April 9th, 2012 / 10:54 pm

What do you do for a living? How do you feel about your job?


  1. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I work with federal disability claims. I feel somewhat fortunate for having fallen into the work because I was under the impression the only stuff I’d find out of college would be some morally compromising shit in marketing. You also get to talk to very interesting people, like schizophrenics and substance abusers.

  2. Juan Pancake

      mortgage banking. feeling suicidal through a thin layer of st john’s wort about it.

  3. Michael J Seidlinger

      I don’t know. Freelance graphic design gigs and chanting to myself that making and living and a life are two separate things that don’t (or should I say, shouldn’t?) have to be mutually exclusive to each other. I’m a naive piece of shit that believes in the romantic idea of being able to live without having to buy it first.

  4. Bobby Dixon

      IT stuff and library software stuff (two jobs). That’s about as general and nebulous as I feel comfortable mentioning it. Friends may ask what it is I do specifically and I would rather not torture them w/ boredom. 

      I like my work but after twelve hour days, it kind of hurts to write anything as I feel heavy headed. 

  5. Anonymous

      freelance writing and i fucking hate it. when i sell some books or art, i hate the freelance shit even more. it’s bad on the psyche but i suppose it keeps the hunger up.

  6. Anonymous

       I write proposals for a Government contractor specializing in IT services. It is intermittently interesting, but ultimately demands too much of my time, stimulates too little of my intellect, and contradicts my sense of right and wrong. The main feelings I have about it are stress, anxiety, and shame.

  7. Jason Hensel

      I work as an editor for an association magazine that covers the meeting and event industry. I like the editorial team I work with. 

  8. Brady Evan Walker

      Waiter. Is no one else a waiter?

  9. Melissa Broder

      Literary publicist. Love it. The best part is four walls around me–a space to call my own that isn’t my apartment. The second best part is the adrenaline rush of getting a media hit for a book. The third best part is giving authors good news. The fourth best part is working almost entirely with women. The fifth best part is that it’s different every day. 

  10. William Owen

      Digital Production for Penguin (making the ebooks). It is busy and hectic and frantic work, but I am very very responsible for ensuring that books are available for people to read and I very much enjoy that sense of providing reference and culture and ideas and stories to people.

  11. Alban Fischer

      It seems every few years my line of work changes. For a long time I worked in the newspaper business–as a printer, in prepress, in circulation. Then, well, we all know what happened to newspapers. Then for a number of years I worked variously as a bartender and waiter. Which was weird because I was very shy. Then I got confident enough to know I hated it. Now I work as a freelance graphic designer during the week and as grill cook on weekends. So far, I’m pretty happy with how this is working out.

  12. M.G. Martin

      I wait tables. I definitely enjoy giving people food & drink. It feels like I’m doing a job that directly & positively affects people. A very base level satisfaction. I feel like a provider to some degree. & In NYC you meet a lot of interesting people in restaurants. However, people can be real shits. Like: ‘where the fuck is my cappuccino?’ & I’m all, ‘yo bro-sky pants, it’s only been two minutes, homie.’ Once, a lawyer directly attacked my intelligence because of my trade, saying something like, ‘obviously, complex work is not for you since you didn’t go to college.’ Or some shit like that. But I only work 25 hours a week & make better money than most entry level corporate positions, so that shit is tight. Waiting tables gives me a lot of free time to write during the day, so that shit is also tight. It works for now (at 25) but I hope I’m not slinging food in 15 years.

  13. Joseph Riippi

      Advertising copywriter. I love it. Although would love it more if there were fewer 70+ hour weeks. Uses a completely different writing muscle than my ‘real’ writing, which means I’m rarely bored by whatever novel/story I’m working on when I get home. Some evenings the last thing I want to do is open another word document. That’s when i pretend to be a chef and listen to Radiolab. Life is pretty good right now.

  14. A D Jameson

      I pick up change off sidewalks and grocery store floors.

  15. A D Jameson

      M.G. Martin, allow me to introduce you to Brady Evan Walker.

  16. Anonymous

      teacher / administer psych evalutions of kids in cps.

      i mean barista. i used to work for john wiley & sons. it was a bunch of bullshit.

      i also used to work at barnes and noble but i don’t remember it because i turned off my brain and became a robot playing a game.

  17. Frank Lloyd Wong

      used to work in a psych ward, laid off last month, now i’m unemployed and off the meds i wasn’t supposed to take.

  18. WF Householder

      I work for a public library. Have for the past 17 years. I’m, as Graham Greene said, a burnt-out case. After nearly 20 years of public library service all I can say is that people have gotten worse and reading makes them stupid. This is namely because what they read isn’t literature or even pulp fiction, it’s tell-alls and politico’s screeds and woo-woo metaphysical tripe. And by worse I mean that people have become more rude and uncivil and impolite and are stricken with the most grandiose of entitled attitudes. In short, it is a deadly place for a writer to work. 

  19. alex crowley

      The sixth best part is finding out that the dude who runs the bookroom at PW puts your galleys on the recycle cart whenever he sees your name on the press contact sheet/sticker.

  20. Vomithelmet McGee

      I am a biology student government benefit leech. It really interests me and is a privileged position so I can’t give it up but feeling so unhelpful makes me hate myself. I’m not trying to be a writer either, I’m just on this site because I love writers and writing and it is a good place to find things to read. I just had a conversation on omegle with a young girl who needed someone to talk to after a series of unfortunate events and at the end she was happy and it was the most glad to exist I’ve felt in months.

  21. lorian long

      social worker for 200+ chronically homeless adults in san francisco’s tenderloin district. about 90% of my clients have severe mental illnesses and struggle with substance abuse. our agency handles their govt benefits (social security, disability, etc) and we pay their rent and shit once they are placed in subsidized housing. my job changed my life. i am surrounded by so much trauma everyday. i still don’t really know how to handle it. i know that i need good friends and lovers to support me. sometimes i feel like an asshole because i get sick of the stench and the lack of hygiene and the constant sexual harassment, but then i remember being in grad school and creative writing classes and i thank baby jesus that i don’t have to be that kind of asshole anymore. idk social work is really hard, and you can’t date dudes with ADD. 

      i do sex work, too, and i love it. i wish i could make it full-time, but i don’t have the energy or guts to live that kind of life. 

  22. Daniel Bailey

      i work at a short-term mental hospital and an ice cream shop. both jobs are pretty cool.

  23. Anonymous

      Grad student in literature for now, living on a stipend plus education loans. I enjoy it day to day, but I see no future for myself in academia. 

      A year from now when the stipend is gone, I’ll be middle-aged and unemployed. I think I’ll try my hand at cleaning houses then. The future of work in this country seems to lie in two categories: A, serving the one percent; B, administering abjected populations within the 99 percent, such as the homeless or prisoners. 

      I’m filled with fear when I think about my future as a middle-aged litterateur and toilet-cleaner. At the moment, I’m using Badiou’s “The Meaning of Sarkozy” to counter that fear. 

  24. Michael J Seidlinger

      I share the same general fear. You are not alone.

  25. reynard

      i’m an assistant kindergarten teacher & a manny, i learn a lot all the time

  26. bartleby_taco

      i graduated college a year ago with a degree in the humanities and i’m still unemployed unfortunately. every wednesday i drive an elderly lady to shakespeare classes at the 92nd street Y and i enjoy that a good amount because i get to read while she’s in class.

  27. mimi

      i contract out through several non-profits, teaching “art” and “life skills & functional academics” to “protected populations”, mostly developmentally delayed or moderately to profoundly autistic adults 

      always on soft money, always waiting for funding to end, always imagining/dreading next gig-search – and it’s not particularly lucrative    

      yeah, and there are the occasional gross hygiene issues    

      but i love what i do, love my clients, see a lot of interesting “artwork”, see a lot of Good-ness in my students and my colleagues every day; feel apart from the “mainstream”, immersed and oddly “at home” in an ir-reality 

  28. Ben Collins

      freelance production/office work in the los angeles commercial world. the work itself is not bad. the money is fantastic when it’s consistent. stress-level can be high. the worst part is its proximity to the advertising industry, which occasionally makes me want to disembowel myself by swallowing my own fist and pulling my intestines out of my mouth. 

  29. postitbreakup

      how’d you get into that?

  30. postitbreakup

      noticed identical patterns of buying when i worked in book retail

  31. postitbreakup

      this sounds like the start of a great story

  32. postitbreakup


  33. deadgod

      That’s a tough racket.

      I found eighty bucks in a parking lot last fall and spent it about half a dozen times before I quit feeling like a Rockefeller.

  34. postitbreakup

      i was having basically no luck using my english ba for any employment at all, so  now i’m at community college taking classes to prepare for medical coding certification (i.e., taking the doctors’ notes & translating them into codes/numbers for insurance forms to get as much money as possible from the insurance companies)

      before my whole department got laid off, i was “financial proofreading” which was not much like proofreading, it was basically making sure invesco et al’s prospectuses had the right font size for subheadings & horrible shit like that, although i miss having that job dearly now that i’m getting closer to broke & no closer to moving out than i was 2 years ago when i graduated

  35. alan

      I do freelance legal proofreading. It’s OK. I make enough to get by in NYC in 30 hours/week. Because I work second shift they give me car service to go home. Sometimes the documents I’m reading are interesting. Sometimes the work is slow and there is time to read or (like now) post a comment on some blog.

  36. Mike James

      I work in IT. I thought about hacking HTMLGiant so I could see the behind the scenes stuff. But until someone initiates thought-crimes like Minority Report, I haven’t done shit wrong.

  37. Mike James

       Crazy thing is, I don’t have a BA or an AA. Just some technical certifications and I should be leaning toward making about 30-45k a year here soon if I bust ass. Can we discuss dream job?

  38. Anonymous

      I’m in address management. Also known as delivering the mail. 

  39. Anonymous

      I’m a manager at an independent bookstore NYC. The roof should be caving in shortly. I’ve had my hours cut almost in half over the last three years, and I’m paid partly though NY state’s workshare program. The hardest part for me is that I used to love my job, and I really thought I had a future doing what I do. Now I just want to get it over with, pack up and go. The well-meaning well-read are few and far between. Lots of people who’ve never come into the store before give us great suggestions that we lack the capital to implement. Last summer, when I saw someone take a photo (with their phone, naturally) of a page in book of Petrarch (was $9, whole store 75% off though) at a used shop as it was going out of business, that was the signal moment for me. So-called smart people don’t value books as they’ve existed for centuries, and the book industry doesn’t realize yet how skinny ebooks will ultimately be. Great list, by the way, everybody. I’m constantly trying to figure out what to do next, and though it hasn’t exactly helped, I feel better reading what all of you have written.

  40. Anonymous

      I’m a manager at an independent bookstore NYC. The roof should be caving in shortly. I’ve had my hours cut almost in half over the last three years, and I’m paid partly though NY state’s workshare program. The hardest part for me is that I used to love my job, and I really thought I had a future doing what I do. Now I just want to get it over with, pack up and go. The well-meaning well-read are few and far between. Lots of people who’ve never come into the store before give us great suggestions that we lack the capital to implement. Last summer, when I saw someone take a photo (with their phone, naturally) of a page in book of Petrarch (was $9, whole store 75% off though) at a used shop as it was going out of business, that was the signal moment for me. So-called smart people don’t value books as they’ve existed for centuries, and the book industry doesn’t realize yet how skinny ebooks will ultimately be. Great list, by the way, everybody. I’m constantly trying to figure out what to do next, and though it hasn’t exactly helped, I feel better reading what all of you have written.

  41. Nick Antosca

      Staff writer on a TV show.  Easily the best salaried job I’ve ever had. But unpredictable and I could be unemployed at the drop of a dime.

      Used to work as an assistant at a financial firm.  Got the job off craigslist.  Hated it.  My boss once said “Bernie Madoff was the most thoughtful, intelligent, scrupulous guy I ever met.  And the fact that he confessed right away when the FBI knocked on his door just speaks to the essential core of decency in the man.”

  42. WF Householder

      I used to do that, too, for Waldenbooks back in the 80’s and I saw the same thing then, I just thought working for a library would mean a different clientele. How wrong, how wrong.

  43. Buck Wilkins

      I am the Faith Relations Coordinator at a Habitat for
      Humanity affiliate. I develop and maintain programs through which faith
      communities can fulfill their social outreach goals by partnering with Habitat
      in its mission of building safe, decent and affordable housing for those in
      need. The work is challenging, but it continually allows me to test my
      problem-solving skills and it is highly rewarding when long-term projects come
      to fruition.

  44. Josh Spilker

      in this too.

  45. Mike Young

      when I saw Margin Call I thought of you and your old apartment and the sandwiches we bought at the same time as those finance bros in that spooky Wall Street neighborhood — have we already talked about this?

  46. Bobby Dixon

      What certifications do you have?

      I have a BA in English and an MLIS, neither really qualify me — kind of — to do what I do.

      Getting those jobs seems to be way more social networking than anything else.

      Which doesn’t make too much sense, because I do not really actively ingratiate myself. Too shy.

  47. Nick Antosca

      I don’t think so, but I loved that movie, and it absolutely seemed very, very familiar.  They got the office sets right, that’s for sure.

      Also, Shame reminded me of my old apartment.  Those generic parquet floors and cheap “luxury” stylings… uncanny.

  48. postitbreakup

      oh my god oh my god dream job. well showrunner’s my dream dream job but staff writer is my slightly less unrealistic dream job (but still a dream)

  49. Ryan Call

      i teach english at a hs (9th and 10th grade). i also coach xc and track. i like it a lot.

  50. Shannon

      I am a network analyst for a telecommunications company.

      It mostly pays the bills.

  51. Bobby Dixon

      i thought you meant john willey the drummer for reversal of man 

  52. Melissa Broder

      worked a lot of shitty jobs after college in san francisco, like grill cook and canvasser, until the thought of working in an office didn’t seem so bad at all. moved back to the east coast and applied for editorial assistant positions. a publicity director at what is now macmillan told me i’d have more fun as a publicist. she hired me. then i went to penguin a few yrs later and stayed.

  53. A D Jameson

      Once I was walking through a parking lot with this girl. We both saw a bill on the ground. She went, “Oh!” and picked it up. It turned out to be a $100. She pocketed it.

      I didn’t think that was too fair, but I was also interested in kissing her, so I kept my mouth shut.

      I didn’t end up kissing her.

  54. Melissa Broder

      oh! also i shld say it took about 6 months of applying for jobs in publishing, while waitressing at a horror theme restaurant called ‘jekyll and hyde’ before i got that publicity assistant position. so if you know you wanna work in publishing, it’s prob a good idea to get an internship while you are still in college or shortly thereafter.

  55. Roxane

      I teach professional and technical communication, new media, and creative writing at a regional university. I very much enjoy my job.

  56. Anonymous

      Floristry. Family store. What the dudes of my family have done since . . . forever, roughly. Getting to the point that the real estate the shop sits on is probably worth more than anything the store actually does. Last two generations of dudes didn’t do much in terms of reinvestment of capital when business was booming, and now the idea of actually having capital to reinvest is a joke. It doesn’t help that my grandfather goofed his will, and the shop’s ownership situation is hopelessly fucked. But for now it’s enough–a semi-interesting job that leaves decent time for writing and isn’t a dreadful office job. (I have back problems that would make the sitting in office jobs torture, so it is nice to have something involving lots of standing and more physical work.)

  57. Merzmensch

      Webmaster of an overpopulated megalonaniac university somewhere middle in Germany. Hard stuff.

  58. Nick Moran

       I wanted that first sentence to explain one, unique, incredible facility at which you worked. Then you dashed my hopes by indicating it was two separate jobs.

  59. Nick Moran

      I write research for a financial services consulting company. I also update the social media accounts for The Millions. Sometimes I proofread and copy edit.

  60. Anonymous

      denis johnson already wrote that story, i think?

  61. Anonymous

      I worked in public relations in 2008 until I went back to school for a creative writing degree. I thought that the degree wouldn’t hinder my ability to take up where I left off and find another office job, but I moved to the small-town Midwest afterward, and could only find work in a bakery. It was ok at first, and then it was terrible. I quit and did tutoring, making $400 a month, until last week I got offered a lectureship at a small university. After a year of looking for a job and finding nothing, I am grateful and a little terrified of this job. But mostly grateful. It’s so hard out there.

  62. deadgod

      Sounds like win/win, and an inexpensive lesson for you.

      It might be a near-universally human thing, but it’s the trait that, in my view, most characterizes ‘America’ and (us) Americans:  Adversity?  I’ll be fine.  Prosperity?  Uh oh.

  63. deadgod

      ‘megalonannyac institution’ . . . redundant?

  64. Anonymous

      Librarian.  It’s a solid job in a pleasant enough environment that most of the time I forget that basically I have a career in customer service.

  65. Frank Lloyd Wong

      if this unemployment doesn’t work out, there’s always bank robbery/capital punishment to look forward to.

  66. Victor Schultz

      for some reason i don’t want you to have a job deadgod. i mean i hope you’re getting by OK and all but it just seems depressing somehow imagining you punching in for a shift. i hope you’re independently wealthy or live off the land or are an actual god.

  67. Ken Baumann

      I’m an actor, currently regularly working on a TV series. It’s a great job. Employment in general, though, is completely unpredictable. The money is good now but I could go years without work.  

  68. Merzmensch

      Well, in case of my institution it’s far from redundant… One day If I’ll be fired I’ll write an angry epic book about this institution.

  69. M. Kitchell

      work for a movie theater regularly, write ebooks for a company on craigslist once in a blue moon, sell chapbooks, sometimes do freelance design, occasional “actor”/”model”

      i’d rather not work at all, but i’m barely making it as it is

  70. postitbreakup

      what story, i want to read it. unless you’re just talking about “emergency”

  71. Henry Fry

      I work in a crystal shop – literally selling shiny rocks to middle-aged hippies and horse lovers. There is no in between. At times I consider stabbing myself in the Heart Chakra with a quartz point if I have to hear any more wale music. The upside is the anecdotes. 

  72. Mike James

      Multiple. I am unofficially working on a Microsoft certification. I buy textbooks and manuals to read for fun. I think I’ll officially start taking the test later this year. For now, I’m just gathering data. I think I might specialize in security at some point, but hashing hurts my brain.

  73. Mike James


  74. Mark Buckner

      Full-time student, part-time delivery driver.

  75. deadgod

      Keep a diary and SAVE MEMOS AND EMAILS.  I’d read that book, whether or not you’re “fired”.

  76. leapsloth14

       Except the “young girl” (talk about sketchy) was a 54 year old chemical factory man in millington, TN.

  77. mcmfs

      St John’s helped me get through my last rough patch, just barely.

  78. Merzmensch

      Thank you. I’m doing it already since years. This will be an infinite jest for me to publish my notes. And perhaps the causal chain will be directed opposite: beeing published => beeing fired.

  79. Ryan Bradford

      I’m on unemployment, going through career crises. The writing jobs I’m qualified for – soul-sucking SEO/internet content – generally pay less than what I receive through unemployment.

      I was a letter-carrier before that. Simultaneously best/worst job of my career. Worked 10 hour days, 6 days a week. But I got to work outside (in San Diego). It worked wonders on my writing.

      Now I airdrum to At the Drive In songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7spKOJYsXWQ

  80. Spenser Davis

      your line about b&n is poetry to me

  81. Laura Carter

      I am actually doing okay money-wise which has not always been the case. It feels funny to me. 

      I work for 4 online schools teaching comp, humanities, and career prep which is basically just making  sure that students can write resumes and know something about decorum in job interviews. I am adjunct, but I have had regular work for a couple years. (I also save a lot in case this doesn’t work out.)

      I also every now and then write marketing copy for a company that serves as a mediator between clients and staff—everything from travel to luxury kitchen appliances to Halloween costumes. It’s kind of fun but impossible to gauge how you’re doing before you submit the text for “payment.”

      I love teaching online because it pays much better overall (per hour, the only way I really measure it) than adjuncting for the state schools did. The only downside is working from home. The upside is also working from home. I may start tutoring or teaching with a non-profit that works with underprivileged or struggling youth trying to get them jobs. That would be a nice way to get out of the house and also to make extra money.

      Does anyone really have health insurance? I hear Obamacare is going to work; it actually has started taking form but hasn’t been implemented entirely yet. It now has options for folks with pre-existing conditions to get coverage, which is a nice bonus and has helped some folks. Anyway, sorry to ramble.

  82. Dawn West

      I work for a telecommunications company in their inbound and their quality assurance departments. I like my co-workers, the flexible schedule, my ability to work from home about 70% of the time, and I’m good at it, but other than that it sucks douches. I’m gonna keep it real and say I just wanna be a housewife/writer. I only have a “real” job because I have to. No interest in it beyond money.

  83. Vomithelmet McGee

      haha don’t take away my ray of happiness! No it was definitely a young girl, I could tell by the way she approached the conversation. Anyway, I’m not sure I have much advice for anyone over the age of 12 but if a 54-year-old Millington man got something out of it then that’s pretty nice too.

  84. Aaron Gilbreath

      Nobody sells weed? I bet someone on here trims weed, too. I don’t, just thinking out loud.

  85. alan