Stories about Jobs

Sandra Dodd, of Kirby's job running Pokemon tournaments at 14:
It wasn't because he was unschooled, but it was because he was available, so that helped. It wasn't because he was unschooled and available but because of those things he had hung out there and had the social skills to talk to adults, to make eye contact, to shake hands, to make appropriate jokes and comments. He had the chance to be himself and to show them skills and attributes. He was NOT doing it to get a job. He was doing it to be nice, to be friendly, because it was fun to help out there.

Marina Moses:

My daughter didn't start dancing until she was 9. In the competitive dance world that's late. She loved it right away and was choreographing little pieces right away. By the time she was 11 she never wanted to leave the studio and since she didn't have to wake up for school I would let her hang out before and after her classes to watch. She got put to work as a helper for younger kids more often than most of the girls because she was there.

At her studio you get a little break on tuition for helping in a class once a week-most of the advanced kids have a helper class. Chelsea helped in way more than one class even though there was no extra break.

She is 18 and in her third year of teaching dance. She choreographs for competitions. She makes a great wage doing what she would do for free if they stopped paying her!

The next many comments are in reference to an article called "20 Great Jobs that Don't Require a College Degree" (quoted in full at SandraDodd.com/jobs/list)

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues

That list didn't even mention computer repair. Didn't mention paralegals, or administrative assistants. (Sandra)
Paula L:
And the list didn't mention cleaning and organizing businesses! My husband and I started our business, Simple Solutions, 16 months ago. You can do very well financially if you want to push the hours and even maybe hire employees. Right now we work a combined total of 40 hours a week- we take turns working so one of us is with Andy. We have no desire to make this a big venture. It's just the two of us. We will be raising our rate soon. We are not rich, but we are getting by just fine, better than ever before. And we have virtually NO overhead expenses, which is awesome. We're even getting a pretty good tax return. Best of all, we really like it. :-)

I was thinking of electricians, plumbers. My bil is a builder, and is so busy with remodels he turns them away. My daughter wants to be a funeral director, and that doesn't require a degree. Janet

Nancy B:
I used to work for a large police department in CA. SO many people started as clerks in the records department, even as temporaries, just filing reports and stuff. You could move up to unbelievable status from there. If you were a hard worker, dependable, they would choose you for a promotion over someone they didn't know with a degree. One of the most common was forensic police work.

Someone would start as a clerk, then move up to a fingerprint specialist (you could do this after taking a short 9 week course at the community college.)

From there, either you happily stayed (they made good money) or you moved up to the crime lab. They taught you all you needed to know. There were steps up from there, and eventually one would end up investigating crime scenes,...all kinds of stuff...

Sometimes it could get a little gory (murders, etc) but I was friends with most of the crime lab people and they all loved their job.

Also, lots of clerks moved up to police officer, then up to detective, then up the chain of command.

____________ also Nancy B:

If you raise your children with a lot of happiness, contentment, curiosity, love, affection, they don't place all their future happiness on what their career will be, what they'll "be." Life is instead about exploring, having fun, pursuing interests.

At 42 years old, I have begun running a small sheep and goat farm (we have about 50 head right now, including babies) and doing really quite well making things and selling them on Ebay, out of the wool from our sheep (you can check under completed items under the name "motleymutton"....I don't have anything listed today, probably tonight.)

Because I took the time to find out what programs are out there floating around, I discovered that the USDA has grants for people wanting to do ecologically sound farming, and because I am #1, a woman, and #2, a relatively new farmer, I got a grant to put up division fencing (so we can rotate our animals) natural fertilizer, new seeding for our pastures, self feeding water troughs, and animal pathways to cut down on erosion. They will pay 90 percent of all costs, and with the amount they pay for labor (our labor) that makes up the extra 10 percent.

Two of my kids have expressed a real interest in farming, and we're going all out on our garden this year. We're going tonight to the first farmer's market meeting of the year to see about selling veggies and goat milk soap there. I have told the kids if they help, we will divide the money evenly between us. What's even cooler, there's a skateboard park right next to the farmer's market, so this whole venture will be enjoyable for them (they can take turns skating and selling.)

Not one single bit of any of this took a degree. What it did take is pursuing something I love (farming, animals, art, nature and ecology.) I read a lot of books on organic farming, permaculture, etc. But anyone can pick those up at the public library.

Stopping, helping your kids take a look at their interests, looking at things that the "world" considers prestigious and wondering, WHY??.....that's a good starting place.

—Nancy B

[end of quotes from googlegroups, but you can read more at that discussion, which has other accounts about maintenance, coffee roasting, engineering, the military…]

Karen James wrote:
I was a picture framer for ten years before we moved to the US. I loved that job. I got to frame so many objects, including a snowboard, a wedding dress and a gun from the US civil war - first time I had ever held any of those items in my hands. I got to handle and look up close on many wonderful works of art, and hear so many stories about why different things were meaningful to different people. Children's art was some of my favourite to frame.

Before that I worked in a small art gallery. Before that I worked in a photo lab (I see that one listed). Before that a grocery store. I was a cashier, then front end manager. Honestly, I've enjoyed all my jobs.

Since Ethan was born, I've been drawing and painting and selling works locally in cafes and small art galleries, as well as on Ebay for a few years. Ebay was a thrill, as I got to ship pieces all over the world...literally. I still love to think about where my different works are living.

I have volunteered a few places, but my favourite was a local soup kitchen where Ethan and I got to hand out desert before cleaning up after lunch service. Ethan loved handing out the food to people, and has since said he would either like to be a waiter or help people. Or a Youtuber. He's eleven.

My dad went as far as grade three, at which time he left home with one of his brothers. From that point, he learned to read and write well enough to fill out applications for various jobs. Along the way, he learned the skills to be a welder and boiler maker. Gradually he learned enough practical skills and math to become head mechanic at an ice cream factory where he worked for twenty years before retiring at age 55. I got to live with many years of free ice cream!

My mom worked on some of the very first telegraph machines at Marconi in Montreal when she was a teen. She went as far as grade seven in school. In her twenties she got married and was asked to leave her position to make room for unmarried women and men. Funny story...my mom and dad both worked at Marconi for a short time together. My dad worked in the mail room. He remembers my mom, but she doesn't remember him. They met again twenty years later when he moved in with her and my brothers as a room and boarder. My mom later sold Avon for many years, and remained dedicated to making a comfortable home for her family.

My husband worked for his dad as a boy. His dad was a self-taught inventor, and Doug has fantastic memories of hearing the rumble of some newly invented machine in the basement. Later Doug's dad started a factory called James Packaging, where he made (from scratch) machines for packaging items in vacuum formed plastic. (Doug actually wired some of those up for his dad after taking some electronics classes in high school.) But before the factory, he did it all in the basement of their small house, and Doug and his sister helped. Doug tells me of a time when he helped package thousands of containers of bird de-licer with his sister. With the money they earned, they bought themselves matching desks and Doug bought Atari games.

Doug went through university and grad school on full scholarships after that, always hugely inspired by the things he was learning. He started out in physics, moved to applied math, and finished with his PhD thesis in computer graphics. He is currently working as a professor in computer science with a continued focus on physics and applied math. Many of the animations, game engines and special effects in movies produced these days contain research that he, his students and his colleagues have worked on. That's a thrill for Doug to see ideas of his and others be put to practical use - especially on things that bring people so much joy. Doug even received a science and technology Academy Award last year for a project he and three others worked on. Ethan and I got to go to that with him. Can't say any of us ever imagined walking the red carpet. It sure is interesting where life can take us!

(That's a really long winded way to say that I didn't see picture framer on your list. )


From a conference presentation description in 2009, Sandra, about Kirby:
Kirby Dodd, 22, has played video games for 18 years, and board games longer than that. For four years he worked in a gaming shop, running tournaments and working retail. For a while he worked in a popular local pizza place, and for the last two years he has worked in the gaming industry. He grew up in Albuquerque, but has lived in Austin since a few days after his 21st birthday, because that's where he was offered a cool job. Kirby is the oldest of three who didn't go to school. and: How can a 22 year old have seven years of experience? He was offered a job running the Pokemon League at a gaming store when he was 14. Time passed, he played LOTS of games, and now he works in the gaming industry.
2015 update:
After eight and a half years with Blizzard, Kirby moved back to Albuquerque and quickly got a job doing computer tech support, on contract, for a large corporation.
2021 update:
Kirby works for Honeywell, doing computer tech support.

I didn't save names with these, but they're probably at the link at googlegroups:

My sister, with no college education, started catering wedding cakes after taking a cake decorating class at JC Penny's and making special occasion cakes for people. She started with box cake mix, moved to from scratch cakes. From there, she started catering small parties onto bigger parties. Then decided to make homemade chocolate truffles. She would give these to customers as a thank you for your business. People loved them so much that they started ordering her truffles. She then started making other chocolates (sea shells, lollipops, stars, golf balls, ears, anatomically correct body parts) and selling these items online. Adding in some party favors next to her online store. Now, she owns 3 acres in a forested area with her home and business on site. Her employees run the show while she supervises from Hawaii, or wherever she chooses to travel.

Sandra: [but someone else's story (from something I wrote in 2011, and I don't remember whose note I was quoting; sorry)]

In a discussion a bit similar, on facebook, a local friend of mine just wrote "Two of my college friends married each other after graduating with $100k degrees in English and Art respectively. Last time I was in touch with them, they were answering phones at an auto insurance company call center. Education really doesn't predict occupation at all."

When I used to be invited to interviews, I asked lots of questions and was basically interviewing them as well :-) If I was offered a job, I often requested if I could job shadow for a few days before I committed to accepting the job (I offered to do it for free). Because I knew I would never have the time to do all the jobs I wanted to do, I frequently requested if I could work part time so I could juggle multiple jobs. I preferred short term, temporary contracts. I'm pretty sure at one point I was juggling 5 different jobs - all of them were fun and exciting to me smiley face

Something unexpected happened because of my preference of working multiple jobs at multiple organizations. After a couple of years, I didn't have time to apply for new jobs. Employers started contacting me. I had been working for a lot of different non-profits, educational institutions and government departments and my former employers started recommending me to their networks for different projects. There was more work than I could possibly do.

Some jobs I have been offered, but decided not to take because I was already committed to something else:

Click here to go to that list. Scroll up, there, to see the list of jobs Rippy had worked before.
Some of the stories above list jobs, so if that's the part you liked, click the first link below to see WAY more ideas for employment.

a long list of jobs JOBS (index page, Dodd updates 2021)

"Jobs"—excerpt from The Big Book of Unschooling

Teens The problem of "Unschool World" "I live therefore I learn"