Isaac Wilker drives a giant hot dog for a living.
Wilker, a 2016 Ohio University alumnus who studied business administration in the Honors Tutorial College, is spending his first year out of college on a one-year assignment driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile across the southeast region of the United States.
Wilker began his quest for the driver’s seat of the 27-foot-long hot dog vehicle in 2015 at the beginning of his senior year. While on the internet, Wilker said he stumbled upon an alluring opportunity.
“I knew it was a job that was an option and was something I’d be interested in,” Wilker said. “I would be able to interact with different people from so many walks of life.”
From there, his interest grew and he started his application. His paperwork was wrapped in a packing tube decorated like a hot dog, accompanied by letters of recommendation with phrases such as, “Isaac works his buns off!”
David Averion, OU’s Manager of Real Estate Operations, was a former employer of Wilker’s that was entrusted with filling out a letter of recommendation chock full of frank-related jokes.
“He approached me right before Christmas of 2015,” Averion said. “He asked me for a recommendation and in that letter, he wanted hot dog puns.”
To his delight, Wilker was offered an interview in Madison, Wisconsin. He began each of his four interviews with a hot dog joke, and completed the interview process with singing the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle.
Of the approximate 1,200 applicants who applied, Wilker was selected to fill one of the 12 open spots in the six vehicles. Wilker shares the Wienermobile with his driving partner, Rachel. He will be assigned a new partner in January.
“It didn’t surprise me because I knew he had everything that was needed,” Averion said. “Isaac represents everything that’s good about Ohio University. He is compassionate, diligent, committed, innovative.”
Since first revving up the engine in June, Wilker and his partner have racked up more than 12,000 miles on the road.
Each year, the six Wienermobiles receive an average of 9,000 appearance requests. Wilker has taken the vehicle to festivals, corporate events and store openings, to name a few.
Freshman Alexandra Wainwright studies business in HTC, just like Wilker had when he attended OU. She laughed when she found out an alumnus was driving the Wienermobile, but she said it makes sense from a business standpoint.
“That’s a really interesting way to do your job and at the same time, do what you love,” Wainwright said. “It’s a little weird, but from a business perspective, that does give him good marketing skills. If that’s what he’s passionate about, that’s pretty cool.”
Wilker worked several jobs in college, including driving buses around campus, allowing him to graduate debt-free. Because of that, Wilker said he didn’t feel any financial pressure to look for a conventional job right after graduation.
“It’s something that money can’t provide,” Wilker said. “It’s important to be financially sound, but beyond that, it’s important to be that support for people and put smiles on their faces.”
Originally published for The Post on September 27, 2016.