Tim Hortons Tips from an Insider

Happy #Canada150! For those of you not in the know, today is widely celebrated as Canada’s 150th anniversary. Today we celebrate all things Canadian: hockey, poutine, apologizing, and, of course, Tim Hortons. This coffee and donut chain is basically the hallmark of our Canadian identity. You might already know that I work at Tim Hortons Corporate, so it’s no surprise that I’m a Tims superfan. But even before I started at the company two years ago, I was already living that Timmies life. So today, in honour of Canada, I want to share with you some Tim Hortons tips to help you have the best experience next time you pick up your double double. Continue reading

Excel Bar Graphs

These days, everyone and their mother has “Microsoft Excel” listed as one of their skills on LinkedIn. So you probably already know that Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis, manipulation, and visualization. Working in Marketing Analytics, I literally use Excel every single day. (In fact, you might have noticed that I’ve been AWOL on the blog recently — I’ve been so busy with work that all I can even think about is Excel.) Some people are “Excel Wizards”, using tons of shortcuts and fancy formulae. If that’s you, more power to you! But in the end, it’s the output that matters: how will you communicate your work to an audience of colleagues or clients? Often you’ll present your findings in a series of charts or graphs. And when I see a professional slide deck full of ugly, unpolished, or even default-style Excel bar graphs (or any graphs), it drives me up the wall.

I want to help you. Continue reading

5 Reasons to Love Fall

Fall is my favourite season. Hands down, no doubt about it. I know a lot of people associate fall with the stresses of returning to the daily grind, whether that’s school, work, or some other exhausting routine. But for me, the positives outweigh all of the downsides. So even if I’m jumping the gun a little bit, that’s why I get so excited when September rolls around!

Sweater Weather

Winter is freezing cold, spring is rainy and unpredictable, and summer is scorching hot and humid. Fall weather, especially early fall, can be refreshingly chilly and sunny — making it a perfect time to break out those sweaters I haven’t worn in months. I personally love the feeling of wearing light layers outdoors. Fall is also great for getting some outdoor exercise and sight-seeing (without getting too sweaty).

Energy and Anticipation

Whether or not you’re currently attending school, fall represents a second chance at a “new year”. With summer over, it’s a time to buckle down, reorganize your life, and focus on your priorities or create some new ones. I’ve found that the “back to school” buzz is what energizes me as I align myself with my goals for the season.

Fall Colours

I live in Ontario, Canada, which is known for its beautiful fall colours.

 5 Reasons to Love Fall - Fall Colours


It’s a great time for a hike to take in the natural sights!

The National Novel Writing Month

Let’s face it: in spite of the lovely weather and colours in September and October, the atmosphere in November is usually pretty dismal. So it’s a perfect time to hole up indoors and write a novel!

I’ve discussed the National Novel Writing Month before, and I definitely will again. As a brief summary, though: you write a 50,000-word novel in November. Simple, right? If you’ve ever wanted to write a book and just need a kick in the pants to get it done, NaNoWriMo is for you. Stay tuned for more posts on this writing marathon, and check out the website to sign up and access resources.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes!!!

…Just kidding.

As a devout Tim Hortons junkie (and employee), the Starbucks PSL doesn’t have a particular hold on me. However, hot drinks in general are a huge plus for me as the seasons change. When summer gets unbearably hot, I’ll partially transition to iced coffee or the occasional frappuccino (yes, that one’s from Starbucks). But it’s always half-hearted, and I can’t wait to warm my hands and my heart with tea, coffee, or espresso drinks.

In short, I am so glad it’s September, because it means fall is upon us!

What do you love about the autumn season?

E is for Exercise — Why I Fail at Fitbit

My Fitbit software got an upgrade yesterday. Or, rather, I noticed it yesterday. Now, not only does it track how few active minutes I have a day, how many calories I eat, how little I sleep, and how hopelessly far away I am from 10,000 steps per day — but it also tells me how sedentary I am during my workday. Yay!

Basically, it does this fun thing where it tells you to get at least 250 steps per hour. Totally reasonable. But it only tracks this, by default, during the hours between 9am and 6pm. You know, the hours most people sit down and don’t stand up for quite a while. It makes sense. It also makes me feel sad. It’s just another reminder of how much I fail at Fitbit.

I bought my Fitbit Flex in September. I knew I wanted to be more active, but I also wanted some visibility into how active I am in general, whether I’m making an effort or not. And I have to say, even if my activity level hasn’t increased by a single step, I’m still glad I made the purchase. The data and insights are super helpful and interesting, especially when it comes to getting a restful sleep. I also love being able to see the exact time at which my cat jumped on my face in the middle of the night.

Despite my lack of goal-achieving, I try to do a couple of things differently now, at least, compared to before I had my Fitbit:

1. Walking to or from work

I live ridiculously close to my office. It’s a 5-minute drive or a 25-minute walk. However, that walk is just long enough to make me freezing in the winter or sweating in the summer. Plus I have to change my shoes… So I’ll walk home from work. Sometimes. And in the winter, not very often at all. This one’s a bit of a fail.

2. Walking…to the far Tim Hortons

If I’m going to be going to Tim Hortons anyway, I might as well get some exercise, right? …Right?

3. Exercise with Netflix

I have one of these so that I don’t just lie on the couch while binge-watching The Mindy Project. #progress

4. Walking in place (haha!)

So my manager noticed that I do this whenever we’re having a standing or impromptu meeting. That’s not Fitbit cheating, is it? Okay, maybe it is. But it’s better than sitting!

5. Hiking on weekends

Okay, this one’s legit. You can read more about my opinions on hiking in this post. But, of course, that’s only one day a week — not enough to carry my weekly average!

So now that I’ve identified some of the things that are working for me, what’s holding me back? I think it boils down to two things: self-consciousness and inconsistent motivation. Realistically, if I were consistently motivated, the self-consciousness likely wouldn’t even be a barrier. But having a Fitbit on my wrist is the norm for me now, so its presence isn’t a sufficient motivator. Looks like if I want to get back on the 10,000-step wagon, I’ll have to, like, actually try… Sigh. I’d better go get some steps.

What holds you back from your fitness goals, and how do you stay motivated?

D is for Donuts — Physics at Tim Hortons

One of the questions people have asked me most often in the past year (almost to the day, actually) is how I ended up working at Tim Hortons Corporate after studying Physics at university. And I’ll be honest: I’ve wondered that myself. It seems like such a drastic shift, but when you take a step back and look at the journey as a whole, rather than as a trajectory towards a life of academia, it makes a little more sense.

To give you a little bit of background, as I headed into my fourth year at Queen’s in Physics, I was already pretty certain that a career in astrophysics wasn’t for me. For more details on that, pop on over to my “Why I Studied Physics” post. So of course, as all of my friends prepared their grad school applications, I started panicking a little bit. I did some soul-searching, I went to career guidance sessions, I even retook the Career Cruising questionnaire from high school. No dice. Oh, sure, I found some leads, but nothing I was really passionate about.

My biggest problem with the job application process, especially for new grads, is the expectation that you convey your passion for the company and the work as you apply for the position. And a lot of the time, that means stretching the truth a little bit. Am I really passionate about this internship, or that entry-level posting? Probably not. But my cover letter has to make it look like I am, right? I’m a decent professional-style writer, but I hate being insincere. So rather than spamming the world of industry with my résumé, I applied at a couple of places and kept looking for something that would actually make me excited.

I stumbled across the posting for the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program on TalentEgg. In fact, I think I was actually scrolling though every single posting for new grads on the site at that time, since I simply couldn’t choose the job categories to which I should narrow my search. There were four things about the description that stood out to me:

  1. It was a business new grad program that wasn’t limited to only Commerce students. I had only found a couple of programs that were openly recruiting Science majors.
  2. The assignment was open-ended by design, allowing you to try out multiple departments without having to commit to a single role when applying. In fact, students who were only trained and willing to work in a single field weren’t encouraged to apply. All I knew at this point was that I was thinking about trying out the business world, but how was I supposed to choose between Marketing, Finance, and all of those other fields, when I didn’t even know what half of them were?
  3. There was a huge focus on meritocracy. Now, a lot of people hear that word and immediately think “cutthroat competition”. But my interpretation was, “Awesome! It’s just like school! But you get paid!” So that’s how that happened.
  4. It was Tim Hortons. If you’ve read my top ten Tims products post, you’ll know that I’m slightly obsessed. Tim Hortons was a staple of my childhood, my favourite hangout in high school, and my source of pure joy in university. And while I have absolutely zero desire to work in food service, I could see myself working for a brand that I loved and making it better, in one way or another.

Plus the opportunity for free Tims. There’s that.

So I applied on line, thinking, Who knows?

When it came time for the interview process, I was pretty dissuaded by my competition. Most of the other candidates were business majors with business work experience and business…suave, you know what I mean? Not to mention that while every other candidate was dressed in full black or navy suits, I was wearing a flowery blouse and tan dress pants, and I felt I stuck out like a sore thumb (even though I probably didn’t).

But lo and behold, here I am today, still working for Tim Hortons as a graduate of the Leadership Development Program. And I’m in the Restaurant Technology department, which is a pretty good fit, if I do say so myself. Am I enjoying my work now? For sure! What’s next for my career? As I said before: Who knows?

So that’s how I got to where I am today: by pure indecision. And a love for Tim Hortons.

What unexpected turns have you taken in your career?


what i miss about home while on vacation

Now that I’ve been home from my tropical vacation for a couple of days, it’s starting to sink in that I’m back to the old grind. No more nice weather, free food, fun activities, or relaxation. If you’ve ever been on a long vacation, you’ll know that coming home is a bit of an adjustment. But something I hadn’t really anticipated was how much I would miss about being at home while I was away. Perhaps noticing these things was just a product of my inherent travel pessimism, but there were definitely a number of luxuries and details of my daily life that I would have preferred to have with me on my trip.

My Cat.

This was my first major vacation since Joe and I got Lorelai back in July. Sure, we went camping in August, but because it was only for a couple of days, we let her stay home with a couple of checkups from our families. For our ten-day trip this time, we were fortunate enough to have my cat-loving aunt and uncle look after our fur baby while we jetted off to the Caribbean. So while we knew that she was in great hands and was having a blast with her babysitters, Joe and I still found ourselves idly thinking, “I miss our cat!”

And of course, we called her halfway through the vacation to make sure she was having a good time. Who wouldn’t, right?

The Internet.

I go back and forth on this one. We opted out of any Internet packages while on-board the cruise, so I had no access to anything online until we returned to Port Canaveral. Admittedly, I didn’t really miss having access to my work email. This was especially true because I knew I couldn’t very well deal with any issues remotely anyway, so there was no point in knowing about them until I was back and ready to tackle them. But I struggled with being out of the loop when it came to the news, Facebook, my personal email, and even some of my favourite apps like Bloglovin’. I couldn’t even think about posting on my blog! (Not that I had lots of leftover energy for that anyway…) I probably won’t buy myself Internet access on my next vacation, either — so I guess I’ll resign myself to complaining about it then, too.

Random Clothing/Accessories/Amenities.

My suitcase was almost double the size of my boyfriends’. And even then, I wasn’t prepared for the countless unexpected situations I faced on the cruise. It felt like a constant struggle, realizing, “I should have brought that!”, “I have that exact thing that I need at home!”, and “If I had known about this, I would have been so prepared!”. While many of these situations came up simply because of my cruise inexperience, some of them simply couldn’t have been anticipated. I suppose all you can do is pack for generic disasters and hope for the best!


Remember what I said about getting back to the old grind? Well, as it turns out, I kind of like the old grind. I like to have a structure to my day, a reason to get up and go, an external motivation beyond just “having fun”. It was nice to have the flexibility to do anything I wanted at any time. But then I didn’t know how to decide how to spend a particular moment. So unfortunately, this led me to “deciding” to nap a lot more often than I usually do, rather than making a real decision. For future vacations, I think I may need to make myself more of a schedule, just to ensure that I actually get out of bed and do something that I actually want to do.

Tim Hortons.

Gotta love that caffeine withdrawal. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really like coffee unless it’s Tims coffee. I can handle Starbucks Blond Roast, but the coffee on the cruise ship tasted like bitter dirty water to me. And I often ended up having to put cream in my coffee instead of milk (or worse — creamer…). On Monday, when we got back to Canada, the first thing we did once we cleared customs was grab some Tims.

The Weather.

*Looks outside…*

Just kidding.

What do you miss about home when you’re on vacation?

I’m told I have to start this post off with a disclaimer: I work at Tim Hortons head office. However, I’m also Canadian, so the fact that I happen to work there really has no influence on the fact that I’m totally addicted. Anyone who knew me before I started working at Tims 8 months ago can attest to that fact. Moving on.

I had a pretty typical Canadian childhood, which means it should come as no surprise that I was raised like this:

TIm Hortons baby

Yes, that is me, and yes, that is a Roll Up cup. Photo-finding credit goes to my mother.

In fact, legend has it that my first words were “Double Double”. Not even joking.

My tastes have evolved over the years, but my love of Tim Hortons has been unwavering. I know people can have some seriously polarizing opinions on the menu at Tims, so I’ll just say that these are my favourite products, and you’re welcome and encouraged to share your own in the comments!

10. Café Mocha with Milk

You’ve got the coffee for the buzz, the hot chocolate and whipped topping for the sugary treat, and the milk to smooth out the bitterness of the black coffee. This drink was my go-to winter semester study treat when looking at equations for hours in the library made me want to tear my hair out.

I need Tim Hortons.

Like this.

9. English Muffin Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

My university was three hours away from home, so returning to school to school was a bit of a trek. The highlight of that drive was always stopping at the ONroute in Port Hope to get a breakfast sandwich. So even though it’s just three bucks and there’s nothing particularly special about it, this breakfast sandwich always feels like a treat.

8. Sundried Tomato Asiago Bagel (RIP)

I love sundried tomatoes. And cheese. And bread. This bagel was everything I could ever dream of in a bagel. Then Tims discontinued it, and my heart was shattered into a million pieces. I can only hope that someday, the outcry of millions of Sundried Tomato Asiago Bagel lovers will warm the cold hearts of the product team so that my bagel and I can be reunited.

7. Spicy Thai Soup

This soup is seasonal, so when I heard it was coming back in November, I got really excited. It’s tasty with a kick, it has lots of variety in flavour and texture, and it really fills you up. It’s a great “comfort food” for the winter.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Gouda Soup

So I had this soup for the first time today, and I immediately decided that it was better than my previous favourite soup, the Spicy Thai. It’s got a great consistency – creamy with just a bit of hearty chunkiness – and it tastes great. Unfortunately, it’s also seasonal.

5. Chocolate Chip Muffin

You can’t go wrong with a chocolate chip muffin. I’ve actually noticed that Tim Hortons lightened up on the sugar topping on these muffins, which, in my opinion, made them better now than before. In general, this is my go-to baked good if I’m looking for a snack.

4. Strawberry Strudel

I love these strudels for three reasons: they’re tasty, they’re small, and they’re cheap. Lots of sugar without much perceived guilt. And it’s great that you get a discount if you order them with a coffee or tea!

3. Filled Sugar Cookie

This cookie just came out this winter, and oh my gosh, it’s delicious. But it’s horrible for you. It’s basically just sugar. Proceed with caution.

2. Iced Capp with Milk

This drink brings back many memories of my previous job… (More on that later.) The Iced Capp has been a staple in my summer diet for years. I almost never went into work without one. Just make sure you stir the deliciousness regularly so it doesn’t separate!

1. Small Double Double with Milk

This coffee gets me through the day. I think I honestly decided on this particular combination of modifiers because I wanted to be able to order a “Double Double” but I just don’t like cream in my coffee. I’m specifying small because even though I know the ratios are constant, I find I like the taste of a small better than any other size. It’s probably just a psychological thing. Plus, if I drink more than a small at one time, I get a little jittery… As a wise man once said, “Coffee coffee coffee.” This is my mantra.

Wow, that was harder than I thought – I don’t even have any donuts on this list! To be fair, though, my favourite donut changes so often that none of them really outrank what I’ve listed here. (Right now, it’s Chocolate Dip…though there’s also Sour Cream Glazed, and the sorely missed Blueberry Fritter and Birthday Cake Donut…)

One thing I’ve learned from working at Tim Hortons is that everyone has an opinion on it. So have at it: Do you agree with my list? What are some of your favourites at Tims?