To make Christmas happen, Santa relies on the expertise of countless elves.
While jolly old Saint Nicholas is notoriously private about his workshop, a lot can be assumed about what goes on there based on its output.
Think for a moment about the labour needed to go into an operation like the North Pole.
Millions of gifts are prepared and distributed in a single night. Elves specializing in design, logistics, manufacturing and technology must be working day and night to make this happen.
Besides the whole 24 hours of darkness experienced at the North Pole, I think that Santa’s workshop would be a pretty sweet place to build your career.
So, who would be on Santa’s payroll?
And if you wanted these jobs outside the North Pole, how would you get them?
Supply chain manager
Santa has a global operation on his hands, meaning elves must deal with the legal and logistical implications of importing and exporting millions of toys. Supply chain managers determine the most efficient shipping methods, manage inventory and perform analyses to keep shipping costs down.
To compete with an elf (with hundreds of years of experience) for this job, you will need supply chain management training, found in a business degree or a supply chain management professional designation program.
Innovative elves just might be the world’s first engineers. The complex machinery and circuitry that make your FurReal Friends Ricky (the Trick-Lovin’ Interactive Plush Pet Toy) behave just like a real dog are the result of the collaboration of a team of engineers.
Engineers at toy giants like Hasbro and Mattel commonly have mechanical or electrical engineering degrees, plus plenty of toy development experience.
Undoubtedly, Santa would have a few of these experts toiling away.
It would not be Christmas without a glut of packaging strewn across the living room floor.
It is somebody’s full-time job to make those toys look tempting and ready to be played with in their beautiful packages. Packaging designers illustrate the toy’s box, jazz up the instructions and ensure packaging is in line with legal requirements.
If you want this job in real life, you will need an education in design and a fantastic portfolio.
Quality assurance specialist
Nothing ruins Christmas quite like a malfunctioning gift.
To ensure their products do not fall apart or catch fire during use, a team of quality assurance elves must supervise the manufacturing floor.
In the real world, the education required for these roles is diverse and depends on the product being manufactured.
Lego job postings seek engineers, while food factories need scientists.
This professional is in charge of making a video game addictive, and a big part of that is analytics.
The North Pole’s game designer tracks how people use digital games and models the impact of new features on game play.
Game designers also create levels, design virtual economies, manage system design and develop the creative vision of the game.
This is an interdisciplinary field, combining computer science, psychology, design, math and economics. Game designers have all kinds of education.
Job postings ask for game design experience but not a specific diploma or degree. Seek advice from someone in the role to learn how to break into this field.
If Santa is going to provide all the sugary delights the children of the world’s little tummies can handle, he needs someone to develop them. Confectioners (who specialize in candy and chocolate) and chocolatiers (who are only chocolate) are elf experts in sweets.
Outside of the North Pole, positions in chocolate development are often held by master chocolatiers with culinary arts backgrounds.
I like to imagine Santa as a CEO who invests in proactive programming to support his workers’ mental health. In that case, there must be an Elf Assistance Program offering free counselling to elves dealing with the stress of Christmas all year round.
A little further south, employee assistance programs hire registered counsellors with graduate education in social work, marriage and family therapy and psychology.
Use your occupational imagination
Very few objects in our lives are untouched by the world of work. Look at anything in your environment, add a touch of imagination and suddenly you can envision the hundreds of people (or elves) whose work went into putting that product in front of you.
The same goes for Christmas.
Open your eyes to the world of occupational opportunity all around you and you just might discover the next step in your career.