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Tess Vigeland: With all these millions of Americans looking for work, nobody really wants to hear it if you’re not happy with the job you have. But a lot of us have been there, right? Worst job you ever had?
“Heaven knows I’m miserable now” by the Smiths
Man 1: My worst job is probably is a dishwasher. Just had to wash a whole lot of dishes and I don’t like washing dishes. And I had to stay extra. It just sucked, you know? I’d rather not wash dishes.
Woman 1: Worst job I ever had was my first job in 1997, my senior year of high school. I’m 5’1″, they made me clean shelves I can’t reach. And when I left to go to college, they said, “Oh, we didn’t know you were a minor! You were supposed to get half an hour breaks, instead of 15 minute breaks.” You didn’t know I was a minor?? You have my driver’s license!
Man 2: I was a carpenter, insulating a staircase in the middle of the summer. It was about 100 degrees and insulation was raining down on me. Yeah, that was pretty bad.
Well, why be miserable for 40 hours a week if you don’t have to be? Laura Dodd is the author of “Dig This Gig” and she says now is the perfect time to find or create the kind of work you always wanted. Laura, welcome!
Laura Dodd: Thank you so much Tess, great to be here.
Vigeland: Tell us what your book involves here. What’s this all about?
Dodd: This is a book, it’s a collection of profiles of young adults working in various jobs all over the country. And it’s divided by industry, so I look into government jobs and do-good jobs. And explore the jobs that are in these particular fields through stories of real twenty-somethings working in them.
There’s also a mentor component. By that I invited an industry leader to reflect on what it was like when eh or she was a twenty-something. The reason I did that was because we see these industry leaders who are so advanced in their careers, and it’s hard to picture them one struggling to. And I think it gives them a new light and inspiration to these young graduates who are entering this workplace that frankly, as we know, is pretty grim right now.
Vigeland: Was it different when they were twenty-somethings?
Dodd: For some, yes. When my parents graduated, I think there was a tendency to go out and get a job and you stick with it for 30 years, 35 years, 40 years. Now, it’s not really reality, because you have to constantly reinvent yourself. And I think a lot of these stories go into how these young adults reinvented themselves and made themselves indispensable.
Vigeland: Can you give us an example from the book?
Dodd: Sure, of course. This is about a young woman named Erica. She wanted to work in entertainment. So she uprooted from Chicago, she landed in Los Angeles, she got this job as a talent agent’s assistant. She knew what her boss wanted before he said it. She observed, she stayed weekends, she knew every single person in the Rolodex. And while it seems minor and it seems silly, it really makes an impact. Because if you can get the coffee right, you can also do other things right. It flows over.
Vigeland: Mmhmm. The subtitle of your book is “Find your dream job or invent it.” When do you do which one?
Dodd: One of the takeaways is no one’s going to tap you on the shoulder and give you your dream job. So I’m not encouraging folks who have an income and have health care to go out and quit their jobs. But, what I have learned and through these stories is that it takes after-hours commitment. You’ve got to make the time. And honestly, I practice what I preach. I wrote this book while in graduate school. So when the professor said, “Class dismissed,” and everyone filed out, I stayed. I’m only saying that as an example that it takes extra hours beyond everything you’d expect.
Vigeland: Well, the twenty-somethings in your book are obviously all working. But what do you say to someone looking for work in this economy? You know, you have this section called “Derailed gigs,” about twenty-somethings who are out of work and basically doing anything they can. You have the waitress in Colorado who got laid off from a great job in marketing. This is a situation that a lot of people are in. What’s your advice?
Dodd: It doesn’t age discriminate, does it?
Dodd: Part of the advice through these stories is just keep going. And by that, I mean if you do get laid off, try to have that conversation with a superior or a boss for some constructive criticism. And then, get back on it. The other part of this is the parents. It doesn’t help to berate and just say, “Get a job, get a job, get a job.” You really have to come with ideas and approach it that way. And I think this book gives them the opportunity to see what these kids are thinking and feeling and where they want to go and why they’re so ambitious and also paralyzed and wanting to do something that they love.
Vigeland: Laura Dodd is the author of “Dig this Gig: Find your dream job — or invent it.” Thanks so much for coming in.
Dodd: Thank you so much.