Jack Of All Trades

IMG_0893I was thinking, the other day, about all the different jobs I’ve had. Apart from four months off after having a baby and a couple of months after university when I moved cross-country, I’ve worked pretty much continuously since I was fifteen.

So here, in no particular order, are all the different paying jobs I’ve had:

McDonald’s server

Strawberry Picker (a low point)

Retail Sales: Clothing, high-end shoes, leather goods

Visual Merchandiser – Full time and freelance

Fashion/Promotions Model

Admin Manager

Design Studio Manager

Golf Course Social Club Manager

Accounts Receivable

Signage Designer

Banquet Server/Bartender


Martial Arts Instructor

Hair Salon Assistant Manager

Print Production Manager

Talent booker

Art Buyer for an Ad Agency

Photography Producer

Gallery Assistant


Freelance Artist

Hmmm. That’s quite a long list. I am *ahem* a bit older than fifteen now, and I have moved around a bit, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ve tried my fair share of different jobs. However, none of them ever ‘took’.

Until now.

For the past ten years or so I have had the same job: writer. And I love it. I love the challenge of working with words, of finding the correct tone for each piece, wrestling the pieces into place so that I speak with my own voice, or that of my client. I love writing stories and sharing them, and consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to do so. Sometimes it pays quite well, and at other times I can work weeks for a pittance – but I enjoy all of it.

I don’t know that there’s much of a point to this post, other than the fact that I tried lots of different things until I found what it was that I really wanted to do. And, the thing is, I was doing it all along. One of my best friends from university, when I told her I was writing a book, said, ‘but you’ve always been a writer.’ Funny that she could see what I could not. So I look back on each of my different roles as learning experiences. Sometimes the only thing I learned was that I never wanted to do that job/work with that person again, but it was a lesson, nonetheless.

Perhaps we only come to things when we are ready for them. I know all the jobs I’ve had gave me different skills and made me the person I am now. They also gave me life experience to draw upon when writing stories, and taught me what I didn’t want from my life. It was one of my former employers who first took a chance on me, asking me to write something for them. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.

So how about you? What unusual, awful or wonderful jobs have you had?


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, plus check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more…



40 thoughts on “Jack Of All Trades

  1. Farmhand – from the age of eight to fourteen – feeding an assortment of livestock, milking cows in the days before milking machines, ploughing with a horse pulled hand plough, cutting and gathering crops using a scythe – then technology kicked in when I was eleven and I got to drive a tractor to plough instead (but still looked after the old plough horse bless him)
    For two summers, aged 15 and 16, dug graves for the local council, finding the occasional unmarked grave at six foot down (new graves are eight feet deep)
    Then I started full time work in engineering at 16 πŸ˜„

  2. Potato picker was a low spot for me, and although I enjoyed being a lifeguard at the local swimming pool, the only upside to being employed by the local council was that they paid double time at weekends!
    Moving from being a groom to becoming a professional rider was just amazing (no more mucking out for me!), and of course, being a writer is fab. I earn most by writing for horsey publications (there’s no surprise), but being able to indulge my demanding imagination by writing fiction is just the best.

    • Oh I forgot to add strawberry picker to my list! That was a low point for me too – perhaps why I’ve put it out of my mind πŸ˜€ and yes, aren’t we lucky we get to tell stories? Nothing makes me quite as happy, at least where work is concerned

  3. My first job – albeit Saturdays only – was doing up coat buttons at my local C&A. It was enough to persuade me that I wasn’t cut out for a career in retail.

      • They were on hangers. It was my job to tidy up all the costs that people tried on and left dangling on the hangers. Invariably that meant doing up a ton of buttons!

  4. I haven’t had that many jobsβ€”a caterer in a hospital cafeteria (hated); sales assistant at a newsagent (hated even more); an aide at a nursing home (didn’t mind); an animal carer at St Thomas’ Hospital, London (didn’t mind, except when they took one of the animals, and it, ahem, never returned; in the blood bank; a GP and then a breast physician (both of which I loved). Add one more if babysitting counts.
    Like you, my favourite job is the one I’m doing now, as a writer. It’s my favourite by a mile. Still, I cherish all the experiences I had before I found this career.
    Another lovely post, Helen. xx

    • Thanks, Louise πŸ™‚ Oh, I remember those jobs I hated, too many, really. Jobs I thought I wanted but then found out were awful, jobs where I was treated badly – they certainly spurred me on to do other things! I mentioned to another commenter that I’d forgotten to add strawberry picker to the list – that was a particularly bad one πŸ˜€

  5. My list of paying jobs is extremely short, as in, count-on-one-hand short. Factory worker (making plastic binders), nanny, librarian, editor. I married very young, and proceeded to have children almost right away, whom I homeschooled, plus I was trying to be a Little-House-on-the-Prairie homemaker (until I smartened up/burned out). So, even though nobody paid me for any of that, the list of *work* I’ve done and skills I’ve acquired is quite long – Jill-of-all-Trades indeed.
    However, I wonder if part of my struggle as a writer/freelancer is that very lack of experience of paid work…

    • Sounds as though you’ve always worked hard, Angelika – I do find it frustrating that the work we do raising families is so often discounted when it comes to talking about our experience. You’re a great writer πŸ™‚

  6. Such an eclectic mix of jobs here – what interesting lives you’ve all led!
    My work has been mainly retail and I’ve been a florist (mainly on but sometimes off) for the last 23 years. I’ve worked in off licences, farm shops, behind supermarket deli counters, in a stationers where I did little else but have price gun fights with one of my colleagues (in my defence I was only 16). I was a hairdresser and waited on in a cafe for all of one week before it was closed down – nothing to do with me, honest.
    The weirdest one was working in ladies’ fashion in a small independent department store. It had a covered bridge that connected the buildings (rather Dickensian) that creaked when you walked on it and leaked when it rained. The weird bit was being 18 years old and learning how to measure elderly ladies for corsets. Interesting times. And the store is still there

    • Thanks, Lynn – yes, it’s been fun reading the comments, I love hearing what everyone’s done. Your list is very impressive – I love the creaking bridge and the price gun fights. Those sort of details are what I remember about jobs I’ve had too – especially if the jobs themselves weren’t that great. And you’ve reminded me of another job I had which I didn’t put on the list – Assistant Salon Manager at a hairdresser! haha πŸ™‚

      • Your list is very impressive – so many alternative careers! It’s all useful I think. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to watch people, to see them at their best and sometimes their lowest (ordering funeral flowers for example). It al helps you learn about folk and how different they all are

      • Yes, I think that’s one of the biggest lessons when you go out to work – the infinite ways we are all different, yet the same.
        And thanks – not sure if impressive is the word, I wish I’d found what I wanted to do earlier. However, perhaps then I wouldn’t be the writer I am now…

      • Absolutely – it’s all experience, all things lurking in the back of your head, ready to be used in a story. That’s what I tell myself anyway πŸ™‚

  7. Pingback: Following My Heart’s Desire | Journey To Ambeth

  8. Iv had had the same job since leaving school 15 years ago, i work in vending and its an industry thats so unique and forever on the move to the next best thing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s