My father had four jobs over his working career:
- Air Force clerk
- electric company technician
- truck driver
And my mother had two jobs:
- grocery store clerk
- lab technician
Neither of my parents graduated from college, but they made sure that my brother and I had that opportunity. Their support made my career path markedly different. I was told that my generation would have many more jobs, but I think I’ve taken it to an extreme! Here’s a rough snapshot, and this doesn’t even include some nonpaying roles:
- ~1977-1979 Sold vegetables from our garden door-to-door out of my wooden wagon
- ~1978-1979 Hand-wrote and sold a neighborhood newspaper door-to-door
- ~1981-1983 Reading Eagle – delivered newspapers
- ~1984-1985 Berg’s Thriftway – stocked shelves at a grocery store
- ~1984-1985 York Steakhouse – cleared tables and washed dishes
- ~1985-1986 Movie theatre – ushered and sold concessions
- 1986 Home Construction – served as gofer to the crew
- 1986-1990 Typist – type college papers for $1/page (before everyone had a computer)
- ~1987-1989 Glidden Paint Factory – mixed paint and did various factory duties
- ~1988-1989 Penn State Sub Shop – delivered food
- 1990-1993 Arthur Andersen – CPA/accountant/consulant
- 1993-1997 Commonwealth Bank – Banker/SEC Compliance
- 1998-2004 Amazon.com – Product Manager
- 2004-2005 Unitus – Marketing and Product Management
- 2005-2006 JibJab – Marketing and Product Management
- 2006-2012 TeachStreet – Founder/CEO
- 2006-present Startup advisor and angel investor
- 2012 Amazon Local – Product Management
- 2012-2016 Amazon Web Services – Startup Business Development
- 2016-present WireWalker – chief content creator and marketer
Wow, even I was surprised by the number and variety of roles. I found myself remembering and having to insert several jobs, and smiling a bit about some fond memories. That list says something about how I’ve approached work, and hopefully you can learn from it as well.
First, I was “working” from a very early age and my parents helped me think creatively from the outset. For instance, I remember my parents recommending that I sell vegetables door-to-door on Tuesdays, because the local Leesport Farmer’s Market was on Wednesdays. I’d get to neighbors before the competition did, and save them a trip at the same time!
Second, people helped me behind the scenes, and I took advantage of that assistance. My dad did most of the gardening and weeding; my aunt copied my hand-written newspaper for me on her office copier; and my mom delivered more than her fair share of newspapers on days when I had conflicting school activities. They were happy to help, and I now see that they were showing me that I could do anything I put my mind to.
Third, I worked hard. Moreso at some jobs than others, of course. Construction, Amazon and TeachStreet were a bit more exhausting than delivering food in college, but I like to think that all of my employers got an above-average effort.
Finally, I was always willing to try new things. Some of that was out of necessity due to things like moving to college and graduation. But other, more meaningful and risky changes were spurred by simple dissatisfaction with how things were going and the desire to set new goals. The mindset that change is okay, and even something to pursue, has enabled me to live a challenging and rewarding work career. And you can too — let’s get to it.