• Eric Bowie

My 22 Jobs In 31 Years



According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. I think I completely blew that number out of the water with my 22 jobs in 31 years (1986 to 2017).



On the other hand, my wife has had 5 jobs in 29 years, and has been at the same job for the past 22 years! Her 5 jobs vs. my 22 jobs is an accurate reflection of our varied perspectives on the topic of jobs! For me, some might say I spent a lot of my early years "job hopping", but I just like to think of it as being an ambitious job seeker. Ok, well maybe it was a bit of both.



Check out the links at the end of this blog post to articles that talk about other interesting labor statistics.



I've done a lot of things in my work life. From fast food, to cleaning floors and restrooms, to changing oil, to answering phones, to waiting tables, to selling tv's, to working in office environments.


KEEP READING BELOW TO SEE ALL 22 OF MY JOBS IN 31 YEARS



This is why I have a tremendous amount of respect for all types of work. I've done it, and been there, and I've had to work for everything I've ever had, so I completely respect "the struggle". I also believe in treating the waiter with just as much reverance as I treat the CEO.



I'm sort of old school, because I still feel that an honest days work has an incredible amount of value, regardless of the job



Whether you work with your hands, on your feet, get dirty and smelly, work with machines or people, work is WORK, and it carries a sense of honor and dignity with it.



I know what it's like to come home dirty, to make $3.35 per hour while working in the summer heat, to work all week long and get a small check and wonder what happened to the rest, or to have someone look at you and ask "why are you working here?"



Everyone certainly has a journey of jobs that's filled with many stories to tell, and I've certainly had my fair share.


Someone asked me awhile back, how many jobs have I had. I had to think about it, and before I knew it, I had a pen and paper out. I wrote them all down. The answer was 21! However, after further consideration, the answer is actually 22.



Since I forgot one when I originally wrote this blog post several months ago, I thought I'd revisit this and update it. Check out the list below and see #20. I've had so many, this one previously skipped my mind.


KEEP READING BELOW TO SEE ALL 22 OF MY JOBS IN 31 YEARS



In the process of writing them down, I did notice some interesting and eye-opening patterns. It actually gave me an opportunity to do some much needed reflecting, and in the process I rediscovered what I liked, didn't like, enjoyed most, and which jobs catered to my strengths.


I also noticed what I didn't like, what I absolutely couldn't tolerate, and revisited some places in my mind, work related, that I never wanted to visit again. It was all in fun of course, but the reflections were fascinating.


Yes, this is me, as an "ambitious job seeker" back in 1990


It was a pretty neat thing to sit back and ponder over, because it was revealing. So, I decided to write down the year, the job, and a tidbit or two about each job. Hope you enjoy my trip down memory lane.




Here are all of my 22 jobs



#1. 1986 - Kentucky Fried Chicken - My first job. I was a cook. I got 2 jobs the same week. Hardees and Kentucky Fried Chicken. I chose KFC because I had never eaten at Hardees and their brown uniform was disturbingly ugly! True Story



#2. 1986 - AMC Theater - Concession stand worker. The name tag, big bow tie, and vest, were epic. Seriously.


#3. 1986 - Perkins Restaurant & Bakery - I was a waiter. I made $2.01 per hour plus tips! I learned to cook and host as well. If you want to learn customer service and learn to have control over your earnings, waiting tables is great. I learned a lot about the power of controlling your own financial destiny. I learned how to compete, how to sell, the power of meeting peoples needs, and the value of good customer service. In this job I developed many skills that I still use today and made life long friends.



#4. 1989 - The Woodlands Race Track - This was a dog and horesetrack where I was a cashier who took your bets at the window. Working around betting and beer was quite interesting. I handled large stacks of money at this job. I think I worked here for 6 months.



#5. 1989 - Pacesetter Windows and Doors - Telemarketer. Hated it! The outbound calling was brutal. I used an alias. I was "John Anderson calling from Pacesetter Corporation". I developed a great phone voice, but telemarketing was incredibly boring. If you were a teen in the mid to late 80's, I'm sure you remember how brutally dull these telemarketing jobs were.


#6. 1989 - Wal Mart - Floor Tech on the night shift - I cleaned and buffed floors and cleaned bathrooms. No fun. I learned pretty quickly through this job that I needed to take college more serious. And it's one of the reasons I have tremendous respect for people that clean and run a buffing machine for a living. If I had only purchased some Wal-Mart stock back then, chances are, I'd be writing this blog post from a beach in the Florida Keys!


#7. 1990 - AT&T - More out bound calls. Double Hated it!! AT&T was a stickler about being on time. I didn't like that structure. I rode the bus to work and I did not like the constant pressure of getting to work on time. Maybe I was a bit undisciplined, but they were tyrannical about it. Not to mention I really disliked cold calling people. More telemarketing blues, but for $6.13 per hour, I was willing to give it a shot. It lasted less than 6 months.


#8. 1990 - UPS - Unloaded packages from the brown box trucks onto a conveyor belt. This was a very physically challenging and dirty job. It taught me that I never wanted to work in a warehouse again. They sounded a horn and you worked. Then they sounded another horn and you took a 15 minute break. Then they sounded another horn and break was over. It felt like I was working in a factory in the 1930's. Good company, horrible gig!


#9. 1990 - Jiffy Lube - Lube Tech - One of my favorite jobs. I was able to get dirty and I learned so much about cars. I learned that I actually enjoy working with my hands, and I enjoyed the customer service part of it. It was at this job that I made a decision to seriously focus on college. I actually appeared in a Jiffy Lube commercial.



#10. 1992 - Wendy's - My first year at K-State as a Junior. I was a Cook. I had no car. Well, I had a car but it didn't work. I walked over a freeway everyday to get to work. Cleanup was messy but it paid the bills. I was a struggling 22 year old college student living in his own apartment for the first time. This forced me to learn to budget like a maniac.


#11. 1993 - KCK Community College - Summer job in the bookstore stocking books. I think I heard more 70's and 80's soft rock in this one summer then I had heard all of my life. Back then I think it was called Muzak!



#12. 1993 - Kansas State University - Tutor. My introduction to teaching. I think I was the oldest student living in the dorms, or at least it felt that way.



#13. 1994 - U Haul - Cleaning trailers and filling up propane tanks. Another pit stop job to make money in the summer. This is when they had the stick shift U Haul trucks with the clutch that could only be properly pressed if you were over 6 ft 5 tall. Fun stuff! Not really.



#14. 1994 - 7th Grade Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach - My first job out of college. Fun job. Great kids. I taught 7th Grade Geography for 7 years. My starting salary was $23,000 and I got paid once a month, which really taught me how to budget, and how to strategically plan my money! For 6 of these years, I coached middle and high school boy's basketball.



#15. 1998 - Dillard's - Men's Shoe Salesman - Part Time while I was a Teacher - Partial Commission. This is where I learned about shoes, which ultimately, 15 years later, would bolster my ability to sell shoes on Ebay. Click here to check out my store on Ebay!


#16. 1999 - Circuit City - TV, VCR, DVD Salesman - Part Time - 100% Full Commission. Again, I did this while I was a Teacher. And just like waiting tables and selling shoes, I enjoyed it. Anytime I can determine my own pay based on my work, I'll take it. Even though it was a part time side gig, the pressure of full sales commission with no base pay, made it exciting and competitive. For some reason I like that and I seem to thrive in those situations.



#17. 2001 - Americo - Insurance Analyst - A stop gap job between teaching and working for the Federal Government. I almost became a full time insurance agent and financial planner during this time, but the government came knocking and offered me a job.



#18. 2002 - Social Security Administration - Legal Administrative Specialist. I started a career with the Federal Government thathas lasted to this day.



#19. 2008 - General Services Administration - Federal Contracting. I learned the world of procurement, government contracting, and all of the fiduciary and legal responsibilities of contracting. I managed construction contracts, architect-engineer contracts, and much more.



#20. 2009 - Eddie Bauer - This was a part time job over the Christmas holiday. I learned to fold clothes (especially men's shirts) really well. That is about all I got out of this job.


#21. 2010 - Home Depot - Part Time - Flooring. I needed money for Christmas and for extra on bills one year so I spent 6 months wearing an apron and working in the flooring department at Home Depot. When I left this part time job I told myself I would never in my life have another 2nd job. Anything I do on the side would be my own business. And I never have since this.



#22. 2017 - United States Army Corps of Engineers - Federal Contracting. Current Job.



22 Jobs in 31 years sounds like a lot. But is it? I don't really know. What I didn't mention above was all of the side gigs I did from about 2000 to 2019.


Check Out This Blog Post On Side Gigs You Can Do


While I was working for the government and continuing to grow and evolve, I was venturing into some entrepreneurial arenas. I'm looking forward to sharing more about that information in future blog posts.

Stay Tuned!!



Check out this video for even more "side hustles" you can try.



The takeaway here from all of my 22 jobs in 31 years is that it's good to stop and think about what you've done, your growth, trends, and patterns in your work life. Even if you are 35 year old, this exercise can still be beneficial in helping you grow.



My challenge to you is to sit and write down all of the jobs you've had in your life sometime. You will be surprised what you come up with. You will begin to understand how your experiences have molded you, shaped your decisions, and helped develop your thinking.



It may not be all that pretty in some instances, but nevertheless, it's an opportunity to reflect, grow, and learn from your past.


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Click HERE to check out more interesting Labor Statistics.


And HERE for 10 interesting facts about American workers.





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