best job in the world?
Updated: Apr 25, 2018
Less than six weeks ago between soaking wet ‘instagram missions’ to North Wales I stumbled across a tweet asking that very question. The article went on to say that Columbia Sportswear was looking for people ‘tough enough’ to travel the world and test equipment. Over 4000 global applicants would apply, but just two would be selected to take on the adventure of a lifetime.
I submitted my Instagram username (@markjameschase)… and since I didn’t have a website I figured this ride was probably over before it had even begun. To my surprise about a week later I received an email inviting me to what promised to be the toughest interview in the world. Just four days away, the location of the interview was the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Given the distance, the first question was really whether or not the interview was even worth attending. I’d never been to the Isle of Skye and I made my decision based on this alone. If nothing else, it was worth going just to take some photographs.
A few days, 10 hours in the car and almost 600 miles later there I was. About to face whatever Columbia threw at me. The interview was exactly as prescribed, a short but intimidating interview followed by a hike up the Quiraing with a large collection of cameras never more than two steps behind.
Once I made it to the top, the interviewer rapidly fired questions that felt more like statements.
WHAT MAKES YOU SO TOUGH? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THAT’S TOUGH? THE LAST GUY PADDLED THE AMAZON USING ONLY HIS PROSTHETIC LEG AS A PADDLE… WHAT MAKES YOU BETTER?
I’ve added question marks above but they certainly didn’t feel like questions. Which was quite handy seeing as I definitely did not have the answers!
Despite leaving with my tail well and truly between my legs I actually felt quite good about the fact that I had, if only for a moment, been considered alongside some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
It wasn’t long before I received an email from Columbia which began with CONGRATULATIONS! I thought this was clearly a clerical error but I wasn’t going to correct them. I was asked to write about my interview experience. Easy… I mean it wasn’t due for 48 hours. As if the timescale wasn’t pressure enough, all I could focus on was how I could possibly stack up against the professional writers and journalists I had just interviewed with. So here’s what I did, I changed the rules, well at least I thought I did. I wrote about me, not about the interview and not about Columbia. I spoke about what it had taken to get me there. The physical part was easy, it was the mental hurtles that almost stopped me. I candidly told them how I considered backing out and not going at all. If anything, I wanted to sit on the pile of papers labelled “not a pro, but certainly didn’t give up”.
It wasn’t long before another email confirmed that I had made it through and would have the opportunity to speak to the team once more via a Skype interview. After speaking with the team I was asked if I had any pictures of me skiing, problem was I didn’t! Were my chances now dependent on proving my ability to ski? I certainly hoped not given that I was in the middle of Gloucestershire and well… there wasn’t much snow around! I suppose there was always Matson Ski slope… (if you aren’t from Gloucester I suggest you google Matson Ski slope right now!) The mission was simple, prove you can ski in 4 hours with no snow…Off we went...
Off we went, camera in hand to find something that resembled snow. Video sent, then came the agonizing wait. Was I really being considered for this job? I will admit though, at this point I did dare to dream. It was only two days (felt like two weeks) but when Monday rolled around, I received a fairly blunt email. “Skype 2pm?” Now I’d love to end this blog by telling you what an amazing experience being told you’ve landed your dream job is but the truth is, aside from sweating in places I forgot existed and the sickening feeling in my stomach, it is actually somewhat of a blur. Nothing was particularly clear at this point (still isn’t, but I will get to that another day) I’d have two weeks to get to HQ in Portland, Oregon and find out what was next.
Well, it’s two weeks later. I made it to Portland but that question remains. What exactly is next…?