Interview with Ken Pike
By: Megan Pike & Nicholas ManuelInterview with Ken PikeQ: What do you do for a living? Where do you work? How many years have you been working here?A: I am a Border Service Officer. I work mostly at St. Johns International airport. Although we do board vessels that come from places all around the world. I have been working here for 28 years.Q: Why did you choose to apply for this job?A: I got this job as a summer student in 1986 for four summers in a row while I was attending university. While I was there I realised that it was an interesting job and I wanted to do it as a career.Q: Where did you work before this job? Have any of these jobs influenced you to get the job that you have now?A: I had many different jobs before I took this one. I worked as a security officer at the university, as well as at the local bar near the university. I was a carpenters helper before I worked at a rural community development office, which was the last job I had before I got into my current occupation. Being a carpenters helper influenced me the most because it was physically challenging and didnt pay very well, so I became used to a lot of work for little pay.Q: What qualifications do you need for your current job?A: Anything that has to do with psychology or police studies would help you get a position in this organization. There isnt really anything that can train you for it, lots of the people in my office have different work backgrounds, though police work in particular will help the most when trying to secure a position.Q: Are there any safety precautions that you have to follow?A: Yes, we all carry handguns where I work, which requires us to wear bulletproof vests as well. We have other equipment such as batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs in case we come across a client that has to be detained or arrested for one reason or another. While we are in the airport and around the airplanes in particular, we have to wear reflective vests, hardhats, and protective eyewear. In other locations you arent allowed entry if you arent wearing the proper uniform for that area.Q: How many hours do you work in one week? Do you get overtime?A: A scheduled work week in usually 37 and a half hours. There is a significant amount of overtime because planes, bots, and people dont always report on an 8-4 Monday-Friday schedule. The could come at any time, from anywhere.Q: Are you happy with the career path you have chosen? Do you have any regrets?A: I have no regrets about my career path, I enjoy my job. Its filled with variety and every day is different. While they sometimes feel similar, you always meet new people going to new places.Q: Is this the job you wanted as a child?A: No, when I was young I told my mother that I wanted to be a garbage man because I thought it was so cool when the garbage would be compacted in the back of the truck. I was about 23 when I decided that I wanted a full-time job as a Border Services Officer.Q: What benefits do you get from working here?A: I get six weeks of vacation every year. I also get time off if I am sick or if there are family obligations that I must attend to. We have job security and a union that protects our rights and ensures that we have a safe place to work in.Q: Do you have to travel for work?A: Yes, every three years it is mandatory that everyone who carries a firearm must pass a shooting test that usually takes place at our facility in Prince Edward Island, or our other facility in Quebec. It is a one week refresher course.Q: Do you consider your job difficult?A: At times, yes. I have been doing it for 28 years so I am used to almost anything that can happen, however we deal with people and sometimes they can be difficult. For example, if we have to arrest someone for whatever reason, or if they are trying to gain entry to Canada but we decide that they are inadmissible we hold them and put them on the first flight back to wherever they came from. These people get very upset and are almost always difficult to deal with.Q: What is the best experience you have had while on the job?A: I spent an entire day with a band called Fleetwood Mac. They stopped for fuel but there was too much put into the plane and it got filled with fumes. They had to wait for the fumes to dissipate (Which took four hours) and they were great people that I got to spend an afternoon with.Q: What is the worst experience that youve had while on the job?A: The day of the 9/11 tragedy was by far the worst. We had about 40 airplanes land out of nowhere, with about 4000 passengers total. There were many stressful situations that day.Q: What advice would you give to someone trying to get into your line of work?A: I would say that once you apply here you could really end up anywhere. When I first started out here, if you wanted to work at St. Johns you had to apply at St. Johns, but that isnt the case anymore. Instead, you go to a training facility for 16 weeks and once youve finished they decide where you go. If you apply for a position at Canada Border Services be prepared to move, and after many years you may have the opportunity to come back and work in Newfoundland, but its not likely.Q: How does your job impact your personal life?A: It pays fairly well and gives me a good pension plan so eventually when I retire I will be able to live comfortably, which will greatly impact my personal life.Q: Do you think that people should follow your career path?A: It is an interesting job so I would say yes. However, if you are intent on staying in Newfoundland and having a basic 9-5 Monday-Friday schedule, than this job probably isnt for you.Q: Have your life decisions affected your career?A: Yes, once I finished high school I went to university to get a degree. When I applied for the full-time position a degree was mandatory so the choice to go to university had a huge impact. I also had a degree in French and within the federal government many offices offer opportunities to people who are bilingual. Because I am, it gave me a better chance of obtaining the position.Q: What s your work environment like?A: My work environment is predominantly in the airport. We have flights coming in from many different places, though most scheduled flights come from either England, Ireland, or the US. However, there are private flights which could come from anywhere. We also board vessels in order to search for contraband. These vessels can also come from anywhere in the world. There isnt really a set workplace, we report to the airport, but the day could take us anywhere.Q: What do you aim for in the future?I plan to retire in the next four years, and I intend to take up part-time carpentry afterwards. Id like to keep busy once Im retired.Q: What responsibilities do you have at your job?A: Most of the work Im involved in is interviewing people who are coming into Canada for whatever reason. We need to determine if these people have legitimate reasons for travelling and are not bringing anything of concern into the country, such as weapons or drugs. We also have to make sure that the people coming here arent criminals who are fleeing wherever they came from. It is common practice to search any cargo which carries suspicion, to ensure that nothing illegal is being smuggled into the country.