In the latest ‘The World is my Office’ interview, I speak to Will who is working as a diving instructor on the beautiful island of Roatan, which I was lucky enough to call home for three months.
Will, tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor working on Roatan, a small island off the coast of Honduras in the Western Caribbean. When I am not teaching or swimming with sea turtles, you will likely find me on the beach, unless it’s sunset in which case you will undoubtedly find me at Sun Downers with good company and a cold beer!
How did you get into your line of work?
Complete and utter detest of my former employment. Prior to my Great Awakening, I was a Regional Sales Executive at a Fortune 500, selling telecommunication solutions into a base of new and existing customers. After eight years and a few promotions, I simply could not escape from the idea that at (then) 31, retirement was a literally a lifetime away. I wanted to experience life rather than simply exist in it and I knew I needed a drastic change. So I did what any other rational person would do; sold my house, cars, and boat; rented a 10×10 storage unit for everything else; moved to Honduras and became a scuba instructor.
How often do you travel with work, and where do you tend to go?
Living and working in Honduras, I’d say that I’m permanently ‘away’ with work, although permanently tends to be a tricky word for us expats working on Roatan as there seems to be new immigration laws every 6-8 weeks without option of obtaining a legal working status. That said, I have been here for a year and a half and now consider myself traveling when I go home. I understand that may sound a little backwards, but it makes sense when you live here.
What does a normal working week look like for you?
I can’t really say… and that’s what I love about it. In my former life, that would be incredibly easy to answer because nothing really changed; wake up, go to work, eat dinner, repeat. As a dive instructor, I never really know what my weekly agenda is until Sunday. There are a number of different classes I could be scheduled to teach, I could be leading dives for customers, or I could be assigned to assist around the dive shop.
What’s your favourite part of what you do?
The “Ah-Ha!:” That moment when I see my students eyes light up, when it all starts to come together. I nearly gagged when the instruction materials congratulated me for entering a transformational business of teaching scuba diving, but at times, there really seems to be no better word for it. I love it when a new student walks on the deck scared shitless and walks off the deck three days later as a confident diver.
What are the lower points of your job which people don’t necessarily see or realise?
HA! IT’S WORK! I think everyone back home thinks I am living a life of bikinis and strawberry daiquiris. While there are no shortage of those on the island, my days are spent organizing and teaching classes, filling and carrying heavy tanks, maintaining shop operations, etc. Even when I am leading a guided tour around our pristine reef there are many things that require constant consideration to ensure all of my divers are safe. It’s work! I promise!
Where in the world is “home”, and what do you miss the most when you’re away from it?
Home is a word that I often struggle to get my head around. As mentioned, I sold my house in Boston after living in Massachusetts for nearly fifteen years. My mailing address is my parents house in New Jersey where I grew up, but my Facebook profile says I live on Roatan.
There are a number of things that I miss about home, but family is the big one. I know it is quite cheesy, but my parents are my best friends.
Where’s the best place your job has taken you?
Through an enormous crack in a wall, 130ft. beneath the surface. When the sun is shining brightly, there really are no words that justify the beauty. You’ll either have to take my word for it, or come diving with me to experience it.
What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you whilst travelling with work?
A fear of returning home. Before coming down here, my head was filled with “What if’s…” A constant stream of situations gone wrong and how I might mitigate them in a foreign country. Now the uncertainty has shifted towards what I am going to do when the time comes to go back to The States… I have literally ZERO clue what I want to be when I grow up (again). I can tell you with some conviction that I will not be selling telecommunication solutions for a Fortune 500, but beyond that? I guess I will have to write a follow-up…
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar career?
I think the back of my staff shirt says it best:
Quit your Job
Buy a Ticket
Get a Tan
NEVER GO BACK!
There are obviously a few vital steps missing there if you want to make it your career, but it really does not have to be a whole lot more complicated than that.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 things would you have in your survival pack?
In no particular order:
1. SCUBA gear
2. Bug Spray
3. Spare Flip Flops
4. iPad with solar battery kit and satellite internet
5. 2 Pairs of Polarized Sunglasses
If you’re interested in starting a career in scuba diving, you can read all about the two most important steps – becoming a divemaster and becoming an instructor – right here on the blog. And if you have any questions about the industry and what working as a scuba diving instructor entails you can, as always, get in touch.
If you have an interesting job that takes you all over the world, I’d love to hear from you – let’s talk some more…