By Stephanie Dolmat, Senior Director, ESG, Robert Half
One of the odder jobs I’ve had in my life is looking up dead people on the internet.
I was employed by my college’s alumni association to compile a list of obituaries for a 45th reunion. It paid decent for being a student, and the work was flexible. Not a bad gig, though the subject matter left some things to be desired (and research at the time was more difficult — Zuck was only in the process of inventing Facebook when I had this job!).
What did I learn from researching dead people? I learned that life can be short. Life can also be vastly interesting as I figured out how to get in contact with small-town newspapers to inquire about the life of someone who grew up there. I learned persuasion skills, I learned research skills, and it put some money in my bank account. Was it a career? No. Did it teach me some stuff? Definitely.
I've had many odd and interesting jobs:
- I have edited a book. I learned anyone can publish a book with enough money, but not everyone can write something readable.
- I have run logistics for ultra-luxury bicycle tours. I learned that billionaires are kinder than millionaires.
- I have taught English abroad from primary school to university. I learned that American pop culture really does resonate everywhere, and the little kids all wanted to know if I personally knew Britney Spears.
- I have conducted statistics on water quality. I learned that I am not a stats person and that the goo we put on street surfaces to seal them is not great for nature or us.
- I have ski-instructed. I learned that many people wonder where the ski areas put the moguls in winter and kids are way easier to teach than adults.
- I have catered. I learned to tell which weddings were the ones where you knew the couple would never make it.
- I have nannied. I learned that it’s possible for very young children to throw tantrums when you put spaghetti sauce on their pasta instead of pesto.
- I have consulted on executive compensation. I learned that just when you think you’ll never have to read another 10-K or proxy in your whole life, then your future self will be in ESG and you’ll help contribute to writing them.
Every. Single. Job. Taught me something. And it is thanks to my mom that I learned this, who encouraged me at every level to not follow the “usual” path and to have enriching, fascinating, and often hilarious experiences.
To all new grads or soon-to-be new grads out there — don’t worry so much about what job you take or if you’re on the “right path.” You will learn something from every experience you have — and the stranger ones will make you a more interesting person.