After seeing a post on his Facebook newsfeed for the “Best Job in the World” described by an Australian government agency, Andrew Smith ’09 decided to apply. The job called for a professional partier for six months who will write blog reviews, tweet and shoot video about the experiences.
Smith is the social media manager and maintains all social media networks for “Peeta Planet,” a Google-sponsored travel series based in Dubai. It’s designed for the social media generation and airs on both Dubai One TV and the “Peeta Planet” YouTube channel. The series uncovers locations all over the world, promoting destinations and giving travelers ideas for possible vacation spots and attractions.
The “Best Job in the World,” with the title of “chief funster,” is similar to what Smith does at “Peeta Planet,” so he was intrigued to find out what else it offered, because not a lot of information about the position was originally released. It requires going to events, festivals and uncovering local gems in New South Wales through blogs and media.
The first stage of the application process required a 30-second video, which served as a cover letter, résumé and first interview all wrapped in one. Smith said he was surprised by the lack of requirements for the first phase. So he figured he would give it a try, because the first season of “Peeta Planet” is set to wrap in July.
Not completely surprised by the news, Smith made the top 25 finalists out of roughly 125,000 applicants across 196 countries.
Phase two was very different: He had to harvest as much buzz and press as possible by securing high-profile individuals willing to vouch for him as the best-suited for the job.
“I pushed hard to get the hashtag “#PickAndrew” littered across Australia’s social media channels and got lucky with some high-profile people,” says Smith. “I owe everything to the help of my friends, family and strangers, including Casey Deidrick and Chandler Massey of ‘Days of Our Lives,’ Sean Plott of Day9TV, Camille Winbush of ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ and Janel Parrish of ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ I’m going to Sydney because of them.”
Between online campaigning and a story published in the OC Register, he was able to reach 2.24 million impressions in just two weeks, making him one of the top three finalists. “I’m very proud of making the top three and am honored to have so many people advocate for me,” he says.
This month, Smith and the other finalists will be competing in a one-week challenge in Australia. The challenge consists of reviewing Perth’s best restaurants, attending VIP parties and festivals in Sydney and feeding kangaroos on Kangaroo Island. The top three will be put to the ultimate test by acting as chief funsters for a week.
Though Smith has always been a fan of social media and travel, he was originally driven by finance and earned a finance degree from Mihaylo. It hit him one day while interning at Northwestern Mutual that he was pushing himself toward finance strictly for the money.
“I didn’t actually know why I was pursuing finance other than to ‘get rich,’ and that made me question what I was doing,” he says.
When there’s no roadmap available, Smith’s attitude is to do what you’re passionate about, and he’s a strong advocate for doing what you like to do. “I think it translates into any vocation,” he says, “and should empower our generation to stop copying the past and start innovating!”
He advises students who want to travel to make friends from all corners of the world while in college. “CSUF is a huge school with more than 30,000 students,” says Smith. “It’s very plausible that people from almost every country can be found.”
“Nothing stops us from being entrepreneurs,” is another message he imparts to students.
“If you have any skills in digital media or programming, it’s the future. I am so glad that I didn’t aimlessly chase money once I realized I didn’t have a good reason to,” he says. “I would have never traveled the world if I didn’t stop and pivot.”
The most desirable life-of-the-party winner of the chief funster gig will be announced on June 21 in Sydney. If Smith wins, from that day forward, living and working as a Sydney VIP is all in a day’s work.