A lot has happened in the time since Katimavik. It will be 4 years in September since we all met. As I sit in Tim Hortons writing this, I can not help but to be reminded of some our first excursions in Hamilton. Currently, I live in Dawson Creek which is Mile Zero of the famous Alaska Highway route, constructed by the US Army in 1942 as a supply route to Fairbanks during WW2.
In the 2 years since I left Quebec intending to go to the University of Alberta, a fair amount has changed in my life.
a) I never went to UofA. b) I never went travelling, either. c) I had depression consume me. d) I stayed with relatives on the Sunshine Coast. e) I worked construction & at the info centre. f) I moved to Dawson Creek and started an electrical apprenticeship.
This past winter, I spent most of my time working in Northern Alberta. My old company had a contract for labourers & tradesmen in Highlevel at the OSB mill. Mostly shift work, 8-10 days at a time. 12 hours per day. And it was a 5 hour drive north every rotation…
Anyways, I have somewhat re-discovered my purpose. At the very least, a career direction. I want to work in trades & technology (again) after a fair amount of time away from it. But with different goals & clearer intentions than when I was 18 & fresh out of high school.
Recently, I changed companies for a better work-life balance & to work closer to (home). Starting to build somewhat of a base here in Dawson…a couple of friends I grew up with live here and my brother is coming in September.
In general, things are going well for me. I try and keep in touch with people as much as I can. Spent 2 weeks back East in May-June visiting people in TO, the Hammer, Quebec & Valleyfield. Brent, mon famille d’accueil, Genevieve, Antoine, & Alexis. Miss all of you guys, so much. <3
Eventually, I would like to end up back in that part of Canada, but right now I have things going on here at (home). In the meantime, I would encourage you to write, email, skype or facebook message me. Whatever you feel like, I will get back to as soon as I can.
It doesn’t sound like we are having a full scale reunion this year but I wouldn’t mind seeing the East & West halves get together. Thinking of you all,
Hello world, I have a confession to make. Its difficult to admit, but here goes…I suck at finishing what I start. Lately, my life has come full circle to things that I began when I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Almost 7 years ago at this point. Where did the time go?
I have grown & learned so much during that time. And as a result, became a completely different person than I ever expected to be. When I was 18 the biggest ambition in my life was be an electrician at BC Hydro, work a 30-40 year career, and retire in Hudson’s Hope. My life back then did not include travel or meeting new people in the way that I do now. It not include being bilingual and living in Quebec. In all honesty, it was quite boring. Life is, and can be so much more if you allow it to be and make it happen one step at a time.
It’s all about the big picture. Choosing a career is only half the battle. You need to figure out what to do with your free time, beyond work that really matters. Personally, I have decided to use this time for travel, and other interesting ventures. Put your time, and money into things that matter most to you. Forget about the unimportant, boring shit in your life. And there can be a lot of this, and people for that matter…screw them.
In terms of a career, after taking a year off to re-evaluate my options, I have decided that I want to work in trades and technology. More specifically, as an industrial electrician. I enjoy working with tools, and learning how different types of equipment operate. In someways, I am uniquely suited to this career. My formal education is highly technical, with an electrical trades certificate from Northern Lights College and 1/2 of a diploma from the Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology program at B.C.I.T.
I considered going to the University of Alberta last year, but ultimately it wasn’t a feasible financial option. As well, I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted out of such a program. Arts & humanities would be great but the world doesn’t need more BA’s. We need people with technical skills in trades, engineering, and technology. Lately, I have been thinking about Process Automation Technology at McMaster in Hamilton.
For the past 5-10 months, I have been working in an OSB Mill in Highlevel, Alberta doing contract work for Ainsworth Engineering. Started out doing board testing, and gradually migrated toward to working with tools and troubleshooting electro-mechanical equipment. In a strange way, I found my purpose again. A lot of my mechanical skills and knowledge have started to come back to the surface.
At work, I have started cross-training as a millwright apprentice. Which is odd, because my educational background is in electrical/electronics. It has been very rewarding to work with actual tradesmen rather than labourers & non-technical people. I enjoy working with tools & figuring out how things work in the field.
Moving forward, I would like to do more electrical work. Understanding how things work mechanically has been great, but I still feel my biggest strength is in electrical & understanding process. Combining the two disciplines has led me towards industrial instrumentation.
I just got back from the Yukon the other week and wanted to give you an impression of my time spent up there.
Prior to my trip, I had been in a bit of a slump. I have a new truck that needed to be broken in, so I headed on a 1500 km road trip to Whitehorse, YT.
The Yukon truly is larger than life. I took lots of pictures but it really is something you need to see for yourself. Starting out from Dawson Creek, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway and heading North there is a lot to see and do. Definitely make a pit-stop in Fort Nelson and check out their heritage museum. It is packed with some really great stuff from the early days of pioneering and the out buildings are full of vintage cars/machinery.
Heading North from FN, you start heading into the Northern Rockies/Muskwa-Kechika mangagement area. It is very beautiful scenery and a must see for nature/hiking enthusiasts. The drive itself is quite enjoyable, but it wasn’t always this way. Prior to construction of the highway, it was treacherous overland route to get to the Yukon through wilderness and muskeg. Most of the bad spots have been straightened out. And Summit Pass is the highest elevation along the entire highway. Enjoy!
From there, the drive is pretty much a straight shot to the Yukon. Watson Lake is a great little place to get gas, a bite to eat at Kathy’s kitchen, and check out the Sign Post Forest. After that is the Villiage of Teslin, which is the Gateway to the Southern Lakes. Again a great little place to stop and take some pictures of the mountains.
A new year means a fresh start and new directions. It also means goal setting and resolutions. (That we never keep) So, I have decided to do something a little different this year. Rather than set goals, I am going to live by core themes and pursue them in stages in order to improve my life.
Last year I had 3 core goals/themes that I wanted to follow. (Rated with commentary)
New Years Resolutions 2012/Résolutions pour 2012
1. To be healthy in body, mind and spirit/Être en bonne santé avec ma corps, mon tête, et l’esprit.
3/5 In Québec, I was the most healthy since high school. It was because I was living on my own, eating right, and exercising regularly. This year I want to check off a few of my 101 in 1001 challenges, including running a 10k marathon and biking 120 km.
2. To become fluent in french/Parler couramment le français
4/5 Living in Québec for 9 months + regular immersion classes helped me improve my conversational french immensely. I feel very confident when speaking to people and consider myself to be fluent. (C1 or C2) I would like to work on my german this year (via Skype) for a trip to Oktoberfest in September.
3. To travel/Voyager :D
3/5 On this note, I did a lot of travel in Canada. But I did make a couple trips to Montréal & Hamilton, a trip to Edmonton, the Martimes trip was great, and I went to the Sunshine Coast as well. One thing I really want to accomplish this year is international travel. A trip to the States for WDS 2013 in Portland, a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, and maybe New York for New Years if I can afford it.
This year I want to focus on themes, not goals and see how much more I can accomplish. As Craig Anthony of Money, Sex & Focus puts it:
Living your themes enables you to complete your goals.
Goals are like stepping stones to the larger themes of your life. On that note, I would like to share my themes for 2013 and some resources to accomplish them.
New Years Themes 2013/Résolutions pour 2013/Neujahrsvorsätze
1) Being healthy ( Mind, body & spirit)
Reason: Being physically fit means more energy and life experiences.
If I was talking to my 17-year old self with the knowledge I have now, what would I tell them?
In 2007, I graduated with a class of 14 people from my K-12 school in Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia. With a plan. I was going to become an electrician with BC Hydro to pay for an education in theatre. Which I forgot about until recently. I remembered the best way to pay my tuition and living expenses was to have a solid skill (trade or technical) to fall back on and support me while I was studying my true passion.
I am going to set forth my guide for paying for post secondary education if you come from a low-income family or do not have a full-ride scholarship.
Finish highschool. Get your grade 12 for christ-sakes! You didn’t have to pay for that one. Just show up and do the work. Otherwise, you will have pay for it later with a GED. Don’t even take hard classes like physics or math if you don’t want too. I did because it opened the door to the trades. In my school district there is a paid 4 year scholarship to UNBC in Prince George for the student with the highest GPA in grade 11. They don’t even look at the courses you take just the average.
If I was smarter, I would have taken more fluff classes (ie the humanities) and skipped science and math. But I was not really interested in UNBC as a school. But for some people it worked and they got a 4 year degree out of it. If there are opportunities like that in your area, take advantage of them. Maybe, you can go to school for free.
What if you don’t have a paid scholarship? Or rich parents? Or you really don’t know what to do with your life? My advice: DON’T GO TO SCHOOL! Wait at least one year before thinking about applying. Any of the awards you got out of high school will still be good for at least 1-2 years after graduating. But what should you do with your gap year?
There are lots of great programs out there, but you have to pay fees. Not really desirable for people on a budget saving for school. Preferably, you want to do something low-cost, allows you to travel, build some skills and learn about what yourself. Something like Katimavik, a youth service learning program for ages 17-21 in Canada. I had the privilege of being part of the program in 2010-11 and it completely changed my outlook on life. Unfortunately, the Conservative government doesn’t care about youth and shut it down last March.
Katimavik’s sister program Canada World Youth has an international mandate is similar and still recruiting for the 2013-14 program year.
Work or a paid job shadows are good options. I have personally done both. And they helped me decide what I didn’t want to do for a career. Namely, 24-30 hour shifts in the oil and gas industry or mindless hours of sanding screws while dry-walling. All good paying jobs but not a career. I believe that doing things and learning by experience is better than any 4 year university program. Real world skills in other words.
Finding a Passion
This is extremely misleading. There is a difference between having a passion for something, and doing something passionately. Traditional career advice is follow your passion and the money will come. I don’t agree with that. There is an inherent bias towards technical trades and business when it comes to profitability. Arts and other media on the other hand take a back seat. For the average person, it is extremely difficult to make a living from their craft.
Artists often take side jobs and other forms of employment to pay the bills. Or enter into a related field such as teaching. Only the most talented and well-connected successfully make a living with their art*. (*includes actors, musicians, photographers, painters & writers) It is often better to have a technical skill first in order to save money for university or art school. And then follow your passion.
Building Technical Skills
You can take professional programs to become certified in education, health care, social services, trades or business. With these programs, you have high employability in 6-12 months. Upon graduation, you can enter directly into the workforce. Work 3-4 years, save up the cash for university and move on to bigger and better things. You will enter better prepared and more focused than kids coming directly out of highschool.
Do not go into debt to pay for your education. The bank and government make money from your interest. This is calculated from the day you graduate, and even if you don’t finish school, the loan is non forgivable. Canadian students have an unsustainable level of debt and it is getting worse as institutions continue to raise tuition prices 2-3% per year.
Remember:Education is a business. It is not really about providing students with the resources to better themselves for the future, it’s all about money. Plain and simple. The faster you figure that out, the better.
Go to school for your passion but wait until you can afford it. You will be better served gaining the technical skills from a professional program. In 3-4 years, save enough money to go to school without debt for the thing that you really love to do. It may not be the most direct route but it is the most financially feasible.
If you have any stories, similar to mine I would love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail at email@example.com
I have realized in order to do the things I am passionate about I need a solid launching pad. Lots of people have those things by virtue of their family name. There is nobody to pay for my education but me. I don’t have a college fund or rich parents. Just hard work and determination to reach my goals.
Most successful people have an interesting starting place. Mine is no exception. I have had a really great last couple of years. But now it is time to buckle down and finish my electrical apprenticeship. It is time to be truly financially independent. I love my mom, but I don’t want to live with her for rest of my life. It is time to find a solid way to pay for the things I want to do: improv, writing, and travel.
I already have the training, I spent 5 months in trade school in 2008. It doesn’t make sense not to use the skills I already have and sign on with a company. It doesn’t mean I will be an electrician forever just long enough to finish my apprenticeship (4 years) and have enough money to go back to school. Ultimately, I would like to do something that allows me to have a career in theatre. Either stage production or acting in Montréal or possibly Victoria.
I have always wanted to work in theatre. And this is one way of not going hungry while doing it. I really love this interview with Michael Ironside about being a roofer in East Side Toronto in order to pay the bills while pursuing an acting/writing career. Its going to take a bit longer than other people, but I will get there eventually.
By the way, I am still going to Germany. The trip will not be for as long as I had hoped. Right now, I am looking for a homestay. In November, I should have an interview. After that, I am booking a round trip ticket to Frankfurt. I will be gone for a month or so living with a host family.
Recently, I stumbled upon travel hacking. It is the strategic use of frequent flyer miles to pay for around the world plane tickets. In order to get the credit cards that give large sign up bonuses, you need to make at least $40,000 dollars per year. There is a good promotion going on now with American Express. Check it out!
I have also been thinking about my own legacy project. Something that will outlast me when I am gone. I propose universal access to education regardless of economic status, a concept very similar to health care. Right now, there are talented kids who would love to go to school but can’t afford tuition.
I am realizing that it doesn’t really matter what you do for a career. That doesn’t really define you as a person. And just because you start out doing one thing, doesn’t mean that you can’t change down the road. Anyways, those I are my latest thoughts.
As outlined in my previous post, I am struggling with a lack of focus. And finding a system of accountability for my short and long-term goals. For the first time in my life I know exactly what I want to do but having trouble matching up my current situation to the things I want to do.
I think the main thing holding me back is monetary. The things that I want to do cost money. Higher education, for example has an extremely high price tag in this economy. And I am not the only young person in this particular situation. The riots in Quebec are proof of that.
Tuition is going up in Canada and abroad. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE in my view. There are some very deserving kids who want to go to school but can’t due to monetary concerns. I really want to help these young people to go to school. Its something that has been nagging on me for a while. How do you make education more affordable or effectively zero cost?
One way of doing it is with scholarships. But the process is often tedious and they are not always a sure bet. If I could figure out a way to streamline the process and offer students a guaranteed way to pay for their education without loans that would be fantastic. I came up with a name for it. Edu-hacking. I was always pretty good at applying for scholarships. Conservatively, I amassed $3000-5000 from scholarships right out of highschool. But what about $10,000? Or $30,000? The cost of a 4 year degree? (Check out studentawards.com for more info)
An other alternative is a one year directed self-study course which you build yourself. Like Scott Young’s MIT Challenge where he completed the 4 year MIT curriculum for computer science, without taking any classes. That is just an extreme example but totally doable with focus and dedication. For me, computer science and math don’t really interest me that much so my degree would probably focus more on writing and philosophy or something.
I think what it comes down to it are these 2 questions posed by Chris Guillebeau in his Brief Guide to World Domination outlines a couple guiding principles in life.
#1 What do you really want to get out of life?
#2 What can you offer the world that no one else can?
I took a long time figuring this out. 5 years in fact. But now, I have an answer which I am going to share with you now.
I want to travel and explore the world and make lasting connections with people from all walks of life.
I can offer the world my passion and burning desire to make a difference.
From now on those will be my guiding principles. Every major decision and action must follow those 2 mission statements. If the project or task does not match up then I will not take that path.
The way I see it up until this point, I have been kind of stumbling along following a set track. Get an education, a good job, married, have kids, travel 2 weeks a year and then retire at age 65. That’s just plain stupid. I feel that is an out dated model for the type of world we live in today. With technology and a bit of creativity, we can make money while creating something valuable for other people.
The problem is a failure to launch. They don’t teach things you really need to know in highschool. Or college for that matter. Just get a degree/diploma/trade and work for someone else until you retire. Life is more than that.
I am 23 years old. And do you know what? All I wanted to do when I finished highschool was go totheatre school. But, someone told me, “You’ll never make money with that, get a trade and have a real career.” And I believed them. Spending a couple of years of my life on something I was wasn’t that passionate about. Now, its time to time to start back at square one. I have a few goals that I want to share with you to help keep me accountable.
Become a professional improviser/actor.
Become bilingual. (french/english)
Find a life partner.
Travel to 30+ countries by age 30.
Write an e-book.
Be healthy in mind, body & spirit.
(Note: These are just some of my immediate goals, they will be part of a bucket list that I will be working on in the coming days & weeks)
Now, its time to pull the trigger on my goals. How about you? Are there things that you have always wanted to do but someone told you wouldn’t work? If so, I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.