light pink gerbera daisy

It’s kind of a cliché for writers to have had a long string of odd jobs. It’s sort of held up as a banner of wide experience, in support of that old maxim, “write what you know.” Personally, I think it just means that we’re flighty.

At any rate, I have had a lot of odd jobs through the years, many of which don’t make it onto my professional resume because they don’t directly contribute to my intended career path. I decided to make a list of them here and (to make it a little more interesting) to try to determine one constructive lesson I’ve carried away from each job. In fact, I have listed them in order of “most useful”—at least as far as I got. Towards the bottom of the list it got darn near impossible to come up with anything practical I learned.

  1. presser at dry cleaner – how to properly iron a shirt or pair of pants
  2. card store clerk – how to do the tissue right in a gift bag
  3. babysitter – basic kid care (this might be higher, except that I never took care of babies, so was clueless when it came to diapers, etc.)
  4. cafeteria food worker/dishwasher – how to cut up a tomato
  5. day camp counselor – more basic kid care, plus CPR/first aid basics, plus butt ball
  6. slide projectionist – the value of thank you gifts
  7. university extension office admin – the value of a good work environment
  8. heraldry salesperson – how to make a sales pitch (even if I’m not very good at it still)
  9. amusement park photographer – tell people, don’t ask; don’t give them the opportunity to say no*
  10. bookstore clerk – how to be pleasant even when they’re not
  11. film company intern – why the hell would anyone want to work in Hollywood?
  12. amusement park ride operator – thank god this was only a summer job
  13. probation department transcriptionist – the importance of ergonomics
  14. library assistant (various locations) – um, Dewey Decimal vs. Library of Congress?
  15. census worker – I’ve got nothing
  16. public guardian office receptionist – …
  17. corporate admin assistant (various locations) – nope, nothing
  18. mall office receptionist – I don’t even remember what I did here
  19. Jaguar dealership service secretary – I still like Jaguars**
  20. video store clerk – yup, nothing

So that’s me, going back before high school even. What about you? What odd jobs have you had, and what lessons have they taught? Share!
* Actually, I could stand to ponder the extension of this lesson into other realms more thoroughly.
** Not a practical lesson at all.

6 Thoughts on “20 Jobs That Don’t Make it on My Resume”

  • Question on yours:

    probation department transcriptionist – the importance of ergonomics
    Ok, I need more info on this one

    Some of my jobs: What I learned

    Assembler of marketing catalogs : GO BACK TO SCHOOL

    Clothes store sales clerk: I suck at sales, GO BACK TO SCHOOL

    Chemlawn telemarketing sales: I am good at sales using a fake british accent

    Intern at Ernst & Young accounting firm: Accounting is a horrible horrible field, GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN ANOTHER FIELD

    🙂 Good post

    • About the job, or about how it taught me the importance of ergonomics?

      Yeah, there are a lot of these where the “GO BACK TO SCHOOL” lesson would probably apply!

        • Because sitting and typing at a constant speed is a lot different then the type of typing I usually do, where breaks in keyboard work are more frequent, interrupted by mousing around or just pauses to read and/or think, where you can move your hands around a bit. I only did this for a few weeks, so I never suffered any lingering ill-effects, but I know how tiring it can be to type and type and type for hours, and how the right posture and position make all the difference.

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