Every year I try to do a yearly wrap-up, in order to talk about how the year has gone and about what’s coming up next. This year is no different—and so I present to you my 2012 wrap-up, written from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. This year’s post will be relatively concise, given that our satellite connection here is incredibly slow, and it takes forever to look through old media.
The overarching theme of this past year has been, of course, Antarctica. This year marks the fourth year that I’ve been applying to jobs on the ice, and I was determined to finally make it work this time around. After having already spent so much time on this endeavor, and on what has turned out to be a major life goal of mine, failure was simply not an option. Thus, most significant long-term plans in 2012 were made with my eventual Antarctic plans in mind.
Starting in January, I embarked on the NOLS Winter Outdoor Educator backcountry course in Teton Valley, Wyoming. The course was great; it gave me an excellent new instance of winter backcountry living and travel experience, and it served as a fantastic supplement to my resume. Although the ultimate position I secured in Antarctica was not directly related to this training, I still had a great time on the expedition and made a few close friends.
Next on the quest for a job in Antarctica was the renewal of my Emergency Medical Technician certification. I had originally gone through EMT training by taking night classes at Cincinnati State Technical College while I was a senior in high school. Unfortunately, though, over time, I’d failed to keep my certification up to date, and it had completely expired by the time I was ready to add it to my resume. I had a limited amount of free time to complete that training over this past summer—and so, with the help of a TaskRabbit, I found the Unitek College two-week accelerated EMT boot camp in Freemont, California. The boot camp was intense, but worth it—we ripped through the entire EMT curriculum very quickly. Combined with my NOLS-WMI WFR training from 2011, I’m now confident that I have a very solid base of EMS training and experience. The clinical ride-alongs for my EMT training took place in Oakland, CA, and gave me exposure to a variety of real-life scenarios—including some gory hospital incidents and gritty street cleanups. EMT training in California was, overall, a positive experience, and I’m very glad to have completed this certification again. Shortly after completing my training in Freemont, I spent a few weeks in San Francisco, where I took my National Registry exam as early as was possible—and passed easily on my first attempt.
A final—though constant—step in my Antarctic application process was networking and communicating. When I first set my mind to securing a job on the ice, I knew absolutely nothing about the continent, let alone any contacts who had worked there or been involved at all. Now, four years later, I’ve built up a fairly extensive list of contacts and resources. And so, in 2012, a vast amount of time has been spent on maintaining contact with my resources and on following up with the fifty-odd job applications I’d put in for jobs on the ice. Antarctica HR staff get a lot of emails and calls from job seekers, so it was quite a struggle to set myself apart from the masses while simultaneously avoiding coming off as overbearing. In my quest to secure a position in Antarctica, the networking and follow-up communications aspect was by far the most time-consuming and draining.
Finally, in late September, when I had long since exhausted all of my resources and felt as if there was no hope left, I published my long article chronicling my efforts—and it was that low point that ended up saving me. Soon after publishing my Long Journey article, someone at the South Pole got wind of it via a mutual contact on Twitter, and I was saved. My article made its rounds around the station; then, thanks in part to a last-minute job opening, I was offered a job as a cook at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica—where I’m currently sitting writing this post. The only catch to the offer was that I needed to depart in five days’ time. That offer reached me at the beginning of November while I was on a great road trip with my siblings—and by mid-month, I was back in Boulder, fully packed and ready to ship out. Finally, my adventure to Antarctica had begun.
So that’s my experience in Antarctica, the main focus of 2012. As I’m currently on the ice, you can read all about what I’ve been up to here at https://JeffreyDonenfeld.com/Antarctica
In mid-2011, I left Morpheus Media so that I could spend more time on personal projects (such as Antarctica) and take a forward step in my career. In February, 2012, after returning from a trip to Paris to hang out with my siblings, I started working at Fueled, a mobile-app agency. Fueled was a small startup, but the company was growing rapidly and needed my skills and experience with digital media, technology, strategy, and sales. I was hired to take on three main positions: Director of Marketing, Producer, and Business Development. I certainly succeeded: in the few months I spent at Fueled, the company grew significantly—expanding its staff and its client roster. In fact, I strategized, developed, and sold the largest marketing contract in the company’s history. Working at Fueled was an excellent experience, and running its marketing team and doing some great biz-dev work was a valuable experience.
Working at Fueled also helped me continue to hone in on my ultimate career path: the role further solidified my desire to get out of NYC for a bit and move to Antarctica, and I was also able to learn more about content production and sales strategy.
Even by my standards, I traveled a fair amount this past year. To sum it all up, here are a few of the trips that have stood out:
- San Francisco, CA
I’ve been fortunate enough this year to have kept in touch with an awesome group of friends in New York who are quite fit and active. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to go on a number of exciting outings, including:
Looking forward to 2013
2013 will be, no doubt, another good year. Looking forward into the immediate future, I’m already living my dream in Antarctica. I’m also on a good path toward expeditions that have been on my mind for some time—and I’m now refining a longtime career plan. Ideally, in 2013, I’d like to continue on my evolving career path. This will involve combining my 6+ years of experience in digital media and strategy, 10+ years of experience as a freelance journalist, 8+ years as a freelance photographer, and lifetime of experience as an outdoor adventurer, field guide, and medical responder. Yes, I intend to combine all of these fields into a cohesive whole; this will, I hope, be for the best. I’m working several potential strategies to make this happen at the moment, and I’ll leave it at that.
The blog—what’s going to happen to my decade-old blog in 2013? Plenty! Lots of content. Lots of updates. Lots of technology. For the past three years, I’ve been writing a post every day. I actually decided to start doing a daily post on the same day I decided to go to Antarctica. I told myself that I would chronicle something meaningful and important every day until I made it to the ice. And I did. And I still do. Writing every day has taught me a lot—about myself, about other people, about technology, about writing, about journalism, and about photography. But, most importantly, it has taught me to pay attention. Every day, I have the opportunity to find something special, unique, and meaningful in my life—and to write about it. Yes, every day there is something. And not just for me—for everyone. The trick is to pay enough attention to be able to capture that thing. Writing in this blog every day has truly helped me learn how to capture ephemeral instants of meaning and to appreciate what’s going on around me.
I’m certainly going to try to continue to write on a daily basis in 2013. I offer no guarantees regarding daily posting, but I’ll certainly be trying to keep the content flowing.
Here’s to a great 2012—and to looking forward to an epic 2013. Cheers!