When Sean Aiken graduated from college, he had no idea what he wanted to do and no idea how to go about finding out what he wanted to do. So he developed a project that would give him the chance to find out. Every week for one year he would take on a different job. Then, after having worked at 52 different jobs, he would hopefully be closer to finding out what he wanted to do. When he started out he had no idea where the jobs would take him or what he would be doing. When he finished, he had a much different understanding of himself.
This is a fun concept. It's not something that I have the personality or the inclination to do, so I get to live vicariously through this person's experiences. It's easy to be skeptical or even cynical about this experiment. On one level, there's the question of the job experience. How much can you really experience in a week? If you step into a job with no experience and little training, are you really doing the job or are you shadowing? Some of that is just a semantic difference, and Sean Aiken does a good job of explaining how the project worked and what experiences he did have. I also found myself wondering how, for lack of a better word, 'genuine' this project was. Aiken, from very early on the project, used social media and web technologies incredibly smartly. He was able to promote the project and himself. In the book, he admits that he anticipated writing a book about the project. At the end of the 52 weeks, he doesn't really come away with a job that's right for him; he comes away with a job/career that he's created for himself through the One Week Job Project. Would it have been more satisfying for me as a reader to find out that at the end of the project he had decided that he really did want to be a brewmaster (week 19) or a yoga instructor (week 7)? Would that have been more "honest"? Probably not, and then we wouldn't be reading this book, which creates a weird kind of loop. Besides, this book is just as much (if not more) about Sean and his relationships with others (his parents and family members, his friends, his new girlfriend) while he goes on this journey.
But to the book itself! It's is structured really well and hooks you in and keeps you interested. It's a fun read. This has been marketed (or at least I have seen it being marketed) to the 'just out of school' crowd, but I think it is a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered if there's a perfect job out there for them.
See more at the One Week Job website.
It's also a movie; view the trailer here.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Craft Rubin
Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
Not Buying It by Judith Levine