OWJ Program

Third Last Day: Busy? Just Go to Bed.

Several people have informed me that too much time has passed since I've last written – I'm sorry for that! While I have been using my time for many other things (as always), that is not the reason for my blogging absence. It's been awhile because frankly, I've been having trouble figuring out what to say. In my first One-Week Job blog post, I said this: “I'll be talking about the jobs, of course, but the implications of my involvement in them will transcend the environment I'm in at the time.”

When I used these words a few weeks ago, I meant to convey to You that I wouldn't just be giving you a play-by-play of my work days, but that I would be asking questions that brought my experiences from the workplace into a universal place, one that You could easily access. Moreover, I meant do both things somewhat equally.

You may have noticed that I have given few details about what I was actually doing as a nonprofit worker. That's because I have very little to say about that part of the job, which is neither a great nor a horrible thing. It simply means that there are things to be to be said about why I feel the way I feel. This time around, things'll be much heavier on the question side and  less so on the task-oriented side. There is an opportunity for learning. I hope to shed some light on some of that “learning” in the "Question Time" section.

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Recap Time.

Ah New York. I should've "pulled a Sean and Ian” and stayed for three weeks instead of just one! I don't blame them for doing so, because Anne truly spoiled me with her hospitality. The bulk of my NYC good times were with her and other B&C guests. I'm gonna miss the place, and the people. I have to go back so I can explore more! My last three days of Week #3 were nice.

On Wednesday, I was late to work for the first time. Courtney, the Executive Director of the Jed Foundation, arrived an hour so later into the work day, as he had not been in on Monday or Tuesday for vacation. I was given my third assignment of the week on Tuesday around 3:30pm, and was still working on it. I left at 6pm.

I felt an urge to (finally) treat myself to some foods, so I ate dessert at Pinkberry before heading to Lombardi's

The waiter was nice enough to take our picture!

Pizza, where I met a man named Alex. I introduced him to You on Thursday. You can see from the restaurant's website address that it's something special; it was the first pizzeria in the United States. I didn't elaborate on how Alex and I met each other, so here's the story I submitted on a forum I participate in:

i was waiting to eat alone at a pizzeria. Since I wasn't eating with someone, i had to wait longer for an open table. i overheard a server say that "two people are waiting to eat by themselves", and became confused. i then looked over the podium and saw that another man was also waiting to sit alone. i stuck my head around the podium, smiled and asked, "eating alone, huh?" as if i didn't know the answer already. He laughed and said "yeah" in response. Seconds later, as i had hoped, he asked "hey...do You mind sitting together? i don't. We'd probably get a table faster." HOORAY (i'm a little kid?)! i told an employee of the changed plans, we sat together, ate together, shared wisdom with one another, took a picture together, made a video together, and exchanged contact information in an effort to follow up. I can't tell you how pumped this occurrence made me. There's no harm in taking every opportunity to make a new connection, make a new friend.

Cute, I know. :D Meeting and eating with Alex was the best...yes, it was the best part of my time in New York. Something about connecting with a stranger spontaneously energized my spirit. It reinforced my strong belief in the power of stories, in our fundamental likeness as people, and in the too-common and unnecessary nature of fear and deceit.

Simply put, if we would just stop and talk to/listen to someone we've never met before, we might live a little more. We might learn a little somethin'.

I think we spend too much time fearing for and protecting our hearts. We hold back unnecessarily. When we do this, we hurt hurt ourselves AND others. I'm serious.

Wednesday night was a birthday celebration. Joe, Anne's beau, turned ____-years old. I joined Anne and Joe's friends, an eclectic bunch, at a bar that Joe used to work at. They drank, and I watched. We also ate some strawberry tort that Anne made. Yes, in the bar. It was HEAVENLY...I lasted until 12:45am!!!!!!!! My eyelids were quivering, but I did it! I went to bed smiling –   A SMALL IMPROVEMENT IS STILL AN IMPROVEMENT. :)

Everyone else went on until the usual 4am.

At the Jed Foundation, Thursday and Friday were much like Monday through Wednesday, including the tardiness bit. On Thursday, I reset my alarm one time too many, and on Friday, the subway decided to be 20 minutes late.

Oh Michelle.

Oh, I forgot about Thursday's meeting! I got to sit in on a meeting with the Jed staff members and two ladies from Slate PR, Lindsay and Shawn. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm an advertising campaign for a new website called “Transition Year”, aimed at promoting emotional wellness during the transition from high school to college.

The main concern was reaching out to the parents, since a common trend is that parents will believe in the prevalence of suicide for young adults, but they won't believe the statistics include their own children. Very sad. Many different methods were thrown out, most of which focused on piggybacking on the back-to-school marketing methods of other big corporations such as Target, Container Store, etc.

I was amazed at how good one of the staff members, Dana, was at coming up with social media outlets, and giving feedback on others' suggestions. There were moments where I felt like I was back in my account executive job from Week #1.

Thursday afternoon, I was STILL working on assignment #3. I wasn't joking about the inadequacy of the computer I used all week! Thursday evening, I ate dinner at another New York favorite, called 7a cafe. I ate a vegan black bean burger. I have to admit here that I overlooked the "vegan" part while ordering, so I was surprised when  I looked at my burger and couldn't find the beef HAHA....the "black bean" bit won me over. Nevertheless, it was a good meal. I got some writing and reading done at the restaurant too, so that was relieving.

Friday was really quiet because 3 out of the regular 5 staff members were out of the office, including Courtney. I said some lines up that I was late because the subway was. I took it upon myself to use my Starbucks gift card to get a grande black iced tea and a multi-grain bagel while waiting. I may have to graduate from green tea - the black iced tea was great! NOTHING beats a good breakfast, let me tell you!

Still working on assignment #3, I finished around 3:30pm and was allowed to go home early on my last day. My bus was to leave 14.5 hours later, so I decided not to feel guilty about leaving before 6pm. Back at the B&C, Anne pressured me into eating the last slice of leftover Strawberry tort, and then I took it too far and ate some of her rum cake too. Oopsies. You only do the One-Week Job program once!

Friday night being my last in the city, Anne was so sweet to take me out to dinner. Her daughter Janette joined us. We (She) was having trouble deciding between Ethiopian or Indian. We finally decided on Ethiopian, but the place had closed down! Apparently this sort of thing is common: As one business closes down or moves location suddenly, a new business springs up shortly thereafter. We then tried an Italian place, but the wait was two hours. Finally settling on The Mermaid Inn, a seafood restaurant, I tried octopus, calamari, lobster, and swordfish for the first time. Tasty.

As I told my friend Casey:

"Michelle is a picky eater, but she's trying! :)"

I didn't sleep Friday night in order to take advantage of the bus ride...which actually turned out to be a not-so-good idea. I'll explain later. Around 5am, I packed my things, walked out of the B&C, and caught the attention of a taxi driver right away. After all, it was Friday night. The bars had closed only an hour earlier. On the way to Port Authority, I asked the driver a few times if he heard me and really knew the location of where I needed to go. His responses indicated that I was angering him. I could've felt bad for repeating myself, but I didn't care enough. Let's not forget what happened when I got into New York City. You can never be too sure.

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Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job? Why?

There were several things that I didn't like about the job, but I was far from miserable. The hardest thing for me was that I felt disconnected from the rest of the staff. I'm not sure I came at the best time, because unfortunately, I wasn't able to talk to Courtney very much. Being the Executive Director, he was my primary contact for the one-week job. When he was in the office, he was trying to catch up on the things he had gotten behind on while away. That made it hard to get some good video and discussion in, and I didn't want to rush anything. I wanted things to be comfortable, natural. There wasn't a time where I felt that was possible.

The job was basically 8-hour-days, all business. Any talk that went on was 90% business-related. Talk was pretty minimal otherwise. This environment wasn't easy for me. It got to a point where I got to be very subdued, where I felt that saying certain things at certain times would be inappropriate. Things were a little too professional for me, and it was more than the fact that I was the only one in casual clothing! I just think I was too out of place last week.

In addition to the small amount of discourse, I didn't like  that I was in the same chair for the entire work period. Ironically, I opted to push through the entire day without a break or a very small one, so I could keep the momentum going. In my mind, I had worked so hard to keep going at my desk, I didn't want to ruin it by going out for some fresh air. As a result though, I think I was already in the very early stages of losing my “spark.”

As I may have been uncomfortable in the sense that it wasn't a situation I would be in on a regular basis, my efforts to make the best of it put me in a sort of dangerous comfortability. This "dangerous comfortability" is characterized by a situation in which You tolerate Your existence to a point where You give up and refrain from questioning the alternative. You find your current state forever favorable to anything else.

What did you like about the job? Why?

I loved having something to do at all times. It was a positive change from Week #1 and Week#2. It made me feel busy, and in a way, kept me motivated in the experience. By the day's end, I had physical proof that I had worked throughout the day. I also liked that I got to read about a topic I find so serious in today's world. While I knew most of the information exposed to me throughout the week, I felt happy that I was using my time to read about something I loved.

What lessons did you learn from working as a nonprofit worker?

The people You work with can really determine how positive Your work life is. The Jed Foundation staff was nothing but kind to me, but as I said earlier, I talked to them very little because everything was focused on their own tasks, in their own areas. For me, I think I need not only to like the people I work with, but also to know them on a genuine level. I need to be joking around AND working with my co-workers. I need some times at work where I can hear their stories and get to know them better. I need my work to not feel like work in part because of the people I work with. I don't think I experienced this sensation enough in Week #3.

There's also the lesson in the importance of doing ALL that You do with a sincere effort, whether you like it or don't like it. Fosters good character and resilience.

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

I feel so sad to say “no”, but I can't really say “yes.” I would be lying. I would have no problem doing the job if it was the best option at the time, but if I had other options, I would not do this job again.

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Reflection Time.

This job brought up the topic of “being busy” in comparison to “being productive” in my mind. In thinking about my duties throughout Week#3, I was reminded of my time in school. As a teenager, I went to a few highly-competitive schools. We always had many assignments due on the daily, and there was always a competition in discussing who did what and how much. There were several times where I would be up actually studying (and You know I like my sleep), and I would walk around the library to find that some of my friends were up as well.

Even though they kept claiming they were studying for a test 4 weeks or some ridiculous amount of time away, they were Facebook-ing, or even better, drooling at their computer. They were preoccupied with looking busy, or at least having a lot of things that they could say were on their plate. They may not even have realized it, but the evidence was there that to them, the key to success, self-worth, and praise was to be busy, too look busy. Their goal wasn't to be efficient, or truly productive. They were struggling to stay awake and keep their hard-working image alive, when they were probably better off sleeping.

Working with The Foundation, there were times that I was at my desk and I felt the need to tell one of the staff members that I was honestly working, that the computer was just slow. There were times where a staff member would pass behind me and my heart rate would increase. I felt guilty that I was wasting time at my computer, when really I was doing my assignment, and doing it thoroughly. In actuality, I was completely innocent.

Later in week #3, I started listening to my iPod so I could concentrate better, and I felt guilty for that too. I felt pressure to look busy, because being busy is something that others can see. I was at that desk, subject to observation and assessment at any time, within a certain time frame, so there was that pressure to look alive 24/7. Productivity doesn't necessarily operate the same way, and I think it's hard to have confidence in how efficient we are with our time when no one is looking. I prefer when no one looks, though. I want to go for that confidence.

While Job #3 wasn't the most enjoyable one-week experience for me, I still thank the Jed Foundation for welcoming me into their space. In doing that, they showed their support for my journey in self-growth, and for the One-Week Job Program and mission. I thank them for enabling me to find out what I don't like, which is just as important as finding the opposite. Again, remember that this is my personal experience, and I bear no judgment on the Jed Foundation staff. Nor do I bear any judgment on a "desk job" for other people. We are all different. We have different wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. Don't get me wrong here. I'm simply giving you my true heart when I talk to You.

So What About You?

What is the difference between “being busy” and “being productive”? Do You think there is a focus on the former when it comes to the workplace?

I had a great first day of work at Job#4. Can't wait to share some of the details with You!

-M

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It's Been a Slice!

So, I last left you with my reaction to the slaughterhouse.

Ben, an employee of Bob and Laurie’s, took me with him to pick up some buffalo from the ‘Heart Valley Processors’ slaughter facility. Bob had even called ahead and asked the staff to give me a tour.

When we got there I put on my hairnet and rubber boots, and followed Stan – the owner of the plant. He took me through a few offices, the lunchroom, and then unceremoniously opened the door to the ‘Kill Floor.’

It kind of caught me off guard - one minute I’m walking down the hall, and the next I’m perched on a walkway about 4 feet off the floor, watching the workers process a steer. The cows are killed, strung up, and bled - I never realized how much blood there was in a cow. Then the animals are quickly skinned, gutted, inspected, and hung in a cooler for 10-14 days. Organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys are referred to as ‘awfuls’ and are prepared for consumption as well. The animal’s blood can even be saved and turned into ‘blood sausage.’

SRM’s or Severe Risk Materials such as the spinal cord and brain are thrown out to prevent transmission of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis). After that, the employees of Heart Valley cut up the meat according to their customer’s wishes or ship them off to other butcher shops.

I know it may sound gross and cruel to some – to have a job that focuses solely on killing animals and preparing them for humans to eat - but we need people to do it. The reality of meat processing does get a little messy, but it’s still an important part of many people’s daily diets.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a little uncomfortable watching the process! It was a little shocking to see it all go down, and to be so close to the action. But I respect those who do this job, and therefore make it possible for me to enjoy my medium rare steak and pork chops. And as I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s important to know where your food comes from, and how it’s treated. At least now I’ll have a frame of reference when I sit down to the dinner table…

I spent my last day at the Butcher Shop helping wrap beef jerky and pork sausage, and having some good chats with Laurie. When I talked to her and Bob about their likes and dislikes in regards to running the store, both mentioned the variety it brings. When cutting meat, there are so many different animals – cows, sheep, pigs, deer, elk, moose – and so many different ways to prepare them for the customer. Within the industry there are also a lot of different skills to master, whether it’s slaughter, custom cutting, packaging, or customer service. Plus, these skills can easily be put to use in any country in the world, essentially ensuring that a meat cutter will never be out of work.

While packaging, Laurie and I starting talking about the mutual respect between employers and employees that’s so important. Her and Bob talk to their employees the same way they would chat with a customer – always polite and helpful, and never condescending. That’s something huge that I’ve noticed in my work experience – the more respect I have for my employer, the better job I want to do for them.

As far as challenges in the workplace goes, pleasing the public is definitely high on the list, but something Laurie easily takes to. She’s always so welcoming with everyone who comes through the shop, leaving whatever it is she’s doing to personally go out and greet them.

Bob and Laurie often take on high school students to work for them, usually starting them off as cleaners, and then gradually teaching them the skills involved in cutting meat. The things about cleanliness in a butcher shop, is that it’s one of the most important things to be aware of. You can imagine what the shop would smell like if even one piece of meat was left on the floor and started to rot…yick. By giving a student the job of keeping the shop clean is almost a compliment, as well as a testament, to how the team at the shop needs to work together to ensure their continued success. Bob and Laurie know this, and value the work that everyone brings to the table.

Something I found strange, was the meat cutting is no longer considered a skilled trade in the province of Alberta. I’m not sure why this is, because from what I saw these guys are pretty skilled! They can cut up an entire buffalo in the time it takes me to wrap a few packages of jerky!

But at the end of the day, Bob loves being his own boss. The time commitment and monetary investment is large, but he’s making quality meat products that he is very much proud of. (The buffalo jerky is a favorite of mine, and when tasting it warm out of the smoke house it just melts in your mouth!) Laurie says she loves being able to kiss the boss - and as husband and wife, you can see the respect and love they have for each other.

This week surprised me in so many ways...

Growing up I never thought about what went into preparing the hamburgers I ate at picnics or the steak my family enjoyed on special occasions. I thought that a butcher shop would be all hooks, knives, and animal flesh, and instead discovered the real art that it takes to properly prepare meat. I learned how to make sausages, make hamburgers, wrap and price products, and deal with customers. I even started to get good at wrapping beef jerky - right Bob?!

Ben, Bobby, and Tyler – you guys work for some great people, and are amazing at what you do. Thank you so much for letting me tag along and answering all of my questions.

Bob and Laurie – thank you so much for taking me on for a week, and teaching this city-fied country girl the importance of hard work and quality product. I appreciate your patience and kindness, and the care-package you sent with me is definitely being enjoyed!!

I’ll be sure to come back and visit!

And to whoever wants some quality jerky, sausage, hamburger, etc - make the trip to Beaverlodge, Alberta, and visit the Beaverlodge Butcher Shop!

- Amanda

I'm a Vagabond...Traveling Around Sierra Trading Post

It's already Friday! At the beginning of the week, I walked into the doors of Sierra Trading Post with no idea about what the week would be like. This week has been filled with shadowing lots of people in different departments, eating good food at local hot spots, and learning a ton about Sierra Trading Post! There is something oddly exciting about not knowing what the future holds. I never imagined this week would be so incredible, but Sierra set a high bar for places to work. Their casual, family-oriented work environment is surely one of the factors for their growth as a company.

The last couple days, I've had several appointments with department managers to get an overview of their work.

Merchandising

On Tuesday, I got the unique opportunity to sit in on a vendor meeting. Various vendors from all over the world come to Sierra Trading Post to pitch their products and ultimately, to convince Sierra's buyers to buy them.

A representative from La Crosse Technology came all the way from Wisconsin to show Heather Jahnke, home goods buyer, the latest weather stations that La Crosse is offering. Since Sierra regularly carries their products, the meeting was fairly simple.

Heather looked at her spreadsheet to see how many of each weather station she bought in the past and then compared that number to how many actually sold. If there were lots of units left, Heather would pass on buying more.  To prepare for the Christmas shopping frenzy though, Heather buys more of certain products to ensure they're in stock for the holiday season.

The meeting was very interesting and I soaked up a lot of information in a mere hour!

Copy

Do any of you readers receive Sierra Trading Post Catalogs in the mail? Besides a booming Internet retail site, STP has 12

different mail catalogs that are sent out on a regular basis. If you're like me, details are important when shopping for a product. In both the catalog and on the website, there is text listed below each product that includes specifications (size, weight, measurements) and a short description of the item. There is a whole team of 7 copywriters who work diligently to write a description for each item that Sierra sells. They write by looking at a sample of the item. Before an item makes it into the web store and catalog, it goes through these departments: quality control, photography, color correction, and then the copy department.

I had fun learning from Steph, the PR and Copy Manager for Sierra Trading Post. To cap off my time in the department, I sat with Ashley Arneson, one of the excellent copywriters. She even let me try my hand at writing a description of a sweater!

Photography

There is a talented photography department at Sierra Trading Post. They shoot photos of all the products for the catalog and website. Even though I didn't spend too much time in the studio, I got in on a fun shoot early in the week. They took photos of all the managers for the company BBQ. Check out my photo below:

Here are my final thoughts for the week at Sierra Trading Post:

Best Fringe Benefit: free coffee in the mornings at the espresso bar in the retail store. (They just let me put it "on the tab.")

Best Memory: walking into my cubicle to the sound of my phone ringing...after searching for it with no success, I figured out Bert put it in the ceiling since I had left my ringer on the highest level!

Favorite Department: the "Creatives" in the catalog department. They were super friendly and were hastling me to declare "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob"

Most memorable Employee: Darron,Receiving Supervisor for Sierra Trading Post's Fulfillment Center. (He was super passionate about his job and took time to give me a personal tour of the center.)

Most Challenging Job: Copywriter- This job is tedious and requires the writers to keep their wording fresh and accurate day after day. I definitely have respect for the writers for writing so many product descriptions!

Favorite Local Food: A huge breakfast burrito from R & B

Best Attraction in Cheyenne: The Old Fashioned Melodrama

If you haven't gathered by now, then let me say it blatantly: "

The One-Week Job Program is about so much more than just trying jobs for a week each."

I am growing so much as a person since I'm being forced out of my comfort zone. I'm getting to meet new people in new places and try tasks that I've never tried. Trying different jobs is truly a gift since I don't want to live my life wondering, "What if..."

I'm curious to hear what you blog readers might be putting off? Is there something that you're dying to try or a dream that you're compelled to pursue, but you're not working on it?

I want this blog to be a place where people interact so feel free to comment or if you don't want it public, email your response to me: bestweekjob@gmail.com

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Russian Seattleite*, not Russian Satellite!

Seven hours ago, my fourth day of work ends. I'm waiting for the elevator. Stephanie, one of the Jed Foundation staff members, walks up to wait with me:

Stephanie: "This elevator is so slow. You take your time to say goodbye to everyone in the office, leave, and end up seeing them again seconds later because the elevator still hasn't moved."

Me: "Yeah...yeah...haha...it's slow. I don't know, I'm used to it by now. Doesn't really bother me."

Stephanie: "Yeah you seem like you're pretty patient."

Me: "Eh you know..." (smiles shyly)

Maybe you don't. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not that bad at this "9-to-5" thing! Patience is not a trait that would apply to me in every situation, but yeah, I suppose I can be pretty darn patient in a good amount of circumstances.

For the past four days, I've been sitting at a desk for ~8 hours straight, typing at a computer with RAM that has allowed me to complete assignments 20 times slower than I should, and without a personal water bottle or lip balm (I KEEP forgetting to purchase these items to help myself out) ! I've been working on a weak computer with a dry mouth and rough lips. Yeah...YEAH! I  must be patient! Maybe that's what Stephanie was referring to.

Then again, I'm only doing this for a week. And then there's the fact that I don't know if my habits (not just at work) this week have to do with patience at all. When I think of patience, I immediately think of waiting. Patient people are good at waiting. What are we waiting for? Why are we waiting? Is it because we don't like our current situation and we want something better to come along?

That was a little bit of my transparent brain for you.

I've been thinking about the job, and my time in New York. I really like that I have always had an assignment to work on this week. There's been no hesitation to ask for another task because I've finished another assignment shortly after it's been given to me. Each task has taken me some time, and I feel accomplished after doing them. There hasn't been one time this week where I haven't felt as if I was useful, and that's really kept my focus and confidence up.

On the other hand, while I've been productive at work, I've been finding it hard to do anything after work, something I touched on in my last post. I feel done with the day after 6pm. I really like sleeping, which is a big temptation for me after a full day at the desk. A big temptation, and a big no-no when living in "The City that never sleeps!"

I believe the major problem I've had this week is that I've put pressure on myself to "live it up" here in a way that other people can understand, when I've been so very happy in my own way. On my way to and from the B&C each day, I stop from time to time to listen to someone playing their instrument on the street/subway.

I stop at the park to watch a bunch of kids play a soccer game.

I stop and observe Anne's ethnically diverse group of friends while at a bar, and how a lot of the other friend groups I've seen around town are the same way. I then grin uncontrollably. Frankly, I'm not used to seeing this sort of thing so frequently.

I stop to eat at a good pizzeria (I believe people have forgiven me for the  McDonald's by now), meet someone new, and end up hearing a part of his life story:

I stop and take a deep breath. The air isn't always good over here (chuckle), but I'm happy to be breathing.

I realize that I can do these things anywhere in the world, but that's what I like about the week I'm spending here in New York City. I've been doing these simple things (instead of going to every historical joint) in new, amazing places, but I find that beautiful. The City feeds me back something fresh, in its own language, and I hear it, I FEEL it loud and clearly. I get to just "be" in a new place. There's no pressure when I'm being me. Now don't get me wrong, if I were in a more flexible position job-wise and was subjected to more peer-pressure, I'd probably be doing a  few more touristy things.

But I'm just trying to conclude something here. I don't think I'm patient at all. I'm not in a hurry either. I just feel happy. I feel happy to be doing what I'm doing, and to be alive. Grateful. I feel grateful. I'm not waiting for anything (the perfect job, the perfect time, the perfect place), so no, I'm not really patient. I'm just living. Trying to make the best of where I am as much as I can, with what I've got. That's all.

Am I making any sense? I hope so. Either way, let's talk more about this next time...got work soon! Had to talk this out.

Thanks so much for listening. It helped.

-M

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Mary HAD a little lamb...

Day 3 at the Butcher Shop - and I got to cut some meat!

BUT first off, I should clarify something I said in my last blog.  When I mentioned that I was "in the freezer" cutting down sausage - I was actually only in the "cooler."  First thing that Bob said to me this morning was that he'd read my blog, and that I'd got it wrong.  Then he made me go stand in the real freezer to really see what that felt like (yep. it's a lot colder.)

Back to the shop - I'm still trying to process all that I've learned in the last 3 days.  I've helped link sausage, package sausage, jerky, steak, and ribs.  And today I even got my own metal mesh glove and helped cut some lamb!

Today when I asked Laurie and Bob what the most important things about running a butcher shop were, they had these points to make:

- Quality. Make sure that each cut is fresh, tasty, and not mixed up with the meat of any other animal.  Laurie told me that Bob has actually thrown out batches of meat he's not happy with.  Quality also applies to your customer service and the ability to serve your customer what it is they want.

- Safety. There are a lot of sharp instruments used in a butcher shop, so be careful not to surprise anyone when they're working with knives or saws.

- Cleanliness. After an animal goes through a machine, or is taken off the table after packaging - everything is washed down and disinfected.  Laurie must wash her hands a couple dozen times a day between working with the meat and dealing with customers.

- Pride.  Be good at what you do, and take responsibility for your business.  Learn what works and what doesn't, and be confident in your product.  The Butcher shop has nothing to hide - they know their meat is good, and day after day they prove it!

- Employees. A business is only as good as the people who work there.  Bob and Laurie provide most of the training for the shop, and trust their workers to do a good job.  You can see the friendship and camaraderie on a daily basis - good natured joking, laughing, and trust.

VIDEO - Watch as one of the meat cutters shows me how he's going to cut up the 'Rib' section of a cow:  Cutting up the Ribs

Tomorrow I head out to pick up some bison at another slaughter house, and am getting a chance to tour the facility as well.  This may be an eye-opening experience, as I may see some slaughters actually take place...

Keep in mind that this is all about learning where my food comes from - something that every good farm girl should know!

Just a little question for you:  Why is it important to know where our food comes from, and how often do YOU think about that?

Talk soon!

- Amanda

From Deal to Doorstep: Week #2

Where in the world is Kieley Best? I am in Cheyenne, Wyoming for my second week of the One-Week Job Project at Sierra Trading Post. (In case you missed it, I was on vacation last week and am a week behind Amanda and Michelle.

If you haven't checked out their blogs, take some time to read about their adventures. Both of these girls are super sweet and have lots of great insights to share!

This week is unique since I am not confined to one department within Sierra Trading Post. Unlike the roaster job, it's more difficult to jump right in on the jobs here since they require more experience and training. With 650 employees at the headquarters, there is lots going on! In case STP (Sierra Trading Post) sounds foreign to you: they're a company that sells excess products, closeout deals, and overstock items on their website. Even if you're not into the outdoor gear they specialize in, they've got home goods, clothes, shoes, and gadgets!

Here's a recap of what I've been up to the past 2 days:

E-Commerce Department

Justin Johnson, Online Marketing Manager, gave me a short tutorial about the basics of using Wordpress for blogging. STP is constantly tracking how many people visit their website, view the blog posts, click on email ads, and more. Justin explained to me how the company uses Google Analytics (free!) to gauge how many times people view each blog post and where readers are located.

In the E-Commerce department, I have been mainly watching how Naomi interacts with STP customers on Facebook and Twitter. It's amazing how posting a simple status on facebook about a STP contest can generate a lot of excitement! To learn more about the E-Commerce jobs, I sat in on the marketing meeting. The main thing that stood out is that they are very goal-oriented. Each member of the team is expected to make a certain amount of money based on how much money they invest in their projects.

For example, Bert, Search Marketing Manager, spends money to ensure that when people search for certain brands & products on Google that Sierra's links will be close to the top of the list. If STP is not making money from Bert's work, then he's just wasting his time! With measurable goals, it helps everyone in the department to stay focused and ultimately, to make money for Sierra Trading Post!

Fulfillment Center:

As a regular STP customer, I frequently receive boxes and brown paper packages from them in the mail. Before taking a tour of the fulfillment center, I assumed that processing and shipping was a boring procedure. I could not have been more wrong!

Naomi and I got a fantastic tour by Darron, the receiving manager for the fulfillment center. Sierra buys products from hundreds of vendors that are received, stored, taken off shelves by order fillers, packed, and finally shipped to the customers! The receiving section is called "the warehouse" and is full of boxes of items that have just arrived from vendors. If the product is already individually packaged, it will be stored until an order comes in to be filled. If it's a box of bulk t-shirts, they are sent to a section to be packaged individually. After an order comes in, the order fillers collect the items from the shelves. After the items are packed into boxes and receive their shipping label, they travel down a chute to be sorted into different trucks. I was like a little kid at Disney World during the tour since the process is very fascinating. I loved seeing how the machines work and the fact that there's a personal touch since people fill orders, operate machines, and pack the boxes.

I was very impressed by the efficiency of the fulfillment center. Darron went into great detail about their energy-efficient skylights, the water pipe drainage system, and their high-tech machines that get the job done! The fulfillment center uses machines to expedite packing and shipping, but there are great people who work to send out the clothes, shoes, and other items people order. It was great to hear Darren speak so highly about their employees who are committed to both speed and accuracy.

That's all for now! I will blog more later this week to share more!

Email me with questions, comments, and feedback here: bestweekjob(at)gmail.com

-Kieley

"Mind The Mind"- Week #3: NonProfit Worker

I'm in New York, New York now. :) I've traveled ~679 miles this week, and ~2841 miles overall. Here's the trusty visual again:

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This week, I'm working with a nonprofit organization called the Jed Foundation. Their mission statement:

"The Jed Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization working to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence of emotional distress of college students."

This job is my first traditional one, for I'm working 10am to 6pm all five days. I have my own desk and computer too! The work that the Jed Foundation does is personal for me. Having experienced mental illness for most of my life, one of my focuses in life is to do all that I can to remove the unnecessary stigma that follows it. I made sure that one of my one-week jobs would give me knowledge to keep me on that path.

As far as my tasks, I'm doing my part to help move some of the Foundation's projects along. I expect that each day will be similar, and I'm okay with that. As long as I'm helping a cause I care deeply about in any way, I feel happy. I do have a hunch that the staying-in-an-office-all-day bit will not be my favorite thing, though. However, in addition to the Foundation's mission, I chose this job because I wanted to experience what is customary in careerism. It's good to question the normal by doing unique things, but it is also important to still experience the normal. That way, you can say you've "done it all", that you've made an informed move in regards to your future.

So about the actual CITY I'm working in.

I got into New York around 11am on Sunday, and was amazed at the size of the bus terminal. I later found out that the Port Authority Bus Terminal is the largest bus station so my awe wasn't exaggerated. Outside, I found a taxi quickly. The driver turned out to be Ghanaian! Having a cultural connection is always nice...but so is having good communication. He told me he knew the location of my lodging, but his driving conveyed otherwise.

So in the first minutes of my first visit to New York City, I was giving SOMEONE ELSE directions.

Had I not taken action, my fare would have been outrageous. Whether or not he was in denial or trying to steal my money, I'm glad I spoke up. I cannot lie; it was a confidence booster. :)

I arrived at my location a few minutes later, where I finally got to meet the owner of the Bed and Coffee (B&C), Anne. Anne is a charismatic, kind-hearted businesswoman and painter who is letting me stay on one of her couches for free. She helped Sean in the same way during the Project, so I am grateful to him for the connection. Harrison, Anne's assistant, gave me a tour of the place and gave me some helpful tips for staying in NYC. He's already made me aware of events going on so I can make the best of my stay. Very hospitable guy.

After I got settled in, a couple of us went to watch the World Cup final. You know how that ended:

I decided to take the Subway to work, to make the next morning smoother. I'm slow with directions, needing to physically walk/drive the path, so I'm hoping to confidently navigate the MTA by Friday. I successfully made it to work and back, sat at a lovely park for awhile, ate dinner, showered, and passed out in couch. I seem to be doing that a lot, passing out from the day. I think that's good. The good-tired, not the bad-tired. It means my life is going well. :)

Yesterday, I made it to my first day of work with time to spare, and Stephanie, the Foundation's Program Manager, put me right to work. I spent most of the day looking over website content, which kept my attention for the entire eight hours. If you haven't gathered already, I'm a real nerd when it comes to information search. After work, I had dinner...which was a huge mistake.

I ate McDonald's.

I ate McDonald's in New York City.

I don't know how, it just happened! Never again, I apologize (to whom I'm not sure)!

When I got back to the B&C, Harrison told me about this great live music show going on that evening. He wasn't forceful, but after the McDonald's error, I could see that he was trying to gently push me to get the heck out of the B&C and actually do something New York.

Though I meant to go out like a young person should, I accidentally fell asleep until this morning.

Sigh. Two strikes.

Currently, I'm back at the B&C from my second day of work, during which I did some research for a new project and a new website concept. I'm determined to do something this evening. It's not every day that you're in "The City"! I can sleep when I'm not awake! Which should be next week. Send me peer pressure vibes please.

So What About You?

Why Do You think I'm so terrible at being in New York for the first time?

I'm joking with the question, but You can answer it if you want. I'm embarrassed and disappointed in myself. Feel free to laugh at my ways...

Talk Soon!

-M

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Week 3: The Beaverlodge Butcher Shop

To be completely honest - I have NEVER thought about becoming a butcher.  Until now. WATCH: First Day Jitters!

When I was awarded one of the One Week Job grants - I definitely had my home town of Beaverlodge, Alberta in mind for this week specifically. With my cousin getting married this past weekend, and one of my best friends from elementary school getting married next weekend - it made sense for me to try and find work in this part of the country.

To help, my mom had written out a list of possible places for me to work: Daycare Centre, Organic Veggie Farm, Tree Planter - and Butcher Shop.

Butcher Shop??  Really?!  I quickly wrote off the idea, and started looking into some Daycare facilities in the next city over.  But the more I thought about it - the more the butcher shop seemed like a really interesting idea.

For as long as I can remember, my family has raised cattle.  When I was a little girl, my dad would lift me up to look between the boards of the fence so that I could pet the tamer cows and have them lick me.  Until about a year ago when my dad sold the last of the herd, we'd watched the calves being born in the spring time, listened to the moos coming from the field, and helped haul in the steaks and ground beef when one had been sent in for slaughter.

Now, I'm no vegetarian.  I respect those who are, for whatever reason they have chosen to be one - but I've been raised to eat meat.  Our cows and chickens have always been 'free range' and 'organic' by any standards.  I've watched my dad grow the crops that have gone on to feed our cows, and we know exactly what's gone into raising them.

It's for this reason that I felt the Butcher Shop would be a good fit for Week 3.  I've spent years eating steak - now it's time to learn what goes into grinding, cutting, and packaging it.

The Butcher Shop is owned by Bob Geib, a man who has been cutting meat for the last 33 years.  I guess if I'm going to learn about this, I should learn from the best!

I was nervous at first - heading into town...I'd been in the shop before, but had never met the people who'd worked there.  As soon as I stepped inside, however, Laurie - Bob's wife - happily greeted me, gave me an apron, and put me right to work!  I spent the morning helping with buffalo sausages.  Bob would fill them, and I would measure the lengths and make the links.  Now, it's a lot harder than it sounds - twisting the lamb casing properly so that it doesn't break, making the links the right length, and doing it all quick enough to keep up with Bob!  We hung the links on metal racks and then put them in the smoke house to add flavour with some wooden hickory chips.  After about 2 hours in the smoke house, the sausages were boiled in water as hot as 70C, and then cooled off in the freezer.

In the afternoon I spent some quality time in the freezer (a good 10-15 minutes worth) , cutting off the links to prepare for packaging.  I couldn't feel my fingers!  You'd think growing up the Prairies would prepare a person for this kind of deep freeze...

Now - there's a lot of work that goes into preparing all this meat, and the sausages are only a small portion of what Bob and Laurie do.  They prepare everything from cows, moose, deer, and pork for local businesses, farmers, hunters, and the public.  The shop is completely hands-on and home-made, with Bob knowing EXACTLY what goes into each batch of seasoning, how many different cuts need to come out of an animal, and when a customer's order needs to be ready.

One of the most important points Bob made right off the bat - was that people often don't know what they're eating.

We're happy to just pick up meat at the deli, or grab a pack of hot dogs from the grocery store.  So many meat products are crammed with preservatives to make them last longer on store shelves.  Bob, however, only adds a percentage of what some larger shops do; packages of sausages don't sit on the shelves for weeks on end - they're made to eat fresh.  That, along with doing everything by hand, acts as the quality control for the shop - and is definitely a big reason for the shop's 15 years of success.

There's a lot more to learn though - and I'm ready for it!  Bring on the bacon!

See you on my blog soon -

Be there, or be ground beef.

-Amanda

Week 2: Lessons in Coffee

Heyo! Well, I made it to Alberta safe and sound - and had an amazing weekend with my family at my cousin's wedding!!  It's not easy living across the country - and it's always great to be back out west, enjoying the prairie landscape and all the fresh air that comes with it!

Here's a map of my travels thus far: TORONTO TO BEAVERLODGE - I've traveled approximately 3,799 km for Week 3!

I left off my last blog about my job at Pennylicks cafe.  To recap and talk about the reality of working in such a position, I should ask myself a few questions...

What's so great about owning and running your own cafe? I love meeting new people, and consider myself a pretty easy person to talk to.  Personally, I believe that coffee brings people together (Kieley also mentioned this in her blog), and that a cafe can act as a community-centre of sorts.  Coffee can soothe.  It can act as a mediator of conversation and debate.  Coffee is a refuge.  It's a privilege to be able to sit down and read a great book or visit with a friend while sipping on a great soy latte.  I feel that I would get a great amount of satisfaction out of creating a positive space and experience for others.

What kind of problems can I see? As I've mentioned in my 2 previous blogs on Pennylicks, time commitment is key to owning and running a successful business.  I would have to fully commit myself to my store - and work evenings, weekends, and holidays to make it worth while.  That said - I could also make my own hours, but obviously I would have to be open long enough to make some money!

What would my cafe be like? My dream cafe would be more than just a place to drink great coffee.  It would double as an art gallery, and perhaps even a wine bar at night.  I envision local musicians coming in to host open-mics and maybe even spoken word or poetry readings.  I see my cafe as a place where people would come because they felt safe, comfortable and inspired to be there.  I see it as a place that would support local artists and help give them a stage through which they could share their talents.

Realizations: I'm more in love with the idea of the 'experience' than the actual coffee itself!  It's all fine and good to enjoy the community atmosphere, but it's not all gonna be perfectly steamed milk and roses.  There's financing needed to renovate a space and buy equipment, you have to be able to make (and stick to) your budget, and then there's the realization that to succeed it will take TIME.  Cafe's aren't overnight successes - a lot are simply built on word-of-mouth, and can take years to establish themselves.

Questions: Am I that patient?  Can I put my money where my coffee is?  Am I willing to dedicate that much of my time to making my cafe work??  And importantly - would I be able to handle it if my cafe failed?

A lot to think about...and perhaps I'll get some added perspective on small business during my week at the Beaverlodge Butcher Shop...should be interesting!

Night night,

Amanda

Second Last Day: Away from Ann Arbor

Hi :) Before I go on about myself and my adventures with the One-Week Job Program, I want to take a minute and talk about the One-Week Job Project.

Many of You know that Sean released a book in May. Soon to follow is a sure-to-be-hit of a movie, One-Week Job - The Documentary. For the movie to be 100% ready, Sean and Ian need some extra support. Even if I weren't a participant in this Program, my stance on the movie would be unchanged:

This movie is important for all of us.

The One-Week Job Project has already done so much for the future of our existence by asking questions that many people wouldn't think or dare to ask.

How are You spending your days on Earth? Are You slaving away, working 80 hours a week only to get your reward in Your last years? Why not reward Yourself now, by searching for what You love, and LIVING IT? You'll live happier, and You'll probably live longer. Think about it. Even if just for a second.

This is what we need in our lives, friends. We need to be challenged so we can give ourselves that personal freedom we ALL deserve. So please, give something novel a chance, and give a little somethin'-somethin' to the One-Week Job documentary! You are NOT giving away money to another person looking only for personal gain. You're giving love and support for the betterment of us. The betterment of us. Okay, (DONATE!!!!!!!) done with that.

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Early Friday morning, Alli took me to the Arboretum, which was a breath-taking experience. We then went for Washtenaw Dairy doughnuts. If You ever find yourself in Ann Arbor, GO TO Washtenaw Dairy. This was my second trip, and I got six doughnuts...I wanted to make sure I got my fill! I just don't understand why everything that tastes good has to be fried. It's bothersome, really.

The outreach show Friday night was approximately an hour away in Lansing, Michigan. I'm terribly uneducated about environmental issues, but in hearing/reading the presentation from the Stewardship Network, I learned a little. Once more, passion was displayed. It was obvious how dedicated all the staff members were to the environmental cause. The way they talked about certain issues, their facial expressions full of focus and sincerity. It made me want to take time to research and make efforts to become more conscious of the nature around us, which is how POSITIVE passion works. It makes others pay attention, and want to know what You're about. Beautiful.

The show was great as expected, but it was a bittersweet event. Collin didn't show up because he had a family

event to attend, and Noah and Mel ended up leaving afterward to go see family members as well. In a way, this last show of the week was an ending point for my interaction with some of the members. I was extremely camera-happy on this day, and I think it was because I was desperate to capture memories before I left. This one-week thing can be hard at times!

After we got back to Ann Arbor, we went out for an hour or so around midnight-thirty. I know everyone was tired, so it was so kind of Phil, Brandon, Julie and Alli to take me out. It was probably because I had mentioned my love for dancing every hour on the hour since I had come into town. Upon surveying the crowd at the club, the diversity shocked me. Top 40 "boom booms" (this is what the group calls dance music...I'm going to try this term out in another state and see what reaction I get) were playing and people of different dressing styles, different ages, and MANY different ethnicities were focused on gettin' down. The scene made  me so, SO happy. I felt so comfortable being around so many new people. I know it's only been one week, but I might end up falling in love with traveling.

The night out ended around 2am, and we all went right to sleep.

Saturday morning, most of the members left to go on different errands at different times, so I had to say goodbye one by one. Julie took me to the bus stop, so she was the last person I saw. Leaving Ann Arbor around 6pm, I was at peace with the end of my second one-week job. Endings can be good if we make them. After all, my time was spent very well. I can see myself in Ann Arbor again. I hope it's sometime soon.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job? Why?

There were times that I felt as if I was not useful, and that was extremely hard for me. Not being a trained musician, my knowledge of the equipment was limited, so I wasn't much help in crunch time. This is a downside to only being in a job for week, and I knew that coming in. Experiencing it is a different story though.

What did you like about the job? Why?

I loved getting to listen to music being made every day. The happiness I got from this just re-confirmed how important music is to me, and that whatever I do will have to incorporate it in some way.

I liked being a part of such a close group that was able to work together so well, separating personal issues and business issues. There weren't any cliques, and I was quickly accepted as part of the group. I could tell their actions were genuine because I was exposed to a heavy spectrum of each person's personality, haha. I got to witness joy, fatigue, stress, and so many other emotions with this job. The healthy camaraderie was refreshing, and so was seeing how integral each member was to the success of the entire show. You get a little confidence with your contribution, and you get some love and support because you need the help of another. Good combination.

I also enjoyed the idea of having more than one job, maybe two. One is your primary interest or love, and another is a job that doesn't drain you, but still keeps you challenged because you don't necessarily love it as much as the first. In other words, the second job makes you appreciate the job you love or the time spent on what you love more. I could see myself employing this technique.

What lessons did you learn from being a producer-roadie-rock star-mostly-rock-star?

  1. If You don't know how to help, clean. First of all, there is always something to be done. Secondly, if you don't believe the first point, know that something is ALWAYS dirty. That should do some convincing. When the group was intensely practicing for their big show on Wednesday, I stayed out of the way so they could prepare efficiently. I was struggling with staying occupied. I then noticed how messy the work room was, and began to clean. I got satisfaction out of being productive, and it turns out that I gave the group significant help. Cleaning is just so darn fulfilling to me. Therapeutic, even.
  2. Friends can work, play, and live together without killing each other...all at the same time. I have a rule against anything but "playing" with my friends, but being with Juice has made me seriously reconsider that rule.
  3. Worry/anxiety isn't necessary. While thinking about my part of the show, I was deciding whether to get nervous. A few of the band members asked me if I was nervous, and I decided to say "no." I figured that whether I worried or not, the show was going to go on. Nothing horrible would happen if I "messed up", and if I got too nervous, I'd just make the experience unenjoyable. So, I made the decision to just rock out. And I had a great time doing it. This mentality can be applied to several scenarios in life. Worrying wastes time, friends.
  4. It's okay to be a photo addict. I was never that girl that said "PHOTO OPP!" every minute, but I may be turning into her. Just a little bit. I always found carrying a camera to be an inconvenience, and taking pictures to be a distraction. However, I was ridiculous on Friday, taking 124 photos. I took nearly 200 photos and 11 videos overall! I realize now that taking pictures is kind of fun, and at the end of all this, I think I'll really appreciate going out of my comfort zone in this way. The One-Week Job Program, growing Michelle yet again.
  5. Smile first. Yep, lesson learned once more. If I left Juice with anything, it may have been with simple encouragement. I tried my best to keep the energy up because I knew the week was stressful and my presence need not be anything but positive. So I brought the smiles and the pump-ups. I think (I hope) it made a difference, for them and for me. :)

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

Yes, as a roadie mostly. I could see myself learning more about the equipment, being able to organize it and maybe even becoming a sound technician, helping to set up an actual stage. I'm good at staying calm under serious time pressure, and at getting people pumped up for shows. I got very little exposure on the production company side of things, but I think that is something I could definitely be a part of as my musical exposure/connection. The rock star bit wouldn't hurt either, as a guest! :)

In retrospect, my initial love for Juice did nothing but increase exponentially throughout my time in Michigan. I'm glad I had no expectations because I was pleasantly surprised. To the witty, beautiful, gifted, selfless group Juice -  Noah, Hiro, Mel, Phil, Julie, Brandon, Collin, Erin, and Alli:

Thank you.

You gave me a deeper appreciation for music and memories. I wish You all knew how big of a deal that is. In boldly pursuing your dream, you are all mentors to me. I will miss You all very, very much. I'll be emailing. :)

So What About You?

What is it about music that connects people and brings them together instantly?

For me, I honestly believe that music will play a significant role in bringing about world peace. That's all I really have to say about that. :) As a calming end to this post, enjoy this piece from Friday's performance. Noah of Juice displays his hand-talent with a transformed tank:

Off to watch the World Cup final!

-M

For the last time:

Follow JUICE on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

"I Wanna, I Wanna Rock Right Now"

I wrote this early this morning, but the internet hasn't been working - will update more later! Hi :)

This week has gone by SO. FAST. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that i'll be leaving for my third one-week job tomorrow. Hard to do.

Being a rock star is going well. Here's a run-down of the past few days:

On Wednesday, we rocked out. Somewhere around 2:30pm, we all ended up at the basement (Juice's practice space), and started loading equipment into the truck. The truck turned out to be smaller than expected, so we had to rely on Phil's Tetrus-esque genius to make as many items fit as possible. It was hot and sort of tension-filled, but we got through it. We ended up putting some items in cars, and we were on our way.

After we packed everything and got to the venue, we had to unpack the truck, haha.  That was a lot faster. A lot of people helped us set up for the show, which took about two hours. It was VERY hot, though i was mostly unaffected, being from Texas. The dangerous bit about the heat is that Juice's performance attire is all black: Black shirt, black pants, black shoes. Black. Blackblackblack. In nearly 100-degree weather. I'll say it again: dangerous.

Collin's laptop was needed for one of the pieces, but it was so hot that his laptop overheated. We ended up having to cut the song from the set list. The show began at 6:30pm, and it was awesome. It was a different, exciting experience to watch the group display their skill on a stage in front of a big audience, as opposed to in that tiny basement. They looked like...like rock stars (Glad i'm not overusing these two words), actually. As for me, I got to play the gong and the cymbals. I wasn't too bad! (<-- HUMILITY :D) The show ended after an hour, and we had to hurry to pull everything off stage for the next act. It was really hectic, but as usual, we got the job done efficiently. We packed the truck, went back to the basement, and unloaded the truck. We were all so tired we didn't bother to organize it all.

Thursday was another Tuesday. Not much went on because again, everyone was doing their jobs, making that money for the Juice! The night ended with wedding talk (a few of the members are engaged) and a Harry Potter film.

Today brings another show, but this one's a little different. Juice does what they call "outreach" shows, where they perform for free in support of a good cause. These shows are a little smaller and a little shorter, but with just as much energy. Tonight, they'll be supporting the Stewardship Network, an "organization working to protect, restore, and manage Michigan's natural lands and waters." A few of the members work for this organization, so this event is personal for them.

I want to give some of you out there a break, so I will end here - my shortest post ever! Stay tuned for my Rock Star wrap-up. I'll surely miss Ann Arbor when I leave tomorrow evening. These wonderful people have already become good friends of mine.

-M

"I write to understand as much to be understood."

ELIE WIESEL

Follow JUICE on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

“Olive Juice!”- Week #2: Producer-Roadie-Rock Star

Hey from Ann Arbor, Michigan! This week's job has resulted in my first bit of traveling during the One-Week Job Program. i've now gone 2,162 miles by bus! Here's a visual for you:

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For all You travelers out there, i strongly suggest using Everlater as a journal for your adventures. It enables to you to blog, upload photos, embed videos, and do it by every stop you mark on the travel map. There's also an iPhone app. Check it out!

This week, i'm working with a 9-person musical percussion variety group called Juice.

Brandon, one of the members of the group, contacted Sean twice: Once during his 52-week Project, and again before the Program started. When Sean released Brandon's information to us, i responded to the email with one statement after doing my research:

"I love Juice."

i've said before that i'm completely moved by music. i can't read a note of sheet music, but it drives me. It gets me up in the morning, it makes my existence more lively, and it keeps me up at night. A quote by one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes, sums up how i feel:

"I can listen to music and instantly be anywhere that song is trying to take me. Music activates a certain mental freedom in a way that nothing else can, and that is so empowering. You can call it escapism if you like, but I see it as connecting to a  deeper human feeling than found in the day-to-day world...music is a weird and cosmic thing, its own strange religion for nonbelievers, and what a joy it is to make in any form."

This is a feeling that i know many of us understand.

So i jumped at the the chance to come to Michigan. i thought it fitting for me to be a part of a true musician's world, even better the world of a musical group. I wanted to see all the hard work that goes into writing and performing music - you know, all the stuff we listeners rarely think about. A musical group is a whole different beast in itself. The chance to see how a music act comes together, with the different personalities, stories, and skills, was intriguing to me.

i anticipated that it would be another heavy-shadowing opportunity, much like last week, so i prepared myself and have done my best to take note of every different situation i've been exposed to here. My bus arrived in Ann Arbor 4 hours behind schedule, after a tire blew out 15 minutes from my stop. This was on Sunday. i caught the group at the end of their weekly meeting, located in the building where Brandon and Erin, another member, work another job. In addition to being a musical act, Juice has its own musical productions company, Group Four Entertainment, Inc. Being crazy ambitious, they made the company as a way to legitimize and ease their tour-planning efforts. This is the "producer" part of the job title where I got to hear some talk about marketing, promotions, budgeting. etc. In a way, my job from last week was already helping me understand things!

i had missed most of their activities for the day, but the group took me to their basement practice grounds, another space that is an employer hook-up. i then went grocery shopping with Julie and Phil - their suggestion. Even though i was exhausted from the long bus ride, it was nice to have my own food in a new place right away. One worry that never had to exist. i felt grateful. We then ate some good steak and crab, and watched fireworks in celebration of the holiday.

Later in the night, Mel, a fifth group member, talked to me about the different parts of Michigan, describing Ann Arbor as the more liberal, environmentally-conscious area. It was helpful to get a sociological breakdown. In terms of my accommodation, i'm being spoiled. :) i have my own room for the week! Most of the groupmates live in the same complex, with the girls living in one apartment and the boys living in another. The girls were kind enough to set up an empty room for me, and it's so cute! Being the night owl i am, i stayed up late working on random projects while everyone went to bed the first night.

Monday was promotions day. i went out with Julie and Phil to run errands for different acts for a show that happens to be later today! We also ate some tasty doughnuts. Then, the team broke up into three groups to do what they call "flyering", aka placing promotional flyers for the band's show all around town. i got to go with Erin and Collin, a sixth member around Downtown Ann Arbor. During our time together, we walked through the original Borders bookstore, saw way too many coffee shops within a small distance, ended up on University of Michigan's main campus and the "Law Quad", and got to "spin the cube":

It was "Cool!" After flyering, there was an intense practice that consisted of lots of skill, weird instruments, and sweat. It lasted about 6 hours or so, and was incredible to watch. It made me a little envious that i hadn't received proper music training as a child. Oh! The "Rock Star" part of my job is that i have a few parts in the show! i got a chance to practice my parts as well. Two runs later, everyone went home. It was a tiring but productive Monday. Being a Rock Star isn't as easy as You might think. i slept hard this night.

Tuesday was laid-back for me. The general schedule for Juice is that everyone does Juice stuff Sunday through Tuesday, and then they can do other things for the rest of the week. However, this week is a bit different with shows on Wednesday and Friday, so flexibility is at a high. Yesterday, everyone clocked in at their other, "normal" jobs, including me. From nanny to bartender to salon manager to farmer to environmental non-profit worker, Juice comprises of some serious variety. The group members are so passionate about their music that they take on other jobs to pay the bills so they can keep doing what they love to do. This is in hopes that one day music will be all that they do. Inspiring. At 6pm, equipment touch-ups, dress rehearsals, and equipment take-down (the "Roadie" aspect) took place. The night ended around midnight, after which there was some pizza, talking, and heavy sleep once again.

Today is the big show. We'll be meeting early this afternoon, dressing in all black, to pack all the music equipment into a van, drive to the set, unpack and build, perform, take everything down, pack everything in the truck, drive back to the practice space...well, you get it.

So far, i'm really enjoying Ann Arbor. There are a lot of trees here, which fascinates the child in me. i'm fortunate enough to again be with good, passionate, (and TALENTED) persons who are caring  and fun to be around. Most of the members in Juice recently graduated from college. The group has only been together a year, and that is important to note because they basically started a musical act AFTER college. Most people would be too fearful to do this, believing that it's too late, that life after college is meant strictly for a 9-to-5. Juice had/has a different mentality. They figure that they could use the time that would be spent studying for making Juice even better, so they're doing all that they can do make this happen. Last night, i was talking to a seventh member, Alli. She told me that she was impressed by me. She said that most people my age, especially me, having experienced very little thus far, would take the reliable road:

"MOST PEOPLE WOULD GIVE UP. THEY WOULDN'T TRY. THEY WOULD BE TOO AFRAID TO DO WHAT YOU'RE DOING, TRAVELING EACH WEEK FOR THIS PROJECT."

- ALLISON KRIEG

While i was flattered by her statement, i found it surprising. After all, i'm simply doing what she and the others are doing. Putting all my energy (willingly, of course) into living with meaning, even if i'm not quite sure what that means.

So What about You?

Do You think that as humans we lose our "spark" as we get older? Do You think it's a common belief? Why or Why not?

I'll just let You answer this alone. Let me know.

Please, wish me luck today!

-M

Follow JUICE on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Horsin' Around in the Wild West

Hey everyone!

Long time no blog!

After wrapping up a incredible week as a coffee roaster, I flew over to Wyoming for a unique adventure! I am currently in Cody, Wyoming on vacation with my family. The day after I found out I got to be part of the One-Week Job Program, I got a special email. The email was from an outdoor retailer called Sierra Trading Post. It explained that I had won their Wild West Getaway trip for the week of July 4th. I hated to take a break for a week, but who could turn down an all-expenses paid trip to a dude ranch! The sweet thing is that I got to take my parents and my brother too.

The schedule here is pretty packed with family meals, 2 trail rides daily, swimming, excursions, and hiking.

My family and I arrived in Cody on Saturday night and woke up early Sunday to get a spot downtown for the 4th of July parade. The parade was mighty festive and I enjoyed seeing peoples' pride about their town.

I will be back to the One-Week Job Program next week. What's next you ask?

I'm flying across Wyoming to Cheyenne, home of Sierra Trading Post's headquarters. I'm not going to say what my job is yet so check back next Monday to find out!

Hope everyone is having a splendid summer and enjoying life!

Blessings,

Kieley Best

Have questions or job leads for me? Email Kieley here: bestweekjob(at)gmail.com

I have had a few companies back out last minute and am looking to work in the interior design field, culinary chef field, or something with photography. Please contact me via email with details if interested.

Week 2: Coffee Shop!

Man...I don't know why I always get the urge to write these things so late at nite...but here I am...1am on a Monday...blogging. Toronto's going through a major heat wave at the moment, so it's not like I'd be able to sleep anyway, and with the humidity it's more like I'm going to "swim" to bed...

BUT!  That's not gonna stop me from talking about Day 1 of Week 2.

Today, I found myself at 'Pennylicks Gourmet Cafe' - a cute little coffee shop in Kensington Market, Toronto.  This is a totally bohemian area of the city, with plenty of graffitied walls, screen-printing shops, and hipsters riding bikes.

The shop owner, Steve, was interested in the OWJ program right off the bat - stating that it was something he wishes he'd had the opportunity to do 20 years ago!

I spent the morning with Steve's brother (and shop co-owner), Chris - getting the shop ready for the day.  We went over the basics of coffee making, brew strengths, taste, and some important points of small-business ownership.  Steve came in for the afternoon, and very kindly sat down with me to chat.

WATCH Steve discuss his tips for finding a career that makes sense HERE: "Life Points with Steve"

The brothers have owned the shop just over 2 years.  Steve has worked his other job as a Mechanical Engineer for years, but coffee has always meant a lot to him. During his teen years he often found himself working in cafes, and eventually the thought of being his own boss really started to appeal to him.

Steve and Chris found the cafe (formerly a furniture store), and snapped it up.  After gutting everything and rebuilding it up to city codes and standards, they opened Pennylicks.  Apparently the name comes from an old ice cream cup that was called a "penny lick" because of the price and what you had to do to the cup in order to get your money's worth of ice cream...an interesting precursor to the ice cream cone.

Now the cafe serves gelato, sandwiches, and COFFEE!!

Ever since I traveled overseas, coffee has become very dear to me.  To me it means comfort, community, and inspiration.  The feeling I get from sitting down with a great cup of coffee can't really be paralleled. Whether my company is that of a good book or a good friend, a good coffee can lift my mood after only a few sips.

I even got to try my hand at making a few drinks, although I wouldn't really recommend anyone actually drinking them...;)

And even though it's almost 2am now, tomorrow I'll be up bright and early to head to work...good thing I'll be at a coffee shop!

Nite!

- Amanda

Coffee Time: A Recap of Roaster Life

Where in the world is Kieley? I am no longer in Athens, GA since I wrapped up my week as a roaster on Friday. After driving 4 hours home to do a quick round of laundry, I packed once again for more adventures!

Right now I am sitting in Cody, Wyoming since I am taking this week as a vacation. I know it seems early in the One-Week Job Project to be on vacay, but here's the scoop: I won an all-expenses paid trip from this cool company called Sierra Trading Post.

How? I simply took 20 seconds to fill out my name, address, and email about 2 months ago on their website for the contest. I must say it was worth the time! This week will be different as I will post updates about my vacation at a Dude Ranch. It's not technically one of my jobs, but I still want to show what life on a ranch is like!

Before jumping into horse stuff and western adventures though, let me share the highlights of my week as a roaster for Jittery Joe's Coffee:

I worked with Charlie Mustard and had a fantastic time!

In 5 days, I...

-Learned what stages coffee beans go thru during roasting

-Observed Charlie roasting for lots of hours

-Roasted coffee with an Air-Popper (usually used for popcorn)

-Packaged coffee with Christian

-Delivered coffee to local Jittery Joe's shops

-Learned how to create coffee "blends" (multiple types of beans combined)

AND FOR THE GRAND FINALE...

-Roasted my own coffee, packaged it, and even created a custom label

Here's a Video to express my excitement: Final Coffee Test: Kieley Roasts Her Own!

I chose Ethopia Yirgacheffebeans since I have a new cousin from Ethiopia. The name, "Smiley Kieley" was an obvious choice since I've been told it's impossible for me to not smile. :)

Overall, Jittery Joes set the bar very high in regards to being amazing people with sweet jobs and kind hearts. I was blessed to get lots of hands-on experience, meet many Athens locals, and even take home a case of my very own coffee!

Special thanks to Charlie Mustard, his wife Allison, Christian, Seth, Michael Ripps, and everyone else on the Jittery Joe's Coffee team.

Before I launch into an Academy Awards-esque thanks speech, I will cap off this post. Tomorrow will be a full day that starts early with a cowgirl breakfast and horse lesson.

Follow the One-Week Job blog for more adventures all summer. I am still looking for jobs for August so email me or comment please if interested or if you have a connection.

bestweekjob(at)gmail.com

Yee-Haw,

Kieley B.

Kieley the Coffee Roaster: Update #2

Kieley here! I am having an amazing week here in Athens, GA and the past four days have been filled with fun, learning, and lots of free coffee! I apologize for not posting yesterday as I had planned. To make up for it, I will recap the first few days and post a video tomorrow with various clips from the week and a summary of my week as a coffee roaster.

In case you are new to the blog:

My name is Kieley and I'm a young lady traveling around this summer in search of my passion. In 8 weeks, I will try working 8 different jobs and blog about the whole adventure here at Oneweekjob.com. The first week has already been so helpful in confirming that coffee is something that fires me up!

Charlie Mustard has been such a great teacher this week and allowed me to see many facets of his job. It's wild to hear how he went from getting an undergraduate degree in Biology to veterinarian school to pursuing a master's in nutrition. How in the world did he  become a roaster? That's a fair question and I wondered this myself. To make a long story short, Charlie spent time at the local Jittery Joes coffee shop while he worked on his Master's thesis. After hearing the company express interest in roasting their own coffee, Charlie had a eureka moment and realized that his science background would be a great fit. After extensive reading and research, Charlie bought the equipment and began to roast. The great coffee he roasts today has been developed over time-it required logging his results, lots of experimentation,  and even making some so-so batches in his early days as a roaster.

What's the lesson to be learned here?

"Just because you have a degree in something or don't have a degree in something does not mean you have to or can't do a certain job."

I loved hearing Charlie's interesting path because it shows that

(1) a person is not bound to stick to a job that matches their degree & (2) it shows that a person should be open and ready to take risks because it often produces a great result! In Charlie's case, he now has a super fulfilling job that's fun, flexible, and allows him to hang out with his wonderful family.

I will share more about his daily life in the coffee business on Friday, but for now, let me bring you up to speed on the roasting process.

To get your coffee beans for your cup o' joe, there are many steps:

1. The roaster orders green beans (raw coffee beans) from various farmers all over the world

2. Batching the coffee (scooping & weighing a certain amount of coffee to be roasted) *Charlie usually puts in 26 lbs. of raw beans for one batch. When the roasting is finished, the batch weighs less due to the beans losing their outer membrane.

3. Roasting the coffee (The coffee is poured into the roaster and transforms as Charlie adjusts the heat, air flow, and controls the time. Charlie has certain markers to watch for:

-when the green beans turn "straw" color - goldenish color

-when the beans change to "cinnamon color" - medium brown color

-1st Crack- when beans crack for the first time (obvious since you can hear the beans cracking!)

-2nd Crack- A few minutes later, the beans crack again and about this time, it's time to release them from the heat into the cooling section. After cooling,it's on to packaging!

So that is basically coffee roasting 101. After spending all of Monday helping Charlie and learning the basics, I spend the next day packaging with another Jittery Joe's employee, Christian. He is the man behind the packaging and shipping for all of their coffee. After Charlie Mustard roasts the coffee and separates it into 5 pound bags, Christian pours the coffee beans into metal cans, seals them with a fancy gizmo, attaches a label by hand, and packs the cans into boxes. Jittery Joes not only roasts coffee for their own shops; they also ship their coffee all over the U.S.!

Working with Christian was fun and I enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with his speedy pace. It was interested to hear the route he took to end up in the coffee industry as well.

I have so much more to share so tomorrow I will blog yet again!

One added incentive to make the most of this project is hearing feedback from friends and people I meet. Hearing about this crazy program makes people think about what jobs they desire to try. I would love for this blog to be interactive so here's the question of the day:

"What job(s) would you like to try for one week?"

If you're really ambitious, work on this follow-up question:

"What can you do today to make your desire to try this job a reality?

So often it's easy to get caught up in "What-ifs" and think of money, time, and other barriers, but if Charlie had been bound by these things, he would be missing out on his sweet job: roasting coffee!

Think about it friends and comment away!

Want to email me with a job proposal for a week or just say hi? I love emails!

bestweekjob(at)gmail.com

Love,

Kieley B.