101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 49

This morning I biked downtown to meet with Steve over a couple of delicious lattés and pastries. He insisted on treating, saying I could return the favour if I really wanted to after I’m no longer a student.

Before I get into the details, I have to tell you something about Steve: he is really excited about everything he is doing. There are people who love their jobs and say so, and then there are people who don’t have to tell you they love what they’re doing because it’s just so blatantly obvious in the way they carry themselves. He’s really happy with where he is in his life, and it shows.

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After high school, Steve didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life (Sound familiar? I think most of us have been there). He had always loved computers so he initially studied computer science in university. But he didn’t like the way the university school system was, in the sense that he saw himself studying something more directly applicable to career. He wanted to study something that would land him a job right after graduating. So he transitioned over to the trades, working with his dad in the construction industry. But it still wasn’t for him. So he entered a printing program at BC’s Institute for Technology (BCIT). It was their first ever offering of that program and he was excited to give it a try. He ended up loving it.

Now, he works as a web-to-print specialist, helping people make business cards and other materials. He absolutely adores it. He gets to work on the technical side of things, putting his passion for computers and technology to use. But he also gets to work on the design and strategy — things that are fun, challenging, and fulfilling for him. He’s since been named one of the top 35 under 35 in his field. His company has developed new technologies for reusing and recycling printer parts, making their practices as carbon-neutral as they can. They even make belts out of the used materials once they can’t be used for printing anymore.

After he graduated from his program, he stayed in touch with the program director who eventually asked him to teach at the institute. He said yes, and now he’s teaching a few different classes there, including marketing. He loves teaching and working with the students, and is constantly impressed with their achievements.

Somehow, without a plan, Steve ended up working concurrently in two different career streams that he says could not have been a better fit for him. How did everything fall into place for him?

“Well, whenever I see open doors, I run right through them”, he said, smiling. He always says yes to the different opportunities that come his way, even if he can’t foresee their potential benefit to him. “You never know what could come out of an opportunity”, he said.

With a “yes man” attitude, Steve has become pretty busy. He has to balance multiple projects at once, and often finds himself working late into the night after already working his nine-to-five. But he loves being busy. He once had some time off work, during which his friends and family encouraged him to sit still and relax. He tried it, but didn’t find it relaxing at all. He likes to keep busy.

“Do you ever take time for yourself to relax?”, I asked him, hoping that he’d say yes. He seemed so happy and excited about everything. He must relax sometimes, I thought to myself, a little confused.

“Oh”, he said, grinning. “I work hard and play hard”. He explained that he’s an extrovert and draws his energy from socializing with his friends. But it usually has to be pre-scheduled so that he can make time in advance. He loves going to Ticketmaster concerts and events, because they’re scheduled into his calendar long before they begin. Every now and then though, he’ll make space for spontaneity.

 

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