How Many Jobs in a Lifetime of Work?

The other day I heard a story about work lives.  Our parents, and their parents likely worked for a single or possibly a couple of employers for the majority of their lives.  No surprise, today people change jobs more often. 

It is projected that millennials will have more than 30 jobs in their lifetimes.  I thought I might make 30, I came pretty close.  I started working when I was in High School, after-school and summers.  I still have a few jobs on my Bucket List.  Last year I worked for the holidays at an Ace Hardware Store.  While I didn’t work in the hardware department (my dream) it was fun none-the-less.  But anything can be fun when you know it isn’t your future.   My next dream job is driving a beer cart on a golf course.  Or as a full-time RVer, I might end up at a campground for an extended period welcoming campers.  There are lots of part-time opportunities out there.  

I have been incredibly privileged to have interesting, fun, and horrible jobs.  When I became a Director at a staff retreat I thought it might be fun to ask staff what was their weirdest, fun or most interesting job.  I thought driving false teeth around might win the day.  NAUGHT. My friend Steve, won the day by telling us he taught women’s reproductive health and delivered babies.  Yikes!  Who could beat that?  I love Steve.

I worked as a starter at an Anchorage Municipal golf course.  Russian Jack Park is really a cross-country ski park, but for the 3 months of summer it masquerades as a golf course.   Years later I learned to play golf, and fell in love with the game.  Our family dog Allie, loved that job.  She accompanied me daily and sat in the sack, and at 9:00 p.m. (remember this was Alaska and was daylight until midnight) I drove a Cushman 3-wheel vehicle to pick-up the flags on the 9-hole course.  Allie, would run along and love all the balls falling from the heavens.

Another favorite job was working at a fabric store and later a book store.  Although I left most of my earnings at the store, buying fabric and books.  I still love fabric and books.

I have been privileged to have fallen into very interesting, full-filling, challenging and most of all stressful jobs.  

Ombudsman Investigator, Court Appointed Master, Legislative Director, you may call me “MASTER”.  Amazing from someone who was an incredibly bad student who hated school.  Years later while sitting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with fellow lobbyist killing time until our next meeting, we were comparing notes on education and careers.  My friends and colleagues had attended Ivy League schools, Harvard, Yale, Brown etc.   I was proud to say instead of  the Ivy League, I was chasing the Grateful Dead up and down the west coast, and attending the 5-night 1976 farewell concert at Winterland in San Fransisco.

Who would have thought I would be lobbying Congress on behalf or working people?  “What a Long Strange Trip it has Been”.

Here is a list of my jobs, both paid and unpaid.  Always jobs, never a career.

1. Golf Course Starter, Russian Jack Park, Anchorage Municipality.

2. Cashier at Fred Myers Department Store, Anchorage, AK (summer)

3. Sales clerk at Discount Fabrics on Spenard Rd, Anchorage, AK

4. Bookstore clerk

5. Lifeguard and swimming instructor, Anchorage, AK. 

6. Waitress at Mexican Restaurant in Santa Anna, CA

7. Courier dental lab, pick-up and delivery of false teeth. Anchorage, AK

8. Fleet Service Alaska Airlines, loading and off-loading food service and cleaning aircraft interior. 1st Union JOB.

9. Food Services at Deli in Wasilla, Alaska (summer)

10. Intern Anchorage Municipal Ombudsman

11. Investigator, State of Alaska Ombudsman

12. Field Representative, Alaska Public Employees Association, Anchorage, AK

13. Master, Appointed by Superior Court Judge to oversee terms and conditions of incarceration in the Alaska Adult Prison System.

14. Business Agent, Alaska State Employees Association, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

15. Field Representative, Nevada State Employees Association, AFSCME, Carson City, NV

16. President Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) (unpaid)

17. Northern Coordinator Labor 98, AFL-CIO, Reno, NV

18. Secretary/Treasurer Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, Reno, NV (unpaid)

19. Legislative Representative, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington, D.C.

20. Legislative Representative, AFL-CIO

21. Director of Legislation, SEIU

22. Consultant, Washington, D.C.

23. Legislation and Policy Director, WGA, West, Los Angeles, CA

24. Legislation Director, Social Security Works, Washington, D.C.

25. Sales Representative, Union Plus, Washington, D.C.

26. Legislative Consultant, Washington, D.C.

27. Vice President Amalgamated Bank, Washington, D.C.

28. Legislative Representative United Steel Workers (USW) Washington, D.C.


My working life chapter is closed, but my trip is ongoing.

7 thoughts on “How Many Jobs in a Lifetime of Work?

  1. Wow. Just wow. I love all of your blog entries and updates. Even though I don’t always reply. They’re all very interesting and entertaining. And fun to follow along with your journey and reflections. I can’t top any of these jobs although I’ve had many and varied –although not near as many as you. Two ( non career jobs) that always stand out are: Chicken Delight in Port Washington, Long Island where night after night I would go home and dream about chicken parts. and Hooper’s chocolates in Oakland California working with Mr. and Mrs. Hooper. They were very very serious about their chocolates. how to package them, how to tie a bow on each box etc. XO

  2. Alison,
    Your life reads like a novel! I love it!!! My weirdest job: my first job in high school was working part time typing obituaries at the local funeral home….

    • One of my favorite jobs was working security for Dolly Parton at a concert and festival in Shenandoah, VA. I was in charge of her left breast. Another security person was in charge of her right breast. Proud to say that no one that day touched Dolly’s breast under my watch. At the end of the day, I got a kiss on the cheek from Dolly and a good story to tell.

  3. Really impressive list, Alison. I do not think I could name all my jobs or put them in order. My list is not as long because I have been blessed to love my career as a Realtor for the last 30 years!

  4. Allison:

    They say that everyone is replaceable. The hard chargers like you and others, that I grew up with in the labor/lobbyist world, people that did it for all the right reasons. Whether others, myself included, thought you were right or wrong – we always knew your heart and effort was in the right place. I have grown enough, stop laughing, to know that you are missed. Maybe not the headaches you caused me:-), but when there was a battle, I would take one of you and be in the foxhole any day where we agreed. I miss the Michalski’s, Flynn’s soul, Mallino, Sr.’s educational teachings, Ms. Dubrow and all others that were the ones to follow on labor issues. You certainly mattered. You had impact. You drove me crazy, but I always looked forward to our chats. Have fun and please never hesitate to call!

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