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Sean Aiken speaks to CHSS students about trying 52 jobs in 52 weeks

October 18, 2019

GUELPH, Ontario – “What should I do with my life?”

That one question that is asked so many times of us in our lives was the topic of conversation among College Heights Secondary School students on Friday, but not in the way you may expect.

On Oct. 18, CHSS students heard about careers in fashion, the Canadian Air Force, yoga and wellness, firefighting, real estate and more. The catch? All that advice had come from the same person.

Sean Aiken, creator of The One Week Job Project, visited the school to share his whirlwind of a year with students.

In response to the often nagging and anxiety-inducing question “What should I do with my life,” Aiken worked 52 jobs in 52 weeks in order to discover his passion. He travelled more than 74,000 km, slept on countless couches and raised more than $20,000 for charity.

On Tuesday, Aiken tackled the question “What do I want to be when I grow up” by reframing it.

It was a question that always perplexed him as a child – he started to think that he’d have to become someone else when he got older. Aiken spoke to students about the importance society places on that one question. As kids, we often take it as an opportunity to imagine and dream. But once you get to high school, it becomes a much more serious question.

Over the course of his year, trying dozens of different jobs, one week at a time, Aiken learned many things.

First, it’s okay not to know. He explained to students that it’s good to try different things, see what you like and don’t like.

It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone. Many other people feel like they are searching as well. And to that end, it’s okay to ask for help. He asked students to raise their hands if they like to ask for help. Hardly anyone put their hands up. But when asked, “who likes to help other people?” nearly every person in the auditorium raised their hand. Something to remember the next time you feel stuck is to ask for help, he said.

By far, the most important thing he learned is to put yourself out there. Try out as many things as you can. Use this time when you’re in school to try out and learn about the things you’re interested in. Don’t wait for years to decide if it’s right for you or not – try it now, through an internship, an apprenticeship or by reaching out to someone working in the industry. 

Students also heard about different job experiences he tried out, including a fashion buyer, yoga instructor, firefighter, NHL mascot, and real life cowboy.

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