Beer. Do we have your attention?

Ever considered being a brewmaster?   

"The recent opening of a new Halifax brew pub has given Karen Allen the chance to come home, be near her family and friends, and also make beer for a living.  It sounds like a sweet gig and she admits it.”It’s pretty awesome, yeah,”…

More on Karen’s brewmaster story…


Blood and Gore Leads to Happy Career in Photography

By Annette Dawm,  WorkStory Ambassador

Camille Porthouse is the owner of Camille Porthouse Photography, but unlike many other photographers, Camille doesn’t often take the traditional wedding and baby photos you might find on another professional’s Facebook page. Camille is happiest when she gets to work with individuals who share her love of blood, gore and latex clothing, all within the Alternative Photography Industry.

“I am lucky enough to specialize in something I love, which is working on artistic shoots with alternative models” says Porthouse. “This means I get to have almost full artistic control over the shoots I create. I get to come up with concepts for the makeup artists, and I also get to draw up designs to help clothing designers see my overall vision.”

Although she is at the helm of Camille Porthouse Photography, every project Camille works on is a collaborative piece of art. Each shoot comes together with the help of many talented people. The mutual bond that she and her fellow artists share is what gets her “most excited” about her job:

“I love that I can express myself through art while having amazing teams of individuals that want to see my visions come to fruition. It creates a group of artistic individuals that can all seek inspiration from one another.”

Even though Camille loves what she does now, she never liked photography growing up and she certainly wasn’t interested in taking pictures of people. However, one Christmas while she was living in Ottawa, she was given a professional camera. She soon learned how to use it, but she still wasn’t comfortable with human models. Then an unusual event changed everything for Camille!

“It wasn't until I heard about a city Zombie Walk event that I decided that this would be my first real test in taking photos. Once the 2008 Ottawa Zombie Walk happened I was completely hooked! People had an amazing response to my work and it fuelled me to look [at] this as a potential career. Life then took me to London, Ontario and I began shooting for charity fashion shows, and once again the annual city Zombie Walk. Word started spreading, and soon enough I was being contacted to work various city wide events.”

Camille was also a professional photographer for Canadian musicians, Hedley and Karl Wolf when they played in London in 2012. She was able to work at the concert as well as the after party. Following this event, Camille found herself working as a photographer at many hip hop concerts, but this wasn’t her thing. As for her advice to aspiring photographers in any genre, she wants you to know this: 

“For newcomers in the industry I would say, ‘just stop trying to do what is on trend. Follow your heart and your interests.’ I didn't at first, and I spent over a year shooting rap shows, which is about as far off from who I am as a person as you can get!’”

Camille has been following her own advice and she tells us that, “Since then, I have refined my business and feel happy shooting the things that I want to, the things that make me happiest. It just so happens that blood, gore, and latex clothing make me the happiest. Who would have thought?”

Her work has been making other people happy as well. She has been published in over 25 different Alternative magazines, both in the online world and in print. “I have had the most success so far with publications in South Africa and Australia. However, my work has also been published throughout North America and in England” says Porthouse. If you are interested in seeing Camille’s work and links to where she has been published, you can visit her Facebook page, which she credits as an “integral tool” in terms of creating a successful business.  

Driving Ambition: Zach’s Golf Story

As told to Brandon Pedersen, WorkStory Ambassador      

Hi. My name is Zach Giusti. Let me begin by giving you a laydown on my personal interests. Since I was young, I always had a profound interest in both sports and money. Working for a local golf course, I quickly became interested in the game that I saw being played on a daily basis. To top it off, I also learned that professional golfers make quite the pay check. Although I began playing the game at age 6, my interest and love for it grew when I worked at the golf course. This led me to become the captain of my high school golf team, and I was awarded MVP in my senior year. Despite my love for the game, I knew the difficulties associated with becoming a professional at arguably the world’s most frustrating sport! That’s when I decided to apply to university.

I attended Wilfrid Laurier University, where I earned an honours degree in business with a marketing specialization. By the time I approached my fourth year, I realized it was time to start thinking about my future. I applied to numerous sales and marketing jobs and decided to write the LSAT during my last year. What would be better than wearing fancy clothes, driving an exotic car, and obviously, making a lot of money? But, despite my time management skills, I wasn’t able to succeed on the LSAT because of a number of other things going on in my life at the time – namely job applications, midterms, social life, etc. 

Luckily, I received multiple interviews from the sales and marketing companies I had applied to. After several interviews with the manager, I was hired by a billion dollar Paint Company to become a part of their Management Training Program. Eventually, after a few months of training, I was awarded the title of Branch Operations Manager. After about a year of commuting and working in my new position, I was becoming tired and unhappy with my choices. I decided this was not the path I wanted to be on the rest of my life. I wanted to work hard at something I loved.

This is when golf came back into my life. I have always been skilled at sports, in particular, golf. So why not become a pro? Easier said than done. I began by getting a full assessment by one of the top golf coaches in North America, and he told me that I had plenty of potential and that I should explore that potential while I still had the opportunity to (I am still young enough where I have a small window of opportunity to make it happen).

So here I am now, pursuing my dream. This past summer, I played in many professional tournaments on what is known as The Great Lakes Tour. However, playing in tournaments is only part of the process.

So yes, my days now are not spent doing “traditional” work. Waking up early, eating a big breakfast and then heading to the course where I will either practice for 6 hours, or practice a little and then play a round. Golf is a game where there is much more than meets the eye. Practice for me includes: stretching (often overlooked), hitting 1000+ golf balls at the range daily, and playing in as many tournaments as possible. Furthermore, the mental aspect of golf has been the toughest to overcome. Yes, I can shoot a very good practice round, but being able to imitate that in a tournament round is the toughest part. Long days, lots of practice, focus and dedication are what it takes to make it to the next level.

My goals are to be on the Canadian Professional Tour within 2 years and to play in events by 2017/2018. With my attitude and mindset, I believe I can do this.

So you might be thinking, “this isn’t your traditional work story.” But here’s the thing. I dropped everything, including a well-paid full time job in order to pursue something I love to do. And I don’t regret it one bit. In fact, I have never been happier – I love waking up early and working on something that I know I can be great at.

Nobody should tell you what you can and cannot do. The craziest thing is the support or lack of support I have received. Many people whom I thought would support me are telling me I’m crazy for doing this, it’s a waste of time, money and my degree. Others, whom I thought would not care one bit, have been extremely motivating in encouraging me to pursue my dream.

So there you have it. Whether you want to be a lawyer, doctor, athlete, astronaut – whatever – make sure you love what you do, because if you don’t, you will only have yourself to blame.

Ever considered Pharmacy? Megan’s Story

By Alexandria Friesen, WorkStory Ambassador

Meet Megan. Megan is a Pharmacy Manager at DMC Pharmacy. She has worked there for 2 and a half years. Upon completion of high school she continued directly to post-secondary education at the University of Windsor where she studied as a Biochemistry Major. After completing two years in her undergraduate studies she moved onto Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan to complete her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She studied at Wayne State for four years.

While Megan didn’t know at a very young age what she wanted for an adult career, she decided that pharmacy was for her after meeting with her high school guidance counsellor. Thinking long-term, she knew that she wanted a career that could complement the life of a mother and she had always enjoyed the sciences thoroughly. In order to determine if this was the path she wanted to begin working towards, she acquired a job at a pharmacy while she was in university. Turns out, she really enjoyed it!

Although Megan is in the field that she loves, her road to get there wasn’t always the smoothest. Of course, becoming a pharmacist is no easy task – as with many careers, it takes a lot of late nights and a lot of hard work. Luckily, Megan knew that pharmacy is what she wanted to pursue as a career and focused very hard during her undergraduate degree to ensure she would have the marks to get into pharmacy school. What would she change? Distractions! “[In pharmacy school] I had too many distractions while in school”, she said, “and probably could have done better academically had I focused more on my studies than other things”.

As you will probably hear from many people, the environment in which you work can have a significant impact on your feelings toward your job! While Megan has always wanted to be a pharmacist, the pharmacy she worked at previously was a more stressful environment so she wasn’t always able to enjoy her job as much as she could have. However, she has moved to a different location since then and loves where she is at!

Above all else, “trust your instincts and never second guess what you think is best for you”.  Definitely some words of wisdom we can all use! Thanks Megan!

Finding the Fire Within: Carolyn’s Story

As gathered by WorkStory Ambassador, Karli Steen

Carolyn Herrmans' path has taken her many different places. She had always seen herself as an optometrist; until a job shadowing left her tired and unfulfilled: "I did a Grade 10 job shadow at my optometrist’s office and thought it was a total bore. I could barely stay awake. I think a light switch went off in my head one day. I saw a fire and thought ‘This is it. This is what I'm meant to do.’ I haven't looked back since and don't ever plan on it."

 Carolyn went in blazing, on the path to becoming a firefighter. She initially wanted to be a smoke-jumper, which would put her right in the middle of the fight against forest fires. To do this, she went to Portage College in Lac La Biche, Alberta to take her Wildland Initial Attack Certification. She has continued to blaze her trail by taking courses in Orangeville at the Ontario Fire Academy, which led to further testing in Richmond, Texas.

I asked Carolyn to outline both training processes and one thing was clear; they were both humbling experience! She had this to say about her time in Alberta: "We did a lot of field experience. We'd get in a huge van and they'd take us deep in the woods. They dropped us off with a compass and a partner and made us try to find out way out of the woods. For testing we had to do a circuit. With a big pack on our back full of hose, we'd run 100m, empty handed and back and then run again with a motor that we would put in the water to suck it up and send out the hose. That thing was heavy. Over 100 lbs. We also lifted weights in our circuit. It wasn't overly hard but it was challenging for sure. I learned a lot about weather and wind. Different types of forestry and what to do when caught in bad situations. It was an amazing experience.  While I was out there the Slave Lake fire of 2011 was going on. Such a humbling experience. So many people gave what they could. I was sitting in the Edmonton bus terminal and a man with a guitar and a bag of apples was sitting there. That's literally all he had left. I gave him a hug."

 Regarding her experience in Texas, Carolyn told me: "I worked with 5 Americans and 4 Canadians - all male. For me, that pushes me to do my best. My two instructors were ex NFL players. The guy that owned the school created it because a couple years before he was called out to a fire. He ran out of air during that fire and called a mayday. He somehow survived that fire for over 30 minutes with no air. He literally is a miracle. So this school is meant to put us in bad situations and we're to get out of them. It included being trapped in a room at temperatures over 900 degrees and fully engulfed in smoke (hay smoke so it's not very harmful). We had to take our regulators out of our mask (the device that sends air to our mask) and last for 10 seconds. I panicked and ran for the door.  We hit the floor and sucked the air off it. We also did a man down scenario --  350 lb  man who needed to get out a window! They ran us until we almost puked. They pushed us to the breaking point. When we did a live fire we were pushed so hard I don't even remember coming out of the building. I came to in full bunker gear in a horse trough full of water and ice. It was back breaking for sure. But totally worth it. I have the upmost respect for everyone in this line of work. It showed me who I want to be and shaped me into who I am today. I wouldn't be as confident or strong without those instructors."

Carolyn further described how the same leader who pushed her limits, also pushed her forward: "He would get in my face and start screaming 'We don't want you here. You're a girl. Nobody's gonna hire a girl'. He's screaming this at me while I lift a 60 lb baby (a big metal dumbbell) over my head more than 200 times while in full gear. He'd scream at us all day long. He knew how to push my buttons. He knew how to make me feel like I wanted this more than anything in the world. Essentially I found the fire in me and I found who I was as a person. And I love helping people." 

As Carolyn continues to follow the path of firefighting, she works as both a patient transfer assistant for Voyageur and a waitress at the Keg. She is not deterred by the extra work, as she is helping others in all the positions. She takes a little from every experience, and applies it to everyday life. She hopes that what she learns will help her achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a HAZMAT specialist.

For anyone interested in following the path of a firefighter, Carolyn had this to say: "it's tough. If you think you're going to get a job right out of school think again. I'm going on my 3rd year and I'm still trying. It's expensive – at a minimum, $200 to apply to each fire department. It's tough but stay true to who you are. Do it for you. Don't do it because of the "glory" aspect of the job. There's nothing glorious about it. It's tough and dirty and I love it. I can't wait to sit there and hear that tone go off. And to feel the rush of my first fire and first save! Get all the training you can. Stand out from everyone else. Be yourself."