SAIT grad wins competition to try eight jobs in eight weeks

James MacKenzie

Amanda Lowe dreaded waking up every morning knowing she’d be living a re-play of the day before, until she decided to stop looking for a career and instead began looking to fulfill her passions.

Lowe, 25, is a SAIT grad from the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio (CTSR) program and majored in camera operations. She finished her communications degree at the U of C, and soon moved to Toronto to work for a production company.

Doubts and questions began flooding Lowe’s head about her job.

“I felt so lost. Was this what I was supposed to be doing? I didn’t feel as if my work was valued or aimed at anything worthwhile. I would leave for work with a sense of dread, and come home with tears running down my cheeks.”
One day while reading the newspaper on the subway, Lowe came across a story on Sean Aiken.

While searching for the perfect job, Aiken had completed 52 jobs in one year. Inspired by this undertaking, he was starting a project where three contestants would complete a mini-version of his experience, called One Week Job (OWJ), in a voyage to find their true passion.

Lowe was hooked. “I actually cut the article out and put it into my wallet, which is something I’ve never done before.”

She entered the contest and after thousands of votes, Lowe and two other women began their eight-week journey.

Over the next two months, she worked as a freelance photographer, a café owner, a butcher, a yoga instructor, a helicopter pilot, an event planner, an artistr, and a media relations co-ordinator. (See the sidebar to read what she thought about each job).

Lowe said the unifying theme throughout the experience was that it’s OK not to know exactly where you’re headed, and it’s important to try different jobs.

“Get out of your comfort zone. Be sure to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing, otherwise you’re wasting your time.”

Aiken, creator of OWJ, started this program because he wanted people to discover their passions. “It’s incredible how much careers play a role in your life, if you don’t have happiness in your job it can affect all other aspects of your life,” said Aiken.

He’s now looking for ways to expand the program and make it more accessible to students. Aiken has also written a book called One Week Job Project about ways to follow your dream. He plans to tour Canada and speak to students about the importance of passion in their career.

For more info on the OWJ program visit

Eight weeks,
eight jobs, one woman:

Freelance photographer: Lowe’s first job taught her persistence. “You have to be willing to hustle.  No one’s going to come to you, you have to go to them,”  she says.

Café Owner: Lowe had often thought about running her own coffee shop because she wanted to own a place for people to unite. “A cafe can act as a mediator of conversation and debate.  Coffee is a refuge.” Beyond making friends, Lowe learned the pitfalls of owning a small business. “Cafes aren’t overnight successes.”

Butcher: Lowe was surprised at how much she enjoyed the experience. “I legitimately felt like I was contributing to the final product.  Whether it was making sausage or wrapping beef jerky, I was part of the team.”

Yoga Instructor: Lowe realized how important it is to focus on yourself every once in awhile. “I’ve personally struggled with my own lack of direction and in the end you need to do what makes you happy.“

Event planner: Lowe and Aiken worked on an event to raise awareness about OWJ in Vancouver. Easier said than done, Lowe soon saw. She spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about how successful her event would be. “I was exhausted and overwhelmed,” said Lowe.

Helicopter pilot: Soaring through the sky and breathing in the mountain air was an exhilarating experience. “I’m not sure I have the technical know-how to fly on a daily basis, (or deal with) the responsibility of keeping others safe while soaring thousands of feet above the ground,” says Lowe. “But the feeling of freedom when you’re above everything else is a passion in itself.”

Artist: Spending her seventh week with artist Dean Stanton, who is known for his mural on the Sunalta School in Calgary, Lowe lived the artist’s life. “Whether that sacrifice is only ever being able to wear pants that aren’t stained with paint or having a decent-sized savings account, the reason people become artist’s is because it’s their true passion.”

Media Relations at the TELUS Science Centre: The final job provided Lowe’s best fit. She liked how they focused on supporting education and community involvement and how they always worked in a team.

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