Now hiring: the post office at the end of the world | Polarjournal
An island located not far from Antarctica, South Georgia is a paradise for sea lions and birds, such at these king penguins (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

South Georgia is looking to recruit two postal employees for the 2023-2024 season. An attractive job offer for exceptional work in an exceptional place

Ever dreamed of working in a remote place, on an island far from everything? A place so difficult to access that it is reachable only by boat. A place without towns or roads, but with some of the richest wildlife in the world.

If that’s got your interest, and you’ve got a thing for historic places and have always dreamed of running a post office to boot, then the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, a self-governing British territory, might have something for you: it is looking to hire two employees to — among other things — run its postal offices in South Georgia.

Firstly, some facts might be in order before you begin putting your application together: South Georgia is an island located in the southern Atlantic Ocean more than 2,000km from Antarctica. Covering an area of ​​3,700km2, the island was discovered at the end of the 18th century by British explorer James Cook.

In the 19th century, the island was the principal location for all land-based whaling in the Southern Hemisphere. After whales were brought ashore, their blubber was turned into oil that lit cities in the Northern Hemisphere and provided raw materials for a number of industries, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. 

The closure of the Grytviken station in the 1960s signalled the end of marine-mammal hunting in South Georgia, and it has since been a destination for cruise ships. Last year, 10,000 people visited the island and 14,000 are expected during the 2023-2024 season. Most of those visiting go there because of the rich wildlife: an estimated five million Kerguelen sea lions — about 95% of the species’ total population — live in South Georgia. Then there are the 30 million pairs of birds that nest there. To say that animals outnumber humans on South Georgia is an understatement: there are only 30 inhabitants, all of them living there temporarily as scientists or service staff.

South Georgia’s postal employees wear a number of hats. The most obvious includes running the two post offices, one at King Edward Point, which handles the mail for the residents of the island, and the and Grytviken, a former whaling station visited by tourists. Another is attending to the museum and souvenir shop. For a single employee, there is a relatively large volume of mail to process, while also having to manage the shop and its stock.

The ideal candidate should therefore have strong customer-service skills. The high number of visitors coming aboard cruise ships can mean irregular working hours, making flexibility something of an asset. “This role requires an individual who has exceptional customer service skills, and who is comfortable working in a fast-paced environment. Detail orientated, you will be responsible, self-motivated and conscientious, with an ability to work independently and as part of a small team,” the job announcement states.

The position is full-time and the contract will run from 25 September until 31 March. In addition to a pro-rata annual salary of £26,000 (€30,000), the successful candidate will receive accommodation, food and travel expenses covered by the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The former whaling station of Grytviken. Closed in the 1960s, the station has since become a historic site that can be visited during the summer (Photo: South Georgia Heritage Trust)

Perfect health is prerequisite for employment. There are no medical facilities on the island, and any serious health problem may require an expensive and sometimes difficult-to-organise medical evacuation. You will therefore have to pass the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit (BASMU) medical and dental assessment.

You can also expect cold, inclement weather. South Georgia island has an oceanic subpolar climate, with summer temperatures that average between 8° and 10°C. On the upside, the job will be a unique personal and professional experience located in an exceptional natural environment. Interested? The deadline for applying is 16 June. For more information, visit the website of the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

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