CINCINNATI - When he embarked on his quest to work 50 jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks, Daniel Seddiqui didn’t plan to write a book.
He even turned down an offer to turn the trip into a reality show. He simply wanted to see what life was like in other parts of the United States, while escaping the sense of failure he felt when he didn’t get a single job offer after more than 40 interviews.
Seddiqui's odyssey was an eye-opening, life-changing experience that he candidly documents in his bestselling book "50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man"s Journey of Discovery Across America."
On Aug. 26, Seddiqui advised young people on how to make their career dreams a reality at a Mayor’s Forum at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
In his book, Seddiqui not only describes what it was like to work in 50 different types of jobs, but also some of the obstacles he had to overcome to make the experience possible. By the end of his journey, he realized something.
“Even if people walk away from you, ignore you, tell you no, or shoot your dream down, the power lies within you to create an opportunity for yourself,” he said.
One of Seddiqui's goals in planning the 50 Jobs in 50 States project was to line up jobs that were representative of each state’s culture. Among his gigs:
- hydrologist in Colorado
- rodeo announcer in South Dakota
- coal miner in West Virginia
- Amish woodworker in Pennsylvania
- theme park entertainer in Florida
- seafood restaurant cook in Maryland
- model and modeling agent in North Carolina
- Internet marketing specialist in New York
- auto mechanic in Michigan
In the Midwest, Seddiqui worked as a meteorologist on a morning TV show in Cleveland, a racing team pit crew member in Indianapolis, and on a horse farm in Lexington. On the horse farm, he helped deliver a foal.
Not your average road trip
From the extensive press coverage Seddiqui received during his trip, one might assume everything came easily to him. But in his book, Seddiqui talks freely about the self-doubt, exhaustion, rejection, and other struggles he had to overcome throughout the project.
Having failed to land a job after graduating from an expensive college, the author said his pride was deteriorating and his self-esteem had started to fade:
“Both my parents had lived the American Dream, coming from nothing and working their way to success. But the more failure I experienced, the more their support for me diminished," he recalled.
Seddiqui's book describes the many highs and lows he experienced while driving 28,000 miles and flying 20,000 miles from place to place without much money.
He had to constantly adapt to people with different religions, foods, hobbies, and living arrangements. Sometimes he slept in his car and showered at the local YMCA. Sometimes he stayed with friends. Some employers put him up in trailers, cabins, a resort, and mansions.
In the beginning, some people he contacted about jobs laughed at him, hung up on him, or expressed skepticism. After failing to find financial sponsors for his trip, he decided to drive strategically from state to state, earning money and lining up jobs as he went.
“As soon as I made up my mind to make it happen, nothing was going to stop me,” Seddiqui said.
By the time he hit the road in a used Jeep Cherokee, he had ten jobs lined up and plans to improvise from there.
When he called his local newspaper to tell them about his project, the editors put the story on the front page and it soon hit the news wires. Within days, the producer of a reality TV show contacted him. Seddiqui turned down the reality show because having a TV crew follow him everywhere would change how people treated him.
Nevertheless, Seddiqui's ability to attract local and national media coverage gradually made it easier to persuade targeted employers to hire him for just a week.
Five factors for success
During his presentation at the Mayor’s Speaker’s Series on Monday, Seddiqui talked about the five critical factors that contributed to the success of his mission:
Seddiqui believes the typical interview process doesn’t let applicants fully demonstrate their talents, drive, or enthusiasm. After working a week in all 50 states, Seddiqui said he got full-time job offers from 48 of the employers.
He said managers s are eager to hire people who have a positive attitude and show a willingness to work hard and learn. He also experienced the power of networking:
“I quickly learned that if you prove yourself and your capabilities to people, they will remember you and connect you to others.”
After finishing the 50-week trip, Seddiqui realized he had learned about 50 different ways of life. He was amazed to see how much the local environment shapes who we are and how we like to spend our time.
Since publishing the book “Living the Map,” Seddiqui has been “Lecturing the Map,” sharing what he has learned with other young people. He has also developed a semester-long program to expose college students to a wider range of career possibilities and industries.
A new journey
For his next book project, Seddiqui has been traveling to some of the struggling or secluded communities throughout the U.S. to get an up close view of what might be required to initiate social change.
He has visited immigrant camps in the San Joachim Valley of California, an Indian reservation in South Dakota, a community in Mississippi, and small towns in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
In his presentations, Seddiqui tells students that failing those first job interviews was the best thing that ever happened to him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have started on his journey and discovered opportunities that better fit his personality.
Most importantly, he learned not to fear failure. During his year on the road, he experienced about 5,000 rejections.
“But I was optimistic about the journey and focused on the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Seddiqui. “I learned that each rejection moved me closer to an acceptance.”
- To learn more about “Living the Map” and Daniel Seddiqui, visit www.livingthemap.com
View Daniel Seddiqui’s presentation at a TEDxUSC event