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I made my coworkers talk about their first jobs


Your first job says a lot about you as a person.

...Ok, that’s a load of bull.

Running the takeout window at McD’s may not have been the catalyst that brought you to where you are now, but it does signify what we have in common: we all had to start out somewhere.

Considering we could all use a little humility from time to time, I figured we tip our hats to the wily and awkward years of work—and what better way than to prod my True Calling team on their first jobs?? Let’s just say some of these were harder to round up than others.

While we’re at it, tell us your first job in the comments below and keep this humble train running down memory lane!

Fraser McKeen, Development, TC Partner

Ripped around on forklifts

My first job was a summer gig when I was 16, doing general labour work at a mini storage facility. This involved anything from painting, garbage cleanup, sanding and driving the forklift. While the work wasn’t the most exciting, my brother worked there too, so it was pretty fun working together and learning all sorts of new equipment and skills.

Working summers gave me a new appreciation for free time, and made not working that much more enjoyable. It also helped me realize that work could be a place to learn and grow. You learn new hard skills but also soft skills, like how to deal with customers and co-workers. My main highlight definitely has to be ripping around on the forklift.

Christoph Helms, Director of Photography 

Earned stern words from Dr. Berger


My very first job was back in Germany working for Dr. Berger at a clinic for whole medicine (ganzheitsmedizin). I was 15 and it took my moped a half hour to get to the next village through the marshlands every day. It was actually pretty close, but my old 70’s Peugeot was not particularly fast. My job was to design Dr. Berger’s internet presence, which was fun because it allowed me to work creatively on a project.

Although, I remember one day calling him over to have a look at what I had created, saying "Mr. Berger, can you come see this?" He very sternly told me his name was Dr. Berger and not Mr. Berger, especially when clients were around. I learned my lesson—he was Dr. Berger to me from that day on.

Sarah Chapman, Brand Development

Umped like a boss


My first job was born out of one of my passions: baseball. I grew up on the ball field; it has always been my second home. I played it competitively since I was five and haven't stopped (21 years!) so needless to say it’s always been a big part of my life. When I was 13 I decided I wanted to start making a little money here and there, so I made the brave decision to become an umpire. Being a "Blue" for some younger teams in my league, and even some older REP teams brought me my very own money for once (about $40 a game—not so bad for an hour and a half of work!) I went to the 5-day long training sessions to get my certificate and found out quickly that I was a natural. Knowing the rules upside down and backwards from playing my whole life was helpful, so I got a lot of work from the umpire association.  

This first job taught me so much about myself and it helped me gain so much confidence. I found myself making tough calls and throwing heckler parents out of games at the young age of 12-15. I loved the sport, and it became hobby and job at the same time. My personal game got better with deeper understanding of the game and I learned the value of a dollar more and more.  

Amanda Strachan, Video Editor

Made serious green and felt super cool

In high school, I had my heart set on getting a job with Mexx, a European retailer that has since closed in Canada. I was 16, and the staff at the store were young, hip and just the right amount older than me; they even had their own cars. To be surrounded by seniors and university students—plus, getting to “dress up” for the job—made it seem like a very sophisticated place to work.

I’ll never forget the feeling of elation when I was offered the role of cashier and the hiring manager slid a piece of paper towards me with my hourly wage. It was a big moment. $7 popped off the page. $7?! Wow. I felt like I had won the lottery and couldn’t have been happier! How the times have changed.

Amy Huynh, Story Producer

First to smell the fresh pages of Harry Potter

As a lover of books since a young age, I thought I had scored when I landed my first job at a bookstore. It was a rundown book shop which was also part newsagency, so as well as recommending and selling books to customers, I also sold lottery tickets at an age before I could even legally play the lotto myself.

During my time there, I was on staff for a number of Harry Potter book releases. I remember walking to work and having lines of people camped outside the front door, and feeling ever so important as I unlocked the door to go through. I remember tearing open boxes and boxes of freshly-printed Harry Potter books and handing them out to customers straight from the box. Sadly, with the boom in online shopping and e-books, that bookstore is now one of many that has closed down.

Elyse Stevenson, Graphic Designer

Cleaned cheesecake off of menus

Elyse.jpg

My first job was as a hostess at the Cheesecake Cafe when I was 16. I remember it being pretty boring; I cleaned a lot of menus. I ended up being fired eventually because I booked a weekend off to go to my friends cabin and my manager gave me the Friday and Sunday off but scheduled me for the Saturday anyways. I no-showed, and she told me I was fired because it was my responsibility to find someone to cover the shift, even if I gave her plenty of notice that I wouldn’t be in town.

After that, I became neurotic about being on time and never missing a shift, which was good to a certain extent because I did learn from it—but I also recognize a power trip when I see one now. It’s not ok to be treated like your personal life doesn’t matter, especially when you’re young and working a part-time job. That being said, I eventually figured out that it’s all about seniority—so just keep your head down, prove yourself, and you’ll earn the respect of your bosses, and with that comes all of the freedoms you could want.

Chris Szabunia, Post-Production Supervisor

Survived rigorous McD’s interview


 

My first job was a classic! Working at McDonald’s. As my grade 11 year was winding down, they were opening a new location in the town I grew up in and my mother pushed/encouraged me to apply. No word of a lie… to this day… still the toughest job interview I have endured. I always found it confusing that so many of the questions were situational or life-experience based. I was 16! I didn’t have an awful lot of life experience to pull from at that time. If I couldn’t draw a parallel from something that happened at student council or on my house league hockey team, I was basically making stuff up.

Anyhoo, I learned a lot from that job about responsibility, punctuality and hard work. And despite all that, a year later when the “cool-factor” of working at place like Earls came calling, Rotten Ronnie’s offer of a 15 cent per hour raise wasn’t enough to keep me from moving on. Sorry gang… we’ll always have the McRib.

Brittany Law, Web Developer

Jean connoisseur

My first “official" job was working at American Eagle way back when. Truly, I absolutely loved my first job; every once in awhile I miss the chemistry that everyone had when I worked there.

I was making $8.75/hour to tell teenagers how to dress, and to tell parents how to dress their teenagers; I felt like I had the key to the city. 10 years later, I still think that the AE Artist Denim line boasts some of the best fitting jeans on the market.

Jon West, Sales

Scavenged through junk

My first full time, proper job, was when I was 17 at a dump in Richmond. It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds as it was a demolition landfill, which meant that it was filled with parts of buildings and structures that had been torn down. My title was the all-important “salvager” which meant that I had to search amongst the disposed-of wreckage and pull out any materials that were of value.

 

At first the job was a little hard to accept as I had applied to be a video game tester at EA but hadn’t heard back. Only after accepting the job at the dump did EA respond saying I had a job. I would get paid double to sit indoors and test video games… the dream! Unfortunately, I already told my dad I’d be taking the job at the dump and he said I had committed to them and couldn’t back out. This taught me the valuable life lesson to never inform my dad about my employment status, and I have kept to this ever since.

Joking aside, I didn’t mind the job once I had settled into it. Love? Maybe not. I did, however, get to work outside with a very interesting cast of characters. I can confidently say that the lunchtime conversation and the day to day banter was far superior to any I would have had testing video games.

Shawn Angelski, Partner, Executive Producer

Played the role of farmboy

My first job was when I was 12 years old. I really wanted a motorcycle, and my dad said that he’d pay for half if I saved up enough money. I asked around and my friend Stuart said that his grandfather, who had an orchard and corn farm, needed extra help, so I went to work after school and on weekends chopping wood, cutting grass, planting corn, weeding the garden and doing general farmhand-type work.

My favorite part was that I got to drive an old pickup truck around the property hauling either wood or the lawn mower. I remember I was paid $3.14 per hour, and I managed to save up enough money to take my dad to task. My first bike, a Honda CR100!

I continued to work at the farm until I was 15, when I switched to working at a restaurant and was upgraded to minimum wage.

Jason Albrecht, Video Editor

Lived the teenage dream doodling for cash

My first job was being a cartoonist for City View Magazine in Victoria when I was 16 years old. It was an alternative hipster newspaper that covered fringe stories around the city and I was a bored high school student who didn't want to work at my other option, which was McDonald's.

Nothing against working in fast food, since it definitely would have paid more than drawing comic strips, but I liked working in an offbeat environment that was completely different than my high school. I learned to work with a newspaper editor (who often didn't get my movie references) and learned about publishing on a tight budget. What I loved most of all was seeing my cartoons in print. It was a great way to start a day at school.

Martin Fisher, CEO of True Calling

Stacked his resume, yo


My first job was delivering flyers in the middle of winter in Saskatoon when I was 12. All I remember was it made my hands really dirty, I had to get up at 4:30am, and I got paid about 1/4 cent per flyer delivered. Oh—that, and it was minus 35 degrees and snowy.  Not a lot of fun, but earning my own money was awesome!

Then at age 15 I was forced to work at McDonalds for a full year, or I could move out of the house. My Dad figured it was great because you learn customer service, handling cash, cooking, and cleaning. I wasn't super stoked as a kid, but turns out he was right.  At my next job interview to work for an airline, the boss told me she was hiring me because of my experience at McD's. She said they train people well, and she liked that I stuck it out for a year.

Brianne Puffer, Production Coordinator

Dodged crowds at a stampede


My first job was with the Kinsman Club of Calgary as a "Runner".  My job was to literally run around and deliver tickets, floats of money, drinks and anything else needed to the volunteer booths set up around the Stampede grounds. It was an exciting experience as a first job to say the least. I must've been 14 years old and in charge of thousands of dollars for a national charity. One of my greatest skills was being able to dodge through massive groups of people lightning quick.

I also happen to be one of the luckiest kids that worked as a runner (with the exception of my brother) because our Dad was the president of the Kinsmen at the time, which equaled a few extra steak-on-a-bun coupons and behind-the-scenes action at the rodeo. Overall it was a great experience to work overtime everyday for 12 days straight and then have the rest of the summer off!

Rich Murray, Producer, TC Partner

Slung papers and collected debts

My first job was the classic paper route for the Vancouver Sun. I must have been 13 years old toting around that very iconic orange cart full of papers up and down the streets of Kerrisdale. I’m not sure if I now agree with the policy of making us buy all our own gear to do the deliveries but it did teach business management skills early on in life, even if I wasn't aware of it.

The advantage to the route I had was that it had a lot of apartments which meant I could get the route done faster. Those apartments buildings smelled weird…like Grandma’s cooking and old carpet. I think my record was 45 mins but that was on a Tuesday when the papers were lighter. Saturday’s were the worst! Twice the paper size and more people subscribed to the weekends only. Man, I hated Saturday deliveries when my friends were out playing soccer.

The worst part of the job was trying to collect for the papers. For some reason, people couldn’t come up with the $2.50 per month. Seriously? I guess they weren’t aware of my desperation to get that money for a remote controlled car and some hockey cards.

Jason Mackay, Development, TC Partner

Toiled over the sink of Red Robin

My first "real" job was at a restaurant called Red Robin. I was hired at the tender age of 14 as an "underwater ceramic technician" or a dishwasher to the laymen. I was thrown into the dish-pit head first to be drowned by hundreds of food encrusted dishes, hot pots and pans from the line and a myriad of cooking utensils, ramekins and containers. The work was greasy, wet, hot and relentless. I remember going home with food under my fingernails and behind my ears. To top it off I was responsible for sweeping and mopping the line, taking out the trash and keeping the staff bathroom clean.

Needless to say my first experience of working in the real world was extremely humbling and taught me to respect those at the "bottom" of the corporate ladder.

Jean Pierre Cartier, Sales

Brandished a brush

I was a house painter/contractor at 16 years old. I worked for 2 different companies (small business owners) painting the inside and outside of residential homes. We also provided light contracting work like gardening and some carpentry. It allowed me to take pride in my work, and the ability to see my finished product years later was quite fulfilling. There was also the trust factor; the owner of the company entrusted me to do the job alone on most occasions. The more trust, the more interesting the projects would come my way—and paid better.

It was a fantastic first job, and it taught me that integrity, hard work, flexibility and pride are integral for success.

I miss it actually... :)

P.S. The reason I stopped,was that my ladder gave way and I fell through a kitchen window 36 feet from the ground. Haha.

Morgan Inglis, Producer/Director

Delivered papers and… some of the samples

The first job I remember was delivering the Real Estate Weekly, which was a weekly roundup of the housing market in Vancouver. Or so I think—I don’t remember ever really opening one of the papers. They paid 4 cents for every paper delivered, 2 cents per flyer.

But the pay wasn’t the real perk. Oh no… the best part was the food samples. They had worked out a deal with suppliers to drop off their product samples along with the Real Estate Weekly. I’m not entirely convinced their marketing scheme was a good one, because it meant leaving massive boxes of Doritos or Lays or something else at the feet of a 10-year-old boy.

One Friday, a box that I could have slept in arrived at my door, filled to the brim with mini Sunny Delight bottles. I think I delivered about 12 bottles of Sunny D that day, from a box that fit closer to 10 times that. I also got so sick that I don’t think I’ve had a single drop of the stuff since.

Andrew Brown, Motion Designer

Played the role of marina boy

My first job was at a Marina in Yellowknife. I cleaned boats, moved barrels around and put lag bolts into things. Yellowknife is pretty hot in the summer, and it only gets dusky at night with the Northern ‘midnight sun’. The boats we chartered out would be taken great distances—hundreds of kilometres.

The lake could also get very stormy with short, choppy, dangerous waves. On at least one occasion, our whole dock (with all the boats tied to it) broke off in a storm and travelled down the lake a little ways.

John Kennedy, Sales

Chopped wood and mowed perfect rows

My first job was when I was 15 in rural farm and cottage country, Ontario.

After a few summers of working on local family farms as a general labourer during haying season, a local farmer brought me on full time one summer. My duties included daily chores on the horse ranch, landscaping, firewood (falling trees and chopping wood), restoring a catamaran boat and building/restoring custom furniture (he was also an artisan furniture carpenter). I loved working outdoors and with my hands, building and seeing projects come to completion—especially the perfect ‘baseball park’ mower rows on the expansive ranch lawns.

Carly Walde, Writer and Video Producer

Dressed up as a dinosaur

When I was 14, a friend of mine encouraged me to audition for the role of a dancing dinosaur mascot at an amusement park. They must have saw the hidden talent in my over-enthusiastic dance moves, because they hired me as the fuzzy, 7 foot tall mama-saur. It was a great summer job—I had a dinosaur family consisting of other teenaged girls like me, and in between sweaty stage dance parties we laughed a lot and ate tons of free candy actually meant for the kids.

It was cool to start earning my own money, but I also learned how quickly your paycheque can be burned away buying milkshakes and fries from the Triple O’s concession stand.

*****

Written/produced by Carly Walde

Photography by Carly Walde & Elyse Stevenson