PACIFIC QUEST Employee Reviews in United States

Found 30 reviews matching the search
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"The toughest job you'll ever love"
Lead Guide (Former Employee) –  Na'alehu, Ka'u, HIDecember 30, 2015
The title is what they say about the Peace Corps and after working for both I'd say Pacific Quest is a close second. First of all you have to drop everything you know and are comfortable with on the mainland and move into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii may be part of the USA, but its the closest thing you can get to traveling a developing country without actually being outside the USA. Although when you arrive their is this instant friend group already built up for you. I made friends with the incoming guides the first week and by my 3rd shift i had moved in with some others.
The job itself is challenging and demanding both physically and emotionally. The hours are long and the kids you work with are not always a cake walk. The environment is constantly changing and you have to not only adapt, but teach others that adapting to change is a natural way of life. Although it is hard there are about 30 of your peers going through it all together. Management was demanding and pushed you to your limits, but they were also supportive and coached you through the challenges. The supervisor also worked harder than myself so it made me more willing to push myself.
Although it is a huge adjustment I would highly recommend it for anyone feeling the need for a job that will push them and give life meaning.
Pros
Teamwork, fruits, Hawaii, 6 days off, outings, educational, free organic food
Cons
Long hours, minimal breaks, late nights, Low pay
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Great company, even better message
Guide/Supervisor (Former Employee) –  Naalehu, HIJanuary 9, 2016
I worked for PQ for over two years and what I have come to learn about this job is it is not for the faint of heart. This was the hardest and the most rewarding experience I've ever had. I have heard many negative comments on here and I question if these comments are from people who were not really prepared to put in the effort it takes to work here. Shift work is exhausting, no matter what company you work for or what you are doing. It's long hours and on top of that, you are dealing with teenagers in a therapeutic setting, nothing about that is going to be easy. And then, magically, after a period of time, it becomes easy. You find your routine, problematic situations become less stressful, your delegating skills and interpersonal communication are suddenly transformed into jeti-master level wizardry. I thought I came to work for this company to support the next generation, but I learned way more about myself and grew...substantially....then I could have ever imagined.

Being a smaller, younger company, it's easy to move up and around. Upper management is constantly looking for way to expand and improve in order to support field teams and the company at large. Most changes in the company come from the ground up. Your support system as a guide is very wide and you are encouraged to reach out to whoever you need, whenever you need. Supervisors and managers take the time to learn your strengths and weaknesses play toward them. You are encouraged to look at your grow points and ask for support in bettering them. You WILL be pushed on many levels. You will be
  more... pushed by the students, then you will be pushed by your supervisors, then you will be pushed by your managers, and when all is said and done, you will be a better mentor and well-rounded employee (for any job). If you are looking for a job that tip-toes around feedback and doesn't push you out of your comfort level, then this isn't the place for you.

Beyond being able to work outdoors, what drew me to this company was it's message. PQ is teaching adolescents how to cope with their various disorders/addictions/problems by means of gardening and relating to nature. What a fantastic message to be a part of! Days are long and there are many expectations to meet within them. You will stay busy all day, every day of your shift. This is not a desk job, be prepared to lead an exercise, teach a garden lesson, prepare a meal, and handle an (or several) emotional breakdown all within an afternoon. For some people that sounds exhausting, for myself, I LOVED that I never got bored or twiddled my thumbs. As a guide, you have the freedom to plan your days and there isn't someone micromanaging. There is oversight and mentoring from supervisors, but for the most part, they are not interested in telling you how to run your day.

I could keep going, but overall I think my message is clear. This job is hard work and if you willing to take on that work, it will be one of the most valuable experiences of your life.
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Pros
you live in paradise, get 26 weeks of vacation a year, learn more about yourself then you could imagine and make an impact on the next generation
Cons
days are long and full of physically and emotionally challenging work, you are far from your family, cliental is challenging
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The hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had
Field Guide (Former Employee) –  Naalehu, HIDecember 28, 2015
I learned more than I could possible type into a small box here. Working at PQ as a field guide was simultaneously the most rewarding and most challenging experience I have ever had. My co-workers, supervisors, and managers were supportive, caring, and inspiring humans. The students I worked with taught me an incredible amount. I arrived in Hawaii with no experience in wilderness therapy and no idea what to expect. I was blown away. This job transformed who I was as a person.

Besides the amazing personal growth, I'd like to address a few of the nitty gritty details:

Pay-
Nobody does this kind of work because they want to make millions. It's not happening. However, although the hourly wage is low, I found it more than enough to suffice. I have since moved back to the mainland and work a 9-5 job. At this job I am paid much more hourly than I was in Hawaii, but I actually find it much more difficult to make ends meet. I believe this is a function of room/board costs and overtime pay.

Hours-
Yes, you do work 120 hours/shift (8days) yes, it is difficult. Yes, you are paid overtime for every hour over 40. Yes, your week is split so 4 days are on each week. But, you also get 6 days off every other week. If I did my math right, you can get 26 Hawaiian vacations in this year!

Food-
No- you will not starve on the salary,indeed, I found quite the opposite. First, you get 3 meals a day plus snacks while on shift. Check out the cost of food, in Hawaii-this is awesome! Plus, the food is high quality. This is important to me.

Housing-
Next, housing
  more... is provided while you're on shift. Yes- it is a shared dorm room, if you're not into that, maybe this isn't the job for you. For the "off shift", the 12 days a month you aren't working, you'll most likely want to rent a room in Hilo/Pahoa/Kona. If you're into it, you can get a "ghost" roommate, or someone on the opposite shift to share a room with you in Hilo, you'll never be in the room at the same time, and you can save on rent. Renting a room in Hilo/Pahoa is cheap (200-500) in a shared house. Divide this by 2, I can't image finding rent this cheap anywhere else I have lived. And it's awesome to live with your co-workers (did I mention, they are the BEST part of the job!)

This job is not for everyone, it is an all consuming lifestyle, not a 9-5 thing that you do. If you are open minded, ready for a challenge, and are willing to let this job change you, take on the challenge. If you're afraid of bugs, don't like working in the mud and rain, and want a job that won't challenge every part of you, then maybe this isn't the right place for you.
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Pros
Amazing co-workers, delicious food, personal growth
Cons
Long hours
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Unique job, taxing in the long-term
Program Guide (Current Employee) –  Nā‘ālehu, HIJanuary 27, 2016
The typical day is long (around 12-15 hours) and a shift is 8 days. The position of program guide takes a high level of concentration and communication skills. Some of the common tasks are: waking student and accompanying the students in the bunks for 1-2 hours per night, writing notes on students for therapists, keeping track of student body functions and physical well-being (including dispensing medications), leading exercise and landwork (gardening) groups, creating and teaching wellness and curriculum lessons, cooking food for the camp, "perching" (managing where students go in the camp and keeping track of where all students are at all times), and aiding students in communicating with each other in healthy ways.

I learned how to let go of control and let others make decisions when appropriate, how to work long shifts in a way that was sustainable for me. Also, I learned how to manage my own emotions and to deal with conflict that occurs when working with students and staff for long hours, when both groups are emotional/and or tired.

Co-workers are very often hired with a significant level of expertise and experience. Co-workers are encouraged to give and receive feedback on a regular basis. Most staff in this position are in their early to mid twenties, and are often interested in backpacking and adventuring. Many program guides enjoy some level of partying on their off shifts, as is typical for the age group. However, this is not an issue during the work shifts.

The hardest part of the job is the requirement for constant communication with others and the ability
  more... to stay emotionally regulated through a shift of 8 12-15 hour days while working with challenging students. Staff and students often rotate camps, and there are often weeks where the program guides must build rapport with staff and students they have never worked with.

The best parts of the job are living in beautiful Hawaii, the sense of automatic community in a new place where people tend to be far from home, working for a program that seems to be effective for most students, teaching students to love the earth and to connect with deeper meaning in their lives, and connecting with some really wonderful young people. While some students are challenging every day, other students are wonderful and working hard every day. Seeing students transform into passionate and healthy beings is a special process and an honor.
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Pros
Food and housing during work shifts, meaningful work, HAWAII
Cons
long shifts and long hours, little pay, mediocre support (sometimes great, sometimes severely lacking)
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The downside of this great job
Past field guides and a supervisor (Former Employee) –  Big Island, HIMay 19, 2016
Your life will revolve around this job as a field guide. You spend more time at the work place than you will at home. When you are enjoying your off time many of your coworkers, and likely yourself as well, will need to talk about work. Pay is low but the students are worth it. Good luck getting your breaks if you work with adolescents.

Transparency lacks from the higher up. During a Dengue outbreak it was told to us that the handful of staff who were diagnosed with it received it from a valley hike, it was found that some of them never made such a hike. When wages increased it was told to us in a matter of how they been working on it and we deserved it, it was found to be more likely due to minimum wage increases in the state of Hawaii. When the company hired too many workers they recommended everyone to take time off or be at risk of being forced to take the shift off (asking for time off doesn’t qualify you for unemployment benefits).

There is a theory of "maybe this job isn't for you" when bringing up staff health sustainability. Very high turnover shows this theory to include most field guides. Many don't last past a year. You will know if the business wants you by how they react to mistakes.

So many fields guides' health slowly becomes more of a focus. You will likely start having irregular bowl movements (#7).

Refrain from gaining injuries while at work. A couple of workers had to go into a stressful battle to receive worker’s comp. Keep track of your payroll, many times workers found mistakes that where not in their favor.

Now you may go through this job
  more... with no qualms and a thankful relationship with PQ. The views are beautiful, the bananas bountiful, and the students are the best part of the job!

There is so much more to the Big Island than just PQ, make sure to explore!
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Pros
Self growth, staff-student relationships, your co-workers
Cons
Lack of transparency/trust, no breaks, self-health
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Most challenging and rewarding job I've ever had
Senior Lead Guide (Former Employee) –  Na'alehu, HIApril 10, 2016
I could go on and on about PQ but I'll try to keep this brief.

A typical day at work is 12 to 16 hours long, dependent on several factors. You spend your time cooking, talking with students, farming, doing exercise, and helping make sure students are meeting their daily expectations and working toward therapeutic goals. It sounds like a long work day, but because you live at work when you're working, it doesn't feel so long.

I learned an immense amount and continue to learn from it even though my time at PQ has ended. I learned how to laugh and let the small things roll off my back. I learned how to take care of myself when it was the last thing I wanted to do. I learned how to take care of others in more ways than I knew possible. I learned about farming and cooking and what teenagers are into. I learned how to hold effective and therapeutic boundaries. I learned how to be genuinely myself and use it as a tool to encourage others to do the same.

I can't imagine having better management than we have at PQ. There are going to be things you don't like or agree with at any job, and that's true at PQ. There were times when I became frustrated or questioning about rules or decisions that were made. What makes PQ stand apart is that I never felt uncomfortable being transparent with my bosses about my feelings. PQ values and practices feedback and open communication. It was the healthiest work environment that I can imagine. When you watch your supervisors working just as hard as you, showing authentic compassion and concern, and still be able to give you a hug after having
  more... a tough conversation, it makes it really easy to respect them and listen to them even when you don't agree. The management consistently made me feel like I was supported and that they were invested in me and my growth.

Co-workers = automatic pals. Seriously. The PQ community is a collection of incredible individuals. There is occasional friction between staff, which is normal, but for the most part, we're a big ol' family.

The hardest part of the job is watching students struggle and sometimes not knowing how to help. This can look like a lot of different things - sometimes defiance, sometimes shutting down, sometimes self-harming, sometimes running - but it's always difficult to be at a loss for how to help a student move forward. Thankfully, that's where being a part of a huge team comes into play, and there is always someone to support, give ideas, tag-team, etc.

The best part of the job? Everything else. The students are hilarious, intelligent, creative, weird, amazing people. They make me laugh everyday. They teach me just as much as I teach them. It's a privilege to watch a student change and grow and become so much more themselves.

This job is hard and will push you to your limits sometimes, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I'm grateful every day for my time at PQ.
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Pros
community, best bosses ever, food, fresh fruit everywhere, automatic friends, a job where you laugh a lot, seeing the stars in Hawaii every night
Cons
Job is tiring, can be emotionally taxing, Hawaii is far
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Great work culture
Young Adult Program Director (Current Employee) –  Hilo, HIJanuary 29, 2013
I have worked in the field of wilderness therapy for 10 years at other programs on the mainland and consider this the best work experience I have ever had. Pacific Quest makes decisions based on the care of the students we serve the priority at all times. The upper management and owners treat employees with respect and kindness, I immediately felt part of the Pacific Quest “family” upon arrival to the island. The leaders have daily involvement in the facilitation of the programs, and genuinely care about the well being of the students and staff.
My co-workers are dedicated to the program and work well together as a team. There is a culture of open feedback, with ideas and suggestions welcome from anyone in the program regardless of their position. I would whole-heartedly recommend this organization to anyone looking for a great work experience.
Pros
healthy and welcoming work environment
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Sustainable Growth for Students and Staff
Wellness Supervisor (Former Employee) –  KauDecember 3, 2012
When I moved to Hawaii, I was excited, nervous, and curious. Upon my first day at Pacific Quest, the staff and supervisors set my mind at ease. For the first in my career, I felt apart of family or as they say in Hawaii, an "Ohana". The "Sustainable Growth" I achieved will last me for a lifetime. No matter what challenges I am faced with, I know I am better prepared to handle them based on the skills I developed under the Program Director and supporting staff. Having worked at numerous other Wilderness Programs in the US and Australia, Pacific Quest is hands down, the most innovative Wilderness Therapy program in the United States. I completely grateful that PQ is a part of my life, Ma halo...
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Co-workers are family, but you ultimately are disposable.
Field Staff/Program Guide (Current Employee) –  Reeds Bay/ HiloMay 7, 2013
I learned a lot about myself during my time at PQ. I have enjoyed my time with the company, however, I have mixed feelings about this company.

The way the company treats its field staff (or program guides, I guess they are called now) is incredible... incredibly poor. They are paid minimum wage-- despite the fact that all have a BA at minimum and quite a few have Master's degrees or several years of directly related experience. Not only that- but PQ had to be sued in order for the current arrangement to take place (after 40 hours of working you are paid time and a half). Despite the fact that even though Field Staff work an average of around 60 hours a week if you were to divide it evenly (approximately 120 hours every shift, 2 shifts a month=240 hours, divided by 4 [work weeks in a month]= about 60 hours a week) The company is still able to somehow claim that Field Staff are "part time." Sorry, but that's the biggest load of you-know-what. By doing this the company is able to deny benefits.. such as healthcare. It's just ridiculous because the only people who spend more time at that facility than the field staff are the two field supervisors.

There is a culture of open feedback, with ideas and suggestions welcome from anyone in the program regardless of their position-- however sometimes I'm not so sure if this is a genuine attitude-- I think there is a bit of hypocrisy in this area-- "your ideas are welcome but if we disagree then your thoughts are invalid" is the attitude I felt coming from upper management.

The company can tell you when you must take time off without
  more... any notice. The company can fire you without any notice, and some people have been fired for poor reasons, I've seen some of the most highly dedicated employees, or employees with incredible potential let go for poor reasons. Ultimately you are disposable at this company and the people who may or may not choose to dispose of you are literally NEVER (or at the most RARELY) in the field to see the work you do. I understand that they have things going on, however, I've seen really good staff let go for little to no reasoning, and it has made both myself and fellow employees afraid for the security of our jobs. Essentially the company treats the people who do very little like gods and the people who are breaking their backs working like scum. Only now do I see the parallel to American society within this company, haha. #OccupyPQ

That said- the job isn't all that bad, the hours are long and the students can be tough to work with, but you can see some incredible progress in some of them, and that is what makes the job worth it. When I leave I will not regret my time here, but I will definitely be looking for a job that treats the people who dedicate 100% of their time and energy into their job with respect and benefits. It's a great experience and you will learn a lot about yourself if you work for PQ, but don't expect to be treated as you should by the company. The people who pull the strings know you're disposable-- there are hundreds of recent college grads with BAs in psychology who are willing to come to Hawaii to work, so they have no qualms about letting any of their employees go, even those who have been there a long time.
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Pros
great students and coworkers, super location, great learning opportunity
Cons
no job security, low pay, no workers rights, employees are disposable
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Passionate group of people and beliefs
Finance Director (Former Employee) –  CaliforniaJanuary 30, 2013
Each day is long but productive and I get to wear so many different hats. Every department pulls together to keep Pacific Quest running for the kids. I have learned how it is not just one department that keeps PQ moving forward. It is truly the efforts of every employee from Staff to Management that pull together to make sure all the parts fit and no balls are dropped. Truly "it takes a village".
Pros
flexible hours, open communication with all levels of staff
Cons
not enough time in the day to get it all done
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A Job That Saved My Life
Logistics Supervisor (Current Employee) –  HiloJanuary 29, 2013
I'm not surprised to find that people have written brief, negative reviews of they're experience with Pacific Quest.

I've been with the company for 4 years and I've seen a lot of staff come and go. Its inevitable that in this span of time some people won't work out. I feel that many of the negative reviews may stem from the latter. That being said, I'd like to take a moment to describe MY experience with this company, and how it changed my life.

When I first heard of Pacific Quest I had just graduated from college. The economy was at its peak of recession; I had sold my IRA retirement fund that I’d been working on for four years just so I could pay the costs of living for my last quarter of school. Once I graduated I sent out an ungodly number of resumes to different company’s, searching for employment. I received not correspondence back from any of the companies or organizations I contacted. Nothing.

With my last $600 I ended up driving my car down to L.A. to live with my two brothers. I paid no rent and had no income, except for when I would occasionally get temporary, “one day” work in the city. I was living on a couch with no direction and no passion. It was a nightmare, and I didn’t see a way out. I remembered Pacific Quest, and sent a resume. Low and behold I heard back from them and was ecstatic to get a phone interview with one of the recruiters. I remember being so nervous for the interview; I wanted this job so bad. I remember I even dressed like I was going to a real interview. By the end of the phone call I had a job and a start date for employment. I sold my
  more... car and left for Hawaii with two backpacks and a one-way ticket. I’ve never looked back.

I started at the bottom of the totem pole, an entry-level field instructor with NO experience working with troubled youth, I was up for the challenge and I think they saw this in me. Now I’ve worked my way into the upper management of the company. If you work hard, pay your dues and have a great attitude anything is possible. I left for Hawaii knowing no one, and having no idea what to really expect. This leap of faith and unexpected course I’ve taken has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

When I started the company was completely different than where it is today. Its continued to evolve and change with the times, actively working on enhancing the culture and making the work more sustainable.

Let’s be honest though. Wilderness Therapy is hard work. Until you’ve experienced it for yourself, there’s no real job that compares. This can be a very difficult adjustment for people who’ve never worked in this field. I’ve seen a huge change in the company to support new staff and keep those that are the companies rock stars. I’ve seen a lot of hiring from within, which is fantastic.

Make no mistake though; there is feedback every week for staff. There are always things to improve on, or things to learn from. It’s hard to look at yourself and ask “what can I do better? What can I do different? What can I learn from this?” and I personally feel we don’t ask ourselves these questions enough in our day-to-day life, so it can be challenging for people to have an employer ask them these questions.

Pacific Quest has high standards, and they have too. They’re dealing with therapeutic outcomes for clients, trying to help young people with severe problems. If your not willing to look at yourself and make yourself better at your job, and t what you do-so you can best serve these kids, then maybe this isn’t the work for you.

I didn’t get to where I am today, by not hearing feedback. I look at feedback as a motivator. Use it as a tool. Use it as a learning experience. Being defensive is the worst thing you can do. A closed eye sees nothing.

The management is great. I have the best bosses in the world. I’m proud to work for this company and these people. They’ve helped me get through some tough times when I had nowhere else to go. It’s hard to forget that. I feel that the company is always looking to better itself and find the people to take it to the next level. The question you have to ask is “do you want to be a part of that?”

I wouldn’t have stayed with them since 2009 if I didn’t.

Aloha.
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Pros
great people, challenging work, rewarding
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Innovative and Healthy Program
Field Instructor (Former Employee) –  KauJanuary 27, 2013
Without a doubt, the greatest place I have ever worked! Each day was filled with growth, joy, and a feeling of community. Management creates an atmosphere of support and encouragement that I hope I can find as I move forward. Working with youth in organic farming has taught me life skills that will last forever.

Thanks to all the amazing staff. I miss you all!!!!
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Look elsewhere for similar opportunities where you'll be treated like a human being and treated fairly
Program Guide (Current Employee) –  Hilo, HIJuly 18, 2014
Be cautious before accepting this job. Although they preach about teamwork and growth, but you are ultimately disposable regardless of your work ethic and experience. I've witnessed fellow co-workers breakdown into tears while on the job, either in front of upper management or students. It does not matter how many things you do right while on the job, only the negative will be noticed and brought up to the forefront as "constructive feedback." But it's just a bunch of beating around the bush so they can avoid telling each other how they really feel.

It's actually easier to talk and listen to the students with all of their problems combined, then it is deal with upper management. They will tell you how to do one thing or another but aren't in the field themselves to witness your performance and help you grow. It's very counterproductive and unprofessional.

This job WILL change you, and you may not like what you find on the other side, regardless of the lure of Hawaii.

Don't be fooled by the various niceties thrown your way in the beginning, you could be doing your job perfectly and go above and beyond the call of duty but at the drop of a hat, all of that will be ignored and forgotten once they don't need you anymore. Remember: if you're looking for job security, this isn't the place!! They can ask you to leave at anytime without just cause and you agree to it once you accept the job.

Not worth it, look elsewhere, and don't send your kids here either as a staff or a student!!
Pros
experience, basic learning opportunities, fun working with the students.
Cons
upper management, poor pay, rains every single day, cockroaches in the kitchen and bathrooms, you are disposable at any time without warning or cause.
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A great lifestyle for your mid 20s and an opportunity for personal growth.
Lead Field Instructior (Former Employee) –  Na'alehu, HawaiiFebruary 5, 2013
Pacific Quest has been good to me. I came there to see if being a therapist was right for me and to live somewhere else before applying to grad school. While at PQ I learned a ton about myself and was given opportunities to show my strengths in the face of challenging therapeutic scenarios. At the time, half the employees were mainly working there because they loved living in Hawaii, the other half were deeply connected to helping teens navigate the difficult transition into adulthood. I connected with the latter group. I stayed at PQ for much longer than the average employee, and hope that PQ keeps attracting those who love the work. Upon hearing my interest in Rites of Passage, PQ paid for an 8 day training and vision fast in the desert. PQ rewards those who dive into the work and are authentically interested in increasing their skill set.
Pros
shift work, there's a built-in community of people your age, receive great feedback in the face of challenging situations, interaction with the students, a culture of working on goals and personal growth, being goofy with kids and being serious when that's what they need
Cons
shift work, increasing expansion of the program, no healthcare, not trying hard enough to keep field staff for as long as possible
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Hardest Job you will Love to Love
Current Employee (Current Employee) –  HawaiiJanuary 28, 2013
Pacific Quest offers challenge in the forms of personal and professional growth for all employees. When working in such an emotionally rich environment, employees must manage their own process and maintain a good balance between personal and professional life and boundaries. As will all human service work the hours are long and rewarding, the clients can challenge your confidence and patience and are constantly teaching you about yourself as you learn about and with them and the guidelines to follow are many in order to minimize risk for the clients. But all of the challenge leads to fruitful growth for those who invest themselves in the work and for the hundreds of young people we work with each year. The invested and dedicated employees that you work with are the glue of PQ and create the ohana I am proud to be a part of.
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Great because it is Hawaii and you get 5 days off at a time. Overmanaged, petty, and Zero Job Security
Field Instructor (Former Employee) –  Big IslandAugust 16, 2012
This job is great if you want a gig that gives you a place to stay,food and reason to come to the Island. Working other wilderness therapy programs I would say that this one has a turn over rate about twice the norm for the industry. I was witness to both bullying and arbitrary firing of staff by supervisors. Typically the stress from these jobs comes from the student at this work place it comes from the supervisors. Co-workers are on average amazing.
Pros
it's hawaii, coworkers are awesome, great place to be on a working vacation
Cons
poor managemnet, negative atmosphere, (personal reviews and arbitrary criticisms in the guise of "personal development and weekly goals"
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Amazing program and culture!
Supervisor (Current Employee) –  Hilo, HIJanuary 26, 2013
Students and Program Guides are amazing to work with each day. Leadership and management have shown a commitment to practicing what they preach. I have worked at other wilderness programs and this company is by far the best I have experienced. I highly recommend working here!
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Excellent Company Working to Enact Change With Struggling Kiddos and Families
Therapist (Former Employee) –  Hilo, Hawaii and Naalehu, HawaiiJanuary 28, 2013
A typical day at work: I spent half of my time working in the field, which involves working at different organic farm "camps" with students. This could mean working with the young adult population in Hilo or driving to PQ's other adolescent farm which is further south on the Island of Hawaii. I provided individual and group therapy sessions to students 2-3 days a week while on the farm. On my field days, I would also work in collaboration with the field staff to plan a therapeutic treatment plan for the week and interventions to use with students. The other 2-3 days was spent in an office, working with families and consultants via telephone and catching up on progress notes and documentation. During the week we would have weekly clinical meetings and supervision with our supervisors and rotate with on-call duties.

What I learned: Words cannot express how much I learned during my time at Pacific Quest. If anything, I would say I really blossomed as a therapist and left feeling confident and supported. I learned a lot about helping to work with clients in a holistic way, focusing not just on their "emotional problems", but also focusing on how they physically feel-what they are putting into their body, and healthy ways to challenge themselves rather than just through traditional "talk therapy". I also learned the importance of having no distractions for students: the ability to be 100% in the outdoor environment, without cell phones and computers and how this can be so powerful in a student having to face their struggles. I also learned about organic gardening and how this relates
  more... to our day to day lives.

Management: My supervisors were incredible at PQ and I would say that I had the opportunity to learn from the "best of the best". From my immediate supervisors, to the other directors, up to the owners of the company, they are all incredibly supportive people and I hope I can be so lucky in the future to have such a positive team I can work for. This was the hardest piece about leaving PQ and relocating to the Mainland-saying goodbye to such incredible people.

My co-workers: My co-workers were my family!

The hardest part about the job: The toughest part was maintaining self-care as you invest a lot into the kiddos and families. Trying to maintain balance for myself was probably my weakest point. I also think it can be difficult to watch a student struggling and repeating unhealthy patterns-but once they have a breakthrough it can be so rewarding!

The most enjoyable part of the job: Watching a student blossom and build incredible awareness and healthy coping tools to use in the future. Getting updates from families after a student has left and knowing that you were part of something that can be so healing was incredibly powerful. Also, the best part was working with all the incredible people at PQ.
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Pros
working on an organic farm, having the ability to work intensively with students and families, amazing work environment, and great compensation.
Cons
far away from family if you have to move & can be working with complex family systems.
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Employees are viewed as disposable
Field Staff (Former Employee) –  Hawai'iOctober 22, 2012
There aren't many positives that I can say for this company so I will start with the only two that I have before I divulge into other trivial matters such as labor rights, compensation and job security.

Best factors of the job:
1. The students: They are incredible, gifted, and brilliant. Despite the hypocritical nature of this company they are able to benefit and make great strides in the program and that is the only reason I stayed so long because they actually do benefit from it.
2. The field staff: Innovative, intelligent, amazingly individualistic staff from all walks of life and life experiences. I'm not saying that because I was one of them, I do not put myself in that brilliant category, but the people I got to work with are really fantastic and I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet fabulously interesting, competent, entertaining and selfless individuals.

Okay, so now that we got that out of the way. Time for the nitty-gritty. Since I have worked for this company and given so much of my time and life I have developed very strong feelings and opinions about it. However, for the purpose of this review I want to set those aside and just stick to the facts so that my experience doesn't fog up the actual reality of the situation. As a result I will just give you just the facts with a hint of sassy and a dab of satire.

1. Labor rights? Right out the window. You work eight days straight, 15 hour days, breaks? Eh not so much. Although we teach students about the importance of self-care and sustainability we as field staff are viewed as super beings and therefore have
  more... no need for such frivolous luxuries. Here's why.
You are expected to move to Hawai'i at your own incredibly expensive rate and come to for a spectacular two day orientation. If you are lucky you will be welcomed and by welcomed I mean walked past and pointed to the direction of where you can place your stuff maybe a smile will grace the face of your host but this is wilderness and such formalities are not necessary.
It is a step up I hear from other programs because you get to sleep in a bunk bed with sheets shared with your co-workers at maximum capacity. If they could figure out how to put bunk beds on the ceiling they would. You get to sleep in a roach, cane spider, and who knows what else infested "community/office/meeting/eating/working space" with bathroom doors that don't lock and bare plywood walls because putting drywall does not go with the wilderness theme of an indoor setting. After your incredible two day orientation where you will be taught everything and anything you need to know about the job and then plunge in for your eight day shift because seeing as how you are a super being there is no need for extended training or preparation so you jump in and hope you land on your feet and work with "soft kids." Which may imply images of just kids that need to be hugged and loved and while certainly that may be the case, the reality is regardless of how soft (that spectrum does vary wildly in their acceptance of individuals in the program depending on the size of the check) the students that come here are dealing with real, hard, and difficult issues and yes after two days of incredible mind blowing training by observing how others do the job that you are about to do you are totally competent to go ahead and deal with them. All the while you have just moved to a completely new state, have no idea where you will be living, will have to look for housing but since you will only need to stay there 14-16 days out of the month and based on your compensation that doesn't reflect the cost of living in Hawai'i or the value of your college education you will most likely live in a car, at a hostel, or in a house with 20 other of your closest co-workers who are incredible and make it a less painfully stressful experience. But since you are super human and all these extra matters are really of no importance you are encourage to put on your rational thinking cap and "detach" from it because as super beings we have an on and off switch for such weird things called emotions and critical thinking.

2. Hawai'i law: If you work at least 20 hours a week there are obligations for your employer to provide certain benefits under the Pre-paid Health Care Law.
Since we don't work 20 hours a week but rather 120, PQ has decided to dare I say it navigate around this law and come up with some ingenuity by offering you two weeks off so they can refuse to offer any healthcare options to field staff employees. You make of that what you wish.

3. Pay and compensation.
In order for us to receive a minimum wage salary with overtime for the 120 hours worked PQ had to be sued by a former employee. Enough said.

Now the reason the company treats employees as disposable is because they play the adventurous card and use the lure of Hawai'i to bring people in. Granted it works, many talented, competent adventurers are drawn to wilderness therapy programs and a lot of them don't look at monetary incentive but rather the opportunity to grow as an individual and contribute to the benefit of other human beings by sharing their knowledge and expanding their worldview or just for that an adventure. However, once the fog is lifted for many of these adventurers and they see the company for what it is they leave, hence the turnover for this company is sky high. If someone stays here six months they are considered "seasoned."

There are a number of other reasons people choose to work for PQ. I chose to come here because of my background in Psychology, others come for a similar reason to purse a career in counseling and some for the agricultural aspect and others for teaching. Whatever it is, it creates a beautiful rainbow comprised of these individuals and their unique talents which presents this incredible opportunity to work with such magnificent people. Does it make up for how poo poo the company itself is, that's for you to decide.

With all of this said. If you want to come to Hawai'i come. It's beautiful and you will have a breath of great experiences and a plethora of ways to learn, grown, and contribute to the society here. Have I learned a lot doing this job? Yes, I have and will you? Yes you will, it's impossible not to. However, since you are a super being and a beautiful one at that don't get it tainted by working for this company. There are so many wonderful opportunities on the island for you to share your gifts and your love for adventure where they will be respected and appreciated so look for alternatives. I strongly encourage you against this company. Don't support their greed.

I hope this review is helpful. It's honest and out of good intent, whatever you choose I wish you well on your journey.
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Pros
students and co-workers
Cons
lack of support for employees, low pay, no benefits
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Best Job I've Ever Had In My Life: REWARDING AND GRATIFYING ON ALL LEVELS
Field Instructor (Former Employee) –  Hilo, HIJanuary 27, 2013
One of the top wilderness therapy companies to work for with competitive wages, beautiful location, highly respectable in the industry, amazing staff, and ability to move up within the company.

Young company that started in 2002 and has recently opened up a young adult residential facility in Hilo, HI where they are doing very well. Young and innovative owners who have a progressive look on their business and ideas.

Co workers: Tight-knit group of people who will become your closest community and friends. Amazing people from all over the world, mostly Mainland. Teachers, famers, experiential ed teachers, outdoor ed, yoga instructors, psych majors, councilors in training, social workers, and more. Innovative, creative, happy, outdoorsy and active, fun, sensitive to non-traditional values, worldly, humble yet confident, empathetic and compassionate, want to help others, KIND, non-materialistic, emotionally and physically healthy people.

Most Enjoyable part of the job: Working with the students for a week straight and returning the next week to see how much progress they've made and how YOU'VE helped make a difference in their world. Feeling the reward and accomplishment at the end of the work week, knowing how much blood, sweat and tears you've put into the kids and the camp, and seeing that you've helped them along their way in a positive manner. Knowing that none of your work was futile and that you're helping shape the future generation of empowered and powerful young people. Another enjoyable part of the job is working intimately with your staff team of 3 people over the
  more... course of the week and developing those bonds that last your whole stay on the island. Getting to know your team and going through the ups and downs with them throughout the shift creates a very powerful bond and comradery that no one can break. It is so awesome to see other people's way of teaching and feel like you're part of a indestructable squad that has so many tools to help these young kids. Another enjoyable part of the job is leaning how to garden and farm and being able to eat the harvests with the students. BEING OUTSIDE IS THE BEST TOO! Your office is the jungle with fresh air, palm trees and gardens producing veggies and greens all around you. It's paradise.

Work Hard, Play Hard. Where else can you work for a week, and take a week off to explore one of the most beautiful islands in the world. I was enticed by the lifestyle and it's amazing if you're able to balance your off/on shift. I enjoyed the free time to decompress and experience the island with my friends, and then go back to work and be "in it" for a whole week, doing really important work with the students and constantly feeling rewarded by the work I was doing.

I started working at Pacific Quest in 2010 as a field staff who had never worked in the industry before. I was welcomed with open arms and given more hands on training and learn by doing/observing staff rather than by booklets or classroom tutorials. There really is no other way to learn the industry other than by being in the field and watching how its done, also by jumping in and trying it yourself with the support of your seasoned teammates.

With hard work and dedication, I was promoted within a few weeks to the Wellness position, and then on to the Lead Positions a few weeks after that. I was enamored by the work, the level of dedication to each student, the environment, the dynamic daily routine that consists of SO MUCH! (Exercise, cooking, landwork, gardening, curriculum, therapeutic groups, individual check ins, meditation, group games and group meals, and much more. I was active from the moment I woke up to the moment I laid my head down on the pillow and I was loving the healing process that was going on with students. I really began to understand the company's positive intentions with all the rules and why we had to hold certain boundaries.

The longer I worked, the more I saw it as a benefit and reward for the students to be exposed to this type of life, these types of staff, this level of care, the things we taught them about life, and all aspects of the program, because it's making them better people for their future and their family dynamic. I worked in a variety of camps with different students each week (many times the same students who had progressed) and with different staff each week so I got to learn new teaching styles. I worked with young adults and adolescents and gained the respect of my field supervisors and managers by my style and tenure in the field for 1 1/2 years. With that, I was able to become a staf trainer/facilitator when I had been in the field for over a year and then moved on to Field Supervisor at the new Young Adult Clinic in Hilo.

I whole heartedly believe in the quality and level of care PQ provides to these students. The level of investment from all the staff is unprecedented and incomparable. People are there because they want to help others and work for a company that provides a foundation of community and positive change for youth. From mind/body/emotion to teaching them how to grow food for themselves, PQ offers a well rounded wholistic approach to emotional and physical wellness. I have seen hundeds of students benefit from their time at PQ and go on to live happier, healthier lives. I have seen many staff go, saying that this was the best, most meaningful job they've had in their lives. I've listened to students tell me they don't want to leave and how much I've changed their lives. I've watched my co-workers blossom into

I took a leap of faith and moved out to the island for the job, and I was pleasantly rewarded both professionally and personally. If you're looking to empower yourself and students around you, work on dynamic teams each week, make a difference in the future generation of people, learn about yourself when put in difficult and emotionally charged situations, teach outdoors, grow your own food and learn about the future of communication and personal growth, PQ is where you should come. It is SOOOOOOO worth it. I've learned so much about people, education, youth and what they're going through now, families, gardening, hawaiian culture and gardening, and HUMANITY.
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Pros
progressive company, feedback culture to improve and build off strengths, rewarding work, 6 days off to enjoy hawai'i, close friendships with co-workers, free therapy because of all the therapeutic groups and conversations you're a part of daily, gardening and learning about small scale farming, organic eating and exercise daily, teaching creatively everyday, experiential ed at its finest
Cons
shift work and balancing off shift/on shift lifestyles, balance in general, getting used to the food and lack of your personal food in the field, lack of sleep, constant feedback culture (can weigh on you), high turnover rate=losing friends, being on same shift as your friends and if you switch you never see them again
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