Four British women were selected for coveted positions which attracted 6,000 applicants.
In April, as the Antarctic winter was fast approaching, an unusual job posting popped up in the cold pockets of the internet.
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) was looking for seasonal workers to take on the duties of postal clerk and penguin spotter at an outpost on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Now four British women have earned those roles and are packing their parkas for duty.
According to The Guardian, 6,000 people have applied for the four posts on Goudier Island in Port Lockroy, Antarctica. The nominees selected include Mairi Hilton, Lucy Bruzzone, Clare Ballantyne and Natalie Corbett.
Four women run a post office and count penguins in Antarctica https://t.co/zLqqr4aVm7
– BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 4, 2022
The chosen few
The initial advertisement included three positions and called for applicants with rudimentary professional training. They had to be eligible to work in the UK, physically fit, mentally healthy and ready for Antarctic weather conditions.
Atypical qualifications included a high tolerance for cabin fever and the ability to monitor the island’s population of gentoo penguins.
Hilton, 30, spent four years earning a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology in Australia. She landed the (probably most desirable) job as a penguin keeper.
Bruzzone, 40, previously worked as chief scientist on an Arctic expedition in Svalbard for three months. The Guardian said she will lead activities at the base and called her new job a “lifetime dream”.
Ballantyne will serve as postal clerk. The 23-year-old has a Masters in Earth Sciences from Oxford University and will help keep track of the approximately 70,000 postcards that pass through the site each year before being appropriately canceled and sent to more than 100 countries.
Corbett runs a pet supplies shop in Hampshire, England and will be running the gift shop. Just married, she said she views the winter assignment as a “solo honeymoon.”
Small office, nice view
The four employees will spend the season in sub-zero temperatures and without flushing the toilet. When they’re not counting penguins or stamping postcards, they sleep in bunk beds. Tight quarters are a guarantee.
“We are looking for applicants who can bring a range of skills to the team,” Lauren Luscombe, UKAHT Operations Manager, said in April. “Successful candidates will live in confined spaces for five months, so it’s also important that we find the right balance of skills and personalities.”
For the women, we hope the Luscombe team have found just the right formula. And from Ballantyne’s perspective, the office prospects are unbeatable.
“I’m really looking forward to stepping onto Goudier Island and breathing in the cacophony and pungent smell of penguins, the backdrop of glaciers and fief mountains and being able to call it home for the next few months,” she said.