A journey to finding your passion

Queen’s Career Services in conjunction with Queen’s Alumni Association hosts motivational speaker Sean Aiken

Upon graduation, Aiken decided to complete 52 jobs in 52 weeks to find his true calling. His project became a movement for students everywhere.
Upon graduation, Aiken decided to complete 52 jobs in 52 weeks to find his true calling. His project became a movement for students everywhere.

Most people dream of doing what they are passionate about on a daily basis. For Sean Aiken, the dream is a reality.

After graduating from Capilano College in Vancouver, with degree in Business Administration, Aiken didn’t know what career path to pursue. He decided to start The One Week Job Project.

Aiken tried out 52 jobs in 52 weeks, and donated all wages earned to the ONE/ Make Poverty History campaign. At the end of his 52 weeks, he had donated a total of $20,401.60.

“I knew I wanted to be happy. I didn’t want sit [at work] on Sunday night, as many people that are in situations like that do. I wanted to figure out what I needed to be happy,” he said.

This desire led him to set up the website ‘One Week Job’ where anyone could offer him a job for a week. In cities throughout North America, Aiken often stayed with people he knew or with his temporary employers. His travel and accommodations were usually covered by sponsors, who approached Aiken upon hearing about the idea; this allowed for all the wages he had earned to be donated.

Among other things, Aiken worked as a mascot, a mayor, a pizza maker, a brewmaster and a photographer. His favorite jobs during the year included working as a fashion buyer and as an air force pilot.

“Being a fashion buyer in New York, it was fun week. I really enjoyed the woman who I worked with. Her name was Mercedes and she had two dogs named, Gucci and Prada,” he said.

Aiken had himself filmed on the job site. The videos are on his website, but many of them were also used for a documentary called “One Week Job” which aired on CBC, following the release of his book in 2010.

“After my experience, I’ve discovered that my passion is to explore and help people,” he said. “A lot of people think ‘I want to be a doctor or teacher’ but it’s not a job that they are actually passionate about.”

Aiken, who has now decided to go into teaching, said students should try out a range of interests and take advantage of opportunities such as internships, person-shadowing and part-time jobs to learn more about their preferred career choice.

“A lot of students, they don’t know what they want to do after graduation and its okay not to know,” he said, while Aiken is currently pre-occupied with a North American motivational speaking tour, he plans to become a high school teacher.

Career counselor Paul Bowman told The Journal via email that his office worked with the Queen’s Student Alumni Association to bring Aiken to campus yesterday to speak about his experiences. .

“He’s been pretty up-front about what he’s learned from this project and I think students will appreciate his openness and honesty,” he said.

“Students will relate because like many of them, when he graduated Sean felt overwhelmed by all the options and possibilities that faced him. The One Week Job project was his way of working through all those questions and issues by stepping outside of his comfort zone,” he said.

“Many students keep these issues to themselves and don’t even talk about it with close friends – there are thousands of people on campus who are exploring these questions but there are not too many places where people feel safe to be open about it."

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