50 jobs in 50 weeks in 50 states
Frustrated with rejections, recent graduate Daniel Seddiqui set off on an epic road trip to land a job in all of America’s 50 states.Washington -- His goal? Get a job. His tactic? A road trip through all 50 states in 50 weeks.
It's tough enough to find or even keep work in today's frazzled US economy, but University of Southern California graduate Daniel Seddiqui, 26, drew inspiration from the biting recession.
After failing 40 interviews in a row, Seddiqui got creative and launched a mission to cross every US state in as many weeks, rolling up his sleeves in each one with some kind of employment. Over his trip, the unemployed economics major landed 50 jobs -- from rodeos to archaeology and even a stint keeping job-seekers of the illegal sort out of the country.
"I went through hell almost,” he said. “I invested so much time and effort in my university, and yet I did not get anything. It was pretty frustrating. Then I was persistent enough to land 50 jobs in 50 states. It's kind of helping me decide what I want to do with my life."
The economics graduate applied for any post he could, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or far removed from his first choice of career in the finance industry.
"Persistence pays off," he insisted, shrugging off the 2,000 rejections he got.
Seddiqui, from Los Altos, California, was surprised by how many employers supported his experiment, even though he only stayed for a week and had little on-the-job experience to offer.
"Dan is probably one of the most adaptable people I've ever met," said Randy Cruse, business manager at the Boilermakers Local 83 union in Kansas City, Missouri. "He was quick, smart ... He's enjoyed it and the guys enjoyed having him," he said after Seddiqui trained with them in January.
Cruse said the young boilermaker apprentice "said right up front" when he first contacted the union that he would only be working for a week. The union paid him 710 dollars as well as hotel accommodation, travel and food.
"I am glad that he's going around the country and getting the message out that there are jobs out there," Cruse told AFP. "Everyone's concerned we are heading for another depression like 1928, but with people having good experiences, people are hopefully starting to understand that we can work our way out of this."
Taking a chance
More people are losing their jobs every day in the United States as the country faces its worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But Seddiqui has been undeterred, even though he has yet to settle on one profession.
"I'm showing people that if you take a chance and try new things, there are jobs out there," he said, after government data revealed 651,000 jobs were lost in February, propelling the unemployment rate to a 25-year high of 8.1 percent.
Seddiqui has already worked as a logger in Medford, Oregon, a border patrol agent in Tucson, Arizona and an archaeologist in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Most employers have paid him or offered to hire him full-time.
Halfway through his mission on week 25, he was working as an auto mechanic in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the Big Three US automakers Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
"This is my 25th state, I'm halfway there and I've seen a lot of different things," he said, describing how one man had pulled out a gun in the auto repair shop just outside Detroit, considered America's most murderous city.
Seddiqui launched his driving tour in September 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he worked at a Mormon humanitarian centre. He then headed to Colorado, where he took on a hydrologist job, before donning cowboy gear to be a rodeo announcer in South Dakota.
He wanted each job to have a link to its state.
"When you think of Texas, you think of oil and gas, so I was a petroleum engineer,” he said. “This week in Detroit, I am working in the auto industry, because it's huge here. Last week, I was working for the train in Chicago because if you are there, you can't avoid the train."
Seddiqui set up most of the jobs in advance and found places to stay on the road, most often with his employer or a co-worker. "I've stayed with all kinds of people, from cowboys to Indians to Arabs to rednecks to just about everybody," he said.
Seddiqui, who said he wants to make a documentary and write a book about his journey, had a sound piece of advice for students struggling to launch their careers.
"I recommend to network and travel,” he said. “Be willing to try anything. Nowadays, you can't be too picky, especially if you are a new grad. It's going to be hard, you are not going to get your dream job on the first day. Step out of your comfort zone."