Daniel Seddiqui has worked as a lumberjack in Oregon, a medical equipment manufacturer in Minnesota, a hydrologist in Colorado, a farmer in Nebraska, a meatpacker in Kansas and more -- all within the last 17 weeks.
The 26-year-old from Los Altos, Calif., struggled to find a job after graduating with an economics degree from the University of Southern California in 2005. He sent out 40 job applications for positions in finance, but interview after interview, he didn't get a single offer.
"I got rejected 40-plus times and I was frustrated," Seddiqui said.
For three years, Seddiqui worked jobs to pay his bills: as a Home Depot clerk, as an elementary school tutor and as a cross-country volunteer coach at Northwestern University.
Searching to find a meaningful career path, Seddiqui realized he may have to step outside the box. Eager to explore different career options, Seddiqui crafted a plan to beef up his resume: He would work 50 different jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks, driving cross-country.
In September 2008, he kicked off his tour in Salt Lake City, working at the humanitarian center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. From there, he moved to Colorado to work as a hydrologist, and then performed in South Dakota as a rodeo announcer. Seddiqui lined up most of the jobs in advance and found places to stay on the road.
During Week 8, Seddiqui visited Wyoming and served as a Park Service ranger. With Ranger Joe, he hiked for six hours around the perimeter of Devil's Tower National Park, scaling the fence to make sure the park was secure.
To Seddiqui's surprise, employers have bought into his experiment -- some even paying him. At a medical device manufacturer in Minnesota, he made $2,000 for one week of work.
He's also seen sights that have made the journey worthwhile. During Week 10, at Remax Elite Properties in Boise, Idaho, in November, Seddiqui helped sell a couple their first home. In Week 12, in Medford, Ore., he gave logging a try.
"When you see a 200-foot tree slowly breaking down between other enormous trees and shake the earth, it would take your breath away," he wrote on his blog, Livingthemap.com, where he documents his journey.
Grad Proves Job Opportunities Abound
We caught up with him in December -- Week 13 -- while he was working at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. Seddiqui earned $10 an hour to handle the wedding preparations for the week. His boss was impressed by Seddiqui's ability to jump in and coordinate a ceremony.
"I think he's doing really well," said wedding chapel director Linda Freeman. "This is a hard industry to pick up on."
Whether it's the wedding business, marine biology or archaeology, the fact that he has no idea what he's doing until his first day on the job doesn't seem to slow him down.
Ten of his first 12 employers were so happy with him that they offered him a full-time job. Seddiqui still has jobs as an amusement park super in Florida, a surf instructor in Hawaii and a model in North Carolina lined up.
So what will he do when his 50 jobs are through?
"Who knows! I've opened up so many opportunities for myself. And four months ago I had zero opportunities. And now I have endless, countless," Seddiqui said. "I am hopefully going to get 50 jobs of experience, so no one can turn me down!"
Seddiqui hopes that a TV show or publisher will be interested in purchasing his story, but he says he's in it for the experience.
"I'm on a mission to explore various careers, environments and cultures that America has to offer. A majority of Americans are blinded from the opportunities that exist in the United States," he wrote on his blog.
Even in hard times, Seddiqui says, he is proof that opportunity is out there. Sometimes you just have to look for it.