Biology student, web editor among Canadians vying for Australia's 'best job'
Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 4, 2009 9:59AM EST
TORONTO - A biology student, a web editor, a weather announcer and a marketing graduate are among those in the hunt to leave the Great White North behind for the Land Down Under.
Officials with the tourism department of Australia's Queensland state revealed the 50 finalists Tuesday from a pool of nearly 35,000 applicants for what's been dubbed "The Best Job in the World."
It's a contract worth 150,000 Australian dollars (around C$124,000) to relax on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef for six months while writing a blog to promote the area.
Canada is among 22 countries, including Germany, Greece, India and the U.S., with finalists vying for the top spot.
Applicants completed a 60-second video explaining why they believe they are the best person for the gig. The public can view the video applications on the job ad's website and vote for a favourite. The top vote-getter will join 10 other people chosen by the tourism board to be flown to Hamilton Island for interviews.
As one of seven Canadians in the running, Mitch Moffit is hoping his video will hit the right chord with viewers.
The 20-year-old, completing his third year in biological sciences at the University of Guelph, drew on his passion for the arts for his application. Moffit wrote and produced a musical and enlisted the help of friends to shoot the number on a snowy city street in Guelph, Ont.
"In my head I was like, `What is the most ridiculous thing that I could do that would catch their attention but would still be like entertaining and like get to the point?" he said. "What is more ridiculous than a spontaneous musical on the street?"
As of Tuesday afternoon, Moffit was the top Canadian vote-getter among the applicants, sitting in third place.
Since learning he'd made the cut Monday night, Moffit said the experience has been both overwhelming and exciting.
But if he doesn't make it, Moffit still may be Australia-bound. He has applied for an exchange with James Cook University in Townsville in northern Queensland, a major base for tourism in the Great Barrier Reef. But if he's offered both opportunities, Moffit said the dream job will likely win out.
Melissa Schenk, 31, of Stratford, Ont., who has her own video production company, put her expertise in front of and behind the camera to good use for her video, which she shot in front of green screen. Schenk inhabits the character of "Island Caretaker," touting some of the sites and activities the area has to offer.
"I used to work in the cruise ship industry and so it really drew me back to my days of being able to promote wonderful destinations," said Schenk, a part-time weather specialist for A Channel in London, Ont.
"The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most natural wonders of the world. It's not a far stretch to promote something that beautiful."
Erik Rolfsen has visited Australia twice before, but is looking forward to the chance to relocate from Vancouver with his wife and two young daughters to Hamilton Island for the job.
Rolfsen, 39, an online news editor for The Province in Vancouver, takes a playful approach in his video, which shows him watching "Finding Nemo" to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef.
Rolfsen said he has his sights set on reaching the next level in the application process.
"From there, who knows what is going to be required for the winner to emerge from those final 11," he said. "I just want to get there and we'll see what happens."
Anny Chih, 23, of Burnaby, B.C., hopes her newly minted education in marketing and love of adventure showcased in her video will land her the job.
"You never really think that you're going to be in the top 50 out of 35,000 applicants. It's pretty crazy," said Chih, who learned her fate while being filmed for CBC News on Monday.
While she doesn't want to get her hopes up too high, she has thought about special plans for at least one day if she lands the job.
"My birthday's on September 24th which is when the caretaker will be there, and I told all my girlfriends that if I get it, we're all going down there to celebrate my birthday."
The other Canadians in the top 50 are Christine Estima of Toronto, Linda Hoang of Edmonton and Marcella Moser of Vancouver.
The public has until March 24 to vote online for their favourite applicant.
The winner will be announced May 6, and the job begins on Canada Day -- July 1.