How Many Different Jobs Have You Had?


I was asked recently what I'd like to do if I could have any job I wanted. That answer usually centers somewhere around wanting to be the person who finds music for movies; a music supervisor if you will. I've always thought that would be a grand job for myself as it puts two things I love - movies and music - together and allows me to search and find new musics daily. That sounds exciting. I'd also like to teach. If teaching paid more I might take that leap. I've always said that if I were to win the lottery, I'm gonna go straight Dangerous Minds on that ass, minus the white savior angle. Or maybe I'd go back to graduate school and get a Black man's Ph.D. in sociology so I could wax philosophical on various documentaries about the plight of the Black man and write books about everything and nothing at the same damn time that would somehow be considered a scholarly work more because it exists than because it sheds any light on anything. Oh, I'd use big words too. A lot. Big words and Black struggle would be gangbusters.


Maybe I'd do a combo of all three: get aPh.D. in everything and nothing and still make appearances on documentaries that will be skewered on Twitter, leave it up to me while I be living proof to kick the truth to the young Black youth, AND find new musics for movies on the side. Somebody get me a lottery ticket stat…and Jerome…WHERE MY MIRROR AT?

Right now, however, I'm a worker bee. I work in one of those places doing one of those jobs where even people I've known for years often remind me that they can't believe I work here or do this for a living. What is it that I do? It's not in my nature to be mysterious, but I can't say who and I can't say why. I remember running into a guy I went to college with a few months back. I told him I'd just gotten off of work and he said, "you have a real job? I thought you were one of those folks who gets paid purely for living this fabulous life you display on IG." Something along those lines. I'm definitely paraphrasing. Point is, he was surprised I had a "regular" job. Sometimes it surprises me too.

This short convo I had that ended up with a roundabout reference to Morris Day and The Time, did get me to thinking about all of the jobs that I've had. To me it feels like a lot. To you it may feel like a little. But we all we got. CMB. I will list my jobs in order, excluding my current employment situation. It's more like a lituation.

1. Sonic

My first job ever in life was at Sonic. You know, the American drive-in. Let me tell you something. I was not cut out to work at a fast food establishment. Hell, I'm possibly the only person in America who applied for a job at McDonald's and didn't get a call back (or a job). Do you know how demoralizing it is to NOT be able to get a job at McDonald's. People have often said that if you don't get your grades up you'll be stuck working at McDonald's. That was supposed to be a sure thing. Nope. Luckily I was, like 16, and had my whole future ahead of me. I worked at Sonic for 3 weeks and literally did not go back one day. No notice. No call. No nothing.

2. Papa John's

I worked at Papa John's for the last three months of my senior year of high school. I LOVED this job. I was working with friends. I learned how to make special sauce. I took orders, threw dough in the air for like $4.75 an hour and never had to deliver anything. I worked for like 3 hours a day, 4 or 5 days a week. When I graduated from high school, I wasn't sad that I was leaving my friends behind, I was sad that I had to leave Papa John's. I kept the shit out of that work shirt.


(Break - Got paid to be in a summer program. Not a job per se, but a brotha got pizzaid.)

3. MCI Worldcom

Much like many college students of the day before you could find out how to get screwed by companies online, I worked in a call-center trying to get you to switch your long distance carrier to MCI so that you could pay 10 cents a minute for domestic and 25 cents a minute for international calls to Canada and Mexico. I offered to cut people's yards, got told that I sounded like I had a strong back and was propositioned more than I care to admit. I SUCKED at selling people shitty long distance. This was obviously before cell phones ruined the long distance carrier business. The good thing about this job was that the women were on FLEEK out that joint. It was like the day job for all of Atlanta's strippers, bartenders, and random other assortment of hot women. I caught a girlfriend while working there. That situation ended up in a total scandal. Maybe I'll tell that story one day though methinks some stories are best left for the memories.



After MCI, I was over calling people for anything. So I found a job that was still customer service, but folks were calling me. I ain't have to sell nothing? I just had to answer the phone? Bet. For over a year and a half while in college, I worked at this company called SERTEC. I started there in, I think, the beginning of my junior year of college. They were paying $10/hour, which at the time was a lot (hell my rent my senior year was only $270/month - shouts to Gates Park Crossing aka Kosovo on the West Side of Atlanta).  Who was calling me? I'm glad you asked. You know how you go to a fast food restaurant drive thru and get shitty service and you see a phone number to call to tell about your service? That was us. For nearly ALL fast food restaurants. They have different numbers to call, but you're calling the same place every time. I could talk to folks from Burger King, KFC, McDonald's, Arby's, etc. You ain't calling corporate, you're calling SERTEC. Similarly, have you ever been behind a semi and saw a sticker that says, "How's My Driving? Call 800-xxx-xxxx". Yep, that's us too. I also loved this job because I worked with some up-and-coming rappers, current strippers, and lots of college students. My boss was a rapper (he's not really doing much now) with a row of gold fronts. I had this job until I graduated from college. I also won employee of the month once while there!


5. Intern at my current place of employ

But I ain't one to gossip so you aint heard that from me.

6. RA/TA/Teacher at the University of Maryland - College Park

So this job overlaps for quite a few years. While I was in graduate school, I worked in a summer program geared towards getting minorities into public policy and international affairs funded by the UNCF Special Programs and State Department. For two years I was an RA living in a dorm during the summer program. For 6 years though, I either taught or was a Teaching Assistant for the following classes: Public Policy Writing, Intermediate or Advanced Statistics, Intermediate or Advanced Economics. They were equivalent to 300 or 400 level college stats or economics courses. I LOVED teaching. Still do. There's nothing like explaining Pareto Optimality using drug references and realizing you need to lock your door so nobody walks in while you're explaining to your class how to cook crack. I'm not proud of that, but that did happen one day. Who knew so many colored kids didn't know anything about selling drugs. Color me surprised. Also, I made some lifelong friendships out of this program. Becasue of this job in the most serendipitous fashion ever, I ended up with a girlfriend three years after the first year I did the program.


7. Reasearch Assistant and Analyst

I worked for a research center while in grad school focused on data and statistics relating to young civic learning and engagement. I cleaned a lot of data, ran a lot of regressions, and found out that Diddy actually was effective in getting people out to vote. That last part isn't true. Well I didn't determine that through my work, anyway.


8. Current job


9. Club Manager

At some point, I started my first blog. That led to me meeting this fellow in DC who felt like I might be a good host for his open mic. That turned out to be a match made in ghetto heaven. Well that hosting gig ended up with me meeting the club owner who needed some help running the night club upstairs. My boy who had me host host open mic told the owner how responsible I was and how he didn't even have to show up and the night would run smoothly and lo and behold I became a club manager. Which was fortuitous and tragic because I had JUST finished bartending school in hopes of getting a bartending gig. I wasted $600 bucks only to walk into a job leapfrogging bartending. But, managing a club required me to bartend a lot anyway. I made A LOT of tips on…certain nights. I also loved this job until I didn't. It got SUPER mundane after a point. People think club life is glamorous. And it can be, but you know how folks all eventually tire of going to the club. Imagine if your whole job is be there…even when you're over the club scene. Lots of perks #doe. LOTS.


10. Freelance writing

We don't even need to get into this one.

This has gotten long - which, ya know, TWSS - and interestingly I've had the same "regular" job for over a decade, whereas I know people have who have changed jobs multiple times. So talk about yourself, how many jobs have you had?

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



1) Cadillac Division of General Motors - first job in high school. Worked in the electrical engineering department after school
2) Kennedy Space Center - first summer internship after freshman year; got to go inside the space Shuttle and see one launch up close
3) Jet Propulsion Laboratories - summer internships after sophomore and junior years
4) Bishop Spaugh Academy - middle school algebra teacher; toughest job I've ever had
5) Air Force - Applied Mathematician; worked on airborne laser
6) Fair Isaac Corp - Applied Mathematician developing marketing models
7) Marketing firm - Applied Mathematician and marketing analytics
8) Pharmaceutical Co. - Math models and forecasts for drug products
9) Current spot - Mathematician for a finance company