OWJ Program

Chapter-Closing Words.

Around three months ago, I set out with one major desire. As a One-Week Job (OWJ) participant, I sought to be an ordinary woman who achieved something extraordinary. I believe I did that. People ask me if it was everything I dreamed of, and I tell them yes. Yes, it was.

I mean, yeah, there were times that sucked.

My twitter account tells me that most of those times happened to be while on the Greyhound. Irritable tweets, oopsies. But I wouldn't trade all my experiences with public transportation for anything. After all, I chose to bus across the country for a reason, and many of the people I met every weekend on my journey had no other options. I am a fortunate human being.

I was tired all the time. I never seemed to get enough sleep. My eating schedule was a mess. And sometimes I felt lonely because I was constantly “the new person.” The combination of these three things gave my mind and body some serious pressure. But I got to meet loads of unique and passionate people, whose kindness humbled me daily. This is all I needed to deem OWJ my personal eight-week holiday. I got free meals, free beds, and free wisdom. I am a fortunate human being.

Organizing EVERYTHING was a ton to handle. Adaptability was crucial to continuing on with the journey, and it was so hard to stay focused and upbeat during some moments. But at least I got the chance to have these wonderful trips to organize. Not many could say the same.

I...am a fortunate human being.

I could keep trying to find all the worst parts about my time with the One-Week Job Program, but aside from the growth I got from them, I don't care to speak of them much.

Because I did it. I finished the Program and I did so with all the strength I had in me. And that's all that matters.

People are just people. They shouldn't make you nervous.”


The best part of it all is that I didn't do it alone. You (the reader, the employer, the voter, the host, the supporter, the OWJ Program itself ) were with me the entire time. You gave me an opportunity to feel loved, encouraged, capable, “powerful beyond measure”...all that good stuff.

I am overwhelmed by the thought that I may never be able to repay You fully. But if there's one big lesson I learned through One-Week Job, it is that it can be a beautiful thing to receive as it is to give, because sometimes, by receiving, you are giving.

You are giving the gift of trust.

It was something completely new for me, but I trusted You entirely, and it was the best thing I could've done. You gave me more hope and more gumption, and a stronger ability to love and cherish the world - everything it has to offer us. Now, I truly feel as if I can do anything. I did what I had said I was gonna do. I've practiced what I have preached and I will continue to do so. That is riveting to me...for me. And for You.

And this new growth You've given to me is so timely, seeing as I need it for my current...what do they call it...oh yes - “job search.”

You were probably wondering that too – what I'm doing now, “what's next.” Well, I don't know what will come for me. I don't know. But I've been without all the answers many a time before, and things have worked out so...okay, I'll tell you what is next:

...“Great things.”

That's what I tell people nowadays, and they laugh. No really what's next, they ask. Really – great things, I respond. And now, when I meet new people and they ask me to tell them what I'm really all about, I say:

My name is Michelle, and I’m a 22-year-old college graduate who majored in Psychology. I like dancing, music, green tea, showers, deep discussions, and people. I’m also an avid learner, which is why I have a serious habit of googling everything .

I like dogs. I used to avoid them, but I see now that they really can be a personal therapist. I still don't know how to swim after all these years, but I desperately want to. I will learn! I don't fear water anymore, so that's good. I'm not the best cook, but I love experimenting and most of the time, my creations are edible. I'm trying to get better.

I like coffee, and I like it black. I'm less self-conscious about my body than I used to be. I've decided that this is the only body I've got and I'm doing my best with it...you don't have to look if you don't want to. I want to, so there. I like being outside in the fresh air. I feel closer to my spirit when I'm not indoors. Natural light makes me feel productive. I think bike riding is mandatory in paradise.

Driving calms me down.

I love music and reading. I love interacting with people, and discovering who they are, what makes them happy. I believe I can help more people be themselves just by asking them the right questions, listening to them at the right moments. Being there for them.

I want as many people to be happy as possible, because I think it'll bring us real close to world peace.

I desire truthfulness in everything, and I'll pursue it for as long as I live.

I dream a lot, and then I work hard to make my dreams a reality. No matter what.

...One summer, I traveled the country for eight weeks, doing a different job each week. It was the most wonderful time.

Haha, oh GEEZ...you wanna know what the experience meant to me? Well, I'd say that:

...I know I am brave enough to follow through."

I like my new self-description. Has a lot more "meat" than the old one, don't you think? If You haven't gotten the message yet, I have One-Week Job to thank for the upgrade in me. The "upgrade in me" - mmm! Tastes good.

Well, i thank You all for everything. I can't say "thank you" enough, so I won't try to. But one last time: Thank You. I'll miss all of this very, very much.

This is not a Goodbye! Just a See You Soon...


Wanna get in touch? Talk to me!

email: michelle dot attah at gmail dot com

twitter: twitter dot com slash itsninson

Last Last Day: Thanks For Tuning In :)

Recap Time. On my final day of One-Week Job, I was a little nervous. When I got to the studio, I couldn't find Niblett. The turnaround between radio shows is very quick; I had become used to only having five minutes to relax in the studio before going on air. However, I had also become used to Niblett running around, using those five minutes to prepare.

At six minutes to 6pm, he was nowhere to be found.

I sat in my chair and waited, pretending to write something on my notepad. I started to wonder what I was to do if 6pm were to hit. Maybe I should go find someone, I thought. Two minutes later, Niblett came through the door, confirming that I had internally overreacted for nothing. He was carrying all of his belongings, and wearing a Candy 95 Polo shirt and a grin.

I was relieved that I wasn't going to have to do the last show alone, but I was curious about the routine changes. During talk breaks, Nibs told me what was up.

A DJ's time isn't always spent in an official studio. Sometimes a DJ does remote broadcasting, which is on-air broadcasting from any place outside a studio. Certain businesses or organizations can request this type of broadcasting, so any event they may be holding can gain more awareness. DJs can also show up to certain events sans broadcasting. As I said in the previous post, DJs are public figures, and while many people hate public figures, many people love them.

And kids, of all people, LOVE public figures, ESPECIALLY DJs.

Earlier that day, Niblett and other Candy DJs went to Grand Station Entertainment, a local bowling and lazer tag place, to eat and bowl with a group of young kids. That was why he came into the studio a little late. I'm not sure what group the children were from, but Niblett made it clear to me that they had to deal with way more than they should be at their age.

It was a rare and special day for the kids, because they got to relax, have some fun, and “be normal” for once. Niblett told me how much fun he had playing with and getting to know each and every one of the kids, and how he felt like he was being meaningful with his time:

They were so excited to meet me and hang out with me. And the feeling was instantly and naturally mutual. I felt like I was doing something real good. I'm so glad you were here for me to talk about this, Michelle. This is the reason I do radio. To be in a position where I can give back in this way. This is the reason.”


Niblett showed me a paper plate that had all the kids' name on it; he planned to give a shout-out to all of them when he got a chance. He rewrote all the names on another sheet of paper so he could make sure everyone was accounted for. The whole thing was so cute to hear and witness. Niblett is a guy with a ton of energy, but the energy he was emitting on my last day was something new. I fed off of it, and we had a smooth show full of laughs and healthy drama.

The entire night went by quickly and normally, as good experiences always seem to. In what seemed like an hour but was really five, my OWJ journey ended. What was next? I had no idea.

I rarely do. :)

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

  1. I wish I had been in a position where I could have contributed more. There wasn't really a lot I could do in terms of clip editing and program organization because I lacked specific skills.
  2. Working in the evenings is a little tricky. You get to sleep in extremely late, but you end up feeling lazy somewhere around 6pm because of the traditional work day ingrained in our minds and bodies. Because I didn't have a lot of other things to do during the day, I would end up searching for things to do to fill my time until my shift began. Also, everyone else ends work when you begin, so it's hard to coordinate schedules and hang out. I think I prefer to work hard during the day (not necessarily all day or at specific times), and play at night. If I have to work at night, I'd want to work extremely late, like 2am. I focus better when others are asleep.
  3. I don't do well with illusions. Everyone in radio/television/film/music knows that there are a LOT of “tricks of the trade.” It's similar to when you have your favorite celebrity and you discover parts of them that you thought were real are completely fabricated. Some people's lives are ruined when they stumble upon these truths. And if you think you know it all, you probably don't. Or you probably don't want to know. Accordingly, there is the “illusion of radio” that simply has to be kept, otherwise the sound is no longer as fresh and entertaining. There is a persona that has to be maintained. It has nothing to do with being “fake,” it's just how things are done. Whatever work I want to do, I want to be able to share the heck out of it with people as much as I can. There are limits to that vision with radio work. Kind of the reason for the repeated pictures. ;) Shh it's a secret.
  4. The routine level is too high. You have to come in at a specific time, and you have to play specific songs, among other things. I think those requirements would incite some ennui in me after some time.
  5. Night radio presents itself in quick and short periods. I'm not a quick thinker – well not THAT quick. Niblett's ability to come up with clever comebacks within 5 seconds on air will never cease to amaze me. The same goes for his ability to edit sound clips of phone calls to air in minutes. That kind of work is something that would stress me out, which is probably the reason for the giggling instead of trying to match wits with Niblett. I like to talk and discuss for longer than a few minutes...no one wants that at night. :)
  6. I don't want to be in a job where I'm working alone. Niblett usually works the 6pm to 11pm shift all by himself, and I imagine that after a few years, time would start to pass extremely slowly because you have no one else to talk to. I simply need a lot of face-to-face (F2F) interaction if I'm going to be working. With breaks, of course. But I can't give people up altogether. :)

What did you like about the job?

  1. I liked being in a position where I could spread love and I knew that a good amount of people were listening. I'm referencing Niblett's experience with the kids, but I got some stories myself. Being a DJ was just another fun experience for me. I never thought I was a celebrity or anything, or that anyone was actually listening. However, in the end, it was surprising to hear/read how many people were listening to my voice. It was pretty cool to find out.
  2. Being able to give shout-outs on air was awesome. I got to return support to some of the people who helped me get into the One-Week Job Program. It warmed my heart so much to be able to give back in such a small way. It made me think about all the good I could do in the world, and those types of thoughts never get old for me.
  3. I liked interacting with people via the radio station SMS account and phone calls too. I liked being surrounded by opinions. But again, calls and texts wouldn't be enough for me. I'd need some F2F.
  4. I liked being on the air just to be on the air! When I wasn't giggling, I was comfortable with the microphone, and that was both exciting and encouraging. A lot of people would find that type of exposure daunting; I was pleased that I took on the task with relative ease. It's always nice not to suck at something.
  5. To oppose the routine level comment, I do like SOME routine. I said this during week # 6. Pop (music) is priceless and necessary, in my opinion, for its simplicity, contagiousness, and requirement for dancing. Being surrounded by music every minute of work kept my mood up.
  6. Lastly, the thing I liked most about being a Radio DJ was having a co-host. Excuse me – BEING a co-host. Having someone to talk to whenever I wanted. :D I loved talking with Niblett constantly and getting to know about his life, talking about tons of topics. It was like an instant friendship for me. Did I mention I need this sort of thing in my job?

What lessons did you learn from being a radio DJ / Week 8?

  1. "Stay humble, no matter who you are." - Niblett. People will like you more.
  2. No news is good news. The public has opinions, and some people will call your manager to report you for something just because they don't like what you said on the radio. Some people will call your manager to praise you, but it's less likely. Therefore, it's better to not hear anything at all.
  3. Shake it off. For those in the spotlight, you have a responsibility to speak your own thoughts, and to respect others'. Unfortunately and once more, some people are behind and cannot comprehend fundamental civility. These types of people will seem to quadruple if you work in the entertainment industry. Recognize this, and take everything lightly. Heated responses are futile and immature in most cases.
  4. However, don't become heartless or crazy because you keep all your feelings inside. You can have feelings. Balance is key. Do what you need to do.
  5. Someone's probably listening. Or someone will. Speak on. This goes beyond radio waves. Think love and happiness and human connection and things like that.
  6. Be patient. Don't assume things. Ever. There's always more to people, to their stories. Make the commitment to listen, just like they're probably willing to listen to you.

Oh wow. These lessons make it seem as if I went back to the basics of “how to make friends and love people”, the stuff that you learn when you start going to school. "Share" and that stuff. I suppose we all need that refresher course every few years. It is easy to forget patience and love and all that when you hate what you spend most of your time doing. :)

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week job?

Yes, I would, but probably on a morning talk show and less often. Maybe once or twice a week? Five times a week might be too much for me.

A big "THANK YOU!!!!!" to the big boss, Alli, from “Morning Candy with Frito and Alli” for giving the final “okay” for me to work with Candy.

And to Niblett:

If my words from my time with you didn't convey it enough, I respect you a lot. Thank you for letting me steal your thunder a bit. Thank you for refilling my water cup so many times, you're a true gentleman. Thank you for the many votes of confidence. Thank you for being you. I had a "blast" hanging out and just TALKING with you for five days. I definitely consider you a friend, so:


Reflection Time.

The value of voice revealed itself to me a lot during Week #8. I found that the voice I needed to work as a radio DJ was both literal and figurative. In a quick attempt to process my eight weeks, I admitted to myself that my voice matters.

Moreover, I admitted to myself that I never fully believed in my abilities to effect change. I've always been a proponent of every individual's...individuality, doing all that I could to encourage as many people as possible to speak their mind.

But I wasn't practicing what I was preaching. I was spending most of my time helping others, while I was letting myself drown. My esteem was not at the level it should have been, evident in the amount of fear and doubt that was consuming me in my past.

Saying and doing are not the same thing, and with One-Week Job...everything about One-Week Job made all my thoughts, ideas, and hopes a reality. It confirmed that my "power beyond measure."

I'm so very grateful and fortunate for this breakthrough, and I know I may have to be reminded of it when things aren't as easy.

You know...i should be whatever i want. i should say whatever i want. i should do whatever i want. i should live well, and i should live unashamedly. So i will. My voice matters, and someone will listen to me when i speak. Not just hear. Someone already does. That's enough for me "to not just exist, but be alive." Our lives are too short to keep quiet. I'm getting all “Gen Y” here but simply put...

Express Yourself.

Find out what that means. Look for Yourself. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to do so.

And when You're expressing, express excessively. These actions should hurt no one.

And if they do, that's THEIR problem.

Those who mind don't matter.

You know the rest. :D


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Amanda's One Week Job Summary - Part 1 of 3

Well.  Here it is.  The end of my One Week Job adventure across Canada. So much has happened over the last 8 weeks!  So many people, so many cities, so many jobs!  I'd like to take this opportunity to THANK EVERYONE who helped me along the way.  Whether you were a voter, an employer, a co-worker, a family-member, a friend, or even a stranger who read my blog - it's because of YOU that I'm here, and it's because of YOU that I had this crazy opportunity.

To Sean and Ian - you guys are hilarious, and it was so great to meet you during my time in Vancouver.  Thank you for welcoming me into this adventure and being brave enough to create such a project in the first place.  I've learned so much - about myself, and the work force in general.

This blog is my attempt to take all the lessons I've learned, and bring them together into some sort of cohesive lesson-plan.  I will include my gut-reactions, job satisfactions, and any sort of future projections that I happened to see in my job-choice-o-the-week

Week 1 - Photographer: Toronto, ON

My first week was spent doing something I have legitimately cared about for a long, long time.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love to take photographs.

Gut Reaction: I was gonna LOVE this week.  But the challenge was: How could I translate my love of pictures into an actual career?

Lessons Learned: Enter Henrietta Haniskova and her constant hilarity!  To work in this industry, you not only have to have the creativity - but you have to possess the technical knowledge necessary to produce a quality project.  The lesson I learned most from Henrietta though, was that of persistence. If you recall, when she was first starting out in the 'biz, she heard the word NO fairly often: "No, you're a girl." "No, you don't have enough experience." etc, etc.  She took all those NO's and kept pushing through them.  Then, there we were: a hot day in June 2010, I was shadowing Henrietta as she shot photos for a national drug store chain's website!  I have no doubt that this woman will become one of the heavy-hitters in the photography industry.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: It was great seeing the ins and outs of the pre-production involved in a shoot, but sometimes I worry if I would be able to bend so much for an advertising client.  Of course, that's where the money is - but I wonder if I'd get frustrated by having someone else tell me how and what to shoot.  The freelance world is a tricky one, but it does allow for some freedoms.  In the end, I was satisfied.

Future Projections: I love photography, and will keep shooting my own prints.  This summer I had the opportunity to do Wedding photos for a couple friends, which turned out very well.  If I can organize myself properly, I think I could make a solid GO of family/event/small business photography, with a little artsy shooting on the side.

Week 2 - Coffee Shop: Toronto, ON

My second week was spent as a local barista at Pennylicks Gourmet Cafe in the trendy Kensington district of Toronto.

Gut Reaction: Nervous, but excited.  I didn't want to let the owners down, or waste any of the store's milk on my 'frothing attempts!'

Lessons Learned: I chatted with the owner, Steve, about what it takes to open a small business and what goes into making an amazing cup of coffee.  I learned how to froth milk, deal with crazy customers, and that most people don't enjoy HOT drinks during a heat wave ;)  Steve was gracious in letting me spend the week with the Pennylicks team, and made me realize just how much of your life you have to commit to operating your own business.  Location, quality, and staff were all key points to the success of an independent coffee shop.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I didn't get as much time practicing drinks as I'd hoped.  The heat wave in Toronto that week is probably what did it, but there weren't too many people out searching for steaming-hot beverages in 40C weather!  But I did enjoy learning about the business/life-style side of things from Steve, and actually spending time at the shop.  The coffee was great, the team was fun, and the customers kooky - what more could I ask for?!

Future Projections: I've often thought about running my own coffee shop one day, and owning a place for people to unite and create.  This week taught me that I CAN do this, and to go out on a limb with you and with myself: one day, I will.

Week 3 - Butcher Shop: Beaverlodge, AB

Now THIS week was a bit out of my comfort zone!  It was definitely a week that I'd been looking forward to, and I wasn't disappointed.  Bob and Laurie from the Beaverlodge Butcher Shop welcomed me and put me to work right off the bat, and I felt like I was working for them as opposed to simply shadowing.

Gut Reaction: I was going to see guts...and oh, did I ever...

Lessons Learned: 1. Know where your food comes from. and 2. Take PRIDE in your work. The satisfaction the team got from doing a great job was apparent while they worked.  It's such a simple lesson, but Take Pride!  This is the difference between simply doing your job and doing a GREAT job.  Also, the more you respect your employers, the harder you want to work for them.  Integrity is kind of a big deal...

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I legitimately felt like I was contributing to the final product - whether it was making sausage links (not so good at that), or wrapping beef jerky (oh-so tasty), I was part of the team.  I enjoyed talking with every employee there, and learned a lot about the meat production industry.

Future Projections: Not so sure I'll start up my own butcher shop, but I definitely appreciate the meat I eat and where it came from!  And I'll also be sure to stop in to the Butcher Shop and get my fill of jerky every time I visit...

Week 4 - Yoga: Calgary, AB

Oh yoga!  Now, where's my mat...?

Gut Reaction: Ready. Pumped. I've practiced yoga for a few years now, but needed to know if it was something I could be serious about career-wise.

Lessons Learned: This week was my most chilled-out, yet taxing week to date!  I was stressed at the beginning because of travel-plans, but felt it melt away under the guidance of the yogi's at Moksha Yoga Calgary .  I practiced every day that week, something both my body and mind desperately needed.  Physically, I felt great!  I was healthy, awake, and nimble.  Emotionally, it gave me a place to rest my thoughts and try to practice what studio owner/teacher Lisa Whitford taught me: One of the goals of yoga is to take the grace you use on your mat, and bring it into your everyday life. This is what true yoga practice is all about - not just your physical well-being, but your day-to-day practice as a human being.

Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: I loved greeting people as they came in to their practice.  Everyone was looking forward to time on their mats, which led to high customer satisfaction ;)  Even the cleaning I had to do was fairly simple: mop the floors, wash the towels, and clean the bathrooms.  

Future Projections: I can see myself getting my teaching certificate after practicing for a few more years.  I feel like I should learn more about my own practice before teaching others about theirs.

----- CLICK to check out Amanda's Summary - Part 2 of 3 to hear about Weeks 5- 8! -----

Spotlight Stress

Hi. :) It's been awhile - missed You all! I know you're curious, so let me just tell you that overall, i traveled roughly 8619 miles and 139 hours during the first session of the One-Week Job Program! If you do some dividing and...thinking, you'll see that when I say "rough"ly, I mean it, but it's a good estimate.

Dang, I traveled a lot this summer.

Yes, I'm proud of myself. :D But on to more details about my eighth one-week job:

While working in the studio with Niblett for a week, one thing fascinated me a lot, and that was the response from the listeners. At Candy 95, listeners can interact with the radio station in two major ways. First, they can call in. This method is the most common for radio stations, and most people call in to request their favorite song, in hopes that it will play on the radio. Second, listeners can text the radio station with whatever thoughts they have. I personally had never heard of the second method until I worked at Candy, but I don't listen to the radio all the time, so who knows.

Since Bryan-College Station isn't the biggest area, in addition to the fact that I was in the studio the week before the week before classes were to start, things were slower than usual. Calls into the studio were extremely few, and most of the texts we received were from pre-teens who were trying to be rebellious by letting someone know that they were staying up past their bedtime. Very funny stuff. But, regardless of who was contacting the station, the content wasn't always nice. Some people really take things personally!

I mentioned earlier how Niblett and most night-time Radio Djs have only seconds to entertain at a time. Therefore, it makes sense to try to get and keep a listener's attention with outlandish or controversial topics. All the Top 40 DJs I listened to at night were always very opinionated, and I'd find myself waiting a few minutes before turning the radio off, just because I wanted to hear the DJ talk about the responses he/she had received. Mission accomplished for the DJ in that regard! I often had my own viewpoints on whatever matter was being discussed, but I never cared enough to get riled up. I always saw it as entertainment, nothing less.

But during Week #8, things were different. I was no longer listening – I was talking. People were listening to me. I was the one bringing the topics to the table, to the people, and having to hear and read their thoughts about me. If people had something negative to say, I kind of felt as if I was part of the receiving end, even though Niblett was in control, so responses were directed at him. Yes, there were encouraging statements, but some comments were unnecessarily rude. One or two came close to threatening, and being at a studio until 11pm, the wrong person might not be able to handle that sort of thing. Niblett could. Did. Has. Having worked for Candy 95 for about six years, he was unfazed, calling it “part of the job.” He was so cool about it all that I never really felt sorry for him, just appreciated what he did more.

Because it made me think.

It made me think about all the times I've been quick to judge a public figure. As I said earlier, most of the time I love to observe and just listen, but if I'm feeling feisty/hyper/whatever, I'll be quick to judge. I mean, it's easy, and it's my right. You know what I mean. Especially when You're with some friends and everything's all exciting and fun, and you want to keep the high-energy mood going and seem not-boring so You're all like:

Gee, who IS this girl on TV? What a horrible voice. Is that a unibrow?”

Everyone laughs and nods their heads. So true. She's so right.

And so on and so forth. And opinions are fun. Opinions are great. Sometimes we inflate our opinions and sometimes we are who we are. But if that DJ or actress or football player or whoever was sitting in your living room or car with You, would You make the same remarks then? Is it foolish to even think about such a thing, because the person elected to put himself/herself in the "limelight"? In other words, he/she is asking to be judged from every angle because he/she chose that profession, and he/she should just deal with whatever comes his/her way?

Nibs is cool

If ever You meet a public figure and get to know him/her personally, You will find it hard not to think twice about these things. It's not really fun to be judged every time You go to work. Or is it? Maybe some people enjoy it, need it. I don't know.

I had to deal with pressure from the "public" myself, trying to win this One-Week Job opportunity. In asking for votes, I went all out (I seriously did it all), and while I got lots and lots of love, I got lots and lots of hate. I was all proud of myself, going out and asking for help, thinking I was being humble. But some people thought I was selfish and only out for personal gain, so with the endless positivity, I received hate e-mail, tweets, and door slams in the face. I put myself out there, so I got all sorts of things back.

I'm not going to lie, that week of voting was so draining for me that I couldn't stop myself from being negatively affected – even though it was clear that I was loved and supported by the majority. I couldn't shake the feeling that some people really wanted me to lose. Why did I feel this way, and why did I care? Because I'm human. But could I really blame the haters? After all, I had invaded their routine, whatever that involved. They didn't know my whole story, they didn't know any better...so I should just let it go every time, right? I...I don't know.

I thought about all of this all during Week #8, and I had an even more horrifying thought, more than the possibility of [insert name of celebrity I can't stand] hearing me gossip about him/her. I thought:

It's quite possible that I had heard Niblett on the radio myself during my early college years, in a car with good friends, and had made some passing, biting remark about him or whatever he was talking about at the time.

It's possible.

And then I began to feel bad about this hypothetical happening that I wasn't even sure had occurred, because I do that. I was just thinking, innocently. I very well could have done this. And there I was in a studio, with a guy who I may have judged a few years ago, just like so many other listeners, and only after hearing his voice. Until that week, I didn't know his real name, I didn't know his thoughts about life, how many siblings he had, if any. I knew nothing about Niblett until he let me co-host with him, and after that, I concluded that he was a kind and amazingly talented human being.

So WHERE is that line of response/judgment/assessment? Does any of this even matter? Is it our responsibility to think this much about this subject? We're the entertainees – should we be be thinking at all? Even if we're asked our opinion by a “personality”, should we still take the necessary effort to be respectful of his/her viewpoint?

Remember in my first week, when I asked You how often You critically examine the media you're exposed to? Good. Well, at that point, I was speaking more about graphic things - advertisements, logos, not necessarily people. And I was talking about how important it is to do our research and think before we act on what we see in the media, because those things often affect so many aspects of our lives, of our existence.

Public figures and celebrities, on another hand, are different. They're people. Just like us. So maybe we should “critically examine” aka be slow to judge people we see in the media, because they have feelings too. We should do it by giving them a break.

Or maybe not.

So What About You?

What do You think about everything I just talked about?

If You didn't gather already, my answer to this question is a shameless "I don't know." Mostly because I’m more interested to hear what You have to say! As usual. And don't worry about hurting my feelings. ;)

Talk to meh, I won’t be here for much longer!


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The Grand Finale: Job #8

I can't believe it... I worked 8 jobs for a week each and it's over! To be honest, I'm a bit relieved. It's also a bit unnerving since I'm back to the dilemma of "what's next." This summer has been extraordinary. Before I start on a soapbox about it, let me share about job #8.

This week, I was in my hometown of Cleveland, TN, working with At Your Service, a small printing business. At Your Service is a one man operation, consisting of printing genius Stan Pegram. Stan and I met when I worked at Scott's Bike Shop earlier in the summer. After hearing about his work that week, I ordered a shirt from him. I was blown away by the quality of my custom Boise State jersey so naturally, I wanted to work with Stan for a week!

Stan specializes in sublimation printing. Unlike screenprinting and other types of printing that print on top of the surface, sublimating gets the ink into the fiber of the shirt. Besides printing shirts, Stan also offers really cool photo gifts that can be customized with logos, graphics, or photos.

When he wakes up in the morning, Stan has an easy stroll to work: his workspace is his 1200 square foot basement! It's really a cool set-up with the computer, the heat presses, mug presses, and samples of his past work.

On Monday, I started my job with Stan and learned more about how he got into the business. Oddly enough, the business grew out of his wife's love for quilting. To make a long story short, Stan's wife saw really unique quilts that had sublimated printing on them. After sharing with Stan, Stan researched, bought the gear, and started doing projects for people in the community.

Some of his most popular items are name badges. In hospitals, offices, meetings, and more, name badges are worn. Stan makes really classy looking badges!

Why did I choose this job? (working as a printer)

When I met Stan earlier in the summer, we hit it off. He's the sweetest man you've ever met and I was intrigued by his home-based business. As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, I knew I would really benefit from spending more time learning from Stan.

It's interesting to note that the employer played a major role in the job that I chose for my final week. Sometimes in life, you are going to have the opportunity to work with a really great person. The job itself might not be your forte' or something that revs you up, but it might be worth taking the job to learn.

So, to get back to answering the question. I chose the job so I could work and learn from Stan, not because I absolutely love printing things. Fair enough?

Monday Recap:

First, Stan showed me how he prepares graphics and text on his laptop. He uses CorelDraw software to edit his graphics and then prints them.

Stan received a huge order for car dash plates for an antique car show. I'm not  very informed about car shows, but each attendee receives a dash plate to recognize their presence at the show. Stan had to print 400 for the show!

The bottom picture shows Stan taping the plates to the paper that has the image to be transferred. After he tapes the plates on, they are placed in a hot press for 60 seconds. After cooling off, they're done!

It was a busy first day and I did loads of taping! I had fun though and learned a lot.

Stay posted for more details about my week at the printer!

-Kieley Best

“Can You Hear Me Now?” – Week #8: Radio DJ

"HOWDY!" from College Station, Texas!

For those of you who have never heard of the place, it is the home of the Texas A&M Aggies, and the place where I earned my undergraduate degree.

This week, I've been co-hosting with Radio DJ Niblett of Candy 95! I'll be ending the Program as I started: In a laid-back fashion (Remember when I worked with a virtual company during Week #1??). My blogs this last week will follow that atmosphere. Each day, I've been working the nightshift: 6pm to 11pm CDT.

Night radio is a lot different from radio at any other time. You have fewer people in the car, and as result, less outside interactions with listeners and less time to develop character and emotions. A night Radio DJ has to rely a LOT on quick and funny bits to keep listeners listening. It's not easy at all. The wrong person could easily buckle under the pressure of having to constantly be on their toes.

As Niblett's co-host, my job is pretty easy, I have to admit. My reading material is QUITE different from that of last week. Celebrity gossip can never be compared to the history of the Glen Canyon Dam. At least once a day, I read a "breaking" news story. One story was about some guys who dressed up as ninjas and robbed a Manhattan jewelry store on a Sunday at 2pm. Another story was about a man who violated his ex-wife's restraining order by adding her on Facebook. Real foolishness that you can't stop listening to, basically.

In addition to reading stories and discussing the One-Week Job Program on the air, I laugh a lot. At least 50% of my time on the radio has been me of giggling. I've surprised myself with this. My goal throughout the week has been to lower that percentage. Not succeeding...so far, being back in my college hometown has been relaxing. It's been nice to hang out with old friends and work at the same time. I didn't work a lot while I was in school, and in addition to working at night, this week has been new in a crazy way.

Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you how I even made it to College Station, Texas.

Looking for transportation to my job last week was not easy because, well...you saw where Page is. The only way to get to the town is by car or plane. The planes are itty-bitty, just like the airport, andddd it can cost 300 bucks for a 1.5 hour flight. Ridiculous. As I said in another post, I was lucky that my friend, Katie, had just moved to Phoenix and was willing to drive for so long so I could get to my seventh one-week job. However, the weekend after my job ended, she wasn't available.

I did as much as I could do to find a ride from, which wasn't a lot, so I finally used craigslist. The next closest major Arizonan town to Page is 2.5 hours south - Flagstaff, Arizona. The greyhound bus stops here, so I made that my focus for ridesharing. I got a response right away, but I killed that connection quickly. The guy hadn't even read the details of my posting, and just wanted to make extra money beyond gas. The way he was talking, he could've just driven up, taken my money, and taken off with my belongings when I wasn't looking. I followed my gut feeling that told me to run far away fast, which was a good move on my part, I believe.

Something told me to post on the Phoenix site as well, even though I would be asking for someone to do what Katie did essentially: drive alone from Phoenix 5 hours to Page and pick me up, then drive south 2.5 hours and drop me off at Flagstaff, then drive back to their home in Phoenix. Also, since I was trying to catch a 2:00pm bus, the person would have to leave at 6:30am at the latest from Phoenix. It was a long shot.

I also kept checking for ride offer postings, and the morning of my last day as a river guide, I saw a possibility:

"I am offering a clean comfortable mid-sized suv to move you and/or your things. Insured, prompt, reasonable rates, all with a smile. Drop me an email with your itinerary and I will respond. Appreciate the business!"

The person indicated that his/her location was "all over." I was running late, and I had no other option, so I sent an email. Now Sean may have been less likely to think twice about finding a ride this way, but if you were previously unaware, Amanda, Kieley, and I are ladies. Unfortunately, we have to be extra careful when we look for places to work and sleep. Someone's gotta have a knife around here, I thought to myself. I'll be just fine.

But obviously all news was good! And thankfully, because I totally forgot to get a knife. Typical me. The driver, whose name turned out to be Mike, is a very nice man who was looking for extra income after being laid off. He brought a friend along for the ride, a woman named Desure, whom he had met through giving her a ride just as he did me. We had good breakfast, conversation, and listened to good music. I arrived at the Flagstaff Greyhound station with a lot of time to spare, safe and sound. Mike had kept his promise - ride, smiles, and all.

We still correspond to this day.

I would say that one of the best parts about the past eight weeks has been making friends anywhere and everywhere, not just at work or home. I can't get enough of people and how they operate in their own way. It's way nice to have more reminders that my Psychology degree wasn't a complete waste. :)

More later!

- M

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Week 8 - PR/Communications

I'm exhausted. The last 8 weeks have been wonderful, exciting, stressful, and tiring.  I've learned things I would never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise - and have definitely grown because of it.  The thing is...I'm tired!  Constantly moving around takes it's toll on a person...I have no idea how Sean did this for 52 weeks!!!

BUT. Enough whining.  I'm here to tell you about my latest, greatest, and FINAL - One Week Job.

I'm spending my last week of the OWJ program in Calgary, Alberta, working at the TELUS World of Science.  I'm shadowing Cassandra McAuley, the Centre's Media Relations Manager.   During her 5 years at the Centre, her duties have included that of Media Relations (both proactive and reactive), strategic-planning, member and internal relations, and execution on all planning.  Suffice it to say, Cassandra has A LOT on her plate ;)

We first met while I was freelancing in Calgary as a news shooter and interviewed her for some local news stories.  She was extremely helpful and knowledgeable when it came to the specific needs of dealing with the media, and made the crew feel right at home.  Since I have my Bachelor of Communication Studies Degree, but have never used it, I've been really curious to see how things operate on the other side of the media-scene.

The TELUS World of Science is a massive centre in Calgary, and according to their website:

Our goal is to present science in a hands-on, fun and dynamic environment. Our programs and exhibits are designed to spark the imagination, satisfy the most curious of minds and inspire a spirit of life-long learning.

Right off the bat, I love the goal of the centre.  To work with an organization that strives to better people's lives through education, is a goal to be proud of.

Monday morning we hit the ground running.  Cassandra had actually just returned from a week off, and while she was gone her entire office had moved!  This could be a little frustrating, but she took it all in stride, and we headed to the first meeting of the week.

The current exhibition at the Centre is that of Body Worlds - a showcase of human anatomy that uses the bodies of those who have donated them to science.  Basically, real bodies are put through a process called 'plastination', where they are preserved and showcased.  It's an amazing exhibit if you haven't seen it already - not gross like some may think, but definitely interesting.

The TELUS World of Science is winding down to their final 3 weeks with the Body Worlds exhibit, so our first meeting was with the Body Worlds crew and their plans for the last 21 days.  We talked about the possibility of extended hours, a 24 hour exhibit, photo shoots with local sports celebrities, banners, coupons for reduced ticket prices, digital signage, and even a guerilla-style 'Mr. and Mrs. Anatomy' event - where 2 models are painted up with anatomically-correct muscle structure and paraded around night-clubs and pubs to drum up interest!

It was interesting to hear about their plans; media contacts, event successes, attendance numbers, and other logistics.  The team was excited about what they had done, and what they had yet to do.

After the meeting and some personal exploring of the Body Worlds exhibit, I met up with the Discovery Team and learned what it was like to work on the exhibition floor dealing with the public.  I met Joseph, a 4th year University Zoology major, who showed me the ropes.  We took out a cart of fake hip replacements, knee replacements, and even breast implants.  The public is encouraged to touch and talk about what they see, while the employee explains how everything works.  It was great to feel part of the exhibit and to show off things that most people never actually get to see up-close, let alone touch.

I then got to help feed and water the 'critters' - something every good Science Centre should have!  They have snakes, tarantulas, millipedes, and beetles.  Joseph and I cut up fruit snacks, filled up the water sponges, and gave the critters their daily dose of TLC.

Day 2, Cassandra and I started our day off with a media breakfast , where a local radio station announced a name and program change.  She had been invited as a client of the station, and we hob-knobbed with other local television and radio staff.  After that, we headed back to the Science Centre where I got to be part of a RIG session, which is an "idea brainstorming session and rapid prototyping event." Employees from every department are invited to spend time in a workshop, coming up with creative ways of exploring and explaining science.  Groups were given a theme (ie: come up with a machine that demonstrates how people can see something, either above ground or below ground, that you wouldn't normally be able to see), and then given a certain amount of time to come up with a prototype of their idea.  The workshop is filled with all kinds of tools and materials, and as soon as the timer starts, everyone gets to work brainstorming and building.

I LOVED the RIG.  I think it's something every company should adopt, as it fosters teamwork between departments, creative problem solving, and full-out fun!  It made you think outside the box and work efficiently towards an end goal.  These sessions encourage ideas that one day may find their way into a Science Centre exhibit...

On Day 3, I learned about Social Networking.  All those of you who use Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis, know the value of being able to reach dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people at once.  The TELUS World of Science Facebook page has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to it's regulator, Ashley.  She taught me all about engaging online fans, creating user-friendly content, and how to regulate something such as a Facebook page.  It astounds me how much Social Networking has grown in the last few years!  I can remember when Facebook was just getting started, and now a good chunk of the world relies on it for personal communication everyday.  Ashley's job seems pretty interesting...and judging by the time I spend online each day...it's a job I just might be interested in doing...;)

In the afternoon, Cassandra and I got to visit the construction site of the NEW TELUS World of Science.  It's been under construction for the last year, and there's still another year left to go...

The new Centre is going to be massive - 153,000 square feet.  There hasn't been a new science centre in Canada for a very long time, so this one is making waves both locally as well as nationally.  It was great to see something that the TELUS crew has spent years fundraising for, planning for, and dreaming about - finally start to take shape.  It's going to be an amazing space to learn about all things SCIENCE!

One of the reasons I love being at the TELUS World of Science, is because of what the centre stands for.  It creates an environment where exploration is encouraged.  Discovery Team leaders are encouraged to ask guests 'why' and 'how' things are the way they are.  I believe job satisfaction depends largely on the purpose of an organization  If you don't agree with your company's goal or are finding that they don't really even have a goal - what are you working towards?

Any position seems as if it would be rewarding at the Science Centre!  Cassandra has gone above and beyond by encouraging me to participate in so many different aspects of the organization.  Here's to the rest of the week, and all I have left to learn!

- Amanda

Seventh Last Day: Good Ride, Good Pride

Recap Time. I felt good Friday morning. Jolly, semi-hyper. When I walked to work, I listened to my music and sang out loud. Danced a little. Thinking back, I believe my mood stemmed from the knowledge that I had truly tried my best all week. No matter what happened, no matter what anybody thought or said, I had put in killer effort for this job. Not everybody could say that if they were in my position.

I arrived at the shop at 9:30am since Korey and I were doing a GCA, and I got everything ready.

This trip was to be my time. My time to shine. The night before, Korey told me that the best way to lead the trip was to wait to be asked questions first, then I could answer and slowly gain the trust of the passengers.

Well, this is what happened.

The boat filled up with passengers, and I began talking about safety, fumbling a few words as I backed out smoothly. It became very obvious very quickly that the crowd was rough. There was very little response to anything, quite unlike the atmosphere of Thursday's trip. I made a bad, pre-arrangedjoke about how it was my first day, and that was why I was wearing a lifejacket. No laughter. At this point, we technically still hadn't left the dam yet. I gave an insufficient introduction about the area, even though I had sat through five introductions throughout the week. No response. Korey later told me: “You gotta get them from beginning.”

I didn't do so hot with that goal.

After the intro, followed by what was pretty much silence, I lost all the information that I knew, that I had studied all week, that I had heard repeated to me all week from the mouths of different people, in different ways. My “interp” was suddenly gone. I didn't obsessively cram the night before or anything, and I avoided doing the same thing the morning of. I treated the day as normal, but though the trip wasn't becoming a nightmare, it wasn't turning out as I had hoped it would. The thought of driving and talking no longer seemed possible. After I made another attempt to “Interp” (it's a verb now, yes haha!), I gave Korey a partially-helpless look, and he didn't let me linger alone for much longer. I silently thanked him.

After that, Korey made a few attempts to include me and get me talking, but I could contribute very little in the way of history facts. I had truly lost my info. When we got to the first beach stop, I didn't park well. Korey pretty much took over after this, and for some reason, I wasn't embarrassed. I guess I was tired of feeling as such, so I instead adopted a critical aspect of river-guiding: personal connection.

As the boss, Korey was doing a superb job of both driving and talking (he even had a few props: some canyon pictures, a notebook full of invigorating quotes, and a fun water-gun-hose-pump thing), but the passengers were still kind of quiet. During the tail-end of my boat-driving, I slowly called on a few people and asked them what they were about, making jokes. At beach stops, I got out of the boat and interacted with passengers, even some from other boats. I got overwhelmingly positive responses and by the end of the trip, I was communicating freely with people. An important part of being a river guide is being able to read your audience, like I mentioned during my time with Easy. Well, our passengers were stiff, but just needed pushing...they kinda needed to be spoon-fed, so that's what Korey and I had to do. I with the conversation-starting, and Korey with the good story-telling.

I wasn't educating anyone about Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and I wasn't driving a boat, but I was still making people feel comfortable, and that's important anywhere, for any type of job. Here's some proof of the bonding I'm talking about:

I mentioned that Korey did a great job as a river guide, but I should add that it was the best trip I'd been on in terms of who was running it. During much of the second half of the trip, I sat with the passengers and listened to Korey tell the stories of the Canyon. It was like being in a history class except the history class met around a fire in the middle of the woods. Everything is calm and quiet, and the only voice you can hear is that of the storyteller, whose words are released with a humble pride, assurance, and genuine respect and love for the tales. I've mentioned the different methods of the different guides before. Well, that also pertained to the actual facts being presented. It was funny to hear slightly-different numbers or quantities being recited. It made me wonder where each river guide got their extra information, or rather, what their rationalization was for rounding or not rounding. All in all, history's somewhat unstable. But exciting nonetheless.

When we got to the end of the trip, people were asking Korey much more than they were in the beginning. Despite the rocky start, Korey had “caught” them and kept them. Nearing Lee's Ferry, I looked up and saw the eyes of most every passenger looking up at Korey, ready for the next piece of history he was going to share.

He actually ended the trip with what sounded like a poem, entitled “A Song of Glen”. In short, the song talks about the importance of preserving the natural state of Glen Canyon, a passionate plea to prevent the damming of it. As Korey read through each stanza, it was surprisingly un-corny. When he finished, I shook my head in awe, disbelief, and with a little bit of laughter. I clapped, and everyone joined in heartily. The trip was in a league of its own, and even though I barely led it, even though it turned out nothing like I had hoped, especially when I had committed in my mind to actually doing it, I was happy to end my time on the river with an exceptional trip. I call Korey “The Glen Guru” now. I don't think he finds the name as clever as I do, but I will persist with it. :)

I drove the boat back to the dam one last time, navigating better than I had ever done before. It was windy again, but not as much as it was on Wednesday. At the end of the day, each river guide has to park their boats away from the dock, and one river guide has to pick everyone up and drop them back at the dock. That was me, and I did well at this in my opinion! I rammed into one staircase, but it was all good! I then parked the “22' x 14' inflatable, aluminum-framed raft” near the dock. I had gotten better at a lot of things this week. Not all the things I wanted to, but that was more than okay. I truly believed that now. I walked up the staircase, gathered all my belongings and turned around to look at the bridge, dam, and river. I physically waved my hand in thanks to the view. Bye. Thanks for the ride. Literally and figuratively, haha. I was sad to leave.

I wanted to stay and learn more. Practice more. Improve more.

When we all got back to the shop, everyone went their separate ways after cleaning up. It was Friday, and everyone was tired and ready to go home. Drew met us at the back, and he, Korey, and I talked about my week. Korey stayed to do some work, while I got some wise words from Drew, which you can hear here:

Drew offered to drop me off at Korey's, and I gladly accepted. In the driveway, we wrapped things up. I thanked him for his patience, guidance, and encouragement, and he wished me well. As he drove off, I again wished I could stay in town longer. I wanted to know more about Drew too.

That night, Korey, Kyle, and I went out to eat. I was really excited about this. I had spent quite a bit of time with Kyle, but I felt like getting to know Korey had only begun that morning, and I was eager to continue. We went to this really nice sushi lounge, a restaurant that didn't seem like it belonged in Page at all. It looked like a sleek, uptown hotspot for singles – a completely new world. We saw Kyle Davis and Matia at one point too!

The three of us shared rolls, and it was the greatest meal. I was still affected days after. This was only my second time for sushi, and it was cool to realize that my taste buds had matured greatly since that time. One of my flexible goals for this journey was to acquire more distinct tastes, and it was nice to know that I was succeeding.

While eating, there was some more discussion of college and careerism. Both Korey and Kyle did not finish college, and I pressed further, asking if they were ever worried or embarrassed by their “unfinished” education. The Seyler brothers are very talented, intelligent individuals and they agreed that the degree never came because they were simply busy living life and being successful. They liked their lives as such, and they didn't want it to change by any means. They both have significant experience with the job industry, and talked about the importance of working hard at whatever you did in life, with some goal of passion in mind of course. Korey told me how learning was life and vice-versa...so he just always operated that way. Just because he didn't get a huge portion of his learning from a college classroom didn't mean that any part of his life was unfulfilled. He told me this in a content, “it is what it is” tone, and I liked that.

We then talked about my life after the Program, and I told them what I was thinking: “I don't know what I'm doing. I feel as if everyone's moving back in with their parents.” When I said this, Korey immediately spoke up, saying that he didn't understand the trend. “What people should do is save up a little money, combine it with friends' funds, move to a big young city, and make it happen. Make it happen, that's what I did and do.”

I hate to keep repeating myself but I have to give you the facts. “Oh.” was how I responded. I never thought of things that way. Make it happen. I had a lot of thinking to do. The end of OWJ was fast approaching.

After dinner, we got dessert at a convenience store and went back home. I washed my clothes while Korey and Kyle had a heart-to-heart. I overheard Kyle say something that was really cute: “Man, I don't know. I'm going to miss working here all summer. I like Tucson a lot, but being a river guide is the best job. I know I won't ever find anything like it.” I smiled. That's another reason I wanted to be so good at river-guiding. The novelty.

After awhile, Kyle and I went out dancing, and Korey stayed in. Kyle and I connect on the issue of how dancing is necessary for nightlife. “You need to come down to Tucson,” he told me several times. “People really know how to dance there. They let go.” Of course I was going to remember that. I always find myself in places where people like to stand around and talk instead of dance to the music that is clearly begging to be treated right. Nonsense.

The night ended too soon, I slept, and then woke up early to finalize my packing and cleaning. I never said goodbye to Kyle as I left  the house, but I did get to see Easy, Kyle Davis, and Korey off when I dropped by the shop in the morning. As the warehouse door closed behind me, I heard Easy say "Have a nice life, Michelle!" I could feel his grin.

I don't think I've ever heard that statement delivered in such a genuinely positive manner. I've got to copy that dude more. He's just too good with his words. I mean, he's in Arizona, and I'm in Texas. No one will ever know.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

Having to constantly deal with multiple fears was never fun. It was stressful. That can be assumed. I also wish I had come earlier in the summer, because a lot of the river guides were burnt out by the time I got there. Had I gotten there in June or July, I would've gotten to experience more energy early on.

What did you like about the job?

I liked meeting new people every day, both guides and passengers. I liked the universal nature of being a river guide. Passengers come from all over the world, and according to Korey, the ages of guides range from age 18 to 65. That's a lot of years and lot of different backgrounds/stories on both sides. In this way, working with CRD was a gold mine for me. I also liked being outside, something I never thought...I would say. Everything that came from being outside was positive for me. The fresh air kept me well. Being surrounded by beauty every day of the job did wonders for my mind. The different effects of working within canyon walls and within office walls is astounding. I'm willing to bet that working as a river guide could be an effective part of a work-therapy program or something. To add to the healing aspect of being outdoors, being in Page enabled me to relive my childhood. Practicing slacklining, biking the streets, and playing catch/soccer with Iggy was so very rejuvenating for my soul and it made me want to revamp my life. I think I even like dogs now. I'm used to staying “in” things: indoors, in bed, in chair. I grew up without sand in my toes and bugs in my hair at any point in my life. I have always wondered if I could handle working outside. Being a river guide made me realize that it actually might be best for me. In short, my moments of diffidence and negativity were matched by moments of peace and tranquility.

What lessons did you learn from being a river guide / Week 7?

Tons. Tons. I think I will come to know more of them in the future as time passes and I have other experiences that I can apply the lessons to, but here are a few:

  1. Limits can always keep moving. They don't have to move fast, but they can still move.
  2. College is an opportunity, NOT a necessity. It may make things easier, but you create your destiny. You can make something out of anything.
  3. People are probably just as insecure as you are. Never assume anyone is better than you.
  4. Feelings of fear, insecurity, or negativity are not bad. They make you human. Express them to the right people, and you won't regret it.
  5. Small towns can have healing characteristics. Too much of something is never good, so get out into the big city when you feel yourself reaching the breaking point. But never underestimate the small. Nothing beats the power of now, and having no choice but to live by that power for a few weeks.
  6. Dogs aren't so bad...
  7. Neither is driving...
  8. Or being in a body of  water....
  9. Or being outside....
  10. Basically, you can always do more than you think [See Lesson 1].

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week-job?

Yes. Because I was so trapped in my limited knowledge, this job is one that I most wish I had more time for. With time and practice, I know that I could be an amazing river guide. I just need a lot of practice. I'm not quite sure if I can get as much as I need. But yes, I would do it. Best job ever, why wouldn't I?

Reflection Time.

When it comes to writing, there's always pressure to hold back, to not mention the not-so-cheery things. And it seems no matter how much you write about the positive, if you write about a hardship of some sort, people will only remember the latter. For the past seven weeks, I've only given you the truth. The unbridled truth, with all the easy, hard, and silly details. That's the only way I can share, and perhaps it's risky, but being me is better than anything else, in my opinion.

I feel the need to check in with You for a second and make sure that you understand the scope of my seventh job assessment. Here is the gist:

Learning to be a river guide was hard, and I was stressed and out-of-place the entire time. But I experienced many other, more positive emotions as well. The time I spent in Page, Arizona was good, because I improved in many areas that were virtually untouched before and I have hope as a result. I met great people who supported me and worked with a great company that does its job well. I was anxious all the time, but I relaxed a lot too. I mean come on, I was in the middle of nowhere, basically on vacation, increasing my life-expectancy through nature exposure. Overall, the week was a fruitful, necessary week.

AND I'm proud of myself for putting myself in the position to grow like I never have before.

I want to thank Korey and Drew for putting up with all my emotions, and for listening to me and working with me. You can imagine how awesome these two men are if they were able to handle me in my all-over-the-place state for an entire week. Thank you to all the CRD guides that trained me and again, listened to me talk about whatever I felt like talking about.

At the Sushi Lounge, Korey and Kyle made a good point. If an employer looks at your resume and they see the Job Title “River Guide,” they will almost always be impressed. They will definitely question you at the very least. I would recommend this job to anyone. There's a reason people call it “the best job ever," and a reason I have no problem using the phrase over and over, bringing it near ad nauseam. Anyone would do well to travel to Page, Arizona and work for CRD. If you don't want to work, go and experience the town, if anything. It's all beauty, so do it.

Now that I've done so many things on the water, I've got to get that swimming thing down and conquered. A good river guide would be better with swimming ability. I need to put my Week 7 experience to good use and I'll admit that I am running out of excuses. I guess I'll call Beth for swimming lessons soon.

Best Wishes,


If you want to know more about how you can apply to work at the Colorado River Discovery, click here!

River Guide, PART II

Wednesday morning, I was functioning on less than four hours of sleep, but I felt serenely energetic. I thought back to last night. I had never done karaoke before, and I have a very-small-but-still-present fear of performing in front of an audience...but I ended up singing three songs. I even sang one song with Forrest! Also, to bike around town in 70-degree weather late at night surrounded by cliffs and canyons was just so freeing. I kind of felt as if I was in the “Wonder Years” or something. I don't know why I thought that, that was just the first television show that came to my mind. That small-town feeling of close proximity, trust, and freedom was alive in me and I wanted it to stay.

When I woke up, Forrest was already up, getting ready to leave town. The night before, Kyle mentioned that I could take his bike to work, but I couldn't adjust the seat, so Forrest ended up taking me to work. I was happy about this because we had gotten some good talks in during our bike ride, and it was nice to have an official opportunity to say goodbye.

Chuck, the guy who was to be my Wednesday river guide partner, had already left for the dam, so I rode through the tunnel with other guides. So far, I had done two morning trips and one evening trip. Today, I was to experience a Tauck, or a morning specialty tour. Chuck is an older man who has lived in Page for about 32 years. As a result, a lot of his information came from both study and personal experience.

Hearing Chuck speak was like hearing a wise man talk about “the way things were,” and it made his stories way more refreshing and detailed than anything I had heard so far. It was because of this that he was able to connect with all types of ages, but especially the young, bold kids on the boat. His jokes were clever and interactive. He took time to play with kids, sometimes faking like he was going to pour water on them. They would scream in mock fear; it was clear that they were really having a good time being on Chuck's boat.

With Chuck, I got a full spectrum of the river guide. You could tell that he was passionate his job, and everything he did was done thoroughly. He made sure to take care of himself, his boat, others – everything and everyone. And while he had everything taken care of, he was never Type-A about it. His ways were matter-of-fact. He knew what needed to be done, so he got it done. Whether you wanted to help or not was fine by him. I found his approach unique.

Chuck was also “turning” that day, and I thought that was even more awesome, because every day I would hear a lot of the river guides complain about having to do more than one trip a day. “I don't mind it,” Chuck would tell me. “Being out on the river in this beautiful place is a privilege. If I get to do it more than once, lucky me, that's all.” Chuck said a lot of inspiring things, delivered in such a way that they could make you easily miss their importance because he said them so simply. I'll never forget one thing he said while he was trying to explain to passengers how their happiness was a priority to him:

I always say that the difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude. My job here at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is to start you on the positive route.”


Wow. I felt a little guilty upon hearing that one. Tauck trips are quicker than normal, so we ended around 10:45am. I drove the boat on the way back, during which Chuck gave me a little advice on reading the river for hazards, shallow water, etc. Easy had done something similar the day before. It was obvious that Chuck “just knew” many things about boating, so I wasn't the best at grasping what he was trying to tell me. Nevertheless, we made it back safely. It was on this day that the wind picked up, and wind always makes boat-driving harder. Chuck thought the weather conditions were perfect to practice parking in. If I could maneuver a boat in the wind, I could maneuver it in any situation.  At this point, I had driven a pontoon boat once before, so I took on the task with more confidence than I would previously. I failed miserably. Everyone was waiting for us, so Chuck took over, after commending me for my effort.

A lot of the river guides were turning that day, so I rode back with only Drew and another guide, Kyle Davis. Despite the fact that my two most recent trips were informative and smooth, and despite the fact that I had two episodes of hands-on training, I still felt compelled to pull Drew aside and let him know that I still wasn't feeling Friday. I hated myself a little bit, but I was still convinced that even trying to run a trip on Friday was a bad idea.

I stressed to Drew that I was happy to be in Page, happy to be working with CRD, and that I wasn't throwing away the opportunity that millions of people would die for, I was just too fearful. “I really feel like I've been putting myself out of my comfort zone,” I told him, “but I think the Friday trip would be going too far.” Why I was repeating myself to another CRD boss so soon after I had said basically the same thing to Korey the morning before was beyond me. I kept talking, and Drew eventually stopped me:

You know Michelle, I've set Friday up for success. Whether you give the short safety spiel at the beginning of the trip, or if you walk up with the passengers and explain the petroglyph site for a few minutes, you'll still be doing more than you are right now. Don't just shut the entire trip down. You need to keep stretching that zone. Limits are good, but they should continue to be stretched, even if just a little bit.”


Wow again. These CRD folks are too good. “Oh” (how many times did I say this as a response this week??) was my response to Drew's thought. The idea of a contribution compromise NEVER occurred to me. I was too concerned with getting a supposed disaster out of the way, that I gave up my ability to think of alternatives. At that moment, I felt so grateful for Drew's wisdom, and let a lot of anxiety go. I had been telling myself this all week, but I told myself again: “Que sera, sera, Michelle. Keep on keepin' on.” I believed it a lot more this time.

Drew and I then got into an “Interp” discussion, and he suggested I visit the Page museum. River guides can go to the museum for free with a pass, and I had a whole half-day left, so I took advantage and visited right away. On my way to the museum, Dani called to check and see how I was doing for the week. I thought that was so sweet of her. It really helped to know that so many people cared not only that I wasn't slacking off, but also that I was having a good time and not suffering. By the time I got to the museum, I was smiling.

The museum was cool. I'm not a huge museum/history nerd, but I was so grateful to get the information from the “Interp” presented in nice displays, and supplemented with tons of extra stories. I stayed for an hour. I walked back to the CRD shop, getting ice cream on the way. At the shop, Drew, Adam, and I discussed the mission of One-Week job, and they teased me a bit about Job #8 that was coming up. I explained my “Deep Discourse” concept to Drew, and we planned to meet up and discuss some careerism topics before the end of the week.

I had walked around Page quite a bit at this point, so I went back to Korey's house to shower and relax. Kyle invited me out, but I decided to sleep early. Even though I had a later start the following day and could probably handle a late night, I decided to be greedy. I slept well.

9:30am the next morning, I showed up at the shop to run a Glen Canyon Airlines (GCA) trip with River Guide Kyle Davis. GCAs are considered full-day trips. They are a little longer because they require two beach stops, as opposed to the one stop that most trips see. Kyle is my age, and a recent college graduate as well. He has worked with CRD for six years, but his enthusiasm for the job doesn't seem to have waned at all. Kyle's technique for teaching was to give me constant information and encouragement, while pushing me a little bit by the hour. I felt as if I was literally in “Kyle's school of River Guides,” and I would definitely say that similar to my Tuesday time with Easy, Thursday brought a big boost of hope to my being.

Not only was Kyle great to train with, but the passengers on this particular trip were awe-inspiring. The majority of them were hearing-impaired. One of the passengers was the designated interpreter, so whenever Kyle or I spoke, we had to be sure to do so slowly. Everything that these passengers did was so full of life, and it was hard not to stare and grin. They would sign with passion, point at parts of the canyon with passion, jump in the water with passion, and laugh with passion. They would encourage me with passion.

Sometime during the trip, Kyle let the passengers know that it was my first week and that I was new/nervous. From that point on, they praised and lifted me up every chance they got. Halfway through the trip, I took over driving, something that I never could have imagined doing. It's one thing to drive with yourself and another guide in the boat, but to drive a boat full of passengers who completely trust you is another. The last scenario was one that I didn't think I could ever do, but this group was so very vocal about their faith in me, that on this Thursday, I took the wheel. I also found myself jumping in the cold water for the first time, another thing I never thought I'd do. Everyone cheered for me and kept repeating my name. It felt really good to hear all that. I felt loved, connected. I'm not sure how I ended up in the river; everyone just gave me so much of their strength.

Throughout the trip, Kyle and I learned a bunch of sign language, and I was reminded of how much I wanted

to learn the American Sign Language (ASL) back in the day. Kyle and I then discussed the language curriculum at the university level, and how ASL should be offered country-wide. Two of my uncles are hearing-impaired, and watching the passengers communicate with each other, I suddenly wished I could join in effortlessly. I vowed to study more after I got back home to Texas.

Thursday was my best trip of the week, by far. After we dropped everyone off at Lee's Ferry, Kyle kept telling me what a good job I had done, that I had basically led half the trip. I wasn't completely sure about that, but I decided not to fight anything, believe him, and say “thank you, only because of your guidance.” It felt like the right option.

I drove back to the dam during the second windy afternoon of the week, and Kyle worked hard to educate me (my third time with this) on how to navigate the river going upstream. He drew a few diagrams and gave me a few sayings, but they didn't really work. I knew he wanted the teaching session to be an indubitable success, but not everything can be. We arrived at the dam safely, and I thanked him many times for his help. On the way back to the shop, we discussed my feelings about working at the CRD. He told me how he understood because he used to be a bartender, and he had never experienced being that out-of-the-know before in his life. “That was the most stressful time,” he said. “I understand more of what you are going through now. I've been doing this for six years, so it all comes naturally for me. I think you're brave for doing what you're doing.” That was nice of him to say.

At the shop, Korey told me that he and I were going to be doing a trip together the next day. “I'm going to give you complete control,” he told me. “Do you feel ready?” I told him that working with Kyle was a great help, and that yes, I was ready. “Good,” he said. “It's all you tomorrow!”

Thursday night, Kyle (Seyler) was kind enough to make me dinner – fajitas! We watched reality television together, and then called it a night. Iggy, the brothers' black lab, woke me up early the next morning, but I probably would've done so on my own. After all, Friday was The Big Day.

So What About You?

When one is without one or more of his/her senses, do you think that the other senses amp up in order to compensate for the absence ?

A little random, but I've always wondered about this.

Follow CRD on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!

The best job ever…”

A Week That Left Me Wanting More

Blogging takes time and energy and I have been running low on both! I have been traveling a ton lately for the One-Week Job Program. I just finished job #6 after having a busy week in Dallas, Texas. I am so thankful I got to spend week #6 at the Dallas Market Center to learn about the wholesale business. If you missed my first blog about DMC, read it here.

A special thanks is due to Meredith Hite, Dallas Market Center's Director of Public Relations. She is also the logistical genius who offered me the job, arranged my schedule, and ensured that the week was absolutely fantastic!

I love meeting people who are so gifted like Meredith and so on top of their game. For Meredith, public relations is her forte’ but there were many other young professionals with exceptional talent at Dallas Market Center.

My schedule was tight from Wednesday to Sunday since I was booked to be in a different place and with a different employee every hour! I'm thankful for the chaos though because I learned as much or more about the business than some of the long-time employees know.

In my next blog, I will give a breakdown of all the departments I visited and the role they play in putting on the Market.

For now, I can't help but share the main things that stood out during my week.

Some of the highlights of the past few days are:

  • Rawlins Gilliland's Tour:

Rawlins is the former Neiman Marcus Director of Sales and Product. During Market, he walks around the showrooms and finds the latest trends and "hot" items for buyers to pick up for low prices and resell for a good profit! His descriptions were hilarious and his sense of style was impeccable. I loved both hour-long tours I went on and I learned a ton! I was surprised to see "texting gloves" as a hot pick; apparently technology is truly taking over!

Elizabeth Carlock is a rising star in the jewelry business who exhibited at the Market. During Rawlins' tour, she gave each of us a free pair of earrings she designed! It was a pleasure to talk to Elizabeth and hear about her heart for non-profit work. To check out her designs and order jewelry, check out her website here.

  • The Boardwalk Bash Party

Emily Forsythe and Naseem Cox worked together to turn party plans into a party reality! Naseem works for the Dallas Market Center to create visual displays and Emily plans memorable events. The Boardwalk Bash took place on the first night of Market, last Thursday night. I was blown away by all the small touches that created a full-on party experience. Not only was there great food at different stands, a live DJ with a glowing mix-table stand, live models, beautiful clothes on the models, a photo-booth, but also free DMC sunglasses to promote the party!

  • Authentic Food!

The Dallas Market Center went above and beyond to host me for the week. Meredith arranged for me to have dinner with Market employees each night. I loved spending time with the staff outside of the office and enjoyed eating gourmet food together!

Here are 2 Dallas restaurants I really enjoyed:

Medina: Natalie, Casey, and I enjoyed Moroccan food at this great restaurant located close to the venue where the Dallas Mavericks play. We started off with a hummus sampler with hot pita bread and then for an entree, I ordered a fancy beef dish with couscous and potatoes.My amazing Moroccan meal at Medina in Dallas

Mia's-I went to Mia's with Whitney, Zach, and Sydney for a Tex-Mex culinary extravaganza! When we arrived, the place was packed! After finally getting a table, I enjoyed the "Tacos al Carbon," served with bean soup. During dinner, I was able to share what this One-Week Job program has meant to me. It sparked ideas from Whitney, Zach, and Sidney too as they brainstormed which jobs they would like to try.

I realize this blog is different than my past posts but I wanted to share more than just a play-by-play of my schedule in Dallas. The week was so hectic so I thought I would start with things that really left impressions on me.

Look for a new post soon about the different departments and my final thoughts on working at the Dallas Market Center.


Kieley Best

Follow me on Twitter here or email me at bestweekjob@gmail.com

“It's Not A Stick [Shift], Is It?” – Week #7: River Guide

Friday 08/06/10 @ 5:10pm CDT: Leave Austin, Texas by Greyhound bus. Saturday 08/07/10 @ 2:40pm MST: Arrive in Phoenix, Arizona by Greyhound bus.

Sunday 08/08/10 @9am MST: Leave Phoenix, Arizona by car.

Sunday 08/08/10 @1:40pm MST: Arrive in Page, Arizona by car.

1,379 miles of travel in order to make it to Job #7! The journey map has been retired for obvious reasons. If you're really curious, you can view it on a separate tab.

If my friend Katie hadn't given me a ride from Phoenix to Page, I'd be in lots of trouble. A 5-hour drive to Page, and then 5 hours more back to Phoenix. Now that's a good friend. Thank you so much, Katie!

Last week, I was a river Guide with the Colorado River Discovery (CRD)! This job was the first one I received when I found out I got into the One-Week Job Program, suggested by my friend Dani. Being the quintessential outdoors Arizonan girl, she had worked for CRD one summer and wanted me to get to know what many would call "the best job ever" for a week:

"Would you be interested in a river guide job? Kinda random, but beautiful and fun :) I do suppose if boats are not your thing it might not be the best option, but let me know if you're interested!"


When I read Dani's email in early June, I was immediately cautious. I asked her if I had to know how to swim. If I decided to do this job, I would already be 98% out of my element. It would be quite unfortunate if I traveled all the way to Page, only to find out I had to be a skilled swimmer. I'd then be 100% incompetent, and that's...not good.

Dani responded, letting me know that swimming wasn't required for two reasons:

  1. River guides are required to wear a lifejacket at all times.
  2. The water stays around 47 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

Oh I thought. Well, as long as the chances of me dying are low, I need to say yes. Dani did mention the words "Grand" and "Canyon" in her email, so per my OWJ approach this entire summer, I “went with it.” Say yes first, and deal with the details later. I sent Dani my information right away. Korey Seyler, Sales and Marketing Manager of CRD and friend of Dani, emailed me, saying he had gotten my information from Dani and was ready to work with me if I was willing:

I was so excited to hear and learn about the project that you were selected to participate in and I think that Colorado River Discovery would be an interesting experience during your journey.”


I told Korey I was willing.  I had to throw myself in the deep end. He, Drew, CRD Operations Manager, and I had a phone conversation to finalize details. Two months later aka last weekend, I was hanging out with my friend Katie in her new Phoenix apartment. Having moved to Phoenix for a new job not too long ago, Katie was just as new to the area as I was. We decided to stick to the activities that were guaranteed to please, having dinner and going to a drive-in movie theatre (my first time, SO HAPPY ABOUT DOING THIS!), and slept early for the big drive to Page the next day.

You're probably wondering where Page is. The answer, my friend, is “Far, Far Away,” or “In the middle of nowhere.”

Yeah, that's about 9 miles from the Utah border. You'll be hard-pressed to find a lot of people who actually grew up in Page, because it was created a little over 50 years ago. The area used to be Navajo property, but was then released for the residential use of Glen Canyon Dam construction workers and their families. Page has only been an official town since 1974. While many previous small towns are quickly turning into bigger cities, Page seems to be stuck behind because it's still a relatively new small town and its growth depends heavily on tourism. Through research, I found that there are more than twice as many Caucasians in Page as there are Native Americans, but I totally would've guessed the opposite from my week there.

Just a little history lesson for you.

Anyway, I'm sure you can imagine how beauteous the drive north was that Sunday. Mountains, pine trees, reservation lands. I had never seen anything like it. As Katie and I traveled, the elevation increased while the temperature decreased. At one point it was a perfect 70 degrees, and we had to pull over and walk around. I have a lot of photos. When we got to Page, the elevation was about 4200 feet, and my ears were popping a lot. Katie and I got dinner and ice cream, did some dam-viewing, and headed over to the CRD Welcome Center with my stuff. Korey wasn't there, but Adam, a CRD staff member, was. I wanted Katie to get back to Phoenix with enough time to get a good night's sleep, so I gave her a hug and thanked her deeply.

Adam gave me a tour, after which Korey picked me up and took me to his house to drop off my luggage and get used to the couch I would be getting to know for the next few days. I lived with three guys last week.

I lived with three guys last week.

Korey showed me around the house, letting me know that I was free to use any cars or bikes if I needed to get around.

I also noticed that the door wasn't locked, which I found out was pretty common in the small town. I found the environment of trust sweet, and decided to go along with it. The rest of the night was very relaxed. Korey left me to go to do errands, and his brother, Kyle came home shortly thereafter. Kyle and I hung out for a little while, and then Korey came home. They showed me their slackline in the backyard, something that they both have been practicing on for about a month. I tried and failed...but interest was sparked.

I didn't have food, and Korey suggested I drive his truck to Safeway to get groceries. I immediately became anxious and insecure. If I haven't had enough practice with something (I've never owned a car and drive pretty infrequently), I'm hyper-aware to the point where it's just a burden. And if it's something that most people my age know how to do instinctively, I'm always embarrassed about it (since I assume most people wouldn't understand my emotions about it). Anddd, if there's a risk of bringing a terrible inconvenience to another (i.e. if I wreck someone's car), I'm just stressy about all the possibilities that I secretly see as probabilities.

Part of me still dislikes driving after all this time. But I got over my hesitation because I was hungry and I didn't want to ever worry about food during the week. On my way out the door, I met roommate #3, Forrest. I took Korey's truck, got groceries, waited forever in line, and brought the vehicle back safely, complete with terrible parking job. I figured that it was a small town, so I'd be okay driving a car that wasn't mine. An Arizonan small town, but still a small town.

In order to be a Colorado River Discovery River Guide, you not only have to know how to drive a pontoon boat, but you also have to know your history. When I first started corresponding with Korey, he stressed the importance of knowing what they call “Interp” or the interpretation of certain parts of the River that pertain to certain parts of history. Korey actually sent me the 204-page document via snail mail to me, and I received it a week before OWJ began. He intended for me to study ahead of time in order to expedite the training process, which usually takes longer than I was planning to stay in Page. I thought it was really cool how invested and prepared Korey was in the OWJ process.

Unfortunately, there was a problem.

It was the night before I was to go out on the River, and I hadn't read the book at all. Not even a word. I'm not sure what happened. There were nights where I planned to study. I think one night I even updated my facebook page status, saying that I was studying for a future job. But it never happened. Something always came up, and just like my time in school, I ended up studying at the last minute. I knew that worrying would only waste time and energy, but I began my seventh one-week job being really disappointed in myself. After all, I was already nervous about driving, and being on the water. Not knowing the information didn't help. History was always my worst subject in school too. Some lessons will never be fully learned, I suppose.

Everyone went to bed around 10:30pm, and I stayed up really late, trying my best to read and understand as much as I could, so when I was exposed to the field, the information would stick. I told myself that no matter what, I would keep pushing through any negativity I was going to feel this week. I wasn't going to forget how blessed I was with every moment I had. Fear stops, and I wasn't living to be stopped. I vowed to press on, and if that meant asking for help relentlessly, I would do it. I fell asleep sometime after 2am.

The next morning, I got to the shop at 7am, as Korey told me to do the night before. I met up with Drew, and we went over my schedule for the week. I took a picture for an access card to the canyon tunnel, and I gave him my paperwork. During the summertime, Colorado River Discovery offers two half-day trips, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. All the trips are smooth-water trips, because they are on a 15-mile stretch of the Colorado River within the Glen Canyon, not the Grand Canyon. Still amazing, don't be fooled! They also give specialty trips (some of which are full-day) as a part of other companies' programs, such as those of Tauck Tours and Grand Canyon Airlines. Drew and Korey arranged for me to experience all four types of trips with different river guides, over the course of the first four days. They hoped for me to lead my own trip on Friday, the last day.

On this Monday morning, I was to do what is called a “turn”, where as a river guide, you give a trip both in the morning and afternoon. That's a 12-hour day where you get to the shop at 6:30am, and don't finish until about 6:30pm. Because I didn't have my access card, I was like a passenger on the first day, so I rode to and from Glen Canyon Dam on the bus with passengers. My first trip was with Matia, who is a part-time English teacher and works at a sushi restaurant. She has a very dry humor and it was funny to see her interact with the passengers. My second trip of the day was with Lauren, who goes to nursing school during the non-summer months. Her humor was more of the cute and cheery mix.

Since it was my first day, the differences between Matia's and Lauren's “interp” were hard to point out, but it was fun comparing the two groups of passengers and how both river guides fed off of the personalities of their respective boats. I sat back during both trips and tried my best to take in everything. There was a second where I asked myself what the heck I was doing. I don't “do” water and boats and nature. But there I was, in the midst of natural wonder. I was fortunate to be where I was. Change again.

I fell asleep on the bus back to the shop. I guess the heat got to me. I couldn't find Korey or Drew, but I found Adam, who told me once again to report back the next morning at 7am, since the likelihood of my access card being ready was slim. When I got home, Kyle and I watched TV. Then, Kyle, Forrest, and I watched the movie “The Road.” Powerful, but sad. I showered, then everyone parted ways. I could not sleep because I had “interp” on my mind. I was having trouble remembering some things. I stayed up until 4am or so reading.

Tuesday morning, I woke up around 6:20am to see Kyle on his way out for his morning trip. I forgot to mention that Kyle and Forrest work at CRD too. Oh and that Matia lived in the same house while I was there, but downstairs. Anyway, as I was getting ready, I got a few missed calls, and I called the first number back. It was Kyle, telling me that my access card was ready, and that I needed to be ready soon. I called the other number and it was Drew, telling me that someone was on their way to pick me up because having an access card meant I could ride to the canyon through the tunnel with all the river guides, before the passengers arrived. I'd then get to see how all the river guides prepared for their trips. One step closer to being in the river guide culture! :)

I hurried to get ready, and walked outside to see a CRD van pull up. Out of the van stepped Easy, the guy who was my river guide for Tuesday's morning trip. We instantly connected on issues of friendship, money, and work. Easy and I are similar in age, people-passion, and our insatiable thirst for knowledge. Our differences: one of us is a college-graduate, and the other is an amazing river guide. During my short time with Easy, I became inspired, yes, but a little jealous too. He was so good at connecting with/reading the people on his trip with his words and with his guitar-playing. He knew everything about every part of the river stretch, and about a bunch of random things. He was full of puns, and it was hard not to laugh at each and every one. I hoped to develop that ability to engage people consistently.

At one point, Easy talked about how he was from a small village in Utah, and how he used to be really shy and reclusive. He decided to become a river guide to get over that. He knew he loved people, but he didn't know how to connect with them, so he figured this job would help him improve, and it worked. I never would have guessed that Easy was ever shy, but when he told me his story, it made sense. I, too, used to be much more shy and diffident than I am now...in fact, everything that Easy said in his story mirrored that of mine, just in a different context. Hanging out with Easy made me begin to think of the status of being formally educated and how I grew up in an environment that thought a life without a college degree was a doomed one. Though I followed the traditional schooling route, I'd always thought differently. I was in school, but part of me felt that school wasn't necessary. It was an opportunity that I need not waste, but it was me, whose passion for learning independently, even when no one was looking at me or checking my grades, enabled me to make it through school, excel, and continue to love learning even after graduating from college. For me, Easy was proof of the power-in-fervor-alone concept that I believe in so much.

Easy was patient with me and very, very informative. Every time he did something when he was with me, he was sure to stop and explain what he was doing, whether I asked or not. It turned out that I really needed this because I was so overwhelmed with information, that I didn't really know what to ask or where to begin asking. He gave me first exposures to things such as knot-tying, boat-driving, river-reading, etc. It was still a lot to grasp, but the fact that someone took time to explain things was calming in a situation that I often forgot I was tense during. Tuesday was the day that I began to breathe a little easier, and that was a step toward success and growth. When Easy and I got back to the dam (every trip begins at the Glen Canyon dam and ends at Lee's Ferry. After the passengers get off at the Ferry, they bus an hour back to the CRD shop, while the river guides drive their boats back to the dam for an hour), I thanked him heartily for spending time with me and for helping me calm down and learn. He responded:

Thank you for wanting to learn, Michelle.”


I told him that I'd probably steal that response. Now, while I had gotten more practice with all things river guide, I had gained more confidence. Enough confidence to know that I wasn't going to be confident enough to lead a trip on my own Friday. It's important to take risks and stretch yourself, but it's also important to know your limits. Even though it was Tuesday, I was so sure of my feelings. Korey showed up at the dam while all the morning river guides were cleaning up, and he asked me if I was ready for Friday. I told him that I was not ready and was too nervous, and he told me that everyone says that about their first trip. Doesn't everyone say that everyone says something but really there are times when one person didn't say what everyone supposedly said? I thought. “Oh,” I said out loud. Korey reassured me: “Drew and I were talking about it, and one of us will just accompany you, okay?”

I was unsure again, conflicted. I really didn't view my thought process as “giving up,” just being smart. I'd been through six jobs already; it wasn't as if I was a stranger to change. And it wasn't as if I wasn't pushing myself in Arizona either.

I just had this feeling of anxiety in me that I felt shouldn't be ignored, that I had to speak up about early on so as not to waste anyone's time. I was kind o f proud of myself, but then I didn't expect Korey's response. “Okay,” I told Korey. I rode back to the shop with Easy, and I bought some sunglasses. I had to admit to myself that my eyes were going to die if I kept my habit of squinting my way through 3-plus hours in the sun. I got home at 1:30pm, napped for 30 minutes, and showered.

You need to speak up and ask questions, I told myself in the shower. This is something way different. Way, way different. BE the river guide. You need to try harder. No matter what happens, you tried your best. Get that best-trying going. Effort is one step away from your fear.

I tried this self-pep talk for a little longer, and then I got tired. Tomorrow was a new day, and all these people believed in me. I wanted them to know that I wasn't a slacker or fooling around with their business, but that I was just plain scared this week. But...all the energy I was putting into trying to convince others that my fear is real is energy that could be put into addressing the fear. The fear of too many things.

Forrest came home a little while later, and we played a bit of guitar. Around 6:30pm, Korey and Kyle came home. Korey was so kind to make dinner for Kyle and me – a “Korey combo” of rice, eggs, and veggies. Spicy enough of to clear my nasal cavity, loved it! We watched another movie, “I Love You, Man.” Forrest joined later. Tuesday night was Forrest's last night in town because he was moving back to Tucson for the start of school the next morning. That night, we biked (I borrowed Matia's bike) to a karaoke event. On the way to the bar, there was an airbrushed t-shirt kiosk, and Forrest bought a custom shirt, something for him to remember his first summer in Page by. Lauren, Matia, and a few other guides were out as well, and it was a wonderful time. Kyle went home, and Forrest and I continued to bike the streets of Page until 1:45am or so.

It was a cool, calm night.

Despite being more uncomfortable at a job than I had ever been, I liked where I was. I missed biking streets, I liked being outdoors, and I liked being surrounded by beauty. Everything was set up so it was hard to ignore anything but the present. By the wee hours of Wednesday morning, my time as a river guide was quickly becoming a beautiful mess of opposites – nothing easy, but good nonetheless.

So What About You?

What is the difference between “giving up” and “knowing yourself and your limits”?

I'm really interested to hear what you have to say on this one! Talk to meh, I won't be here for much longer!


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The best job ever...”

Don't Worry, I'm Still Kickin'

Hello All! This is sort of a disappointing blog post, because it doesn't contain any good One-Week Job meat, but I wanted to check in with the world. It is the Friday of Week #7, and as you may have noticed, I haven't blogged at all. I'm always late with these posts, but I've never been this late so I'm addressing the issue. While I could have and arguably should have posted SOMETHING by now, I always aim to give my best words, so I refuse to write just anything. That would make this Program a waste; the stories I share with You are very important to me.

I'm currently not in a state where I can share with you, because I am completely immersing myself in this week's job. This is in an effort to make sure I'm doing all that I can to take as much away from the opportunity as possible. This job's much more difficult for me than all the others, so I'm having to try extra hard. Consequently, my mind has been nowhere ready to write. I have to admit that I would describe this week as sort of a life vacation, but I am definitely not slacking off. I've been reading and studying a lot. I'm awake randomly at 4:30 in the morning because I'm studying again. Consider that a clue for what I've been spending my time with this week! It's probably the worst clue, but clues are fun anyway!

Okay okay, here's another:

So, as soon as I'm ready, I'll begin my three-part week analysis/play-by-play/video tour blogging. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience my tardiness has caused, is causing, or will cause you, but you should know that all is well. It often is. This wait is the smartest option for both of us. In the meantime, listen to the music from Priceless, a band I discovered during my week in Boston:

I'm very excited to tell you things! You deserve only the best. :)


Job #5 Recap: Backpacking Guide

This week I'm in Dallas, Texas to work with the Dallas Market Center and learn all about the wholesale business!

Before I jump into blogging about this week, here's a recap about last week. I worked with Peak 7, a nonprofit in Spokane, Washington on one of their 5-day backpacking trips. To read my first 2 blogs about last week, click here for part 1 and here for part 2.

After surviving our first night in the wilderness, we woke up to soggy boots outside out tents. There are times in life when you ease your way into something, but we sure didn’t ease into hiking! After eating our standard breakfast of instant oatmeal, we loaded our daypacks with granola bars, filtered water, and raingear and hit the trail.

We had three amazing guides on the trip, Nicole, Laura, and Lo. For the first day of hiking, they announced we would summit a mountain called “Stiletto Peak” by the end of the day. Hearing “stiletto” made me think of high-heels and glamorized the idea of hiking to the top of the mountain. Let’s just say I missed the memo that we would be walking 3 miles up a mountain! That may sound like nothing, but we counted the number of switchbacks (alternating hills up the mountain) and there were close to 30 hills we climbed.

The view from the Stiletto Peak lookout was phenomenal! After celebrating our summit for a bit, we headed back down the mountain and capped the day off with cup of noodles.

The next day, we woke up to rain so everyone squeezed into the same tent to relax and eat oatmeal together.

Beautiful sunlight finally appeared so all of us girls hit the trail once again, but this time en route to McCallister Lake. After hiking 4 miles, we arrived and had a great time swimming and having quiet time in the wilderness.

To wrap up our week, we hiked 3.5 miles on Friday back to the car. A short drive later, the dozen of us arrived to a family's house to camp for the night. Lauren, one of the backpacking guides, had family in the area who offered to grill a meal for the girls when we finished our backpacking and let us set up tents in their yard. It was an absolute treat to enjoy real food, play volleyball, and sleep in a tent on their lawn.

I am so glad I came to Washington to see what it's like to be a backpacking guide! Not only did I learn a lot about non-profits and the outdoors, but I also learned how to better relate to teenagers.

Favorite part of the week?

Each night, Peak 7 encourages a few of the girls to share their personal story about life. I loved hearing each girl share her story of growing up and about both her successes and struggles. During "spotlight" time, I really got to learn about each of the trip participants and that was more special than climbing a mountain any day!

Least favorite part of the week?

It was hard to go without a shower for 5 days. I can go without for a few days, but showers are definitely a necessary luxury!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Due to a crazy travel schedule and fast-paced job this week, I am a bit behind on blogging. Please keep watching for new blogs this week and to make it easier, bookmark this link to access all my posts.

-Kieley Best

Follow me on Twitter here and email me at bestweekjob@gmail.com


Well, the life of an artist isn't exactly what you'd call "structured." With a handful of projects going on at the same time, Dean Stanton is constantly buzzing from place to place, either finishing up a job or getting supplies ready for the next one.

So far, I've helped him outline his latest mural (one for a community garden in Calgary), painted with the kids camp, done some varnishing, and am getting ready to help set up for a large community mural to take place later this week.  It would be great to have a boss like Dean!  He's easy-going and totally supportive of individual ideas.  He understands how people work, and instead of getting frustrated of upset if things don't go his way - he totally rolls with it.

Painting is almost therapeutic...gently brushing the colour on the canvas, whether staying in the lines or drawing outside, it's a hands-on project, that gives you immediate results. I'm definitely a visual person, but am not one that's able to articulate much of anything with a paintbrush. Dean's style is funky - simple, but uplifting. You can't help but smile when you see his zany cartoon caricatures and animated animals.

As far as my own painting ambitions go - I can definitely appreciate how tough it is to figure things out in a freelance world.  You never know where your next job is coming from, or how long until you'll be able to stock the fridge with something other than kraft dinner and hot dogs...

To be an artist, you have to sacrifice.  Whether that sacrifice includes ever being able to wear pants that aren't stained with paint, or larger things such as having a decent-sized savings account - the reason people become artists is because it's their PASSION!  Professions such as painters, photographers, musicians and actors, encompass the focus of the entire OWJ program!  Artists become artists to express themselves and to create beauty - either for themselves or others.

There's no guarantee that anyone will notice, never-mind like your artwork - but for some, it's just something they have to do.  Not many artists become rich and famous, but they continue to work at it because it makes them happy.

Simple, right?

I think so.

- Amanda

Week 7 - Artist

Ever wonder what it would feel like to paint for a living?!  I have. For the past few weeks all I've wanted to do is take a canvas, slather it in paint, and dig in.

Today, that dream came true!

This morning I met up with Calgary, Alberta artist, Dean Stanton at 8am (not sharp), for coffee.  He's established his own style, and has become somewhat of a local celebrity.  His artwork adorns many homes and businesses, as well as a crop of local murals - the recognizable Sunalta School, especially.

Dean is hilarious; a 'wild and crazy guy,' with a strong feeling that art should be a team effort.  In Dean's mind, there's no such thing as 'high art' - there's only fun and creativity to be shared with everyone.

It's this attitude that continues to bring him notoriety in every kind of circle in Calgary.  He's even developed a system of team-building/art cooperation, where he takes a large piece of plywood, makes a rough sketch on it's surface, and then cuts it up.  Everyone in whatever group he's working with (kids, a corporate office, wedding party, etc), gets a piece of their own - to paint.  Once everyone's had their fun, Dean redraws the outline on top of the painted pieces, glues 'em back together - et voila!  A masterpiece.

Today, we had the pleasure of hosting a small group of kids from an arts camp, and making art together.  I got to help sand the wooden pieces, and varnish some others from a freshly painted project.  When the kids came, it was show time!  We painted, flicked, finger-smudged, smeared, and painted again.  It got on clothes, hands, shoes, and some of it even got on our canvases ;)

It felt so great to get paint under my nails, and to see the kids having such a great time with it too.  You never know what your piece is going to look like, until you're done....and even then...how do you know when you're done?!

Colours and creativity are what this week is made of, and I'm very much looking forward to it!

- Amanda

Up, up and away...

Hello! So - this post is totally late, but I swear, I'll make it up to you...

Helicopter Pilot.  This job is tough - no lie.  Whether you're fighting fires, flying a news/traffic chopper, doing search and rescue, piloting tourists, or even heli-logging, this job requires guts AND brains.  You have to be willing to travel at the drop of a hat, hover dangerously close to the ground, and expertly maneuver through mountains.  These pilots make life and death decisions in under a second, and do it all without anyone else on board even realizing...

Now - I don't mean to make the position of pilot sounds ominous, or overly dramatic - but it is a pretty cool position to have!

Stuart Baxter of Britannia Beach Heli Tours showed me both the business and the flying side of the helicopter industry.

Lesson #1: To work as a pilot, you have to be patient!  The industry can only handle so many positions, and if you're going to get one of the coveted spots you're going to have to pay your dues, sweep some hanger floors, and be ready to step-up when your time eventually comes.  To be considered a competent pilot you have to have a certain number of flying hours under your belt.  It's a bit of a catch-22, as companies won't hire you unless you have a certain number of hours, but unless you're working - how are you supposed to fly?!  To get these hours you have to either pay a decent amount of money to rent a machine, or find someone willing to let you get your hours on theirs.

Patience also comes in in regards to maintenance.  Maintaining a helicopter is integral to...well...lives, really!  Things have to run, and they have to run properly!  And it takes time to get every part in it's place and running smooth.

Patience ALSO comes in regards to customers/clients and a new business.  Britannia Beach Heli Tours is only in it's second summer of business, so things were a little slow.  The heli-pad, however, is strategically placed on the side of the highway and perfect for tourists making the trip between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.  We got a lot of traffic off the road, as well as by word of mouth.

Lesson #2: I would say the next most important lesson I learned, and this is more in regards to running a new business, but marketing is key. To get the word out there, you have to beat down doors, make those phone calls, and brainstorm like mad.  Stuart's a genius at this, and we spent many-a-time thinking up new ways to entice customers into a helicopter ride.  ie: clown costumes, bus tour stops, and good 'ol magnets!  ;)

On Thursday, we even entertained a group of 3 and 4 year-old kids from a summer camp and taught them all about helicopters.  It was pretty cool to see their faces light up, and compete for a position to sit in the pilot seat.  Maybe a One Week Job program will start for kids that age?!

Stuart loves the variety that comes with the job.  So many avenues to go down - so many views to see!  No trip is ever the same, whether it's simply the weather, the landscape, or the people you're flying with.

As far as my career future goes, however - I'm not sure that Heli Pilot is actually in the cards.  I had a great time flying (did you SEE the video?!), and it was really gratifying to see guests so excited to go up and take their first ride.  I think my mind was kind of still in 'Event-Planning/Marketing Mode' from Week 5 though, as at every turn I tried to find a way to help create more business for the company.  And to be honest, I'm not sure I have the technical know-how to fly on a daily basis.  I'm also not sure I want the responsibility of keeping others safe while soaring thousands of feet above the ground...

But here's the kicker...the feeling of soaring, the feeling of freedom when you're above everything else...the feeling of adventure...wow.  That feeling is a passion in itself.

On my last day, after expertly cleaning the windows (!), Stu took the door of the helicopter OFF for me to take pictures!  I was nervous, but totally excited and in absolute AWE of what I got to take in.  Words and pictures can't do the scenes justice, but I am so grateful for the time I got to spend both in the air and on the ground at Britannia Beach.  The mountains, the ocean, the wind...amazing.

A HUGE thanks to Stu and crew - I really appreciate your hospitality and the opportunity to see the world from such heights.

- Amanda

I Survived the Wilderness

I am back to civilization! For the past five days, I've been backpacking with Peak 7 Adventures in North Cascades National Park. Peak 7 is a non-profit based in Spokane, Washington, that specializes in amazing outdoor adventures. I was fortunate to go on one of their "Ascent" trips, backcountry wilderness trips that challenge the teen participants physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sixth Last Day: The Secret Realm

Recap Time. My last night in Austin was a late one. “Last nights” are always filled with weird emotions. You have to be focused because there are always a lot of little things that need to be taken care of before departure – packing, laundering, ticket-buying, calling, etc. And you're kind of sad because you're going to be leaving, maybe you don't want to leave, and you want to make sure you're using your last hours up well, soaking it all up. So you want to hang out with as many people as possible. But doing chores and hanging out with people makes the time pass quicker. So does sleeping. So your best option is just sitting somewhere by yourself, alone, reflecting. But that can get depressing, and you can't get depressed, because you need to gear yourself up for the new place you're going to, because that place is probably going to be just as awesome as the one you're about to leave.

Last nights” are a little rough.

I stayed up late after Beth, David, and Matthew went to bed. I did some laundry, wrote a lot, and ate a lot of Beth's chocolate chip cookies with craisins.

When I woke up the next morning, I showered and packed hurriedly. Cookies were in the kitchen again. Beth not only let me sleep in, but she packed some extra cookies for me to take on the road! I made sure David didn't see me tear up. Every morning I shared with the Brookses came with a tasty breakfast taco and a cup of coffee, both of which were made by David. This Friday morning, David switched it up. Toasted French bread, eggs with shredded cheese, turkey bacon, and orange juice. The breakfast of association professionals. :)

David and I loaded the car up with my luggage, and dropped Matthew off at driver's ed. That was to be my last time to see Matthew, so we said our groggy goodbyes. After that, David and I went to Wells Fargo so I could get some bills. I brought my luggage to work since I had to leave early. I took a picture with David, thanked him for everything, and said goodbye to him as well. It was a little after 9am when I got to the office, and everyone had read my first blog post for the week. That made me feel really good. It showed that TSAE actually cared about my thoughts, and that was encouraging. I was sad to be leaving soon.

Sonnia Montemayor and I had some overdue one-on-one time together. Well, Emmitt Smith was there too. As the Education and Knowledge Resources Director, she oversees anything that has to do with association education presented during conferences, webinars, seminars, and tradeshows. Sonnia works closely with Christine (Chris) Napierkowski, TSAE Meeting Coordinator, who deals with the logistics of all the TSAE programs. This includes finding venues, booking meeting rooms, and making sure all the necessary equipment is provided in all of the rooms. Sonnia previously worked with the National Automobile Dealers Association in Virginia. She discovered the association world while working for an auto dealership.

After getting to know Sonnia's role, she gave me the responsibility of designing and sending an electronic invitation for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) breakfast to be held at the Annual Conference in September. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) website, the CAE program is “designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and designate association professionals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of association management.” In short, the CAE credential in the association industry would be comparable to the M.D. credential in the medical industry. It takes a serious amount of time and study. One has to meet eligibility requirements, submit an application, pass an exam, and fulfill renewal requirements every three years. The program is not for everyone. You can still be a significant part of an association without becoming a CAE.

My fourth big task of the week was to order lunch. We all got Lu Ann platters from Luby's and had lunch in the office eating area. It was good to have most everyone together in one room, eating and talking. The rest of my last day was really quiet and peaceful. Nita Saunders, TSAE's accountant, and Josh left early so I gave them hugs and goodbyes. Around 4pm, Beth and I packed up and left so she could take me to the Greyhound station. At the station, Beth reminded me that the invitation to the Annual Conference in September was genuine and still there for me to take. I told her I would love to go, and would do all I could to attend. I experienced one last Austin hug and parting of ways, followed by another Greyhound adventure.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

The only thing I didn't like was that I was having so much fun and feeling so productive that I had too little energy or time to write about the fun I was having at the times that I wanted to. Long sentence, but that's what it is.

What did you like about the job?

As the TSAE boss, Beth impressed me greatly (if you haven't noticed already). Though she was very busy, she was always available to answer my questions, and was constantly making sure I was never bored and always a part of anything going on. Because of this, I always felt useful and the time passed quickly. In my observations, I also noticed that Beth took random times to quickly check in with her staff members on a personal level. I think it is for this reason that the staff felt comfortable talking with her about anything. I felt as if Beth was the one calling the shots, but that each staff member had complete control over their respective roles. Beth respects, trusts, and believes in her staff members, so I think they find it easy to return the favor.

There is heavy work that goes on in the TSAE office, but there are also special moments of hanging out and laughter. Even when I was in business professional clothing, I never felt as if I couldn't be myself, and that was new for me. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever been more confident in heels than I was during this week. And those heels were dusty from being in a suitcase for five weeks. Clothes were lint-y too. I still felt confident, happy. I may have actually been more hyper than usual, and I think that's because throughout the week, I felt more and more comfortable working with TSAE. That speaks wonders of the people I was surrounded by.

Meeting new people every day was thrilling. Sometimes it was overwhelming having to hear and explain one-week job to each person, but the fact that I got to hear about the person and their role in TSAE in return was worth it. The camouflaged nature of associations intrigued me as well. Associations are all around us and do so much for us, but few of us know about them. Being a part of an association, learning about an association, and getting the power to spread the news about associations is a little empowering.

Week #6 also gave me a more well-rounded view of Austin. Who knew that it was more than a music-hipster-indie-taco-getaway? I loved Austin before, and I love it even more now.

The last thing I liked about being an association professional was that I got to experience the effect of working at a nonprofit organization. I'll say it again: something about doing good for the good of all before anything else makes life richer.

What lessons did you learn from being an association professional / Week 6?

  1. If you're going to a new country and a native offers you specialty food, make sure they know that you're not very hungry. This will spare you a terrible stomachache. [DIPLOMACY] The Brookses travel a lot, so they know what it's like to be forced to eat foods that you would never choose yourself. They told me some horror stories. Because of this, they were constantly making sure I liked the food they offered me. It was sweet.
  2. Know and be vocal about your preferred work schedule. A few staff members implement what is called flextime, where they adjust their work schedule to a format that suits them best. They started to use this method after a flextime article was printed in the TSAE magazine that is released every other month. Everyone figured that they should practice what they advertise, so they decided to experiment. Sonnia likes to work from home on Monday so she can ease into the week. Josh likes to come early and stay late Monday through Thursday, so he can have a half-day on Friday and start his weekend early. Alaina likes the traditional 8 hour-day. So far, it seems that everyone is satisfied. I think more businesses should try the variable work schedule too, for the potential benefit of the entire company.
  3. Reply to touchy/tricky subjects in an email with care. [DIPLOMACY] Or don't reply. Or if you have to, get someone else to edit it first. And if it's more than two paragraphs, you might as well pick up a phone. Advice from Beth to AAEVT during Monday's training session.
  4. Praise someone when they're doing well, and kindly let someone know when they're not doing well. As a customer, you have a voice. Speak up. You'll improve something. Like an employee who is having a bad day, or the moods of other customers who would never speak up otherwise. Advice from David.
  5. Separate your work life and home life. When Beth was done with the official workday, she was done with work. I thought that was awesome.
  6. Make time for You every day. I mentioned in another post that Beth was a seasoned swimmer. Each day after work, she went to the pool alone and took a good swim. When she came back, it was obvious that that time alone was sort of a calming restoration for her. In making this conclusion, I would think of all the people I know who work just as hard as her, and have given up their ability to take time out for themselves. This is a shame.
  7. Spontaneity can be riveting, but routines can be too. The One-Week Job Program has been the biggest dose of unpredictability that I've ever had in my entire life, and it's been great. While this week contributed to that theme still, it also brought a lot of serious routine too. I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day around the same time. I think my health actually got better because of this. Every night I played the Wii with Matthew, or at least watched him play it with David. Beth swam every day after work. There were occurrences that I became used to very quickly, and just like the variety of my days at work, they brought extra spark to my life. This balance of opposite forces was a comfortable, inspiring mix.
  8. Travel is the key to understanding, and therefore to world peace.” During my first in-person conversation with Beth, she told me that one of her priorities in raising Matthew was making sure he got to travel and see the world as much as possible. When she said this, it reminded me of the quote you see at the beginning. As I got to know the Brookses throughout the week, their wisdom was hard to ignore. And I would notice things about Matthew that spoke to a maturity that many 16-year-old boys probably do not have yet. All three of them gave off a combination of patience, understanding, and caring that could only characterize people who have been exposed to many different environments, many different people. After having a difficult ride to Austin, living with the Brookses told me that regardless of any tough times I was experiencing, I was on the right track. My journey is and will continue to be a fruitful one.
  9. Experience first, judge later. I never cease to be humbled. Never. See Reflection Time section.

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week job?

I mean, I'm trying to do all I can to go to the Conference next month. You tell me.

Reflection Time.

I got connected with TSAE before I found the Jed Foundation, so I began the Program thinking I had one more office job than I had intended. After my un-favorite experience with the Foundation, I had stronger office-job judgments than before in regards to TSAE. Part of me expected this week to be full of suits, heavy proprieties, and slow hours, but I have to say, I had it backwards. Completely. When I stepped off the Greyhound bus onto the Austin pavement, I told myself to let any preconceived notions go, and I'm glad I did because they were way off the mark.

"I took the [association] job with the frame of mind that it would be a bit boring, but that it would work until I could find something more exciting. It's funny to think back on it now; I had no clue what my experiences would bring, not just professionally, but personally. The relationships I've built over the last five years have had a profound effect on me."


Every single person I met during this week had similar stories. They began working, unaware of what an association was, fell into a job with an association, fell in love with a job within an association, and ended up staying. Work with an association is far beyond work in an office. It's too worldly to be defined in that way. I'm so very glad that Beth is such a dedicated supporter of Sean and the One-Week Job message, otherwise I never would have discovered what can be described best as a cosmic realm of endless learning, diversity, professionalism, and just plain excitement. To everyone I met during my time in Austin, thank you for helping me find and understand such a treasure.


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Memories of YOU

I forgot to mention that Tuesday's night of “America's Got Talent”-watching came with a couple of Matthew's chocolate-banana milkshakes. It was good, Matthew. By Wednesday morning, I had stepped into the shoes of a Communications Manager and Business Development Manager, was working as a journalist as I finalized three press releases, and had attended two meetings, one as an association management trainee, and one as an association staff member. Not too lazy of me.

To finish off the releases, I had to obtain Beth's input. As the CEO and President of the association giving out the awards, it was imperative that she give a few authentic, positive words on each of the recipients. On the way to work, I took down her words and fit them into the press releases after we arrived at the office around 7:45am.

9am brought the nominators of the award recipients. The plan was to film each nominator speaking about the person they had nominated, and the footage would be used for the presentation at the Annual conference. Josh and Beth let me sit in on the filming, and it was fun to be a part of yet another aspect of the association world. I enjoyed witnessing the different speaking styles of each of the nominators. Some were more conversational and funny, while some were more professional.

I also liked listening to the improvement suggestions by Josh and Bill, the man who actually operated the camera. It was obvious that they knew what they were doing, having certain expectations for time length, the angle of the shooting, and the timing of the sentences that were being said. I know nothing about film editing, so I was happy to learn a few things.

After the last nominators left, I went back and finally finished the press releases, making sure one last time that Beth was okay with the quotes I took from her. Soon after my first task was completed, Alaina had another for me: counting ribbons. TSAE has a bunch of little ribbons for different achievements, and they keep a running count of how many they have. I'm sure everyone sees counting them as a waste of time, so I was asked to do it. :) I didn't mind! I don't know how many ribbons there were, but there were a lot. It took me awhile to count them, and I hate to say that I got some allergies from the old and dusty ones.  Just another unpredictable part of being an association professional AND a one-week jobber. :D

For lunch, I was important. I'm saying this because the office was teasing me about it, so I'm just going to go ahead and

take the boastful route. I attended two lunches, one with some lovely ladies of the TSAE Board of Directors, and another with some members of the Young Professionals Committee. Beth was kind enough to invite me to the first, and I didn't know what to expect. I was inspired to see a group of older and very successful women take turns sharing what was going on in their lives. It was clear that each woman operated in her own unique way, but it was also clear that there was a lot of respect and love at the table.

Susan, Mary, Gwen, Stacy, Pat, and of course, Beth asked me a lot of questions about my one-week job journey, which led to discussions of lifestyle design, the purpose of formal education, and careerism. However, I took every opportunity that I could to eventually change the subject so I could sit back and observe the lunch atmosphere. It felt like a quick lunch, but I felt encouraged and motivated after it. I secretly hoped that I would be having lunches like these in the years to come.

The lunch with the Young Professionals (YP) was equally satisfying, but different. It was more quiet, maybe “chill” would be an accurate word to describe it. The Board of Directors lunch was more high energy, even before everyone sat down. It felt as if the women were old friends who were seeing each other again after some time.

Josh and Sonnia, another TSAE staff member, were at the lunch. Josh was kind enough to organize the lunch so I could meet people closer to my age, individuals I see as the rising stars of association management. The youngest person (from the ages I was given) was seven years my senior, so if I ever choose to pursue the association life, I'll have a lot of work ahead of me! The YP lunch kind of reminded me of many I've had before. One of those times where you've just been inducted into a society, and you and other new members have been invited to an inductee lunch. The food is good, and you probably know one or two other people, but not many people are talking at the table. Because the environment is new, and/or some of the people are new, constant conversation is a little slow to start.

Since I was the new one at the table and the lunch time was aimed at my direct benefit, I started talking a lot in an effort to take advantage. I think I wore myself out quickly, but I kept going. I answered a few questions I was asked about one-week job, but continued on about my blog, and how I was trying to spread awareness of the “pursuit of passion” mindset through videos of people talking about their personal advice and experiences. After explaining my goals for the lunch in this way, Steven, Megan, Julie, Sarah, (Josh, and Sonnia), came through for the world in perfect form:

We Young Professionals (why not include myself at this point) then walked out of the restaurant and went our separate ways. Sonnia suggested dessert, so Josh and I waited for her to get some ice cream from HEB so we could bring it back to the office. The rest of TSAE staff was happy with this decision. I must say...I've never been in an office that has so much food at any time of the day.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining.

As Alaina left for vacation, I kept counting ribbons until Beth and I left for dinner, death-cheating, the Wii, and chocolate ice cream. There is beauty in a routine, friends.

Thursday: Another day that was quite unlike the others. I woke up at “Beth and David time”, around 6:30am. I decided to wait a few weeks to get a new license, since I knew I was going to be in Texas soon. Beth dropped me off at the Austin DPS, and I collected some good stories, unsurprisingly. With my Greyhound adventures and the DPS visit, I must have a best-selling book in me. I got in line at 7:40am, and left at 8:58am – not bad! Josh and Beth picked me up, and we were off to the Omni Hotel downtown.

In addition to a press release and a video of another distinguished professional speaking well of them, TSAE award recipients get to be filmed on the job themselves. Josh, Beth, and I were at the Omni Hotel to film one of the recipients, Leanne, doing her job as Regional Sales Manager. I don't want to ruin the final presentation video for next month, but it was fun to watch, and this time Josh was behind camera. I should've asked him more questions about how he knew he had filmed for long enough, how he was keeping the camera steady, etc. because I was interested to know, but I was too busy being in some of the videos with Leanne!

Haha yep! I'm an actress too! That was a cool and unexpected exercise. Josh gave me some suggestions too, which I humbly and gladly put to use for the second takes. :)

We left the Omni and headed back to the office. Just like she did on the way to the Omni, Beth pointed out loads of association buildings. Many Texas associations are located in Austin to be close to the Capitol and any sort of legislation, but I'm sure that from now on, my eyes will fall upon any association building in any state after seeing so many this week. Some random association facts for you, courtesy of TSAE:

  • The oldest association, American Philosophical Association, was formed in 1735 by Ben Franklin.
  • 9 out of 10 Americans belong to at least one association; 25% belong to four associations.
  • Associations are the leading industry, contributing 5 billion per year to the economy.
  • The top three states by association - employment are California (2,200 Associations; 15,811 employees), Texas (1,678 Associations; 10,165 employees), and New York (1,314 Associations; 12,018 employees).
  • Washington has the highest concentration of associations in order to keep an eye on Congress. Nonprofits/associations are the 3rd largest industry in the DC area, behind government and tourism.
  • According to the UT Bureau of Business Research, the year 2006 saw 954 associations in Texas.
  • Not one college degree is perfectly suited for work in an association. Many association professionals have masters degrees and advanced degrees in law, public administration, and business.

*Lets out deep breath*

If you haven't gotten the point yet, associations are a big deal.

"Every man owes part of his time to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere."


Thursday's lunch was yummy, mostly because Beth graciously shared hers with me: Club crackers and hummus. Bing Cherries. Yogurt & granola. Take notes.

After lunch, I joined Beth at a memorial service for one of her friends that she had worked closely with for some time, lobbyist Joseph Lynn Nabers. Beth had asked me earlier in the week if I wanted to attend, and though I was hesitant (I was worried it was out of place), I agreed. During the program, it was clear that Lynn was highly respected. Again, I am poor at estimating, but there had to be at least 800 people in attendance. Several of the people present held prominent positions in the Texas legislature, including past and incumbent governors.

In listening to close friends speak about Lynn's character and their adventures with him, I was moved. The stories described a man of consistent virtue, intelligence, and hard work in all that he did. I didn't know Lynn at all, but I knew that at the very least, he was someone I would've looked up to. After the service, I spoke very little because a lot was going on in my mind. I realized that Beth had given me an opportunity to learn yet another lesson not just in work, but in life. Whatever you choose to spend your time doing, you must do it well, fully, and by honorable methods. People will remember you for the last part more than else. When all else falls away, the good you did, or the lack thereof, will remain. "It" does matter, even when you think it does not, even when you think no one is watching. Because someone most likely is.

The work day was pretty much over when we returned to the office. After another first-rate, David-made dinner with the Brookses, Beth and I went to Zilker Park to watch Matthew play ultimate frisbee. No, I didn't play. But I dressed like I was going to, and that's what counts. Beth and I sat on some lawn chairs in the shade, and had discussions of life and luck. Beth Brooks is an expert on luck, so you'll have to ask her to get the full details. Hm - I've used the name “Beth” a lot in this post. :)

Anyway, it was nice to get out in the fresh air and just look at the grass, and the sky. Just look. It's been a long while since i've done that. As i've gained more knowledge by being more open-minded throughout this trip, i've put some of my old habits on the back burner. And that's okay, because they've gotten my attention for most of my life. But i'll be ready when i get enough time to sit in one place and put it ALL together, old and new.

i'm beginning to wonder what sort of woman i will improve into after all of this ends. i hope it'll be a woman who will continually produce uplifting memories that will last far beyond the moment she takes her last breath.

So What About You?

What memories/impressions/images would You like to leave behind, if any at all? What do You need to change or improve in your life NOW to make sure that happens?

Whatever You do, i hope You do it not because You see it as a means to an end, but because You want to do good for the sake of simply doing good, and only that.

Talk soon? Talk soon.


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