Human Resources News & Insights

Must love penguins, hate showering: Is this job worth $20K a year?

Here is one of the more unusual job postings you’ll see this year: 

Port Lockroy, a British historic base on Goudier Island off the Antarctic Peninsula, is looking for an “assistant.”

This person will be asked, among other things, to:

  • Operate the Port’s post office, which takes in about 70,000 pieces of mail during the period hires will be stationed there (about five months — November into March).
  • Monitor penguins and wildlife on behalf of the British Antarctic Survey (the island is home to about 2,000 penguins).
  • Operate the port’s shop (about 18,000 visitors arrive by ship during the season).
  • Perform maintenance tasks on the island’s facilities.
  • Manage merchandise and day-to-day operating supplies.

The position requires five days of training in the United Kingdom, after which new hires will be flown to South America. From there, they’ll board an expedition ship to Port Lockroy.

Truth be told, none of that sounds too bad. Some of you with job-searching college grads living in your basement may even be thinking: This could be a way for little Johnny to get out, see the world and gain some valuable real-life experience.

Not so fast. We haven’t gotten to the real gems of this job posting yet.

The bad, the ugly and the smelly

Here’s what else the job posting on the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s website says applicants must be willing to do:

  • Carry a big heavy box over slippery rocks and slushy snow whilst dodging penguins.
  • Be happy not showering for up to a month.
  • Live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 smelly penguins for five months.
  • Be enthusiastic around visitors even when it’s well below freezing outside and a blizzard is blowing through.
  • Cook supper cheerfully after a long, cold day and very little sleep.
  • Be on-call and smiling for all waking hours, seven days a week.
  • Be happy while confined to a small island with no prospect of climbing the surrounding peaks.

That takes the shine off the job a little bit, doesn’t it? That last bullet is particularly troubling. Have past hires actually contemplated climbing the surrounding peaks just to get away from the port?

So what’s the pay, you ask? About 1,100 pounds (or $1,700 U.S. dollars) per month. What works out to about $8,500 for the five-month stint or $20,000 a year (if the job lasted that long).

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