How To Get the Dream Job

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How To Get the Dream Job

Posted on July 14 by Robin Esrock
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If you enjoy travel, reading about it, or watching it on TV, you’ve probably asked yourself: Who are these people who get paid to see the world?   How on earth did they land that kind of job?  I’d always wondered myself, and then one day, found myself as a travel writer and international television host.   How?    Well, it was kind of an accident.

Ten years ago, I was had an unsatisfying desk job in Vancouver, staring out the window, wondering where my life was going.  My career was stagnating, my friends getting married, and doing something truly great seemed ever less likely.   One morning, on my way to the office, a car ran a stop sign and slammed into my bike, resulting in a swan dive over my handlebars, and a cracked kneecap.  In retrospect, this was, by far, the luckiest break of my life.  

The excruciating pain of a broken knee translated into a $20,000 insurance settlement – the kind of money that, if applied very, very sparingly, could be used for a one-year backpacking adventure.   Inspired to travel with a new lease on life, I booked a round-the-world ticket, sold my things, and said goodbye to my bewildered friends and family.  It was a bold decision.  30 years old, a glamorous career, and here I was, opting out, condensing my life into a backpack for a solo journey to 24 countries on 5 continents.  The fear of dangerous situations, ill health, and all the silly things that hold dreams back terrified me as much as anyone. With this in mind, I called my blog Modern Gonzo, inspired by the late great Hunter S Thompson, a writer who took over the top risks, and threw himself headfirst into every story.

Inspired to share my journey with words, videos and photos, I set out on my one crazy year of living dangerously.  But a funny thing happened on the way to my global adventure.  My blog led to stories being published in newspapers, and traffic to my website boomed. Strangers were living vicariously through me, following my footsteps online. On my return home 12 months later, I had somehow morphed into a fully-fledged travel writer, the seemingly perfect combination of my passion for travel, and a job that could support it.

Not quite.  I quickly realized that travel writing is a lifestyle, not a living.  I was making almost no money selling my stories, but still being invited on exotic trips like the Trans-Siberia Railway. Sleeping on couches one day, five star hotels the next!   This absurdity, coupled with the general fascination and misunderstandings about the world of travel journalism, led me to the idea of a TV show. The stars aligned once more. I conceived an idea that became Word Travels, a 40-part series that was filmed in 36 countries on 6 continents. I used this opportunity to visit some unusual destinations like Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Lithuania and Ethiopia – wonderful countries not many people know about.    Once the show wrapped, I wrote a weekly column for the Globe & Mail, one of which inspired my first book – The Great Canadian Bucket List.  Having now travelled to over 100 countries, my first travel book focused on my adopted home of Canada, and it quickly became a smash national bestseller.

From Mayan ruins in Belize to scuba diving in Papua New Guinea, tracking polar bears in Manitoba to wildebeest in the Serengeti – there’s hardly a moment I don’t stop to pinch myself, and wonder what might have been if that car had just stopped short of that white line on Bidwell Street.   I simply could not have imagined the turn of events that resulted because it didn’t.   The truth is there are few interviews for jobs like this.  Next time you wonder how someone gets that dream job, the answer is usually simple:  they created it.

Robin Esrock

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Robin Esrock photo

Robin Esrock

Robin Esrock is a bestselling author, journalist, TV host, and public speaker. His stories and photography have appeared in major publications on five continents, including National Geographic Traveler, the Guardian, Chicago Tribune, and the Globe and Mail. The creator and co-host of the internationally syndicated television series Word Travels, Robin lives in Vancouver, B.C.