Meet Cassie: International Scuba Instructor
It’s been too long since our last seasonal worker of the month. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I’m sure you’re looking forward to meeting this month’s seasonal worker extraordinaire.
Her name is Cassie, and I met her in a bar in Ketchikan, Alaska. She worked with one of my friends, and we immediately bonded over our love of seasonal jobs. She’s got a great story and some great insights. (I especially love her response to the “general tips” question near the end.) If you’ve ever dreamt about working and interning around the world, read on!
Hometown: Las Cruces, NM
Current location: Ketchikan, AK
Current job: Scuba Instructor/ Snorkel Guide
Life philosophy in one sentence: More Cheese!
Spirit animal: Orca
Favorite quote: ”If you can dream it, you can do it” ~ Walt Disney
Favorite condiment: Ranch
Fun fact: I don’t like chewing gum
Cassie’s Life as a Seasonal Worker
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
I studied abroad in Australia and joined the Marine Mammal Research Group. I helped gather research on the humpback whales northern migration.
What led you to getting that job?
I was going to school at New Mexico State University and decided I wanted to travel. “Blue Planet’” on the Discovery Channel absolutely blew my mind, so I decided to study abroad somewhere I could study the sea and its creatures!
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
I worked in South Africa at the Two Oceans Aquarium, I did manta ray and nudibranch data collection in Mozambique, I went back to South Africa and worked at a backpackers hostel, I went to Ireland and did a dive internship where I gained my Scuba Instructor Certificate, and now I am leading snorkel tours in Alaska.
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
Two Oceans Aquarium in South Africa. Since I was only there a short time (6 months), they taught me so much! I was able to see all the behind-the-scenes work: designing tanks, feeding the animals, and collecting fish and invertebrates for the display tanks and the touch tanks.
I learned a lot about quarantine and even some research on jellyfish that was being conducted by a grad student at the aquarium. It is probably what I want to do when I eventually grow up
How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?
I was graduating college and I wanted to travel more. I googled “international internships” and emailed a few of the listings for more information. Volunteer Adventure Corps (VAC) emailed me back and told me to send them some information about me and they would send me information on the program.
I filled out a few questions and got a response back: “Congratulations you are coming to South Africa!” I didn’t mean to actually apply for the program, but I took it and went to Africa last minute anyway. Best decision ever.
Have you tried a traditional “grown-up” job?
My dad owns a construction company back home. Traditionally, I travel somewhere and work for 6-9 months and I return home for a few. When I am home, I work as a secretary in one of his offices. I can only do so long behind a desk before I am online googling travel opportunities again!
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
Seasonal jobs allow you to see so much of the world!! Also usually they are a lot of work, so you are ready for them to be over. They are usually just the right amount of time: long enough to be exciting, get to know the people and culture, but not too long to get boring.
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
Saying goodbye to great people. Wherever you go, you WILL meet awesome, amazing, inspiring people. And you will always have to say goodbye. Some can keep in touch, but most will move on — as will you. Saying goodbye is never fun, but you always have the memories.
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
I was accepted to a program in South Africa that was seasonal. I loved it so much that I found a seasonal job at a backpackers lodge so I could go back to Cape Town. I found an internship in Ireland and then I found a seasonal job in Alaska. I found everything online. You have to be careful about accepting offers that are too good to be true, but usually programs have a Facebook page or website that will let you know they’re legit.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
I have gotten experience with research and data collection by aiding grad students in Australia, Belize, and Mozambique. I gained my Open Water Scuba Instructor qualification by working in a dive shop in Ireland. In Ireland, I also gained skills in carpentry, gardening, painting (outside and inside) and tiling bathrooms! I went to Ireland expecting to work in a dive shop. If things were slow, we did not get the day off! The internship included full maintenance of the property, and that truly taught me hard work and dedication.
By traveling and learning about new places, people, and cultures, you learn amazing skills on how to appreciate life and learn who you are.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
There are so many! Alaska has been great; I have had up close in-water experiences with octopus, sea lions and orcas!
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
To find jobs, all you have to do is look! They are everywhere! The internet is great for connecting you to the rest of the world.
Seasonal work is no joke. It IS actually work, not a vacation. If you work hard, you can play hard.
Take advantage of every single opportunity. Maybe you get accepted to something that was your 2nd or 3rd choice. GO! No matter what you do, you will expand your knowledge and earn experiences that people will look up to and want to hear about.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
If you love your grown-up job, then keep it. If you are not happy, you need to take advantage of the opportunities at your fingertips! There is always a way. You just need a little courage!