It's Jobs Week here at SparkLife (TGIF, 'miright?), so like all good employees, I decided to shunt off my work on someone who actually knows what she's talking about. My friend Laura Dodd wrote a book called Dig This Gig about dream jobs, like yacht stewardess (not kidding) and video game illustrator—what they're really like, and how to get from point A (having your internship supervisor, who always calls you Kathy, when you've clearly stated that your name is Kathryn but you're just glad she doesn't call you Stephanie, use you primarily for alphabetization and coffee runs) to point B (blogging for SparkLife). It is an earth-shattering, in-your-face tour de force that (full disclosure) happens to have me in it. I interviewed her on what high schoolers can be doing to work toward their dream job, and what Brian Williams is really like.
KW: So, what did you want to do for a job when you were in high school?
LD: Probably an actress or “anchor.” That’s what I used to put on my MASH games.
Like Ron Burgundy? Rhonda Burgundy? Did you live in a mansion or a shack?
Always seemed to get the shack.
Yeah, that’s hard with ten kids. Tough break.
So, knowing what you know now (which is everything)...
... what should teenagers be doing to work toward a cool career later?
Try EVERYTHING and consider everything.
I’m taking it you don’t mean sniffing glue. Or Purell.
Get out your pen and paper or iPhone or whatever and make a list—and actually write it down, literally—of 10 jobs that sound cool to you. And I’m talking anything—fashion blogger, teacher, “producer” (whatever the hell that means), etc.
You sound so “current” when you say iPhone.
Are the readers all girls, or co-ed?
Co-ed but more girls.
Just wondering. Gonna add that a lot of girls, myself included, think that “boy” jobs are often off limits. Cop, engineer, president. F that!
It’s true. NBA star. Proctologist.
So, when making the list, if that’s what sounds cool, do it.
You have to be more emphatic about that. Like, DO IT!!!!! I’m thinking maybe they could locate people who do those jobs and ask if they can shadow them. Of course that’s a little easier with a cop than, say, the manager of the Yankees.
Exactly. But even if you’re in Detroit and you’re interested in being a TV producer—they do that in Detroit! There are local news stations. Or most cities (I think) have a film commission office. Call it and introduce yourself and find out when movies are coming to town to shoot.
That’s probably where you’re gonna get your start anyway—in local or smaller markets. So on the topic of kinds of jobs, what’s the best job you could possibly imagine? I’m thinking Christian Bale’s personal waxer. Or Giada De Laurentiis’s taste tester.
Honestly, Beyonce’s back-up dancer. Ob-sessed. I kind of cringe at the thought of it, but on the subway, when jammin’ (90’s throwback word), I can totally see it!
“Jammin’” is timeless, I think. Ok, what was the worst job you heard about when researching the book? Were there any that made you want to crawl under your desk and cry? That’s actually where I am right now. But that’s just because I dropped a peanut.
What makes me cringe the other person loves, like being in small enclosures with dangerous animals. The other one that made me cringe was the girl’s experience abroad in the Peace Corps. Being out of your element and not knowing the language—that makes me cringe. But there wasn’t one that was like, “You clean up dead bodies for a living???” I’d actually love to interview that person.
Were any of the mentors you interviewed scary?
Intimidating. Jeffrey Sachs, he was scary. It took six months to get that interview. I was like, why would he ever talk to a peon like me? They’re so smart. They’re all such masters of their field, and you’re asking Reporter 101 questions. It’s embarrassing, and it’s scary. But no one barked at me or told me I was an idiot.
Was I the smartest and most successful person you’ve ever interviewed?
Not only that, you were the funniest, prettiest, skinniest, most rational, and most electric. Obvi.
Is it true the popular, mean kids will all end up being toll booth collectors?
Sometimes I get envious of toll booth collectors because they’re outside all day.
They’re not really outside.
Yeah, I guess you’re right. And they’re inhaling smog. Then, I guess I’d like the mean kids’ job to be organizing and archiving my emails. (Ed note: A crowded inbox is her excuse for not emailing me back for two weeks.)
Ok, last question. What is Brian Williams like in person? (Ed note: I am an idiot; I forgot that she does not work for Brian Williams, although in my defense she works NEAR Brian Williams.)
I wish I knew. But I hear he’s very funny.
I thought you worked for Rock Center?
I work for NBC in the same building.
Oh. What do you do again?
I’m an associate producer. We just produced a show for MSNBC. Now we’re doing one for the Travel Channel about London for the Olympics.
Awesome. Except I don’t get to go.
Well, I’ve been to London once, so I’m happy to be your go-to expert.
I’ll make a note.
See that you do that.
What is your dream job?
Related post: The Oddest Jobs