Career Advice

Could This Be the Coolest Freelance Gig out There?

By Danielle Elliot May 21st, 2015

It’s ordinary for freelancers to work from their apartments or a nearby coffee shop, but what about out on the ocean? And I’m not talking about sitting on a beach. I mean on the actual ocean.

Multimedia journalist Corinna Halloran has an amazing gig out on the water: She’s currently sailing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race, capturing the adventure in stills, videos, and blog posts. Eight teams set off from Spain on October 11. They’ve stopped in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, and Rhode Island so far. They’ll make their way through Portugal, France, and the Netherlands, before reaching the finish line in Sweden around June 21.

Halloran is the on-board reporter (OBR) with Team SCA, the first women’s team to enter the race in over a decade, making her and reserve OBR Anna-Lena Elled the first women to take on the intense assignment. For Halloran, a photojournalist who grew up surrounded by sailing in Newport, this is about as good as it gets. When the race stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, earlier in May, I caught up with her to talk about how she got the gig, what her experience has been like, and why a non-journalism background may be the key to networking.

You seem to have one of the best gigs going. How did you first hear about it?

I graduated with a degree in non-fiction writing and photojournalism. That was around the same time that the ’08-’09 Volvo Ocean Race was starting and they introduced the media crew members. I remember thinking, wow, I have the degree for that. Over the course of the next couple of years, I’ll probably have the sailing experience for that. I want to be able to do that job when they introduce a girls team.

You had to wait for a girl’s team—is that because you’re living on the boat with the team? Teams are not co-ed?

Correct, correct.

Wanting and landing a gig are very different things. What did it take to actually get this job?

Volvo put out an international search, and about 2,500 people applied. The process was two-fold. In the fall of 2012, I filled out the application that sailors filled out and curtailed that to media. And then I also had to fill out the application created by Volvo a few months later. Volvo then whittled it down to the top 100 men and women. They gave this golden list, so to speak, to the teams, and the teams could pick from that list and start communicating with us. I think Team SCA trialed about 12 women over the course of the process. I had my first trial in Spring 2013.

The final job “interview” required sailing from Spain to the U.S. with the team, starting in April 2014. Halloran created a video describing the experience. She was confirmed as the reporter on June 16, 2014. At that point, it was time to start training.

I imagine landing the gig now seems easy compared to what it was like once you set sail. Can you describe a day on the boat?

The days are pretty hectic. You’re the one monitoring the sound, you’re shooting at the same time, you’re monitoring the light, you’re also shooting photographs that are compelling and dynamic, and then you’re also writing. Oh, and then you’re an editor. Those six things are normally six individual jobs, so it’s really a dynamic role and it’s a complicated role.

You’re not just a reporter. You’re also a team player. It’s all about time management and being very focused and very serious about your job. Oh, and on top of that you’re also cleaning and you’re cooking and you’re making tea and hot chocolate. It’s a lot of fun. And you’re moving; you’re constantly moving. And getting wet.

Do you have any advice for people who might want this position in the future?

I have an extensive background in sailing on a team. That really helped. And it was a lot of having the right contacts. Never ignoring who you meet, always following up. It’s also about hard work and being serious about your job, having a good portfolio, and making sure you’re doing the right stuff to grow your portfolio.

Overall, how would you summarize the experience?

It’s only a year’s worth of experience, but your job is 24/7 when you’re out there, and you’re getting wet, and your doing six jobs as one person, so it’s really more like three years of experience. It’s the ultimate video and photo project. You get close with your subjects and then they get closer and closer and closer. As an artist, I’ve been pushed pretty far, and it’s been incredibly exciting.

Team SCA is currently in sixth place. Check out more of Halloran’s work here, here, and here.

Image by De Visu
Tags: , ,