundless energy and is just a blast to hang out with.
I’m excited to feature her here because she’s the first Canadian I’ve interviewed, and she’s also worked on cruise ships — a job that a lot of people are interested in. Read on to learn how to get a cruise ship job, and to discover one of my all-time favorite tips for seasonal workers!
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Life philosophy in one sentence: Take what it is at value and toss out the rest.
Spirit animal: Oh boy….ugh…??? Wolf?
Favorite condiment: Chardonnay mustard
Fun fact: I currently live at home with my parents. Actually that is just a fact. That can be fun.
Andrea’s Seasonal Life
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
What led you to getting that job?
At the time, I was a competitive swimmer training over 22 hours per week, and it only made sense that I spend MORE time at the pool.
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
I have worked on cruise ships as a youth counselor and briefly as a Shore Ex (member of Shore Excursion staff). Susan’s note: Andrea also worked as an English teacher in South Korea for over a year!
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
All of them have been sooooooooo much fun! I’ll break it down by job.
Summer Lifeguard/Instructor/Swim Coach: Great first job for anyone. I definitely recommend it, because it’s just sooo much fun and in some places can provide pretty decent pay! Tedious training involved for someone who may be in high school, but certifications can open other doors later on. I absolutely love working with children and seeing them improve, especially having been a competitive swimmer. Moreover, working outside, getting an awesome tan, and splashing around in the pool — life can’t get easier than that.
Youth Counselor and Shore Ex on cruise ships: If I can put it simply, you work hard and you play hard. Anybody who has worked for a cruise line can tell you that. (Unless you’re a captain or an officer… or a dancer or entertainer!) It’s a fun job for a while, until you wear yourself out. As a youth counselor, you usually get to work with a bunch of cool people from different countries who are looking to do the same as you: travel and see the world. However, the job itself is exhausting, depending on the ship, the location, the season, and the company.
As mentioned above, I love working with kids — but not a thousand of them at a time. As for Shore Ex, this was only for a brief period. You work long hours and deal with annoying clients, but it all pays off with all the cool things that you get to do when you have time off or when you eventually move up in your position. You get to accompany passengers on the excursions, and you get to do personalized excursions from tour operators in the different ports. Overall, cruise lines offer fun opportunities, but they can be hard on your body for an extended amount of time.
How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?
For lifeguarding, well, it was my first job EVER. I got it through the pools I was associated with.
As for “cruisin,’” generally you go through a recruiter. For Canadians, I believe it is Just Cruisin’ Recruitment. As for ShoreEx, it’s a little tough to get on their “exclusive list.” I got my “in” through a friend who worked at the head office. However, apply through a recruiter, and you may be lucky!
Have you tried a traditional “grown-up” job?
I worked as an administrative assistant for a social network that was based in Montreal. There was lots of drama. It went bankrupt, so I went to Europe for a two month vacation.
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
They are temporary contracts, and they usually involve adventures (at least in my case).
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
They are temporary contracts, and they usually involve you having to think about the next step.
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
Yes. I started with the cruise lines in order to get to Alaska and then the door opened to other places and opportunities! The plan was to see mountains and wilderness, but ended up seeing and experiencing a whole other side of it. Pods of orcas, breaching humpbacks, floating glaciers, bears, bald eagles, still icy water for miles, aurora on the open water — I could go on and on. Susan’s note: Andrea also traveled while she was teaching English in Korea — with one highlight being an extended trip to Mongolia!
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
FO SHO!! I can lower a lifeboat! I can flip a liferaft! I can dress up as a firefighter and go into a smoke filled room! On a ship that is.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
I got to take a private helicopter up onto a glacier and go dogsledding with Iditarod huskies.
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
To find: Cruise lines are always hiring because there is such a high turnover for most positions. For some other positions, like entertainers, shore ex, captain, the process is a little more tedious, demanding, or exclusive. Just go to the company’s website and you can usually apply directly there. There are also recruitment agencies that can help you… Google it? For Canadians, I posted a link earlier.
Tip: Keep your mind open but don’t anticipate anything. Expect the unexpected and have fun with it.
A HUGE gracias to Andrea for sharing her inside knowledge with us. Know somebody who’s hungry for adventure? Share this with them — show them that life can be so much more than that!