Unless you stay in the first job you’re ever hired into, you’re likely to go through a variety of different jobs throughout your working life. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those born between 1957-1964 statically held 11.7 jobs between ages 18 and 48, and we all know that the current workforce seems to change jobs even more often than earlier generations!
But frequent job change is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn through our experiences, and although I’ve been in the same job as a labor and delivery nurse for the past 22 years, I certainly worked a myriad of interesting jobs during my younger years:
- I was an elf at the Herald Square Macy’s Santaland when I was twenty years old. It was a perfectly timed job, as I didn’t own office appropriate attire, and the six-week gig afforded me the time for a proper job search, as well as clothes shopping. Plus, I got to work with David Sedaris before his Santaland Diaries put him on the map.
- I sold shoes in the only store in London that was licensed to sell Bass Weejuns. The preppy look was still a major trend. I may have spent a large portion of my wages on shoes.
- I worked at a children’s bookstore that sponsored an annual Raffi concert, which meant that I got to meet the children’s singer before he was famous for singing about ducks and Baby Beluga whales.
- I did temp work for a couple different NYC employment agencies in 1989, including a two (or three?) week gig for The Trump Group. I later got to joke that others competed on reality TV shows to win a job that I’d already left behind.
My family members also have tales to tell from odd jobs they held early in life:
- My mother worked as “Miss Polaroid” in 1963, a position that came with a beauty queen-style sash. Although her look was glamorous, in reality she was a Polaroid camera salesperson who traveled from one Nebraska department store to another. She laughs about how a large majority of her sales were to servicemen who wanted to take, ahem . . . personal photos of their wives or girlfriends. This job paid $10 for three hours of work at a time when the minimum wage was just a dollar an hour.
- A few years ago, my sister was selling her adorable Boler camper on Craigslist, but before she could find a buyer, she received a $1,000 offer for a single-day rental. The person wanted to use it as background for a catalog photo shoot, and you know that my sister quickly accepted that generous offer!
- My father — who’s now a distinguished university professor — used to ferry fur coats around town for his family business. He also enjoyed a short stint teaching English classes at The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.
Here’s what members of The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group had to share about their quirky job histories!
Bizarre jobs you didn’t even know existed
Claire: “When I worked at a veterinary clinic, a hotel chain decided to become pet friendly and called my clinic to see if we would share our customer list with them because they were wanting a crowd of walking pets for a commercial. While I was not allowed to give out a customer list, I called my Flyball and Agility clubs and asked them if they would be interested. Most everyone said yes, and we all showed up. Apparently, the director didn’t realize there was a huge difference between the typical pet dog and a trained competition dog. Almost all of our dogs made the cut because they were at proper weight and behaved better than the house pets that showed up. After that, whenever they needed well-behaved dogs for events, they looked us up.
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Abigail: “I transported bodies between the morgue and the funeral home an hour away. As a single mom, I often made my then-15-year-old son come with to help unload. It led to some great conversations, and his growing understanding that when you need money there is always work to be found for people willing to work.”
Although hopping from job to job isn’t a great long-term career plan, the experiences gained through interesting short-term work can add to your wealth of knowledge. Whether you use that knowledge in your chosen career or simply as an entertaining tale is up to you!
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