50 Jobs in 50 Weeks: A Job Seeker Reinvents Himself

Jun 23, 2009
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

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.

“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.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.