How I Made It

Storm LaRoque, Community Organizer and Singer

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How I Made It community builders: Storm LaRoque sings into a microphone while playing a guitar

Storm LaRoque; Hay River, N.W.T.;  @StormLynnMusic

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I am currently the coordinator for Hay River Pride and a singer/songwriter! For a living I work at a daycare and teach piano.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

Right out of high school I completed the first year of a music program, but I realized quickly that school was not for me. I’m all about constant learning and have seized every chance to hone my skills as an organizer/host/teacher/performer over the years.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

My first paying gig out of school was as a lifeguard. It didn’t last long, but I learned a lot about resilience.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

In summer 2016, the mayor of Hay River approached me and asked what the town could do to support Hay River Pride. After seeing rainbow crosswalks pop up in major cities across Canada, I figured that it was an easy way for our town to show visible and vocal support of our LGBTQ2+ community. He agreed, donated the paint… and later surprised us by helping to paint the crosswalk with his family! The town also passed a motion to fly the rainbow flag for the month of August, which is when we hold our annual event.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

It was after the first two years of Hay River Pride, when people started approaching me to ask what I was planning for the coming year. The first two years were so stressful—and such a learning curve—but last year I finally gained some footing. Now it’s in its fourth year, and here I am creating Doodle polls for meetings and people are coming together regularly to make such a wonderful thing happen!

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

I think my biggest shortcoming so far is that I’m super disorganized and scatterbrained. It makes it hard for me to connect with others about contributing to our event, or getting meetings planned. It causes a lot of self doubt, and during the planning of the first event I had a complete meltdown where I felt like I was completely over my head. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful community of people who all believe in this cause, and give me the strength and courage to believe that I can learn how to be the right person for the job.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

I don’t really hand out career advice, but the thing I tell myself to get through tough times is “Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do so you can do the things you wanna do.” If you are passionate about something, you’ll be willing to do the things you absolutely hate. For me, it’s making phone calls.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

The worst career advice I’ve ever gotten was to jump right into college because “otherwise it gets to hard to go back when you’re older.” I hated school, and we don’t all need to live life at the same pace.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Not really. But I’ve definitely faced barriers outside of my field, in other jobs, and in life in general.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I gain no income for the work I do with Hay River Pride. My day job at the daycare gives me what I need, and my gigs as a musician are a nice bonus. I don’t think I’ll ever be a millionaire, but I make enough to get by, and enjoy a bit of traveling, so I’m thankful.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That we are lazy. I have yet to see evidence that this generation is anything but hard working.

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