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From Salary to Minimum Wage


In case you didn’t know, I moved from Michigan to Calgary  just over a week ago with my husband and we’ll be here for 7ish months for a temporary assignment for his job. I didn’t bother applying to practice as a dietitian in Canada because it can take up to 3 months to review my transcripts before I’d even be allowed to take the Canadian board exam. I only have 7 months total and no one wants to hire a dietitian for 4 months. I started applying to a million positions about a week before we got here and even landed an interview as an employee wellness coordinator for a huge energy company downtown. I got to share about the worksite wellness initiative I developed at my last job and it seemed like I hit it off with the interviewers besides the HUGE part about me only being here for 7 months. No call back. Back to applications.

My church back home is considering buying space downtown and opening a coffee shop that would give proceeds to an organization we would ‘adopt.’ I decided to apply to Starbucks because 1. They had an opening at a store just a 10 minute walk away and 2. It would be sweet to learn how to make all the snazzy drinks so I could volunteer at the shop my home church starts up. I got an offer on the spot and am now officially a full time barista at Starbucks. I’ll admit one of my first thoughts was “I’m going from a salaried, bachelor degree-required job to a minimum wage job serving coffee.” Dietitians really don’t make that much to begin with, but that thought didn’t stick around long because I have a more positive approach to this circumstance.

Derek shared a TED talk last month about inspiring action and creating wealth. I finally got around to watching it and was intrigued. Between this talk and a sermon I heard at a great church in Calgary, it helped me to see the bigger picture of the “WHY” that will affect these next 7 months will look like. As a follower of Jesus I am considered his ambassador, representing Jesus to others on his behalf. While I can’t do this perfectly because I’m not Jesus, by God’s grace I get to be a light on a hill to a big city that is like many others- chasing after money, beauty, and status. If you watch the TED talk, my “WHY” is much greater than “Because I want to make money.”  I won’t get rich off of a minimum wage job, but I do get a free pound of coffee every week. I’ll at least be rich in coffee.

Since the purpose of my job won’t be to make the big bucks, it will be spent building relationships. I was told that there are a lot of regulars who frequent Starbucks. They’re the folks with big bucks. Everyone wears a really fancy suit here. I even saw a slogan in front of a popular store in the mall “Can I really get a nice suit for under $1,000?” Over time these regulars will pick up that I’m from Michigan, that I’m a dietitian, that I have a blog,  and that I love Jesus. It’s not like I will preface every “What can I get for you?” with “Did you know I’m a Christian?” or “Just a heads up- I’m a dietitian, so don’t disappoint me with your order.” Through building relationships I might draw a crowd to my blog which will help more people learn how to eat healthy with real food. Through building relationships I might have an impact on people’s lives. Sounds like a great 7 months to me.

What is your “why” for why you do what you do?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. “Just a heads up- I’m a dietitian, so don’t disappoint me with your order.” I love it.

    I always wanted to open up a business called “You Shouldn’t Eat That” I would stand outside and watch people eat unhealthy and give them my 2 cents to hopefully save them in the end.

    Go get em at SB.

    • Haha welcome to my life- if you can find a tactful way to tell people they’re not making wise choices then go for it!

  2. Good luck! It’s going to be fun reading the stories you’ll gather from your 7-month stint at Starbucks.

    • Thanks! Today is day one of training an it seems to be going well. Ill be sure to share tips and tricks I learn from the experience!

  3. Sounds like a good experience! My “why” is simply to varied experience as I can, for now.

    • That’s was my same situation when preparing to apply for dietetic internships- I needed a variety of experience, even if it wasn’t something I wanted to go in to as a career. I still learned a lot and much of it will help me give better customer service at SB.

  4. My why is pretty simple with 2 reasons.
    1) I still enjoy my job mostly because it is something that I’d always wanted to do. To attain this level without a degree was no easy task to be sure, and I am very proud of the accomplishment.
    2) I have a family of 6 (which includes myself) to feed, clothe, and keep a roof over our heads. Technically it’s 8 if your count the 2 dogs we have as pets. 🙂

    Nothing wrong with a minimum wage job if you’ve prepared yourself both mentally and fiscally. Congratulations Jessica! 🙂

    • Thanks, Chris! Eight is a lot of mouths to feed! I wonder how I manage to work and have a meal on the table for two sometimes. You must be a hard worker!

      • I think my wife works harder than me sometimes, since she’s a homemaker (aka SAHM).
        Not an easy task under anyone’s measure.

  5. Despite my college degree, I’ve always wanted to be a barista! In fact, it’s secretly on my bucket list as one of those things I want to do in my life at some point… 😉

    • I don’t know much about coffee or the difference between a latte & cappuccino so I’m excited for this short-term experience and learn a new skill. From what I’ve heard, Starbucks is a great company to work for 🙂

  6. I went into teaching because I was always the one who could explain complicated issues in a simple way. I thought influencing young people might be fun. It is a little different from my outsider’s view, but still interesting. This may be an opportunity for you to pursue some of your interests.

    • If I had to leave dietetics (which I love and wouldn’t do!) and pick a new career I think teaching would be it for the same reasons you explained. You have so much influence and can really shape someone’s future as a teacher!

  7. Awesome story- I appreciate you sharing. You have to make the best of every situation and never say “I’m JUST a…” Even if you are a street sweeper, you should sweep the streets like Michaelangelo paints.

    Best of luck to you in Canada. I would guess that you’ll be there for longer than 7 months. Most temporary assignments take longer than initially planned.

    • Thanks! We’ve heard the same about the length of the assignments but are hoping it will stay short. My husband is actually the back up so they’d still have someone there when things slow down this winter.

  8. What a great way to learn how to help in your church. You will be able to teach others as well and, like you mentioned, meet some people along the way.

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I love networking with people; you learn new things and establish relationships you otherwise wouldn’t have in your normal day-to-day life.

  9. I do what I do because it allows me to be home with my kids and work at the same time. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, Jenny. Sounds like you’re in a great position!

  10. What a positive attitude! Great way to look at it. You never know where you will learn and find new opportunities.

  11. Thanks! I’m thankful we’re in a situation where I don’t need a higher paying job to pay the bills. This will be a neat opportunity and I’m already learning a lot from day 2 of training!

  12. I admire the positive approach and how you already think of how you can make the best of your 7 months. I agree that no matter what the job is, one should do it with gusto and excellence. Looking forward to your success stories here.

    • Thanks, Amy. Week 3 at Starbucks is going well and I already went hikin. With one of my coworkers!

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