Ya don’t know where you’re going…

April 15, 2010 · 29 comments

You know the old saying, “You don’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been.”? I’ve concluded whoever came up with that phrase must have been drunk, or high, or drunk and high. If you look at my career progression, I don’t think anyone would have guessed I’d be where I am today. I sure as heck didn’t plan on being here.

Here’s a sequential rundown of my positions (from high school to present)…

  1. Assembled x-ray machine equipment in a factory
  2. Worked for my college campus’ student activities dept
  3. Kitchen cook at summer camp
  4. Director of student activities for college campus
  5. Ropes/outdoor activities guide at summer camp
  6. Jansport stickerer (put price stickers on backpacks for 8 hours)
  7. Pac-sun retail
  8. Building manager for college campus building
  9. Background “extra” for various television shows
  10. Psychiatric technician
  11. Special Agent

Seeing that my first 10 positions are in no way related to my current job, I don’t think anyone would have predicted I’d be a Special Agent. Maybe the phrase holds true for some people, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of us would have pretty diverse career paths.

Let’s see how accurate this statement is, shall we? Take a second to drop me a comment with your job progression. Reflecting on your career path would you say you could have predicted you’d be where you are today? I’ve had 11 jobs in the last six years, how many have you had?

p.s. On Monday I will be hosting the carnival of personal finance so be sure to check back then. I expect there to be a bunch of awesome PF articles. Happy weekend everyone :)

1 Sandy L

1. Babysitter
2. Papa Ginos (PGRS) Pizza, Grill, Register, Serve
3. Salesperson at Wilson's Suede and Leather
College Jobs
4. Waitress
5. Tutor
6. House and Dog Sitter
7. Apartment Manager
8. QC Lab technician
9. Bench Chemist
After BS ChE Degree
10. Purchasing Agent
11. Process Engineer
12. Six Sigma Quality Person
13. Product Manager
14. Marketing
15. Sales

I didn't follow a defined career path until the last few jobs. I get bored easily and that's why I have done alot of jobs. The funny thing is when my college buddies found out I was going into marketing, they laughed and very much pictured the dilbert 2 drink minimum stereotype.

Also, I will do just about any job if it's ethical, the pay is good, and I will learn something new out of it. And conversely if your organization is big enough, hiring managers care more about your past performance than you particular skills…especially early on in your career.

2 Once a Runner

1. Soccer referee
2. Wash dump trucks
3. Construction laborer for a construction general contractor (cgc)
4. Junior Estimator Intern (cgc)
5. Project engineer Intern (cgc)
6.*Field Engineer (cgc)

*job lined up after i graduate college w/ BS Engineering

3 ChloƩ

During high school’s vacations:
1.Waitress
2.Tutor
During my year off between high school and college:
3.Ski teacher
4.Secretary
5.Call center salesperson
During college’s vacations:
6.Waitress
7.Tutor
8.Polls/Surveys by phone
Since I graduated (6 years ago):
9.Data input employee
10.Export sales assistant
11.Communication and PR for the town where I live (since 5 years)

4 Ashley

1. Wendy's Fast Food Wench
2. Babysitter
3. Media Services Assistant
4. Retail salesgirl
5. Resident Assistant
6. Resident Director
7. Catering
8. Teacher
Wow. I didn't realize I'd had so many jobs. I guess for the most part my jobs add up to being a teacher.

5 Kams

1. Babysitter
2. Janitor
3. Secretary
4.Environmental Lab tech
5. Quality Control tech in Paint factory
6.Inorganic Chemical research assistant
7.Administrative Assistant
8. College Instructor
9.Accounts Payable Clerk
10.Finance Manager

I never would have thought I'd work in Finance – my degree is in Chemistry, and finding a job in that field was the plan. I do love my job now, so I guess it all worked out.

6 Jacob

1. Carpet cleaning assistant
2. Busboy
3. Sporting goods sales associate
4. Tutor
5. Software developer contractor
6. Programmer Analyst

I’ve come a long way. I went from cleaning carpets to a full-fledged geek. But the pay is good, and the work is enjoyable. :)

7 Holly

1. Waitress
2. Bagger/Cashier
3. Book Stocker
4. Public Information Intern
5. Volunteer Coordinator/Event Planning Coordinator
6. Payoff Processor
7. Payment Processor
8. Waitress
9. Graduate Assistant (Student Success Advisor)
10. School Counselor Intern
11. Dance Instructor
12. Academic Dean's Assistant
13. Academic Advisor

That makes 13 jobs over the past 10 years. The worst job was the bagger/cashier position at a grocery store. I hated it and cried after my first day. My favorite job was being a Public Information Intern. My fun job is being a dance instructor. My current job is okay but I'm actively searching for a school counseling job since that is where my passion lies. :o)

8 Mrs. DFx40

1. Babysitter (high school)
2. Engineering Intern (summer after first year of college)
3. House cleaner/someone to talk to for an older woman at church (first and second year of college)
4. Mentor for First Generation College Students (third and fourth year of college)
5. Engineer in Training (college graduation until present)

So 5 jobs in 12 years for me (if you start counting the first time I babysat as a freshman in high school). I will admit that I was a little spoiled because I didnt have to work in high school and college. I worked anywhere from 6 hours a week at $11/hour cleaning house to 10-15 hours a week at $10/week as a mentor. I have only had one full time job, which is my current job as an engineer. Pretty boring stuff.

9 Once a Runner

Im taking the EIT/FE tomorrow haha

10 Mrs. DFx40

Well good luck! I will just finish my 4 years of experience in May so I am just starting to prepare to take the PE this October. Here's my only piece of advise for you tomorrow…if you get out of the first portion early, DO NOT go eat a huge greasy hamburger and an order of as big as your arm fried cheese. It makes it difficult to stay away during the second half. :)

11 Grace

1. Cashier at a grocery store
2. Cashier at a convience store
3. Event Staff at a theatre
4. Assistant to the FOH Manager at the theatre
5. Server at a resturant at student union in college
6. French Fry Frier at a different resturant at student union in college
7. French Fry Frier at another resturant at student union in college
8. RA on College Campus
9. Sandwich Artist
10. Camp Counselor
11. Camp Adult Staff
12. Cashier at the same convience store as #2
13. AmeriCorps Member
14. Census Taker
15. Dishwasher at camp

15 Jobs in 6 years.. I'm some kind of awesome!

12 Sandy L

Dude..why do you have so many engineers that read your blog. I'd be interested in your take on the laws of attraction there.

13 Mrs. Micah

1. Dance camp counselor & aftercare worker (1 summer)
2. Bag stuffer (advertisements and promos for those bags you get at conferences) (2 years, 14-15)
3. Page (shelver) at local library. (16-21, summers during college)
4. Assistant to Technical Services librarian in college. (2 years, 19-20)
5. Research assistant in college. (3 years, 19-21)
6. Cleaning staff (1 year–it was a really sane job, 21).
7. Administrative assistant in property management firm (5 months, 21/22).
8. Circulation worker (1 year pt. time, 22/23)
9. Newborn hearing screener (1 year pt. time overlap, 22/23)
10. Freelancer (22-present)
11. Technical services specialist, library (WIN!) (last 1.3 years)

Lots of odds and ends, but general pull towards libraries.

14 Aidee

Let's see… I just graduated from college last May, but I started working back in high school.

1. Theater technician
2. Exam proctor
3. Tutor
4. Bookseller
5. Clothing retail monkey
6. Grocery clerk/bagger
7. Museum educator
8. Newspaper office assistant/editor
9. Freelance textbook proof-reader
10. Personal assistant (aiding with files, organic gardening, chicken care, cleaning, etc.)
11. Marketing assistant

I am pretty sure I've done more stuff in between, but those are all the ones that latest more than a month. ;) I'm 24 now, and just starting to head into another stint of self-employment. What can I say? I know what I like to do, but what I like to do doesn't translate directly into the workplace, so I keep trying to find places that let me try a few pieces of it at a time. Moving into self-employment is a way to move toward doing all of them at the same time! Crossing my fingers. ;)

15 MattyIce

1. Babysitter
2. Yard Work
3. Paper boy
4. Summer Camp Coach
5. Camp Counselor
6. College Janitor
7. Batting Cage assembler
8. Bus Boy
9 Server
10. Student Services Rep at University
11. Client Services Rep at University

Super RANDOM JOBS!!!!

16 Nick

1. Summer Photoshop/CAD work for parents' company when I was 15
2. Computer store customer service
3. Shoe salesman (Al Bundy! :)
4. Preschool teacher intern
5. Natural history museum education intern
6. Editor of campus newspaper
7. Corporate Tax Analyst

17 Young Mogul

I've had 3 jobs in the last 11 years. My career path has pretty much been consistant.
1. Coordinator, for an employment training program (3yrs employed)
2. Counselor, at Job Corps (employment training for youth ages 16-24yrs) (3.5yrs employed)
3. Program Director at a College–preparing high school kids for college, then the workforce. (3.5yrs employed)

18 Mrs. DFx40

*awake

19 Zazzi

1. McDonalds customer service
2. Ice cream store—same
3. Barrista
4. Barrista, somewhere else
5. Natural foods grocery store cashier/stocker
6. Barrista again at #3
7. Light construction
8. Photo lab technician
9. Photo Archivist
10. Photo lab technician again at #8
11. Bookkeeper
12. Fabric store (temporary and HATED IT)
13. Bookseller
14. Greenhouse worker/production supervisor

…plus many little temporary jobs thrown in here and there.
Highest paid, most fun, most fulfilling and healthiest environment is #14, which is why I've been there for 8 yrs, despite it being seasonal and w/o any 'career advancement.'

20 mary m

I love your lunchroom polls…

1) ticket seller and snack bar attendant at lake (age 15)
2) lifeguard
3) video rental clerk
4) pizza restaurant cashier
5) YMCA camp counselor
6) YMCA camp coordinator (college grad)
7) Data Input
8) cleaning service
9) waitress
10)bookstore owner (4 yrs)
11)bartender
12)payroll professional (last 10 yrs)

21 Allen

1) Cashier at a home and garden store
2) Stain glass cutter
3) Cashier at a grocery store
4) Cashier at another grocery store
5) Legal assistant
6) Project assistant
7) Office assistant at my university
8) Phone operator at my university
9) Auditor

22 Jesse

1. Carni
2. Geek Squad Technician
3. Computer Services business owner
4. IT Contractor
5. System Administrator

aside from being a Carni in my younger life, my career path has been pretty progressive, all computer related. Of course, I'm only 23 and that could all change as time passes..

23 Angie

1. Deliveries for our local Avon Lady (she had trouble getting in/out of car)
2. Preschool teacher's aide
3. Asst. office mgr. at construction co.
4. People locator for issuing subpoenas
5. Real estate management
6. Misc. temp office jobs
7. Paralegal
8. Church secretary
9. Preschool teacher's aide
10. Homeschooling mom

I'm not random, just eclectic!

24 Amberdawn

Newspaper girl
Lifeguard
Swimming teacher
Water Aerobics instructor
Waterfront Co-Director
Aquatics director
Activities department….person? (college work study program where I mostly typed things)
Lindt chocolatier (cashier)
Peer tutor in college
Prints Plus cashier
Preschool teacher
Teachers aide for the deaf (grades 1-2)
Six Flags (games)
Third grade teacher
Art teacher (summer program)
Fourth grade teacher (different school/city)

I think that's all of them.

I didn't number these since many of them overlapped.

25 Jaime

Street Sweeper (with a broom!)
Pizza Girl
Technical Support Rep
Kirby Salesperson (worst job ever!!)
Dentist receptonist
JC Penney Rep
Technical Support (again!)
Network Operations tech
Engineer
Project Manager
Personal Coach
Business Coach

12 jobs in about 12 years.

I'm impressed with your 11 jobs in 6 years! That's progress.

26 Jayme

1. Sales Job at drug store
2. Sales Job at clothing store
3. Sales job at another clothing store
4. Sales job at yet a diffrent clothing store
5. Internship in genetics labratory.

I think it is hard to use this tool, because while i was working at all those clothing stores i was also building networks of people in the biology field which enabled me to get an internship in the genetics labratory.

So while my list does not seem to make sense for how i got where i am, it makes sense to me because i have been working towards that internship for quite some time

27 Beth

In the past five years I have:

1) cleaned hotel rooms
2) worked at a liquor store
3) was a purchaser at my uncle's company
4) work at an insurance company currently

I am going back to school for writing. Going off what I have done for work since high school, it may not sync up very well, but it makes total sense to me, and i can't believe it took so long for me to figure it out.

28 Melissa

1. Adventures in Babysitting
2. Taps player / assitant at funerals
3. Clerical work @ an insurance office
4. Mechanical drafter / researcher for an oil history expert (ODD job, that one was)
5. Food service – college cafeteria
6. Clerical work / mailroom @ a small bank
7. Housecleaning services for a college frathouse slumlord (Simultaneous with #6)
8. Cafeteria shift supervisor
9. Purchasing assistant (internship)
10.Reverse auction specialist / web dev / marketing (internship)
11.Inside sales, industrial furnaces – first real job out of college
12.Sales Engineer, more industrial goods

12 jobs in 12 years. Go me.

29 Jackie

Counting only offical jobs at companies:

Mailing list editor
Salad bar tender
Data entry person
Classified ad taker
Outside sales (advertising)
Technical writer
Online editor
Web developer
QA technician
Web content admin
Technical writer

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