Laying the Foundations for the Months to Come

I’ll be down in Tasmania for the next 3 months, so I’ve got a bit of time to *finally* get caught up with what all happened in Sydney and why I’m now down in the little island state of Tasmania.

So onwards to Sydney! I already chronicled my first week in Sydney through earlier posts here – I was playing the role of tourist at the time. But I thought the city was fantastic and was the first place I’d found in Australia that made me really want to sit down and stay a while. So I started combing through online resources for jobs. Except unlike Melbourne, here I was much more focused. Whereas before I’d apply for pretty much any job opening I thought might hire travelers such as myself – cafes, housekeeping, retail, reception, sales, etc….this time I focused more on an area I might enjoy. Travel and outdoor gear. I applied to a few travel agency positions, at backpacker focused travel shops and several outdoor clothing stores.

While I was wandering around the empty streets of Canberra I received a phonecall. An interview in Sydney with one of the largest outdoor retailers in this part of the world: Kathmandu.

(picture copyright of ABC.net.au)

I’d been in and out of Kathmandu stores many a times during my time down in Australia and New Zealand. I’d only bought one thing, packing squares (which I love!), but have looked at their items numerous times. They are not a technical outdoor gear store. They aim squarely at the casual outdoor market rather than the enthusiast – families, young adults going overseas for the first time, people taking on new adventures as part of their bucket list, seniors staying in shape, etc. For Canadian readers, Kathmandu is very similar to our Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), though more apparel focused than gear. They offer a membership similar to MEC (though it isn’t required to purchase anything, unlike MEC), 99% of the items found instore are Kathmandu brand items and they are a large presence in the marketplace.

My interview would be for a brand new flagship store in Sydney. Pitt Street Mall is the highest profile retail spot in Australia and in the top 5 for most expensive retail street locations in the world. So the store would be a big deal for Kathmandu and they were hiring a new sales team to help open the store in November. My interview was set for Sunday, November 4th. I headed back to Sydney a few days prior to my interview.

I would be busy during those days. For a short time I’d been communicating online with a lovely young Sydney-sider. It just so happened she was free early on Saturday morning to meet for the first time. She was going to be picking up a cake for her sister’s birthday and had a bit of free time. So at 9am I found myself inside a Guylian chocolate shop, in the trendy Rocks district of Sydney.

(picture copyright of Tam :P)

It was here, bright and early in the morning over a tasty iced chocolate drink that I would meet the person that I would end up spending a lot of time with over the next several months, and result in me wanting to extend my visa for even more time and adventures with her. Her name is Tam.

The initial meeting went well, though at that time I still was unsure if or when I’d be back in Sydney. I still had no job and this time, unlike Melbourne, I didn’t want to stay in a city and try to find a job.  I wanted to come to a place where I already had a job waiting for me. A job that I wanted. Tam and I parted ways after a couple enjoyable hours and I scoped out where I would be interviewing. It was less than a block away from Guylian.

The next day I interviewed for Kathmandu with their regional manager. It was a fairly routine interview, lasting about 45 minutes and I felt by the end that it had gone well. There were certainly questions about my longevity in the position – as a Working Holiday holder I could only work for any single employer for 6 months, but with the store just opening in a couple of weeks and the busy holiday season at hand I hoped that my time restriction might actually be beneficial. I’d be around to help start the store, get things running, see them through the busy Christmas and summer season and then when the store was running smoothly and perhaps they didn’t need as many staff, well I’d be leaving anyways. So a win-win if that was how things worked out. At least that was what I was hoping might be justification for hiring a travelling Canadian. I was told to expect an answer in about a week’s time, so I set off for Coff’s Harbour. Coff’s Harbour was where I received the job offer from Kathmandu, which I accepted. I was also still in touch with Tam via texts. My training wouldn’t begin for about a week so I spent a few days in Byron Bay before jumping on the train back to Sydney.

Training for Kathmandu was relatively straightforward and the store opened in mid-November. The staff was young and mostly new, like me. I was actually one of the eldest by years in the large group of people, many of which were university students. A few of the staff were transferred in from other nearby stores and the manager and assistant manager were brought in from other Sydney stores.

At the same time I saw Tam again in what would become a theme for us – Gelato, Sushi, Thai, Indian, Korean, Italian…any type of food really. We both loved our foods, and more importantly, dessert!

And from there, in between the food and work, a wonderful relationship developed. :)

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