James Walsh made his own job.

He did not start his own business. No, he realized early on that was not the right route for him. Instead, he made his own job in someone else’s company.

Rod Stears Photography in Saint John, NB is the brainchild of New Brunswick College of Craft & Design instructor Rod Stears. With 40 years of experience, he is an ideal mentor. During slow economic times for the province, his business was not as busy as it had once been. This did not deter James, who showed up at his door shortly after graduation and insisted he be allowed to work.

Since there was no budget for his position, James put in a lot of volunteer hours, and it was not all glamorous work. After a few weeks they applied for the Wage Incentive – One Job Pledge program from the Province of NB, which paid 70% of James’ wages for the first year. This program gives new graduates the power to approach potential employers who might not otherwise be able to hire them. The deal was: if James could sufficiently build up the business to cover his salary before funding ran out, he would be able to stay on full-time.

That was three years ago and the business continues to grow.  Together, the two men produce video and photograph special events, commercial industry, and even community projects like Christmas portraits for less-fortunate families.  James learns new technical skills from Rod every time they set up a shot.

James first made an impression on Rod while he was his student in the Diploma of Photography program at NBCCD. “He was there on time and handed everything in,” says Rod. That is how you make it in college, and in the real world. Despite having had no real interest in high school, at the college James found something he wanted to work hard for. “I have to hand it to the teachers,” James says. “They really make you want to come to school every day.”

There was never any question about where James would live and work. Saint John is his home and it is to him as enticing as New York City. He serves on the Board of Directors for Hospitality Saint John so he can have a greater impact.  To those considering whether they can make a living in their hometown, James says: “Make an appreciation for art. People do this all over the place . . . Stick your foot into everything you can.”

And don’t wait for a job to fall into your lap – go out and make one.

– Allison Green, NBCCD Textile Design Alumna & Mixed Media Sculptor