In an exclusive Q&A with Renée Ward, Canadian actress, model, singer and songwriter Sarah Fisher shares the benefits of having a job in her teen years and offers tips to young adults today who seek inspiration in their present job/career hunt.
For three years, Sarah Fisher played the role of Becky Baker on Degrassi: The Next Generation, a Canadian teen drama television series and recorded two original songs for the show. She sings a wide variety of musical genres including jazz, musical theatre, opera and pop.
Today she is also associate producer of a new feature film in post development. She plays the lead role as well, and it is about a friend hers, Carley Elle Allison, who passed away in May 2015 after diagnosed at 17 with a very rare form of cancer.
This is another in a series of articles about the “first jobs” of successful people, their words of wisdom for young adults, and reflects the value of work early in life. This interview edited for length and clarity.
Renée Ward: When were you first paid for doing work? That is, your very first paying job.
Sarah Fisher: I worked for a warehouse sporting goods retail store. It was one of those huge outlet types, where hundreds of people wait outside before the doors open to get the best stuff at discount prices. It was a great experience. I think it is important to try new things and have different job experiences.
I loved it. It was fun. I worked the cash register, which I thought very cool. It was a lot of work. I was on my feet standing and moving for about 10 hours per day with no chance to sit. I have a great deal of respect for people who do stand for 10 hours a day all the time. My sister and I did the job together. I remember we had to stretch all day because it is a lot on your body, but it was a really great experience.
RW: What age were you at that time?
SF: I must have been around 18.
RW: How did you find out about this job?
SF: My sister’s very good friend worked at that company and through him, we got jobs working there.
RW: Why did they hire you? What qualities did you have that earned you that job?
SF: I was open, friendly, and easy to talk to. These were the qualities needed while I was walking around and socializing with people. Clothes were strewn about and I spent a great deal of time refolding the clothes and chatting with the customers. I was sociable and they saw that.
RW: So what did you learn from that job that has prepared you for what you are doing now?
SF: Learning how to be sociable. I use it in my acting. Whether I am tired or sick, I have to be on. The second that camera rolls, I have to be on. I learned hard work. No matter the job. I have worked hard and had different experiences that may not have been exactly what I wanted to do but I believed that through hard work it would eventually lead me to where I am supposed to go.
RW: What advice do you have for teens or other young adults today seeking their first jobs?
SF: No experience is a waste of your time. Open yourself up to different opportunities, some that you may never have thought of doing before because you will learn very valuable lessons from each thing that you open yourself up to.
Commit yourself 150% to everything you do and no matter what that is. Try as hard as you can and do your best. Know that if it is not what you like to do, that is okay too. You have learned something even if it is not something that you want to do with the rest of your life.
RW: These days the typical 25-year-old has never held a paying job. I know that was not your experience, but what advice do you have for employers that may be reluctant to hire a teenager or young adult?
SF: Everyone in this world is brilliant in a different way, and everyone in this world has to start somewhere. So even if you see someone who does not have anything on their resume, consider that they may commit to working 150%.
You do not know what someone could become. For all you know, you could be working for them one day. Give everyone a fair opportunity to show you what he or she can offer and then make your choice or your decision on hiring.
RW: How were you able to get the movie about Carley Elle Allison into production so quickly?
SF: I pitched this movie to the director I worked with Sean Cisterna. I did a movie with him called, Full Out. I told him I had the best story he is ever going to hear, and I got permission from her family to do so. They thought perhaps it should be a documentary but with the kind of personality that Carley Elle Allison had, we knew that a movie would be more fitting for her.
Because of who this girl was, we have just wrapped filming within 10 months of the pitch. That is unheard of. Normally with a budget like ours, it can take up to three years to build that kind of momentum. No doubt, that Carley is behind us on this whole project. It has been magical since day one. We have an incredible foundation connected to the movie that supports families dealing with cancer—Team Carley. They are doing amazing things to continue her legacy, and this movie is just one more effort to honor her and help others.
Are you a young adult trying to determine what direction to take your job hunting but don’t know how? Start with uncovering your interests. Take the Association for Career and Technical Education’s Career Clusters Interest Survey.