In Conversation With: Sean Aiken of One-Week Job

While we’re all striving to have an awesome time working at one job, I scored an interview with a gentleman you managed to do so with 52 of them over the span of one year!

Introducing Sean Aiken, founder and “do-er” of The One-Week Job Project.  I met Sean last year at a local TEDx event and after hearing about his project, I knew I had to keep up with his adventures.  He’s been featured on several major news outlets (New York Times, CBC, CNN, 20/20, among others) and has authored a book on the subject and documented his story on film as well.  During my conversation with Sean, he discusses the reasons he embarked upon this year long journey and what his results were.  I can tell you that his book about it, entitled (appropriately) The One-Week Job Project is available now at fine bookstores – both online and not-so-online.  He’s also completed his film and was showcasing it at a private premiere this week.  Hopefully it’ll come to a theatre or television near you in the not-too-distant future.

Mike Vardy
You’ve got this site, book, film, etc. that’s based around the concept of One-Week Job. It’s basically about having a different job a week…over the course of an entire year.

Sean Aiken
That’s right. 52 different jobs in 52 weeks.

Mike Vardy
What made you decide to do that?

Sean Aiken
Well, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, so I wanted to try different jobs – see what I liked and didn’t like – and see what I need in a career to be happy.

Mike Vardy
When most people go out looking for work, they go out and look for something in a way that narrows their scope. They want a job in a particular field. In your case, you started with a wide angle to your search. What was the goal? Was the goal for you to find out what you wanted to do or did it have (or end up having) some sort of higher purpose – that people should try everything? Ultimately, what did you set out to accomplish?

Sean Aiken
Well, I think a mistake that a lot people make is that they focus on the end title  – a specific career tile that they are looking for.  They want to be a teacher or a doctor, lawyer, etc. – but they don’t actually think about the characteristics that goes into the job:

  • What’s the lifestyle like?
  • What are the type of people that you”re going to be working with?
  • What’s the work environment like?

So I wanted to start with basically nothing on the table and ask myself things like:

  • What is there that I need in a career to make me happy?
  • How can I start learning about the characteristics that I’d like to have in a career?

Then I could start piecing the puzzle together.

Mike Vardy
So, how long is your resumé now?

Sean Aiken
It would be 52 pages long. (laughs) Actually, I try to sum it up in a couple of pages…but it could be quite extensive.

Mike Vardy
What was the most awesome job you had during the project?

Sean Aiken
I’d say that probably my most awesome job was working at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. It’s a micro-brewery. The people there are incredible – right down from the CEO and the president to the brewery worker. Everybody really loves their job and enjoys working there. Everyone gets treated with respect and basically it’s got the mentality that, “When you’re having fun, we expect you to work your hardest while having the most fun you can. When you’re at work we expect you to work your hardest doing your job.” That mentality trickles down and really does well for them.

Mike Vardy
And at the end of the day you don’t have to go anywhere to have a beer.

Sean Aiken
Yeah. That was awesome, too.

Mike Vardy
Since you were only at each job for one week, I have to ask: How many “Going Away” party banners did you end up collecting?

Sean Aiken
(laughs) Several. There were several of them. I definitely don’t think I could have kept that up for a full year.

Mike Vardy
So, 52 jobs later…52 weeks later…what job did you eventually realize was for you?

Sean Aiken
You’ll have to read the book to find out!

(I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Sean and any feedback on whether you’d like me to do more interviews down the road would be, well, awesome!  If you would like to see more of this sort of thing, any suggestions of those you’d like to read an “In Conversation With” would be greatly appreciated.  The sky’s the limit when it comes to those suggestions – so let ‘em rip!)

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