* Muscles, pre-Butler gut, and the title is actually 300, yeah yeah.
My thanks to all of my faithful readers who have followed me thus far. I hope I've provided a pleasant distraction from the trials and tribulations of your working lives, by throwing my self into a writhing pit of 100 fang-toothed jobs. Or something like that.
Because I didn't want my big 200th to go to waste, I interviewed Sean Aiken, from One Week Job (a man from British Columbia, Canada who completed 52, one week jobs, and donated the proceeds to a charity he created). This is the first half of our interview, via e-mail. Enjoy. My questions are in red.
1. How did you come up with the idea for your project?
When I was looking for a job, I saw all of these important sounding job titles but I had no idea what the job would actually be like. I was scared at the thought of committing to one, not liking it, and then feeling trapped in the position.
In my last year at Capilano University, my dad gave me some advice on finding a career, he said, “Sean, it doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure it is something you are passionate about. I've been alive nearly 60 years and I've yet to find something I'm passionate about besides your mother.” It made me realize how many people are in similar situations - doing the same job for the past 20-30 years and not necessarily enjoying what they are doing. I promised myself that I would take the time to find something that I was passionate about and that would make me happy. I thought the One Week Job project would be a great way of testing out different careers.
I think a mistake that many people make when deciding on a career is to focus on the title and ignore the characteristics of the particular career and it’s associated lifestyle. We may spend a bunch of time and money on school or required designations only to show up at the workplace and find out it’s not for us. My thinking was that if I could somehow try out different jobs then I’d be able to learn about the characteristics I wanted in a career, and the type of workplace situation I’d need to be happy before making the full commitment.
2. When did you start your project?
I started The One Week Job Project in Feb 2007, and finished in March 2008.
3. How did you get a filmmaker on board? Do you have a background in film or acting?
My best friend, Ian MacKenzie, happens to be a film maker so it didn't take too much convincing to get him out on the road with me. I don't have a background film/acting, although I've done extra work: I Robot, X-Men...
4. What did you want to do before you started this project?
I had no idea. I started the project in hopes of figuring it out.
5. What were the ten best jobs you worked at? Why? What were the ten worst jobs? Why?
My most enjoyable gigs were the weeks where I was working with some great people. It was not necessarily the job I was doing but my coworkers that made the experience memorable. The ones that stand out are: Cancer Fundraiser (Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation), Pizza Maker, Fashion Buyer, Advertising Executive, Steam Whistle Brewery.
The least enjoyable week was working in a swamp picking cat tails. It was plus 35, tonnes of bugs, smelled bad, and really long 12-hour days. All in all not too pleasant.
6. Why did you decide to donate the money to charity? Did you keep any for yourself?
I was asking employers to take me into their company, teach me all about their profession, and train me, all while knowing that I’d leave at the end of the week. I didn’t think it was fair to ask to be paid on top of that.
I asked my employers to donate to charity because I saw it as a win-win situation. I was grateful for the experience and to the employer for sharing their profession. The charity gained awareness and received funding. And the employer got attention through the One-Week Job website/media, and received a tax receipt for their donation.
I didn't keep any of the money. The company made the donation directly to the charity. I survived by a sponsor, NiceJob.ca, who gave me $1000 to put towards travel expenses and by staying at people's house each week.
7. How did you get American media attention? Did you do an official press release? What was the best talk show you were on?
As word spread about the project, media outlets began to contact me for a story. The best talk show was probably The Rachael Ray Show. I was able to work behind the scenes on set and in her prep kitchen before the interview.
8. Did you ever get demotivated? Were you ever exhausted during the course of your project? Scared? Or were you on a high most of the time?
I was exhausted a lot of time. It wasn’t easy. I had to find a new job each week for a year. I had to find a place to stay in the city, how I’d travel to the city, then do it all over again at the end of the week.
I never second-guessed it though. There were difficult times that I thought it wouldn’t work out, and questioned giving up but I was grateful for the experience I was having, the people I was meeting, and all that I was learning.
9. What is your passion now?
You'll have to read my book about the experience ;) It's called, The One-Week Job Project, published by Penguin books and is now available in stores across Canada.
10. What did you find out about yourself? About working full time? What is your perspective now about other people's careers and career choices?
I learned that I don't necessarily need to have my “dream job” in order to be happy at work. There are many other factors that contribute to our job satisfaction. When I asked my coworkers what they liked most about their job, the common answer I heard was the people they worked with.
Also, I recognized that those who were most passionate about their jobs were the ones who had a vision of how they were contributing to something greater than themselves. It mattered that they showed up to work each day because they contributed something valuable, and something was made better because of their work. For example, I worked on an organic dairy farm in Rimbey, Alberta with a guy named George. The job demands long hours, very hard work, early mornings – after a couple of days I thought, “How can anyone enjoy this job?” But George seemed to love it. To George, he was providing food for thousands of people while contributing to the environment with his organic farming practices. He understood the significance of his job and that's where he derived his job satisfaction.
On a personal level, I’d say my ability to adapt to new situations and changing environments. Each week I was doing something completely different, oftentimes something I had never done before, though I had to quickly adapt and learn as much as I could. Also, my self-knowledge has grown. I was constantly out of my comfort zone and so learned a lot about myself and what makes me tick.
I also learned that it’s important to take a close look at our passion and see what are the different ways in which we can fulfill our passion. For Week 22, I was a Radio DJ. On my last day I sat down with the radio station’s program director, Scott. I asked Scott, “How did you get involved in Radio. Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?”
He said, “If you ask most people in radio where they started out, we’re all kind of failed musicians really. Truthfully we’d rather be the people making the music, but to be involved in music in some way, that’s where the passion lies.”
Even though Scott is not what he originally thought he wanted to be as a rock star, he loves his job. He still works in the same industry, deals with the same people, and is still able to cultivate his passion for music. We can’t all be rock stars, but it doesn’t mean we have to end up selling car insurance (unless that’s your passion!). It made me realize that even if I can’t be the rock star, maybe I’d be just as happy being the person who hands the rock star their guitar.
11. Do you consider yourself to be a new media producer and writer now?
I've never been a fan of titles, but I suppose I'd consider myself an author-speaker-type person.
12. Tell me a bit about the book: how long did it take to write? How did you find the publisher?
The book is a memoir of my year. It begins from graduation, and me struggling to find an answer to the question “what should I do with my life?” How this developed into the idea to start The One Week Job Project, the different jobs I had, all the advice I received from my employers on finding a career, and the story of my personal journey making the transition from school into the working world. The publishers, Random House in the US and Penguin Books in Canada, contacted me about writing the book. It took about a year to write.
Here are a couple of advanced reviews about it:
"A terrific read for young people wondering what to do with their lives, and for anyone looking to change his or her life for the better. "
- KEITH FERRAZZI, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Never Eat Alone
"A life-changing, cross-continental, action-packed adventure. After reading The One-Week Job Project, you'll know how to get the most extraordinary things out of life, and how to score some choice jobs along the way!"
- KYLE MADCONALD, author of One Red Paperclip
"I can't say whether Sean Aiken was a good aquarium host or tattoo artist, but I do think he's very good at one job: writing."
- A.J. JACOBS, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
13. What about the full-length documentary?
The full-length documentary is directed by Ian MacKenzie. It showcases my journey, the different jobs, the adventure, interviews with my employers... here is the trailer: www.oneweekjob.com/documentary
14. What's next for "One Week Job"?
We just started the One Week Job Program which will allow others to have a similar experience that I did. We’re providing three individuals $3000 each over the course of two months. They’ll perform eight different one-week jobs and blog from the website. Anyone interested can apply at oneweekjob.com.
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As he mentioned, Sean has a book out "The One-Week Job Project: One Man, One Year, 52 Jobs" and he's actually looking for other career-questioning people to blog and vlog for an 8 week, 8 job career mentoring program called the "One Week Job Prorgam". You can apply for the position here on his website. The deadline is April 30th. Guess who else is applying?
King Leonidas, the shocker and Jennifer Aniston!
Enjoy your day; I'm in Toronto for yet ANOTHER JOB or TWO!