By Patty Crane
JOPLIN, Mo. —
50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America
by Daniel Seddiqui
Daniel Seddiqui graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in economics one day and ran his last race as a collegiate athlete the next.
His quest was to end his career with a school record in the steeplechase. However, disaster struck on the final lap when he hit the final barrier and went down. He finished last.
This disappointment was just the beginning of three long years of rejection and failure. He could not find a job. He got lots of interviews, some second and third interviews, but never a job offer. He even tried volunteering as a college coach as a way into a career at Northwestern University, the University of Georgia and the University of Virginia.
So why would Daniel tell an auditorium full of college students, “Failing 40-plus job interviews was the best thing that had ever happened to me”? Those experiences taught him not to fear failure. He would have never started his journey to “live the map” if he was afraid to fail.
Living the map was Daniel’s plan to work a stereotypical job in all 50 states. He wanted to work 50 jobs in 50 states over 50 weeks. Ironically, a job offer from a regional manager for CVS Pharmacies -- through a chance encounter, not an interview -- triggered the idea.
The job was not something he ever thought he would do and he realized that in his quest to find a career that matched his personality and interests he had a lot left to discover. How different would his life be if he moved to another state? What did each state’s industry and culture have to offer?
To make his plan a reality, Daniel needed funding and people willing to hire him for a week. He spent 16 hours a day through the summer placing phone calls all over the country trying to setup jobs. He also contacted potential sponsors such as car dealerships and energy drink companies.
He finally lined up a job with a Nebraska farmer and then a position at a general store in Montana. When he had ten jobs lined up but still no sponsor, Daniel decided to start his journey. So with very little money and only 20 percent of his journey planned, Daniel set out for Utah and his first job.
Even though finding jobs that would pay him was a priority, Daniel’s first job was to volunteer in the Humanitarian Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He packaged hygiene kits to send to Louisiana for victims of Hurricane Gustav.
From there he went to Colorado to work with the U.S. Geological Survey as a hydrologist, then on to South Dakota to be a rodeo announcer and North Dakota to make maps.
For his first two jobs, Daniel was able to stay with family and friends to avoid sleeping in his Jeep. In the Dakotas he had no family or friends but he discovered something he would find across the country, people willing to open their homes to him and assist him on his quest.
As he moved from state to state he found that through media coverage and his website he had people from all over the world following his journey and offering encouragement.
This same media coverage opened doors for him, allowing him to lineup jobs for all 50 states.
Jobs were physically demanding (logging), not for the squeamish (meatpacking), surprisingly fulfilling (dietitian), disappointing (park ranger) and terrifying (coal mining).
Some jobs deemed stereotypical were surprising to me, such as real estate agent in Idaho. The reason each job was chosen is explained and at that time Boise had the most booming real estate market of any city in America.
Daniel chronicles his journey with honesty and heart. It was fun to follow him around the country and experience 50 different jobs. As fellow author Kelsey Timmerman said, “(This is) the best book ever by a bartending, Amish-woodworking, rodeo-announcing archaeologist.”
Patty Crane is the reference librarian for the Joplin Public Library.