2009-07-09 / Local & State

Man Working 50 Jobs In 50 States Finds Job In Pa.

By Patrick Burns

KINZERS, Pa. (AP) - Spurned by his 40th consecutive job interviewer, Daniel Seddiqui last year may have heard the ghost of Jack Kerouac calling.

Like the famous author who chronicled his trips across 1950s America, Seddiqui embarked on a mission in September to write a book about working 50 jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks.

At the end of June, the 27- year-old Los Altos, Calif., native settled into life in Lancaster County to try his hand at woodworking with about eight Amish co-workers at Wolf Rock Furniture in Kinzers, about 10 miles southeast of Lancaster. While Seddiqui may have been alone in posting his first impressions on the Internet, he did not sound lonely.

"Lancaster County (Amish Country) is nothing like I expected. I thought it was going to be more rural than any other place I've been. I was totally off,'' Seddiqui wrote in his online journal on June 22. "At this rate of development, it may become the Las Vegas of the East. I'm exaggerating, but there are lots of tourists that the Amish have drawn in.''

"I'm going to clear up some stereotypes of Amish and Mennonites this week,'' he continued. "I've already found out that they don't read by candlelight, they've got propane for that.''

Seddiqui said he discovered that he lived in a "bubble'' in California and decided to seek jobs that offer insight about the people in the various regions of the country.

Seddiqui, now on his 40th job, said it wasn't easy getting jobs, but he's been amazingly successful during the economic downturn that is pushing unemployment toward 10 percent.

Since September, Seddiqui said, he has found weekly work as a TV weatherman in Cleveland, a music studio technician in Nashville, a rodeo announcer in New Mexico and a border patrol agent in Arizona.

"I knew my hardship and struggle came for a reason,'' Seddiqui said. "I'm out to explore diverse careers, environments and cultures offered in America.''

"It's a constant struggle to get work, I've probably been rejected about 5,000 times on this project alone,'' he said.

Seddiqui said his economics degree earned in 2005 from University of Southern California was not drawing a lot of offers.

"I learned that sending out blind resumes doesn't work. You've got to get out there and see people and network,'' he said. "Every job that I've gotten around the country came from the previous job. I meet about 1,000 people in every state I go to.''

He said that he tried dozens of leads to find a job working with the Amish and eventually found a contact who knew Wolf Rock owner Sam Beiler.

"I'm not even sure how he found me,'' Beiler said.

"I'm taking advantage of meeting people and helping people along the way, just showcasing what America's all about,'' he said. "Also, this could help me decide where I want to move to and what I want to do the rest of my life.''

Last week, Seddiqui worked in Delaware as an incorporating specialist. Before that, he made crab cakes at Phillips Seafood restaurant at Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Seddiqui said he has benefited from stories that he has generated in dozens of newspapers and on local and national TV news, and he doesn't hide his intention to write a book about his travels - a few chapters are already completed, he said.

Seddiqui gets paid for all the jobs he takes - sometimes in cash, other times in room and board - so if nothing else, he said, the journey will help him get out of debt.

"I bought my used jeep and left home $65,000 in debt from student loans and credit cards,'' Seddiqui said. "But I'm getting paid well and saving money.''

He's traveled 25,000 miles in his jeep and intends to auction it off when he gets to Maine. From there, he plans to fly to his last three destinations: Alaska, Hawaii and finally home.

"My experiences have been incredible,'' Seddiqui said. "They have made me stronger and more determined.''

Some jobs are better than others, he said. For instance, working at a bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras was the most outrageous.

"I've loved all of my jobs, but making cheese in Wisconsin was the least enjoyable,'' he said "It was constant six to eight hours of cleaning vats.''

During a two-week stint in May, Seddiqui went from being a male model in North Carolina to mining coal in West Virginia.

"I guess I'm the first person to do that since (Derek)

Zoolander,'' he said, referring to the 2001 movie featuring Ben- Stiller.

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