University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Peter Munk
Peter Munk.

Starting Out

Even the most celebrated careers often have humble beginnings

Peter MunkPeter Munk, BASc 1952
Now: Chairman, Barrick Gold Corp.
Then: Telegraph line planner
“The Canadian National Telegraph Company hired me to measure, design and lay out telegraph lines in northern Ontario. We were expanding along the whole CN network, but all we did was imitate the Western Union system in the United States. We were not allowed to put in any of our own creative effort. The work was the opposite of stimulating. I learned that I’m not a very good employee when I’m not being challenged.”

The Rt. Hon. Adrienne ClarksonThe Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, BA 1960, MA 1962
Now: Journalist, author, former Governor General of Canada
Then: Department store complaints department assistant
“My job included testing colour television tubes for people who wished to repair their own TVs, sending appliance repairmen out on their calls and making sure they were sober, and laying out eight bottles of Coca-Cola and two packages of Export ‘A’ cigarettes for the manager. Apparently I was a success, because I was offered a permanent job.”

Photo: George WhitesideClayton Ruby, LLB 1967
Now: Partner, Ruby & Edwardh
Then: Articling student
“My boss was Aubrey Golden. He was a huge taskmaster but a tremendous role model. He was tenacious and never gave up. He taught me to do everything you can possibly do, even if it took you all night. If you didn’t get paid – well, you did it anyway. My desk was in the office closet. They took out all the coats, put in a shelf and pushed a chair up to the shelf. They took the door off, though, which was kind of nice. I don’t think I even had my own phone; I had to share with one of the secretaries.”

Photo: Craig Samuel/MuchMusicHannah Sung, BA 2000
Now: MuchMusic VJ
Then: Maternity ward clerk
“After graduating, I wanted to be a freelance writer. But I spent a lot of time waiting around and got a lot of rejections (and a few commissions!). What kept me afloat financially was a job as a clerk in the labour and delivery ward at Toronto East General Hospital. I had to make sure all the paperwork in the patients’ files was in order while women in the delivery rooms were screaming during childbirth. I worked at that hospital for years while I was in school – until I could support myself with a job in media.

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