Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, November 30, 2015

"52 jobs in 52 weeks"- Sean Aiken

Sept. 7 "52 jobs in 52 weeks": I cut out this article by Oliver Moore in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 30, 2010.  I already know about Sean Aiken back in 2007.  This is a good interview because Aiken had a lot of job experience and good job tips about how to find the right job for you.

Here's the whole article:   
  Inline image
Asked what he wanted to be, Sean Aiken used to tell people he was going to become a physiotherapist. He didn't know exactly what that entailed, he acknowledges, but it "sounded cool."

But then he found himself graduating from business school with a sense of trepidation. He was on the verge of "real life" and still unsure what he wanted to do with it. After his father confessed to never finding passion in his work, Mr. Aiken committed to an unusual journey: He would work anywhere, doing 52 jobs in a year and donating his wages to charity.

"I promised myself that I would find something I loved doing," the Vancouverite told students recently at Saint Mary's University in Halifax.

The highs, the lows and the lessons learned during the year from February, 2007, to March, 2008 - including that "it's surprisingly difficult to dress a mannequin" - are detailed in his book One-Week Job, out this week. Mr. Aiken sat down with The Globe and Mail to talk about his experience.

When cyclist Curt Harnett retired after his last Olympics, he said it was time to get a haircut and a real job. How much of that sort of advice did you hear during your year - and is that your plan now?

I had dreadlocks in business school and I thought, "I want to have dreadlocks while I'm in school because once I graduate, it's time to cut my hair and get a real job." But I didn't actually get that too many times over the year. I'm sure many people were thinking it, but the fortunate thing about One-Week Job is that the people who hired me could see my picture on the website and had some idea what they were getting themselves into. They were probably thinking it, but they didn't say it to my face.

You graduated top of your class with a business degree. Why didn't you end up on Bay Street instead of dabbling as a bungee instructor, baker and bartender?

I started out in sciences. I was thinking about being a physiotherapist or getting into rehabilitation. I took a business course and I found I could really relate it to the real world. I thought business would allow me to keep the options open. So I wasn't too sure exactly what career path I wanted to take, whether I wanted to be on Bay Street or another job. Many take the year after school to go travel and try different things. I guess One-Week Job was my way of doing that.

What did you learn about yourself?

Many things. I'm not a very good yoga instructor. I guess the biggest thing is I got a lot of confidence in myself. To put myself, week in and week out, in these challenging situations, most often in a job I'd never done before.

I guess just kind of testing my abilities, and knowing I have the skill set that I could step into any situation and learn and make do.

How did you find and choose the jobs?

Our information was on the website and people would e-mail or call with offers. I chose based on what the job sounded like, whether I'd be learning something or not.

What were some of the jobs you turned down or, in retrospect, wish you had turned down?

One job I turned down was working for Naked News in Toronto. The job was to be a news anchor: As I was delivering the news, I'd have to take off my clothes.

There's also another job when I was in Los Angeles. One guy calls and says. "Is there anything that you wouldn't do?"

I dug myself a hole and said it depended what he had in mind. He said acting out a few scenes in a gay porno. He said he'd donate $5,000 to charity. I said sorry.

Were there jobs you liked, that helped clarify what you want to do in the quote unquote real life?

I worked in Toronto at the Steam Whistle brewery and the corporate culture there is just amazing. They really respect their employees and, in return, their employees are really happy to be there. I really enjoyed that perspective. In business school, we were always focused on the bottom line, we had this idea that in order to get ahead, it almost has to be at the expense of others.

So it was good to work at a company like Steam Whistle and see how they're involved in the community and how that helps their business. Other ones - specifically, working in a cubicle job - I found that I definitely could not see myself in an office environment all the time.

So basically each week I was able to take little pieces of what I was looking for in a career.

Any jobs that put them all together?

There's a few. I think I'd definitely like to be a teacher and a real-estate agent. I'm not sure in what order.

How much time did you spend actually doing the job? When you were a yoga instructor, for example, how long did you have to spend learning it before you could teach a class?

Monday through Thursday, I did six hours of yoga class a day. Sometimes I participated in the class, other times I would sit in the corner and take notes. On the Friday, that's when I stood up and taught the course. That was a really hard week. It was incredibly difficult, very sore. The next week was dairy farmer and I definitely felt it for a few days after.

In any of these positions, did you feel envy from colleagues who are, or believe they are, trapped in their jobs?

It was almost like having me in the workplace caused others to question why they were doing it. There was that sense of envy and a few times I also found people sharing their story with me. "Don't tell anyone here but I'm thinking of making a move. I totally relate and I get the message." But there's criticism as well, somebody who was unhappy in their job saying, "You're not supposed to be happy, how dare you try to be happy in your job, I've been working here 40 years and I hate it every day of my life." It's almost like, "You must be miserable because I'm miserable."

What advice do you have for someone unhappy at work?

Don't just jump ship and hope it all works out. Start putting the feelers out and seeing what options are out there and how you can slowly make the transition into the other job.

Sort of being irresponsible responsibly?

Exactly, people think they want to make a change and they just quit.

They're forced to make a change then?

That's it. Actually that's such a positive thing with the economy. So many layoffs happened that it really encouraged people to question, "Wow, I just spent the last 15 years with my head down and the blinders on. I stopped questioning why I'm doing what I'm doing."

What advice would you give a young person, someone close to graduation?

I would say, "Don't focus on the title." It's so easy to say you want to be a doctor, teacher, whatever, but you don't think about what actually makes up the career. I would say to focus more on yourself and learning more about the types of situations in the workplace you need to be happy. And then start putting it together and see what jobs come out of it. The most important thing is do something.

"One Week Job"- Sean Aiken

Sept. 7 "One Week Job": I cut out this article in the Edmonton Job Classifieds way back in Apr. 22, 2007.   

I thought it was so cool to work at a new job every week, have new experiences and meet new people.  Interestingly enough, summer 2007 was the "Summer of the Job Hopper."  It depends on how you look at it. 

It was because I got a job at Call Centre #3 for the first time.  They trained me for 1 day, and then dismissed me and decided to hire someone else who doesn't need as much training as I did.  At least I got paid.  Then in 2009, I applied there again and got hired and the job lasted for 6 months.  They laid me off due to shortage of work in the 2009 case.  

Con: I didn't make a lot of money that summer of 2007.

Pro: I did try some jobs out like restaurants for the first time and that was a good fit for me.

Odd Job Jack: This article reminds me of this 2003 TV show.  I saw the first season:

Odd Job Jack is an animated comedy about one guy's misadventures in temporary employment and his quest to get a full-time life. In the year 2003, in an unnamed Canadian megacity, JACK RYDER (voiced by Don McKellar) searches for a way out of limbo. Twenty-five years old and fresh out of university - sporting a degree in sociology and shouldering a hefty student debt - Jack is decidedly unsure what he wants to do with the rest of his life. In fiscal desperation, Jack signs on at a temp agency - Odd Jobs Unlimited - where he finds himself placed in a variety of usual and unusual postion by Betty Styles, his ever-optimistic (and in Jack's opinion, totally attractive) career counsellor. In every episode, Jack tries out a new job, introducing him to an array of interesting characters, unique experiences, and different perspectives on the working world. - Written by Smiley Guy Studios


Here's the whole article:

One Week Job.
Business grad on nationwide job week at a time.
By Robert Manolson
Certified Career Development Professional

In an attempt to find his passion, Sean Aiken, 25, has created a website that allows any
individual or company from across Canada to make him a job offer for one week. He is
continuing to fulfill jobs one week at a time throughout the country while recording his
experiences with blog entries and short video clips posted to his One Week Job website:


Sean’s nationwide job search to find the work he loves and build the life he wants
brought him to Edmonton working as a Florist with Best Buds Flower Company, and as a
Yoga Instructor with Lotus Soul Gym Yoga. Up to this point, Sean has worked with a
bungee jumping company, as a columnist, a snowshoe guide, volleyball coach, an intern
for a daily television talk show, a dairy farmer, events team member, and marketer.

“After graduating from College with a Business Administration Degree, I made a
commitment to myself to not settle for a career that I was not passionate about.”

Not realizing where these passions lie, Sean came up with the idea for One Week Job. “I
am hoping to try out a diverse range of jobs in hopes of learning something new from
each experience and gain a better understanding of what I need in a work place situation
to be happy.”

Robert Manolson, Certified Career Development Professional, and facilitator of
Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops has been in contact with Sean for several months
now. “Sean has been so receptive and open to letting me to do whatever I can to kickstart
his journey here in Edmonton by connecting him to the "right" people. His creative,
"throw away the box" approach to finding the work he loves and building the life he
wants captured my attention. As a Career Counsellor who has worked extensively with
youth, I can confidently say that Sean is inspiring his generation to follow their heart and
do everything in their power to make their dreams come true.” You can contact Robert at

All proceeds that a company or individual is willing to pay Sean for his week of work
will be donated to the Make Poverty History campaign, dedicated to tackling the issue of
child poverty in Canada.

In order to help fund Sean’s travels he is accepting personal donations from individuals
and in return is posting their name along with a link to their website or blog.

© 2007 Robert Manolson

Sean’s journey brings into light a new trend we are seeing with his generation entering
the workforce. “I think that many young people in my generation have seen our parents
stuck in the same job they were not necessarily happy with for far too long,” says Sean.
“My generation is realizing the value of making a career choice that not only suits our
skill set, but at the same time matches our personality, values, our passions and provides
for work/life balance.”

Robert adds that “Believe it or not, there's a wonderful world of life experiences that
today's youth want to engage in whether it's in the world of work or outside work.

Employers in Edmonton and in Alberta need to recognize that the Millennials or Gen Y
who are presently entering the workforce bring a much different perspective to work that
is not like our own. Youth are one of the largest pool of workers to draw from. Those
employers who make the necessary adjustments to understand and accommodate
Edmonton's youth will be successfully positioning their business in today's tight labour

Visit to find out where Sean is working this week, what he is
learning on his journey, or to offer Sean a ‘One Week Job’ yourself!



shopping/ The Next Act Pub/ consumerism

Aug. 27 Shopping:

Whyte Ave: I went to the Chapters on Whyte Ave last month.  There is no CD section.  The last time I was there was in 2010.

Last night I checked out a few stores there.

1. When Pigs Fly- gifts, coloring books, gnomes, lanterns, décor, stationary, jewelry, cards, dishware.
2. Chicken scratch- cards, gifts, stationary
3. The Wish List Gifts- décor, paintings, gnomes, cards, Christmas ornaments.
4. Chapters

The first 3 stores were all beside each other, that all sold similar things.  It was still fun to look at.

Sept. 12 Elegant Touches: I went to this place that's by MacEwan.  It turns out it's a rental store where you can rent items to hold weddings like tables and chairs, and other decorative items.

Sept. 17 Deja Vu: The clothing store Deja Vu at WEM closed down.  Unless it moved somewhere else and I don't know about it.

Sept. 18 7-11: I went to the location by Structube on Jasper Ave.  It sold good fried food and donuts at reasonable prices.  The donuts were 99 cents to $1.39.

There were some chips that were 2 for $6 which is reasonable, because that's what Shoppers Drug Mart does too.

Oct. 24 Tile Town: I was biding my time before I was to go to a job interview.  I went into this store.  They sold tiles.   There were lots of varieties.  If you want to decorate your home with tiles, go there.  Good selection.

Nov. 6 The Next Act Pub: I went to this place this week.  It was for a Meetup.  It was fun.  The fries were good.  I had a bit of a donair.  There is a wine menu.

The burgers were like $15.  The place was dark and small.  It was too noisy.  They don't take reservations.

It's a good thing that I got there 15 min. early and told the waiter that there would be about 5 of us. 

Nov. 17: On Aug. 28, I went to 124 st. to pass a resume.  I stopped by at a couple of places.

Macbeth Comics: I went into this store and it's in a basement.  It's small with lots of comics.

Relish Burgers: It's new and it sells $10 burgers and $15 meals.

West Edmonton Mall: It's the holiday season.  I want to go shopping, but I don't want all these crowds.  I'm going to relive my shopping trip on Jan. 11, 2015.  I was biding my time before going to a work party.

1. Bolero Italy- I looked at bags and wallets.
2. Bootlegger
3. Oksana's- prom dresses, kids formal outfits.  Nice, expensive jewellery under the glass.  There was nice floors and chandeliers.  (It has moved to the department stores areas like Sears and the Bay instead of by the sea lions.)
4. FS Skateboards and snowboards- looked at wallets. 

5. Deja Vu- men and women's wear.  I looked at bags and handbags, backpacks. 
6. 1850- women and men's clothes
7. Ugg- new store.  Very expensive.  Good lighting, wooden décor, cozy.

8. H&M- tried perfume.  Bags, jewelry, clothes for men and women, home décor, dishware.  Bright lighting and music.
9. Little Burgundy- bags and jewelry, expensive shoes and scarves. 
10. Swimco- besides swimsuits, there are bags, hats, shoes, clothes for men, women, and kids.

Nov. 18:

11. J Crew- tried perfume.  Display of jewelry on crystals and rocks.  They sell umbrellas and nice jewelry.
12. Banana Republic- tried perfume.  They display jewelry on top of books.
13. American Apparel- you can try on nail polish.  $7.50 each or 3 for $18.  Bright and colorful clothes.  Expensive.  Men and women clothes.  Jewelry is kind of plain gold.  Winter jackets.
14. Old Navy- sells classy and bright jewelry.  Men, women, kids, maternity clothes.

15. London Drugs- look at chips and cookies.
16. Surf co- it was where Alexis Clothing was.  All swimsuits and mainly women.  Now it has moved to downstairs by the sea lions.
17. Helly Hansen- coats, wallets, and lip balm.
18. Biagio Luggage
19. No Excuses: Fragrances for Less- I tried some.  I like Bathy and Body Works perfume where it smells like sugar and fruit.
20. Shoe Comfort- brown, black and leather shoes.

21. Club Monaco- jewelry displayed on white rocks.
22. GNC Live Well- moisturizing cream.
23. Les Saisons Lingerie- $100 robes, very soft.
24. David's Tea- busy.  Ceramic mugs, travel mugs.
25. L 'Occitan En Provence- love smelling perfumes.  Expensive.  I still prefer Bath and Body Works perfume.

26. Sport check- There is a big touch screen to navigate the store.  I looked at backpacks.  They sell PowerAde in fridge.  Interesting cash registers.  Women's clothes, service shop, lots of sports equipment.

27. Bed Bath and Beyond- there is artwork of Superman and Spiderman.  It sells calendars, cards, bridal and gift registry.  It sells some food like candy.  They have automatic door exit to parking lot.  They rearranged that.  It wasn't like that when I was here about 6 months ago. I love the artwork.  They also sell hand soap.

28. Roots- They have a coffee table book that celebrates 40 yrs of Roots.  They have something with the National Film Board of Canada with 75th Anniversary.  I can't really read my notes.  It says David Suzuki sketch of his face on a t-shirt.  There is a stuffed animal of a dog.

29. Motherhood Maternity- I looked at the jewelry.

Nov. 24: I did a little shopping before I was to go to a job interview.

The Italian Place restaurant: The place was nice with wooden tables and cutlery rolled in napkins.

Corrective Skin Care: I went there and asked if they had perfume, but they only had things for hair, purses, wallets, and jewelry.

Nov. 30 Cosumerism: It's the holiday season and I want all of you to have fun shopping, but keep yourself in check.

"Loss leader of the pack": I cut out this article by Rebecca Tucker in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 27, 2015.  I couldn't find the article to paste into her.  You have to look it up on the internet and read the e-edition.

Here's an excerpt:

"...survivalist instinct, mentally processing bargain shopping as though we're gathering necessary goods ahead of a period of potential scarcity.

We also tend to internalize getting a good deal as a sort of personal accomplishment or expression of ability.  As if we've somehow beaten the system."

"Worth digging through": I cut out this article by Terri Schlichenmeyer in the Edmonton Examiner on Aug. 31, 2011.  It's also about consumerism:

“The Consuming Instinct” by Gad Saad
c.2011, Prometheus Books
$25.00 / $29.00 Canada
374 pages, includes index
You weren’t looking for it.

No, you were searching your calendar for something else but as you flipped the pages, there it was: Christmas. It’s coming, and though the weather still says “summer,” you’ll have to start your dreaded gift list soon.

And that list keeps growing, much to your chagrin. So why do you do it? If you read “The Consuming Instinct” by Gad Saad, you’ll see that the right gift – and helping your customers find it - is really a matter of DNA.

Ugh, you just remembered: before Christmas comes, you’ve got three birthdays, a wedding and a baby shower to deal with. Gad Saad says that the decision to give gifts comes from evolution. We’re wired for it; in fact, almost every decision we make winds back to consumerism.

There are, he says, four Darwinian reasons for consuming: survival, reproduction, kin selection (or relationship management) and reciprocity. And no matter what, an “infinite advertising budget” won’t change what our biology says we have to have.

Evolution, for instance, makes us crave foods that are bad for us; furthermore, we’re prone to what scientists call a “variety effect.” The bigger the food variety, the more we eat – and if it’s fatty, our brains think that’s even better. This, says Saad, explains why buffets are so popular, and why there are literally hundreds of choices of breakfast cereals.

Because choosing a mate is “the ultimate consumption decision,” the things we do to attract that SigO are evolutionarily instilled by gender. Men, biologically speaking, use flash to attract females (think: peacocks). Women, on the other hand, shop for “good genes.” In both cases, says Saad, we are hierarchical and are deferential to someone who has “kept up with the Joneses.”

And that gift-giving you struggle with? If it’s courtship-based, it’s loaded with more meaning than, say, the toy you’d buy for your nephew – but gift-giving, whether event-driven or as a you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours reciprocity is the glue that holds our Darwinian-influenced society together
So is this a business book or not? The answer is yes … and no.

The copyright page says it’s about “economics.” Author Gad Saad is a professor of marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. But “The Consuming Instinct” is too steeped in evolutionary science to be of much interest to a businessperson who needs information now.

That doesn’t mean you should pass it up, though.

Take the time to look between the lines of this book and you’ll be rewarded with delightfully droll nuggets of marketing information based in biology. Saad explains why we crave a Ferraris when old beaters will get us to the same destinations. He describes the “Darwinian roots of advertising effectiveness.” And he reveals how color, frequency and voice-over can make or break your ads.

If you have time and want to add science to your business; if you need an excuse to go shopping; or if you wonder why you bother gifting the unappreciative, “The Consuming Instinct” is worth digging through. For you, it’ll be very ho-ho-helpful.