Daniel Seddiqui worked 50 jobs in 50 states on a quest to discover his true passion and learn more about America.
That required a lot of persistence, perseverance, networking and risk-taking, he told a group of Wichita high school students on Wednesday. It also required a strong stomach.
Working as a lobsterman in Maine, “I got so sick, I couldn’t even do my duties of putting the rubber bands around the claws,” he said. “So I built lobster traps instead.
“I learned that sometimes you can’t control every outcome,” said Seddiqui, a native Californian with a degree in economics. “Don’t limit yourself on where you’re from or what you’re exposed to. And don’t limit yourself based on fear of rejection or failure.”
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Seddiqui, author of “50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America,” spoke about college and career readiness to a group of more than 100 students as part of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, or SuperSAC.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of two dialogue sessions this school year for members of SuperSAC and others who are recommended by their principals. SuperSAC members – two from each of the district’s 10 high schools – meet monthly with Superintendent John Allison to talk about issues important to them.
During his quest, Seddiqui worked as a park ranger in Wyoming, a rodeo announcer in South Dakota, a logger in Oregon and a coal miner in West Virginia.
In Kansas he worked at a slaughterhouse in a small town outside of Topeka, “because Kansas equals beef,” he said. He shared a brief video of the experience – watching a steer being shot – that ended with Seddiqui looking at the camera and saying, “Oh, my God, I am not ready for this job.”
The soft-spoken 20-something also helped foal a mare at a Kentucky horse farm and was held up at gunpoint in an auto shop in Detroit. All those episodes – and getting to know the host families who offered him lodging during the quest – were part of an unforgettable experience, he said.
“I used to stare at maps growing up and always envisioned how different I’d be if I grew up in a different environment,” he said.
His favorite job turned out to be working alongside a dietitian in Mississippi, the state with the highest rate of obesity. His next project is a television show in which people from towns with high rates of obesity will compete against each other to lose weight and get healthy.
“If I were to start back in college, this is what I would have pursued instead of economics,” he said. “But I would never have known unless I had this experience.”