Yay, it’s Seasonal Worker of the Month time! I hope you’re all settling nicely into your summer seasonal jobs. (If not, here are some tips for how to ace it.)

This month, I’m delighted to introduce you to Ian of Borderless Travels. Though I don’t know Ian personally, I think he’s a great fit for this series. As soon as I stumbled across his blog, I begged him to be featured here. He graciously accepted, and is now here to share all his seasonal work and travel experience with YOU.

A little teaser: Teaching in Tokyo, mountaineering the Himalayas, surfing in Indonesia or traveling the Trans-Siberian, Ian is always looking for adventure. He has been to over 30 countries around the world to work, study, volunteer, and travel. And with a nickname like Yak, what’s not to love?

Tour guides posing with Canadian Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in Ottowa. (Ian is on the left.)
Tour guides posing with Canadian Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in Ottowa. (Ian is on the left.)

Meet Ian!

Name: Ian, but my friends call me “Yak”
Age: Mid-twenties
Hometown: Brantford, Ontario
Current location: Canada
Current job: Teacher, Tour Guide & Travel Blogger
Life philosophy in one sentence: Live the life you want to live
Spirit animal: Yak
Favorite quote: “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”– Moslih Eddin Saadi
Favorite condiment: Soy sauce
Fun fact about you: I know how to skateboard and can still bust out a few tricks ;D

Ian’s Seasonal Life

What’s the first seasonal job you worked?

When I was studying in University, I went to a job fair where I got my first seasonal job working as a tour guide for a company called Keating Educational Tours. At Keating, for the months of May and June, I would lead educational youth trips to some of Canada’s most exciting cities, including Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

What led you to getting that job?

My dad! I had been working at a video store, as well as for a temp service the previous summer, but these jobs didn’t suit me. Seeing my love of travel and my ability to work with people, my dad told me that a company he went on a school trip with was going to be at a job fair at my university, and encouraged me to check it out.

After an intensive hiring process, where I later found out I almost didn’t get hired, I went through several months of serious training. Lucky for me, I became passionate about the job, met great people, learned about myself and what I was capable of, discovered a new love of travel, and ended up working there for nearly 5 years.

Ian guiding a trip in Ottowa.
Ian guiding a trip in Ottowa.

What other seasonal jobs have you worked?

Over the years, seasonal work has become a big part of my life. Working as a teacher, I often have flexibility in the summer and as a result I’ve worked as a summer ESL teacher all over the world. I’ve taught in Switzerland and South Korea, and I’ve worked seasonally at a University in Japan, and as an international trip facilitator with the social organization Me to We and as a tour guide here in Canada.

Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?

I loved all my jobs, but I’d have to say the most unique is working as a trip facilitator for Me to We. This is because I get the opportunity to work in partnership with youth and the global charitable organization Free the Children. When facilitating a trip, I get to work alongside amazing people, in partnership with impoverished communities all over the world. While on a trip, I get to learn from and teach amazing youth, work with and learn alongside Free the Children communities, and explore unique people, cultures, foods, and countries around the world.

How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?

This job was unique in that I had an abundance of experience leading trips and working with youth across Canada. For those interested in a job like this, I’d recommend working with youth, developing an understanding of how to lead group trips in some capacity, and above all, gaining experience working in the field of international development.

Ian's team of tour guides in Quebec City.
Ian’s team of tour guides in Quebec City.

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 work as a teacher in Canada, because teaching is a lot of fun. It also gives me enough money to pursue other interests, and my savings help with my traveling because blogging isn’t the most lucrative job.

Most of the time I work as a supply teacher, which allows me to take time off to do trips when I need to. And my summers off allow me to work seasonally as an ESL teacher overseas. I’ll certainly continue to teach, because it also allows me to appreciate what hard work is and how lucky I am to be able to travel and work seasonally abroad.

What rocks about seasonal jobs?

With seasonal jobs, you don’t have to commit for long periods of time. Also, if they’re really bad you know they’re going to end soon. Often seasonal jobs attract cool people, which can make the work environment a lot of fun.

What sucks about seasonal jobs?

Since seasonal jobs are usually short-term, businesses want to get the most for their money, resulting in long work hours for staff. If a seasonal job is overseas, it can be difficult because working conditions can be different. Also, expectations can be different and if you work somewhere unfamiliar you might not get what you were promised. Remember, contracts aren’t the same in every country and don’t always have the same meaning.

Day hike during Ian's day off in Switzerland.
Day hike during Ian’s day off in Switzerland.

Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?

I only use seasonal jobs to travel. This is because working overseas allows me to offset the cost of flights and traveling. Some companies even pay for flights. Getting to a country is often the most expensive part of travel, and to be able to offset that cost is fantastic. I’ve been to Switzerland, Korea, Japan, Ghana, and across Canada working seasonally.

Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?

Through my seasonal jobs, I’ve learned how to teach, present, travel, work with youth from around the world, and develop a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs? 

I’ve been able to climb several mountains, including Mt. Fuji, which is actually an active volcano.

Ian teaching in Seoul, South Korea
Ian teaching in Seoul, South Korea.

Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?

To get the job you want, where you want, you have to be proactive. You need to send out dozens of resumes. If you get one and start working, you need to keep an open mind. As long as the job is safe and the staff is fun, you can tough it out. Remember: things are different around the world and you should always be learning. Even if the job isn’t what you expected, you’ll learn something important about yourself, the world around you, or the job you’re doing. You might even learn a new skill or two.

What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?

You won’t know until you try it. There have been so many instances where I almost didn’t do something, because I was worried about how it would affect my career. Luckily, I’ve always gone with my gut and things worked out for the best. I can’t tell readers what they should do — but deep down inside they know. I guess my advice would be to go with your gut and you’ll never regret it.

A massive thanks to Ian for sharing his awesome tips with us! Join him on Borderless Travels, then follow Twitter and Facebook so you can share his experiences, get inspired, and learn how to start your own borderless travels.