It has been just over a month since Tourism Australia’s “Best Jobs in the World” winners were announced on June 21st 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Since the final announcement, many of the “Best Jobs” contestants have either returned to their home country with or without a job or stayed in Australia to explore further.
The “Best Jobs in the World” contest has impacted each finalist in a variety of ways as well as it has opened up thousands of opportunities for their futures. Since I have been so heavily invested in the campaign from the get-go, I found a great interest in checking up on what the “Best Jobs” contestants have been up to following the final announcement.
Over the last month, I have caught up with various contestants and received a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how “Best Jobs” affected them, as well as what their plans are for the future (regardless if they are returning to Australia). Through the various interactions with the contestants post-“Best Jobs,” I managed to obtain a solid understanding of the impact this campaign had on all those involved. I hope you enjoy a sneak peek into the lives of some of the “Best Jobs” contestants…
Best Jobs Winners – Photograph by Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker)
What was the initial reaction from your family, friends, and community after the “Best Jobs” announcement?
In addition to the hundreds of Facebook messages, tweets, emails, phone calls, and text messages – every winner received incredible support from their family and friends back home. Roberto Seba (Lifestyle Photographer) stated “everyone was extremely happy as soon as they heard the news. The day of the announcement my wife was on twitter checking every five seconds for the results. As soon as she found out, she immediately called my parents and I guess the neighbors could hear them screaming.”
Andrew Smith (Chief Funster) expressed that his mom and girlfriend were freaking out. “I called them on the phone at one point and couldn’t really understand what they were saying, but I took it as a good thing. My dad was having a proud father moment and all my friends were stoked and hopefully proud that they helped me get there.” Moreover, I believe that Rich Keam (Taste Master) must have got his humour from his father as he mentioned that “the initial reaction from my family was my Dad winding my Mum up pretending I hadn’t won, when I phoned and woke them in the middle of the night after the announcement.”
Lastly, the most unexpected and shocked reaction came from Cameron Ernst’s (High Flyer) friends, family and community back in Dallas, TX. Cameron said “my close friends and family couldn’t believe that I had landed one of the best jobs in the world (let alone the surprise seventh job). They were especially shocked because I was originally flown out to Sydney by Tourism Australia not really sure what was in store. Some of my friends didn’t even know what was going on because I hadn’t had a chance to tell them I was leaving for Australia. It was quite the news that I would be moving there for six months!”
Has anything changed in your life since the announcement?
Andrew Smith, Rich Keam, Cameron Ernst and Elisa Detrez (Park Ranger) all expressed that nothing has really changed since getting one of the Best Jobs. While speaking to Cameron he stated that “in my time back at home in Dallas before I leave for my job, I’m just getting to relax and take comfort in knowing I have an amazing job waiting for me down under. This is a common feeling that I received from the various winners when I spoke with them over the last couple weeks – The relief that all their hard work paid off in the end and they now have one of the “Best Jobs” in the world.
While being back in Ireland, Allan Dixon (Outback Adventurer) mentioned that he had been receiving very random and interesting messages and calls about his Australia experience. Roberto Seba and Allan Dixon both emphasized the amount of publicity and coverage they have received following the competition. Allan stated that he “did about fifteen radio interviews since winning.” I wouldn’t be surprised if strangers who recognize them from the contest have stopped many of these finalists on the street.
In great assuredness, Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker) revealed something different in that his “entire life has changed. I will be packing up ship and moving to Australia hopefully for good. This is the next step for my career within the world of international tourism and the perfect introduction to working in Australia.”
What have you been up to the last couple weeks since the announcement?
Since the announcement event, the various winners have been living very diverse lives. From wrapping up work in their home countries and quitting their previous jobs, they have all been focusing their time on their returns to Australia. Andrew Smith mentioned that since he doesn’t start his contract until December, most of what he has been doing since being home has been to “overcome his homelessness, move his stuff and sell everything that he owns.”
A few of the winners decided to extend their stay in Australia to seek out some additional travel experiences. Greg Snell rented a car in Sydney and drove 1700kms in 6 days to finally arrive in Melbourne. From Melbourne, he flew to Adelaide and met up with the South Australia Tourism Commission to finalize a more concrete schedule for what his role as Wildlife Caretaker will entail. To read more about Greg’s Great Australian Road trip follow this link — http://gregorsnell.com/2013/07/08/the-great-australian-road-trip. Even though Moska Najib didn’t win her category as Lifestyle Photographer she similarly decided to stay in Australia and explore the country further. “I’ve visited family and friends and just taken time out to figure what I want to do next with my life. After such an experience, it all seems a bit surreal to come back to reality.” Furthermore, Graham Michael Freeman and Aude Mayans (Top 3 Outback Adventurer Finalists) impressed the judges throughout the competition and were invited back to the Northern Territory for a month to cover some of NT’s hottest events. From the Darwin Beer Can Regatta to a helicopter pub-crawl to Alice Spring’s Camel Cup – these two finalists have truly been “living the dream.”
For many of the winners who returned home immediately, they continued living their everyday lives and working their previous jobs. Roberto Seba stated, “I’ve returned to Sao Paulo. Now, I’ve been finishing up some freelance work I had here in Brazil and organizing things for the next 6 months.” Cameron Ernst played a concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is where a lot of his family lives. “It was great seeing them and getting to update them face-to-face with my exciting news. I’ve also been able to spend time with friends and family in Dallas and plan to continue soaking up summer in America before I go spend the summer in Australia.” Since Rich Keam has returned to Brighton he said he has been “changing nappies, playing tennis, watching Wimbledon, done a couple of days work on the Wachowski Brothers new film, eating out, seeing friends and family, enjoying the sunshine, eating ice cream, playing guitar, and generally having a bloody good time and making the most of everything.”
I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping up to date with each contestant’s journey through “Best Jobs” and I find it even more fascinating how this experience has shaped their futures.
What is the coolest/most unique experience you had after the announcement event?
From appearing on National television, to the first sight of their loved ones at the airport, or to finally being able to sit back and relax knowing what the future has in store – each contestant had no trouble finding something unique that stood out from participating in the “Best Jobs” campaign.
Directly following the announcement event, Rich Keam “thoroughly enjoyed appearing live via video link up from the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel Sydney to BBC Breakfast and slightly unnerving the hosts during his interview by waving giant salt and pepper grinders around – that made his friends laugh.” Quite differently, Greg Snell found that his Great Australian Road trip made it to the top of his list following the announcement. “To get out on the open road, roll the window down and let the air rush through. It is a feeling of absolute freedom and possibility, and gets my creative juices flowing. I also drove with a good friend and was able to share old stories and new dreams for the future.”
Andrew Smith defined his coolest and most unique experience since being announced Chief Funster as simply being able to relax knowing that something awesome was in the future. He believed that these experiences are the “byproduct of impromptu decisions and taking huge risks.”
With Elisa Detrez return to Paris, she felt that her welcoming at the CDG airport was just so cool. Elisa states that “my family and a few friends were standing in the arrival gate with some flags from my home region, they were dressed up with koala faces and doing much noise to warm up the airport!” She thought it was so nice that everyone there was excited to welcome her back and it made her feel so good about her entire experience. Roberto Seba also found extreme joy in returning to Brazil with the pleasure to see the look on his wife’s face. He mentioned that “she has quit her job and they are both very excited about the idea of moving to Melbourne together.”
Lastly, after Allan Dixon’s return home, he experienced something unique that related to his hometown roots. “I was going to buy some new guitar strings in my local music shop PowerSound and a lady with a popup t-shirt stand in the alley entrance to the shop stopped me on to congratulate me. I told her what I’ll be doing and was so proud of the fact that I won, and being a local in the town that she gave me a free t-shirt with a print of my home town crest of Arklow on it. To represent my hometown and take some cool pictures in the outback with.”
When do you plan on returning to Australia for your contract?
In chronological order the Best Jobs winners will return to Australia with Allan Dixon and Elisa Detrez taking an early lead and arriving in early August. Following shortly behind will be Graham Michael Freeman (Tasmania Devil Wrangler), Cameron Ernst, and Rich Keam set to arrive in middle/late August. Roberto Seba plans to return on September 2nd to begin his contract in beautiful Melbourne.
Last but definitely not least, Greg Snell and Andrew Smith will be wrapping up the arrival dates with their return in December. The arrival dates all have been arranged in respect to maximizing the quality and quantity of opportunities and experiences that the winners will cover throughout their 6-month contracts.
In addition to those selected for the 8 “Best Jobs,” various other finalists have expressed interest in returning to Australia and seeing everything that it offers. Julian Button (Top 3 Taste Master) mentioned that he’d “love to see more of Australia, Tasmania, Melbourne, more of Western Australia and go into the Outback. Drink wine in the Margaret River and do everything that I haven’t done and all that I would have loved to do in my job as a Taste Master.”
What are you most excited for when you return to Australia?
Allan Dixon (Outback Adventurer, NT)
“I can’t wait to experience some freedom again. It’s going to be so much fun, to me this is holiday with the bonus of being paid. I love filming and creating stories. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things and go on adventures with some cool people in the Northern Territory. Also I’m probably going to melt and get sun burnt in Australia. I’m not used to sun at all. I’ve got very pale skin.”
Andrew Smith (Chief Funster, NSW)
“To finally discover NSW properly. We got to go there for the finals, but we were very busy and also in the middle of a tough competition. To go back and explore, open my eyes a bit and create content exclusively for people to consume rather than for judges seems awesome.”
Cameron Ernst (High Flyer, Virgin Australia)
“I just can’t wait to come back and get started! There is so much that I have to look forward to from the platinum status to working with the amazing company and brand that is Virgin Australia, to traveling the entire country and experiencing the best service and hospitality. It will be fun to reconnect with each of the winners in their respective states as well. I’m so thankful that I’ll get a little bit of everything in my job!”
Elisa Detrez (Park Ranger, QLD)
“Everything! Visiting beautiful places, meeting new people, living a great experience, and I hope to catch up with the other winners along the way. Would be nice to share our experiences and feelings on Best Jobs adventure.”
Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker, SA)
“I am most excited about starting the day to day duties and responsibilities. The overview so far has been incredible and the 6 months is looking like a completely epic adventure of a lifetime. From diving and snorkeling with Sea Lions, to conservation volunteer projects, to scientific knowledge and research projects on some incredibly unique wildlife. This is truly just the beginning of something so much bigger. The time is now.”
Rich Keam (Taste Master, WA)
“I’m most excited about a new adventure. Going to explore somewhere that I’ve never been before, also because I’ll have my family there to share in it as well. I’m looking forward to experiencing the humbling vastness of Western Australia, to get a different outlook on life, to have a change of perception, to meet lots of new people, immerse myself in a different country and culture, and most importantly, to eat and drink loads and loads of really tasty grub!”
Roberto Seba (Lifestyle Photographer, VIC)
“I really loved Melbourne. It’s such a cool city! There’s always some festival going on down there. I think it’s going to be a blast living there and experiencing the city on an everyday basis. I just want to walk around with my camera, meet new people, eat great food and discover the city. Also, I can’t wait to see the rest of Victoria state! Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road… There’s so much to see!”
It was such an uplifting and inspirational experience to catch up with the contestants following the “Best Jobs” finals week. It is very evident that this experience has been nothing but amazing and life changing for everyone involved. The “Best Jobs in the World” campaign by Tourism Australia brought together an exceptionally talented and diverse group of people from around the world for one common dream: to get the job of a lifetime. Though not everyone was able to make their dream a reality, everyone had a chance to push their boundaries, discover the beauty of Australia, and make a handful of lifelong friendships along the way. Even a month after the “Best Jobs” contest, I still find myself thinking about it regularly and having it bring a huge smile to my face. It is truly incredible the impact that this campaign had on not only Australian tourism, but youth travellers and adventurers around the world.
To all the youths out there contemplating taking that leap of faith to pack your bags, Greg Snell (Canada) leaves you with a bit of inspiration… “we have so much talent and potential, the world sees it and is asking you to expel your desires upon things that truly matter. This is but one chance, this is a portion of our story, and this is your life. Live it.”