The Birth of My Job

by | Jan 30, 2015 | Behind the Scenes

One afternoon in 2014, my coworker Steve Schwartz, cofounder of Upaya Social Ventures, and I sat over plates of Thai noodles at a strip-mall café in San Jose, California, talking about the current batch of stories I was writing about their work to end poverty through job-creation in India. Suddenly, Steve threw both hands into the air and, with a tip of his bald head, he exclaimed:

“You know, Suzanne, every one of your stories is really about people in their jobs. You should write a book. You know, sort of like an updated take on Studs Terkel’s Working.”

And so Steve midwifed the concept for My Job, right in the middle of a Thai lunch.

Since that day, I’ve talked ad nauseam to everyone who crosses my path, getting input from coworkers, friends, and family members. They want:

  • real stories of everyday people
  • to know what it’s really like to be a taxi driver, a teacher, a musician, etc., and
  • to travel vicariously to as many U.S. states, global cities and villages, as possible, gobbling up knowledge about people in their jobs.

As I begin a year of travel and interviews, a global team joins me creatively and virtually. Steve and his colleagues from Seattle to Bangalore; Kathleen from Kenya; Zeenat and Peter from San Jose; Isaac from Edinburgh; Daniel and Jonathan from San Francisco; Andrea from Boston—these and many more kindred spirits share their ideas and connections to build a collective vision.

What do we hope to accomplish? To create a compelling collection of stories that give voice to both famous and unknown workers, as they talk about their lives and how work has impacted them; and to raise and redistribute funds (through advertisements, donations, publication, and partnerships) for our job-creation partners—like Upaya.

Join us as we get started!

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Suzanne Skees, author of the three-volume MY JOB series on real people in remarkable jobs, believes in the power of our jobs over our identity and wellbeing and, conversely, our ability to change our world with the work of our minds and hands. She lives by the Pacific Ocean and spends as much time as possible listening to the surf, and to silence.



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