Lists, Work

Hustle, or: Jobs, A History

I’m rereading Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of Dear Sugar advice columns. Most of the columns in the book can be found on the Rumpus website, but I’m a bit of a Sugar fanatic, so of course I had to own the e-book. Yeah, I’m a freak. And yeah, I said I’m rereading it.

Anyways, there’s this one column where a letter writer is complaining that student loan debt is holding him/her back from a big and adventurous life, and Sugar sets the writer straight by talking about what she learned from her endless stream of unimpressive and horrible jobs. While reading her list of horrible jobs I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for my own checkered job history. My high school reunion was a week ago, which means that I’ve officially been working for 10+ years now. Of course I also waited tables at my family’s restaurant ever since I was 7 or 8, but if I count since then, well that is just too crazy.

Things have certainly been busy since I got back from Asia. The last time I had this many things going on was back in 2003 when I had five jobs at once. Of course back then I was young, stupid, romantic and optimistic, so it was okay having five jobs. I needed the money then, and I need it now for sure, but jobs were more casual and fun then, and I never got my identity too wrapped up in whatever I was doing. I miss that.

I thought it might be fun to list out all the jobs I’ve ever had, and in the spirit of gratitude, for all the past positions I’ll try to quickly come up with at least one thing that I learned from the experience.  🙂 Anyways, here’s everything from present from past, although I might have forgotten a few. The ones in bold are what I’m up to now.

  1. Review Writer
  2. Apartment Property Manager aka AirBNB hustler
  3. Research Contractor
  4. Website Usability Tester 
  5. Marketing Intern (unpaid)
  6. Elderly Suicide Hotline Counselor (Still training, and obviously unpaid)
  7. Market Research Focus Groupie (Random one offs)
  8. Convention Staff – When you go to any kind of event, be kind to the staff. Seriously. They get paid peanuts to be abused, and have no real worker’s rights.
  9. Social Media/SEO Research Analyst- Creating and maintaining friendships at work can be wonderful and will make you more productive.
  10. Social Media Research Analyst- For a while, everybody is making it up as they go along. This could be depressing, but I think it’s obviously an opportunity.
  11. Media Research Associate-You never know what a job is or will become until you start.
  12. Marketing Intern at a web company (unpaid)- It’s important to believe in what your company does/sells.
  13. Lab Tech at a blood bank, working weird hours and dreaming I was a vampire- It’s never worth it to risk your personal health for a job. I’ve had a few close calls.
  14. Human Guinea Pig – There’s no such thing as easy money.
  15. Yarn Shop Sales Associate- Sometimes a job is right because it comes along at the right time. Also, if you want a job, just ask.
  16. Recycler- I enjoy jobs with variety and autonomy.
  17. Poster Board Monitor/Cleaner- Working outside can be refreshing.
  18. Biology Laboratory Assistant-Playing a supportive role can still be a lot of fun, especially when your team is winning and has big money.
  19. Dogwalker-I love dogs.
  20. Library Aide- This was when I first learned to love podcasts, audiobooks and short stories.
  21. Administrative Assistant at a music conservatory- Sometimes you just have to get the hell out of a job, sooner rather than later.
  22. Campus Sales Rep for an art store- Sales is an art.
  23. Clothing Shop Sales Clerk- Screenprinting!
  24. Dishwasher- Humility.
  25. Public Health/Pediatrics Research Assistant- Connections and curiosity matter. People want to help you succeed. Being published is kind of awesome.
  26. Waitress/Cashier-I really struggled with this one. I guess all I can say is that you can learn a lot from staying in the same place for a long time. A community can be a lot of different things, even a dinky Chinese restaurant. A smile will help smooth most problems over. It’s best never to work for your family.

Have you ever listed out your total job history? Did it depress you, amuse you, surprise you?