Since arriving in Canada, I have had 4 jobs and worked more than 1000 hours. As well as landscaping and the summer program, I also worked briefly as a chef and even more briefly as a cold caller, back in the Spring. Now it is approaching winter and I don't want to be working outside when it is raining or snowing (having had enough of that during the first 4 months of my stay!) so have started looking for a new job.
Since January, I had planned on moving to Whistler and working near the slopes; with the promise of more snowboarding with meeting international travellers exciting me greatly. However, these plans have now changed! As it turns out, Whistler is very popular and as such is very expensive. While I could probably see myself earning about the same wage as I do at the moment, living costs would probably triple to over $2000 a month - which would not help my finances at all.
Psychoanalysing the decision, I realised that my main reasons for wanting to go were to snowboard more, experience life in the mountains and make new friends (from all over the world). Ever the optimist, I have since realised that I can fully experience a Canadian winter (and Christmas) here in Richmond, with snowboarding pretty close by; just north of Vancouver. As for making new friends, (which I am currently doing anyway) I will be able to visit Whistler on weekend breaks and trips (SnowJam 2009?!) since my living costs will not be ridiculously high!
As this sees me remaining in Richmond for the foreseeable future, I recently declared interest in the Fridge's assistant coordinator position under Bruce, who I worked with during SummerFun. As well as a wage, it means more responsibility and extra volunteer hours, becoming more involved in the planning and running of the Friday night program. I think this is something that will be useful for me to improve as a youth leader as well as something that will look good on my résumé on the path towards becoming a teacher.
Working at the program last night I made an effort to get to know as many new faces as I could, managing a good number before the end of the evening. Even after the building closed I was making friends with the other volunteers and the youth waiting outside for rides home. I even hung out with a group that had seemed like trouble makers last year and found them to be quite entertaining and mostly harmless.
The Whistler news was also good for the two other youth groups that I work with - something that they were happy to tell me since they are very appreciative of the effort that I put in and think I work really well with the youth. It is great to know that even though it seems like my plans have fallen through over the winter, I will still have plenty to do over the next six months!
Ideas for a new job are being whittled down by the criteria of the things that I didn't enjoy in previous jobs. Stress from restaurant work has narrowed customer service down to cafés and shops, almost catching pneumonia in January has pretty much cut outdoors work from the list and not enjoying long bus rides has cut out anything with a commute longer than 6 miles.
Suggestions so far from various sources have been a shop worker in Richmond Centre, a post office worker (possibly postman - walking quickly to stay warm!) and youth worker in one of the community centres. I have considered each of these options and when I have put together a pretty flashy résumé, I will start applying to employers across Richmond.
As for landscaping, since returning I have been Larry's spare guy (used either as extra help, or to cover for a sick employee) and am halfway through a few weeks with Sal's crew as she tries to bring them back up to speed after a lull over the summer. Quite the opposite of how I remember her, she has been really nice for most of my time with the crew and was careful to give me easier jobs when mono was making work hardest for me.
Having spent around 6 months of my time here as a landscaper, I have learned much about the job and been through many emotions towards it. Covering every area of the spectrum I have gone from loving the idea of sticking at it for my career to hating it with a passion. Currently I find myself in the happy medium of knowing that I won't ever make a career from it but I could return to it as a good way to make money in foreign countries as I travel.
This upcoming "end of an era" again puts me in the scary but exciting mindframe of not really knowing where I'll be in a few months (career-wise) and is a feeling that I don't think I could ever get used to. I'm sure that it'll work out, just as this trip has and I look forward to finding out what happens.