by Joni Astrup
Daniel Seddiqui set out to work 50 jobs in 50 weeks in 50 states —including one at Metal Craft in Elk River.
He accomplished his mission in 2009, and now has written a book about it.
Seddiqui was at Metal Craft earlier this month to sign copies of his new book, “50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America.”
Seddiqui worked as a medical device machinist at Metal Craft in the fall of 2008.
He devotes five pages of the book to his time in Minnesota and writes positively of his experience at Metal Craft, which was job No. 5 for him.
“I came to know the meaning of ‘Minnesota Nice,’” Seddiqui wrote.
Jobs were as varied as the 50 states
A native of California, Seddiqui launched his unusual cross-country quest after graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in economics and running into a brick wall. Despite countless interviews, he was unable to find a job.
At one point he had an epiphany, and came up with the idea of working a stereotypical job in each state. His goal was to learn about America by crossing borders and working alongside people.
He worked as a cheese-maker in Wisconsin, a border patrol agent in Arizona, a meatpacker in Kansas, a lobsterman in Maine, a surfing instructor in Hawaii and a costumed Egyptian amusement park king in Florida.
His scariest experiences were being held up at gunpoint in Detroit, Mich., and going four miles underground as a coal miner in West Virginia.
His favorite job was working as a dietician in Mississippi, where he helped people embrace healthful eating habits and lifestyles.
“I like how you can make a difference pretty much instantaneously in some cases,” he said.
Though the journey was difficult at times — he spent a number of nights sleeping in his Jeep to save money — Seddiqui persevered and finished his 50-state odyssey working as a winery cellar master in California.
Seddiqui said as he looks back on it now, it seems unreal.
“I wish everyone had the chance to do this, to get to appreciate and understand what people do day to day in different regions and their lifestyles. It went better than I ever could have planned,” he said.
The experience taught him to feel very comfortable with different types of people and environments.
“I never feel out of my comfort zone, and when I first went into this it was like a foreign country everywhere I went,” he said.
He also was struck by how diverse America is, not only in careers but in culture and environment.
A strong message of his journey is for people not to limit themselves, because there are so many options available.
His story clearly struck a chord. Seddiqui has been interviewed more than a 1,000 times, appearing everywhere from CNN to Fox News, “World News Tonight” to the “Today” show.
Here are some samples from his 50 jobs in 50 states experience. He tried to pick jobs in each state that fit that state’s culture or economy.
•As a sugar maker in Vermont, Seddiqui writes about when he first arrived at a rustic wooden house used in the maple sugar making process. “I was immediately struck by the scent of syrup. It was as if the air had been caramelized.”
•Seddiqui rubbed elbows with a number of politicians during his journey, including the governors of North Dakota, New Hampshire and Maine. He even had a chance to speak briefly with President Barack Obama while working as a political party worker in New Hampshire.
•As a Vegas weddings coordinator in Nevada, Seddiqui experienced five wedding ceremonies during his first day on the job, including ones performed at the chapel’s walk-up window and drive-through.
•At the Three Chimneys Horse Farm in Kentucky, Seddiqui assisted with the birth of a thoroughbred. The experience touched him. “I had just witnessed the birth of a beautiful creature, the start of a new life — and, potentially, not just a life, but an award-winning horse. I couldn’t believe I had been a part of it.”
•As a model in North Carolina, Seddiqui played the role of an unemployed stockbroker who had just lost everything. “Modeling is much tougher than it looks. I was out in the sun, posing for eight hours, having to come up with 3,000 slightly different poses. Patience and creativity were essential.”
•As a coal miner four miles underground in West Virginia, Seddiqui described his first glimpse of the underground work site. “The path opened up to an expansive area resembling a small otherworldly village. Tracks crossed and recrossed in a weblike intersection amid the dozens of men working and operating machinery, riding tractors, tending conveyer belts, shifting coal around and chiseling deeper into it.”
Seddiqui now lives in Chicago. He is an inspirational speaker and has started a semester-long college curriculum designed to expose students to different jobs and industries to help them choose a major.
His book was released about a month ago and he said it’s doing very well.
For more information, go to his Web site at www.livingthemap.com.
Daniel Seddiqui’s 50 jobs
Job 1: LDS humanitarian services worker in Utah
Job 2: USGS hydrologist in Colorado
Job 3: Rodeo announcer in South Dakota
Job 4: Cartographer in North Dakota
Job 5: Medical device machinist in Minnesota
Job 6: Agronomist in Iowa
Job 7: Corn farmer in Nebraska
Job 8: National park service ranger in Wyoming
Job 9: General store clerk in Montana
Job 10: Real estate agent in Idaho
Job 11: Marine biologist in Washington
Job 12: Logger in Oregon
Job 13: Vegas weddings coordinator in Nevada
Job 14: United States border patrol agent in Arizona
Job 15: Landscape architect in New Mexico
Job 16: Meatpacker in Kansas
Job 17: Boilermaker in Missouri
Job 18: Archaeologist in Arkansas
Job 19: Roustabout in Oklahoma
Job 20: Petroleum engineer in Texas
Job 21: Bartender in Louisiana
Job 22: Dietitian in Mississippi
Job 23: Cheese maker in Wisconsin
Job 24: Transit ticket agent in Illinois
Job 25: Auto mechanic in Michigan
Job 26: Meteorologist in Ohio
Job 27: Racing pit-crew member in Indiana
Job 28: Sugar maker in Vermont
Job 29: Horseman in Kentucky
Job 30: Music studio technician in Tennessee
Job 31: High school football coach in Alabama
Job 32: Peanut sheller in Georgia
Job 33: Theme park entertainer in Florida
Job 34: Golf caddie in South Carolina
Job 35: Model and modeling agent in North Carolina
Job 36: Coal miner in West Virginia
Job 37: Monticello gardener in Virginia
Job 38: Seafood restaurant cook in Maryland
Job 39: Incorporation specialist in Delaware
Job 40: Amish woodworker in Pennsylvania
Job 41: Boys and Girls Club counselor in New Jersey
Job 42: Internet marketing specialist in New York
Job 43: Ambassador of tourism in Rhode Island
Job 44: Insurance broker in Connecticut
Job 45: Baseball scout in Massachusetts
Job 46: Political party worker in New Hampshire
Job 47: Lobsterman in Maine
Job 48: Commercial photographer in Alaska
Job 49: Surfing instructor in Hawaii
Job 50: Winery cellar master in California