50 Jobs in 50 Weeks: A Job Seeker Reinvents Himself

You have to wonder what a recruiter looking at Daniel Seddiqui’s resume would think.

Here’s an economics major from the University of Southern California who hasn’t held a job for longer than a week since graduating in 2005. On his website he admits, almost eagerly, that he went on 40-plus interviews and didn’t land a single offer in his field.

His lament is all too familiar to unsuccessful jobseekers: “I never received feedback from any employers.”

So the lanky 28-year-old began taking any job he could find. He tutored elementary school kids. Was a volunteer cross-country coach in Chicago, painting stairs, doing a little accounting, and some other jobs to pay the rent. When the cross-country job ended, he took another job in Indiana. And then another.

His resume now lists jobs as diverse as agronomist, hydrologist, cook, rodeo announcer, Border Patrol agent, and boilermaker. If you’re reading this during the fourth week of June 2009, then you’ll see 39 different jobs listed. This week he’s working as a furniture maker in Pennsylvania’s Amish country.

By now you should have concluded that Seddiqui is no mere discouraged worker. Some of you may even have seen him interviewed on CNN or local TV. His website lists more than 150 TV and print stories about him. He figures he has done more than 500 interviews.

“The objective,” Seddiqui says on his website, “is to travel all 50 states to work 50 different careers in 50 weeks. Sound Crazy??? I’m on a mission to explore various careers, environments, and cultures that America has to offer.” His quest is to sample work representative of each state, hence the corn farmer in Nebraska, logger in Oregon, and wedding chapel coordinator in Las Vegas.

Living the Map is the title of his own take on that quintessential American journey of self-discovery — the road trip. Like so many others, he was driven in part by curiosity, despair, and the freedom that comes, as Kris Kristofferson wrote, from having nothing left to lose.

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“I felt like I had no opportunities,” Seddiqui told a reporter in Greensboro, N.C. “Now, they are endless. This has opened so many doors for me.” He’s gotten several book and movie offers. A book was always in the plan; a documentary may be in the works. And he’s putting together a series of videos on each of the jobs.

Lining up the jobs was hard in the beginning. He left his parent’s home in the San Francisco Bay Area last September only after lining up five week’s worth of jobs. The next few jobs were easier, thanks to the website detailing his exploits, which gave him some legitimacy. The media exposure now makes finding work easy. A racing crew in Indianapolis came looking for him.

Every job has been a paying one. For some he trades work for room and board. But, as he told Fox News, some jobs have paid him into four figures.

When his adventure is all over, which should be just before the end of August, Seddiqui says he may pick a career from among the jobs he’s held. If he does, it isn’t likely he’ll have a hard time landing a position. He’s had offers from most of the places he has worked. That rodeo announcer job, though, didn’t work out.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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2 Comments on “50 Jobs in 50 Weeks: A Job Seeker Reinvents Himself

  1. Interesting. He’s not on Linkedin, but is on Facebook. I wonder if he’s paid via 1099. This guy highlights a failure of our education system, career exploration. No wonder nearly 1/3 of kids drop out. Kids are told to study math, sciences, etc… but why? K12 does(and even in colleges) do not connect the dot to show kids the end game, a rewarding career.

    As you know, universities and high schools are not producing enough of the kinds of people organizations need. I believe all of us in recruiting have the responsibility to make sure that K12, especially high school counselors, teachers, and students are at least somewhat aware of what jobs are available in our organizations and what education is required to get those jobs.

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