1393535551_28397c1f8e_zMarion Call had a problem.

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Juneau – the remote (far from other places) capital of Alaska – was writing a song about work. And she needed more ideas.

Call turned to (went for help to) Twitter and asked her followers, “What were your first seven jobs?” She used the hashtag (label to identify a topic) #FirstSevenJobs and included her own:

#FirstSevenJobs: babysitting, janitorial (cleaning offices, etc.), slinging (informal: serving) coffee, yard work (taking care of area around a building or buildings), writing radio news, voice-overs (speaking on videos or TV without being seen), data entry (putting information into a computer)/secretarial.

Call got the help she was looking for, and more. #FirstSevenJobs quickly became a meme – an idea that spreads quickly from person to person, especially on the Internet. Many thousands of people answered her question. Magazines and websites wrote articles about #FirstSevenJobs. And researchers used #FirstSevenJobs information to compare the jobs teenagers work today with teenagers’ jobs from almost 50 years ago. All of this . . . in about 10 days!

Call says her favorite answer came from Buzz Aldrin, an American astronaut. He was one of the first two people to land on the moon and the second to walk on it. Here are his first seven jobs:

#FirstSevenJobs: dishwasher, camp counselor (responsible for children at a summer camp), fighter (military airplane) pilot, astronaut, commandant (officer in charge of a U.S. Air Force school for pilots), speaker, author.

Sheryl Sandberg, a top Facebook executive and someone we would consider very successful, didn’t get off to a good start (begin with success): she was fired from her first job as a babysitter. The parents were upset because she opened the door for a stranger and accepted and paid for a pizza that no one had ordered. She got a second baby-sitting job, but was fired from that one, too, because she fell asleep on the job.

Call has been fascinated by the responses because they describe “each person’s really tiny journey . . . You get to see thousands of strangers reflecting (thinking) about that journey – jobs they were good at, hated, learned what it was like to have a bad boss, what it was like to be a good boss, what it was like to be your own boss . . . you get a picture of a human (person) behind each one [each answer to her question].”

Here are my first seven jobs:

#FirstSevenJobs: yard work, construction work (building houses and other buildings), furniture factory, mail room clerk (responsible for the mail at a small manufacturing company), delivery truck driver, night watchman (nighttime guard at a school), radio announcer.

What were your first seven jobs? What did you learn from them? I wrote about what I learned from one of mine in What did you learn from you first job?

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English website.

Photo by Bobby Acree used under Creative Commons license.

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7 Responses to #FirstSevenJobs

  1. Dr. Lucy Tse says:

    A great post, as usual, Warren!

    It really got me thinking about my first seven jobs. Here they are, beginning at age 13 or so:

    #FirstSevenJobs: “babysitter” (took care of children in people’s homes), childcare worker in a “nursery” (place children are cared for for a short time), front desk clerk at the YMCA, saleswoman in a clothing store, part-time teacher in a weekend school, newspaper “copyeditor” (reader of news stories for accuracy and correctness before they are published), marketing assistant in a real estate company (helping to write advertisements and other similar texts)

  2. Jeff says:

    Shoveling (removing) snow (for neighbors), yard work (neighbors), babysitting (my brother’s children – once only!), washing cars (at a carwash), washing dishes (at a nursing home), making keys, being a clerk (in an office).

  3. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks, Warren, for the lesson, good as to say. My first job was as a cook assistent, the second was a mechanic assistent, the third was a collector on a bus, the fourth was work on a farm, the fifth was as a soldier on Brazilian Air Force. Now I am retired.
    From Brazil, Rio 2016

  4. emiliano says:

    My first seven job was in a mechanics workshop, but not only one I had to go several of them, second in the Official Currency House where notes and coins were made, third as draughtsman, four as a teacher, five in a Bank, six again as a teacher in an institute preparing people to get a job in a bank, and finally at home teaching boys and girls mathematics, geography, english and redaction to get the baccalaureate title.
    Now I am a bloger, but despite I have some hundred thousand of readers (nearly 800.000) I don´t get an euro for my job, but I enjoy it very much.

    That´s all.

  5. emiliano says:

    Sorry, I forget the last and one of the most important jobs of my life it was done for more than sixteen years “homemaker” and caregiver but these jobs were just a pleasure for me as I feel myself as a very useful person.

  6. Tania says:

    Funny title to me, #FirstSevenJobs. I thought that it was about Steve Jobs (Jobs and Wozniak founded Apple Computer).
    Years ago we did not know this question, “what were your first seven jobs?”, as in high school a student spent 6 hours at school , and about 6 hours doing his homeworks at home.
    No time for another job. In the elite high schools it is the same and today.
    We are studying a lot for performance. Many students study at the best universities from the world.
    I think that this question is valid for our new generation of very young people.
    Hard to find a good job, so many of us go to another countries.

    Best wishes,


  7. NY says:

    Hi Dan,
    It’s the truth that writing is much harder than listening and reading.
    Although I don’t know the reasons you have had this decision, but we can’t stand not seeing your words for a long time. Please don’t go. We love the blog, and we love you!


Comments are closed.