Nadine Sykora graduated from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science but ended up following a different career path to become a travel video blogger. She started her blog Hey Nadine and now has over 356,000 people subscribed to her YouTube channel with over 40 million views.
Before I settled down and started working my way up the corporate ladder, I just really wanted to go and travel a bit and explore. So when I found a job, I was torn for a huge period of time.
It was a pretty good job but I ended up turning it down because I knew I wanted to do a gap year. I knew if there’s any time to do it it’s now, and I could still get that job when I came back. So I ended up getting a working holiday visa to New Zealand and I moved there instead a few months later.
I worked a couple different jobs when I was there; all of them were kind of part-timish because I still wanted to travel, I didn’t want to just go there and work.
I was doing early childhood care… I also did administration work when I was there. So I did temp administration work for a work placement company and a job placement company abroad – all while doing YouTube at the same time.
I would do it [YouTube] on the side. I was making some money but it wasn’t anything that was substantial.
In 2011 I started making more income from YouTube and I started getting little sponsored deals here and there. Again, not full time – I still had to make other income on the side. I was doing waitressing, just flexible work that allowed me to still do my videos, but also make money.
2012 is the year that it changed. Mid 2011 to 2012, it really picked up with travel. People started seeing the value in that and I got a couple good paying jobs. And then I got a yearlong contract with a youth travel company: Contiki. That was the turning point for me. I was their on-board videographer – I ended up being able to travel the world and do YouTube videos full time.
I’ve had a couple setbacks, like when my camera bag was stolen [in Banos, Ecuador],that was a really low period of time. My camera bag, my secondary camera, my phone was stolen – it was really bad – and I had no money to replace it.
I just put it out there like “Hey guys, this is what happened, I won’t be able to post videos for a while because I have no gear, but I started a GoFundMe.” In two days I reached my goal and it just blew me away – how supportive the community was.
But 2014 was the point when I really realized this is not just a job, this was a career, and it’s a new life style, and it’s a new life path – for not just me but for many other digital influencers all across the board in many different genres.
“You get to see everything that’s possible in the world, in travel. It encompasses everything.” –Nadine Sykora
It’s a tricky career path because a lot of it is a mixture of hard work and luck. You can be the best video person, but if can’t get eyeballs on your work it doesn’t matter. So a lot of it is getting lucky with videos getting popular.
The White House hosted a summit [The White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship] with the top 130 most influential travel bloggers and media outlets. I was included as one of them and we got to go to the White House and you’re like, “Whoa, somebody thinks I’m a pretty big deal, someone thinks I’m up there.”
The Keynote [2016 Women in Travel Summit] was something different because it was you speaking for 45-minutes uninterrupted. It was a big thing, not going to lie, I was pretty nervous, pretty scared. I practiced my speech a lot. I had it all written down and I really wanted to inspire.
It was scary, but it was also really, really rewarding.
There’s a difference between travel and then travel video… There’s a whole other set of hurdles with that, which is working on the road and doing videos and creating stuff.
I love it, I have a dream job, I really, truly do. And I’m so lucky and so blessed. I worked so hard to get to this point and to make this happen.
As told to Chelsey Mutter. This interview has been edited and condenced.
Editor: Mason Benning | firstname.lastname@example.org