Currently one of the hot topics on social media involves people sharing their First Seven Jobs. In my next life I’d like to be a career counselor, and I feel like this mini-movement should be required reading for all students. It can even be cathartic for adults who feel stuck in a current position.

My takeaway from #FirstSevenJobs is that career paths are by no means linear. Hardly anyone (or at least anyone who shares) has gone from A to B to C. If you read the first seven jobs for most people, you would be hard pressed to guess what they are doing now.

For me, my list would be: babysitter, convenience store stock clerk, drug store cashier, drug store cosmetics clerk, temporary office assistant, college newspaper reporter and graduate assistant in student activities. I wouldn’t have predicted life as a consultant, presenter or enrollment manager.

Other examples: 
Stephen Cobert: construction, bus boy, cafeteria server, library data entry, futon frame maker, futon salesman, waiter

Lin-Manuel Miranda: Slushee machine at my aunt’s store, intern for WENET, McDonald’s register, data entry, Drawing 1 model, community paper writer, teacher

Sheryl Sandberg: babysitter, babysitter, office receptionist, clothing store salesperson, aerobics instructor, World Bank health team, Children’s Defense Fund

Christina Perri: babysitter, shampoo girl, waitress, bartender, music video producer, waitress, recording artist

Jim Cramer (host of Mad Money on CNBC): stuffed inserts in the Sunday paper, bus boy, sold Coca-Cola at Veteran’s Stadium, sold ice cream, proof reader, key operator for copy machines, sports reporter

There are thousands of answers to peruse and many of them leave me wondering what they are doing now. I wonder what came next, and mostly I’d like to hear the story of how they made the transition from one job to the next. How did @GregAndek go from camp counselor to solar power researcher, or what prompted @rishkumar83 to go from satellite engineer to fashion designer to patent scientist or @samtutterow to be a bank teller, then sports agent assistant, then music librarian before becoming a Fed economist?

Asking someone about their first seven jobs is a quick and easy conversation starter, but it also reaffirms that you can do anything, and in any order. Don’t let what you have done limit what you can do.

beth triplett

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