Judge Paul Pritchard is trying to find a way to make money by eating fries and watching porn.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
The saying goes that if you find a job you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. How exactly does one achieve this lofty aim? This is the question that One Week Job is most interested in.
As children we are brought up in an education system that—for any number of reasons—is one size fits all, and is not necessarily suited to the hopes and aspirations of the individual. Thus, when the time comes to actually make our first steps into the work place, many are at a loss as to what they actually want to "be." It all felt so much easier when we were five years old, and dreamt of being an astronaut, a train driver, or perhaps even a dinosaur when we grew up.
Having graduated college in 2008, Sean Aiken had no idea where his future lay. While many of his family members suggested various careers they felt he was suited to, it was his father's advice—that he should find something he is passionate about—that sat most deeply with Sean. After much thought and preparation, Sean came up with the "One Week Job Project," which saw him take on a different job each week, for one year. The aim: to find a career that best suited him, while also discovering and better understanding the passion that drives others in their work.
At a brisk 76 minutes, One Week Job never goes too in-depth with any of the jobs that Sean takes, and, honestly, the actual jobs aren't really important. Sure, we get snapshots and small moments showing Sean teach a martial arts class or working with young children, but what One Week Job is most interested in is the people Sean meets and the insights they offer into their own careers. As we meet workers from across Canada and the USA, we find two recurring themes crop up—themes that are independent of which end of the pay scale the interviewee is on. Whether they be a radio DJ, pizza maker, motivational speaker, or stock trader, each and every person Sean meets talks about the importance of finding your passion, and the importance of not being scared of making a change if the path you are on turns out to be the wrong one.
Some of the extended interviews provide a more detailed take on the path people took to their current job; one of the most interesting of which is a lady who left a well-paid bank job to work in the more morally rewarding field of veterinary care. Without fail, the word "passion" sneaks into every conversation, almost to the point of hammering how important it is home. Perhaps surprisingly, it is a stock trader who speaks the most important truth: that your career doesn't define you, but is in fact a conduit to your real passion.
While hearing from people who clearly love their work is undoubtedly enjoyable, it would have been nice to spend time with people who are not fortunate enough to have such a rewarding career. For many, work is a means to an end, and such luxuries as passion and enjoyment don't even come into the equation for them. I'd also hoped to spend more time with the co-workers who were kind enough to provide accommodation for Sean. We see snippets of Sean enjoying a BBQ with people generous enough to offer him a place to lay his head, but we never get to see the impact their work has on their lives, which felt like a major omission and is the one real failing of this otherwise commendable documentary.
As the documentary moves along, Sean's personal life begins to take center stage, as he finds love, comes to question himself when it becomes clear he is becoming bigger than the project thanks to an increasing media interest, and has his whole world come crashing down when his mom is diagnosed with cancer. Sean's burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend, which comes under pressure due to his constant traveling, as well as his turmoil over whether to continue the project when his mother is taken ill closely mirrors the conflict that many endure between family life and their careers. While the film doesn't offer any definitive answers, it does give the viewer reason to pause and reflect on whether where they are now is where they need to be. Having Sean, who is an amiable young man, as the documentary's focus also helps. It's easy to empathize with his predicament and his ability to be so self aware. A scene in which he retells with real remorse how he disappointed one employer goes a long way to helping with this.
For teenagers unsure of what the rest of their lives hold in wait for them, One Week Job offers a chance to see that they are not alone in this. Rather than have this uncertainty cloud them with dread, it instead reveals the wide range of opportunities available. It's not just teenagers who will enjoy this DVD; people of all ages will take something from Sean's journey and the people he encounters along the way.
The DVD contains an audio commentary and a series of deleted and extended scenes that add more substance and allow us to better understand the project. Also included is the speech Sean gave before the premiere of his documentary. One Week Job is presented in a full-frame transfer, with a stereo soundtrack.
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