Career Corner: Working Below Zero

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Career Corner: Working Below Zero

Emma Valentine, Marketing Director

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Out of all the different, exciting, and interesting places to work, Antartica has to be the coldest. That’s why a mechanics job is so important. They’re the ones that keep you unfrozen.


Vance Stenson works at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica as a mechanic and a member of the fireman crew. He works on the heating and cooling systems for the facility. He absolutely loves his job but, as expected, it’s not as easy as others. The weather often is problematic to his career.


“There is extreme weather conditions. When I got here it was in the -60F range. Today’s the warmest; it’s been at 0F but, there are days of high winds, blowing snow, and low visibility. As well as the isolation from technology and supplies, we often have to work with what we have on hand to get something done,” Vance says.


In fact, conditions are so bad during the winter months, no-one flies in and out of the station.


Not just anyone can go to Antarctica however, you must pass certain physical exams and have a minimum amount of training.


“I have a two year Associates’ degree in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) as well as a Journeyman qualification. As well as six years experience in the job in a different setting. The most important though is the experience.”


According to Vance, while at work you should expect urgency, safety, and sometimes strange problems you’d never expect. However, he is especially thankful for the travel opportunities, new friends, and the great experiences he’s received since it’s not an opportunity everyone can get.


“Expect the unexpected. Be patient with the system that reviews you. Be friendly to everyone because you have to see them both at work and in the off time.”  


Special thanks to Vance Stenson!