Postal Workers, Penguin Watchers Head To Antarctica For Strange Jobs

Four UK women chosen for coveted positions that drew 6,000 applicants.

Back in April, as the Antarctic winter fast approached, one unusual job posting flashed across the chilly niches of the internet.

The U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) sought seasonal workers to fill the roles of postal worker and penguin watcher at an outpost on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Now, four British women have earned those roles and are packing their parkas for duty.

Six thousand people applied for the four jobs on Goudier Island in Port Lockroy, Antarctica, according to The Guardian. The chosen candidates include Mairi Hilton, Lucy Bruzzone, Clare Ballantyne, and Natalie Corbett.

The chosen few

The initial posting covered three positions and called for applicants with a rudimentary range of professional skills. They had to be eligible to work in the UK and be physically fit, mentally sound, and willing to weather conditions in Antarctica.

Atypical qualifications included high tolerance for cabin fever, and the ability to monitor the island’s Gentoo penguin population.


Hilton, 30, spent four years completing a Ph.D. in conservation biology in Australia. She has landed the (presumably most coveted) job of penguin monitor.

Bruzzone, 40, previously worked in Svalbard for three months as chief scientist on an arctic expedition. The Guardian said she will lead activities at the base, and that she called her new job a “lifelong dream”.

Ballantyne will serve as the postal clerk. The 23-year-old holds a master’s degree in earth science from Oxford University and will help keep track of approximately 70,000 postcards, which pass through the site each year before heading, suitably stamped, to more than 100 countries.

Corbett runs a pet accessories business in Hampshire, England, and will tend the gift shop. Just married, she said that she considers the winter assignment a “solo honeymoon”.

Small office, nice view

The four staffers will spend the season in subzero temperatures, with no flush toilet. When not counting penguins or stamping postcards, they will sleep in bunk beds. Close quarters are a guarantee.

“We look for applicants that can bring a range of skills to the team,” Lauren Luscombe, UKAHT operations manager, said in April. “The successful candidates will be living in close quarters for five months, so it is also essential that we curate the right balance of skill sets and personalities.”

For the women’s sake, we hope Luscombe’s team struck the formula just right. And from Ballantyne’s perspective, you can’t beat the office views.

“I’m most looking forward to stepping onto Goudier Island and taking in the cacophony and pungent smell of the penguins, the backdrop of the glaciers and Fief mountains, and being able to call it home for the next few months,” she said.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.