Life Stories Motivation

30 Odd Jobs, 30 Life Lessons, as a 20something

Damon always jokes because he claims I’d win on survivor… and he’s probably right because I am one crafty mofizzer. I owe it all to working 30+ odd jobs in less than a decade. They say your “20s” is a time to explore all of your options, the time to just try things out. Since I’m the queen of shutting up and going, I started doing this while I was in my teens and the ability to juggle jobs was mastered by 22 (thanks to mom’s immigrant work ethic that’s instilled in ma blood stream). I also have to thank my brother, the artist, and my sister, the singer, for being incredibly talented. It’s because of their talents that I was always trying to “find my thing.” Finding your talent is no easy task if you’re just sitting on your couch eating chips, so I decided to say yes to every single job that I was offered.

If you think working is simply to make money, you’re living a sad a$$ life. First of all, what are you even planning on doing with that money? Let me guess: buy crap you don’t need, go to fancy restaurants, become attached to material possession that have no meaning in the long run? Or maybe you’re doing the “mature thing” and building up your 401K or saving to buy a house. I can’t knock you for that, but if you’re working for the future, remember things can change in the blink of an eye, so you might be missing out on the present.

Work to me isn’t just about making money. It’s been juggling these jobs that has given me the constant refresher that nothing is permanent, and that you need to live the hell out of every experience life presents to you.

Which brings me to my next point; starting a new job is the closest thing I can get to travel when I have to stay in one place. It gives me the high of going through the “socialization” process in a new and foreign environment. You have to learn the culture, the language, and you definitely feel awkward. We’re talkin’ “loser with lunch tray,” awkward. I live for that moment because it creates an opportunity for me to grow myself in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I have to say that the most beautiful thing about constantly working new gigs is that these opportunities have introduced me to important people, added ca$h money to my travel fund, and have detached me from the idea of a “stable job” that sucks you in and convinces you that comfort is the best way to live the one life you have on dis damn earth.

Below is a list of jobs that I’ve juggled and the lessons that they’ve each taught me.

Comment below with what you think the weirdest job is!

1. Wall Painter in houses and apartments (2005-2014), “panting ceilings is the most painful thing, always use blue tape and stay away from oil-base”


2. Cleaning Lady in office buildings and NYC apartments (2003-2014), “you can’t tell anyone how to scrub your toilet well if you’ve never scrubbed someone else’s toilet well”


3. Cashier at a “ma and pa” pharmacy (2007-2010), “insurance really matters”

4. Portuguese Translator in a chiropractic office (2007), “ice if inflamed, heat if sore”

5. Retail Sales Associate in a suburban mall and in Times Square (2007-2009), “people put boogers in store mirrors”

6. Babysitter for a family of doctors (2008-2009), “kids strangely remember everything and are so wise”

7. Administrative Assistant in a business college office (2010-2011), “you can break every rule without getting in trouble if people in power like you”


8. PR Assistant for bougie NYC  events (2010-2011), “executives smoke weed and no one knows it”

9. Phone Hostess for a 14 restaurants chain in NYC (2011), “people actually make reservations months in advance for a party of two”

10. Ad Sales Intern at NBCUniversal (2011), “most employees who have found success in the corporate ladder are actually lost and depressed”


11. New Business Assistant in a media agency (2012), “always present an agenda of what you’re pitching before you start your shpeel, people need guidance”


12. Guest Agent in the largest hostel in North America (2012 -2013), “the most open-minded people in the world are backpackers”




13. Freelance Video Producer and Editor (2012-2014), “if you’re cheap when buying a hard drive, you can guarantee your files will get corrupted”


14. Resident Advisor in college dorms (2012-2014), “rich kids really do have the most problems”


15. English Tutor to my French host family (2013), “caca boudin is probably the best thing I’ve ever learned in French”

16. Secret Shopper in a shoe store (2013), “I would have sucked as an undercover spy”

17. Video Editor Assistant for a non-for-profit (2013), “you have to stick to the brand so you’re confined to a box, but the box is infinite” 

18. Counter Girl in a boutique coffee shop (2013-2014), “once you know what real espresso is, you’ll start seeing Dunkin’ Donuts as coffee water”

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19. Inspiration Mentor for a youth non-for-profit (2014), “nothing makes me happier than inspiring young kids to be their perfect unique selves”


20. Promotional Model for a tequila brand (2014), “some people actually do pass up free shots, weird”

21. Janelle Monae Look-a-Like for a Cover Girl campaign (2014), “I strangely look exactly like her when I have hair and makeup done, throw on suspenders and it’s ova”


22. Server in an Italian restaurant in NYC (2014), “my life is more than this job, and I’m still a good person”


23. Caterer for a wedding planning company (2014), “it’s common practice to tip servers at weddings, if you don’t, you’re stingy”

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24. Grocery Shopper and Delivery girl (2014), “people bitch about the particularity of their fruits, including pluots, which happen to be the hybrid of a plum and an apricot” 




25. Receptionist in a Co-working space (2014), “next to travelers, entrepreneurs are my favorite people, and good spacial design makes a huge difference in workflow”

26. Administrative Assistant in a travel agency (2014), “if you change or cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking, you don’t lose any money”


27. Social Media Coordinator for The Cable Center for Media (2014), “twitter is the best way to reach executives to get new jobs/internships”


28. CoatChex Coat Checker (2014), “ticketless coat checking is the best idea since sliced bread”

29. Blogger for sites including EliteDaily and MatadorNetwork (2014), “I’m self conscious about my writing, but people seem to like it. don’t kill your creativity”


30. Creator, Producer, Business Woman Extraordinaire, and On-Camera Talent of Shut Up And Go (2012-fo’ life), “seeing that people are shutting up and going is what fuels my energy to keep working my a$$ off”





So after all of that, this is my advice to you: shut up and work… and do it with a smile on your face.

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  • Alex Balieiro

    Jo, como você conheceu o Damon?

  • Maryama

    You inspire me to literally shut up and go. Currently trying to find my first job. Its quite difficult as a 17 year old since I don’t have much previous work experience. Any tips ?? + You and Damon are the realist people to surf the net loving everything you guys are doing.

    • Yay! We’re so glad that our mission resonates with you! I guess my tip for finding your first job without experience is the clichéd “fake it till you make it” motto… Also, if you walk in wherever with a huge smile and good energy, you’ll always have people who are willing to take a chance on you. If you tell them you’re a fast learner and you’re passionate about learning, they’ll take a chance on you. If they don’t, then you probably don’t want to be working for them. Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you! Keep meeting people and putting that “I want a job” energy out into the universe, it’ll happen!


  • chizoma

    i love that you view these jobs as lessons learned, not time wasted. you never fail to inspire.

  • Candy

    I’m so so jealous of the opportunities available in the USA.
    I’ve attended conventions about entrepreneurship and technology in the US (ASTD, NAMM & Techweek) and I’m always amazed at the amount of young people with great ideas making them work. I love how there are so many talks about making a living from what you love doing, I love that it’s a thing. That Coatchex thing blew my mind, for some reason. The whole concert world in the US is incredible, everything is so much more professional than in Argentina for many obvious reasons. I feel like I don’t belong here at all. I wanna work in fun jobs like you did, Jo, but I never knew of anyone doing something like the stuff you did and do. There are just no opportunities like that.
    I’m a translator for subtitles, it’s my dream job and I’m doing it, and it pays well, I do it from home, it’s all great. Except that I don’t have many clients, so it’s not always easy to pay rent. That’s why I need a side job, so I’m a merch girl at concerts. Unfortunately, during the summer (which is now for us down here) we have no shows, and money is running out. I wish I could get a job at a hostel because I love talking to tourists. I’d love to be a tourguide but you need a degree and to be registered for that.
    It’s hard, I tell ya.
    I’d love any tips on how to stay motivated when everything sucks 🙂
    and by the way, if you guys ever hear of someone who needs a translator for subtitles (English Spanish), here’s my email:


  • Dan

    I loved this! So amazing to see your evolution. You’ve done a ton of stuff!!!!!

  • Flavia Hoffmann

    Conheci os videos de voces hoje e estou encantada…Voce é um ser humano incrível Joanna! Parabéns pela forma que leva sua vida!

    • woooowww esse comentario e lindo! muito obrigada!!

  • Rayan Elkheir

    Love this. That last picture is everything. stunners.

  • Bruna Marinho

    MEU DEEEEEEEUS, que mulher incrível você é! Fiquei muito inspirada pela sua determinação. Desejo cada vez mais sucesso, você merece mesmo. <3

  • taeminut

    New follower! I never imagined myself as a big traveller but because of you guys, Ive already started rebranding myself. Thank you for opening my mind more about traveling!