Wichita native wins job traveling around Australia

Like many twenty-somethings, Cameron Ernst dreamed of the day could move out of his parents’ house.

He just didn’t think it would be for a six-figure salary and a business card that reads: “High Flyer.”

Ernst, a Wichita native, went up against 330,000 competitors from 196 countries for one of seven “Best Jobs in the World” – a contest sponsored by Tourism Australia.

“I’ve always been a performer,” Ernst said.

He focused on singing and acting as a student in Andover’s public schools, where he said his theater teacher Sharon Garton was a source of encouragement. Ernst later studied acting at the University of Southern California and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010.

After college, Ernst moved in with his parents in Dallas, who had moved from Wichita when he was in college, to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. He said he saw a Facebook post about the contest, and produced a short video in which he raps about why contest officials should pick him for the job of “Chief Funster.” In the video, Ernst promises to “stand on his hands” and “put on his party pants.”

The video won Ernst a trip to Australia to compete against 17 other finalists in a series of activities designed to test their ability to promote Australia using photos, video and social media.

Ernst didn’t end up getting the “Chief Funster” job, but Virgin Airlines did offer him a chance to fly around Australia, experience “the best of the best” of the country’s restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions, and report back to the airline about his experience. Virgin will pay Ernst $100,000 for sixth months of travel.

Ernst starts the job Aug. 1. He said he hopes to encourage other Americans to experience the joys of travel.

“Australians think that Americans don’t travel and don't know much about the rest of the world,” Ernst said. “I was proof of that; I had never been overseas before. I would just encourage people to get out of their bubble, out of their backyard and see what’s out there in the world.”

To keep up with Ernst as he travels, follow him on Twitter @cameronernst.