MY JOB is a book project and a community exploring the dignity, identity, economic viability, and inherent challenges of a variety of global occupations. Each chapter featuring folks working in tech, finance, farming, hip-hop, architecture, and more, reveals its narrator's unique life experience and personality, while creating a strong connection with the reader through the universal experience of work. Following in the tradition of Studs Terkel's 1974 bestseller WORKING, the MY JOB book series unites people from farms in Kentucky and Uganda, to villages in India and Nicaragua, to cities in Illinois and China--revealing, as David Bornstein of THE NEW YORK TIMES proclaims, "the common human aspiration to create, thrive, and leave something better behind."
MY JOB is a social-mission project of the Skees Family Foundation (skees.org). One hundred percent of author royalties support nonprofit programs that create jobs to end poverty.
Endorsements for MY JOB: Real People at Work Around the World, by Suzanne Skees
Honored and humbled to receive the following praise for MY JOB Book 1:
"Sometimes you wonder about the work lives of people in your country, or work lives across the planet. As someone who’s committed to finding ways for people doing good work to connect, MY JOB is a must-read. It brings to life actual work experiences across the world, showing that we have a lot in common. MY JOB illustrates that we’re not alone."
Craig Newmark, Founder of Craig’s List
“This wide-ranging collection of first person narratives edited by Suzanne Skees provides a wonderful look into a myriad of jobs around the world. Readers will see vividly how work, culture, and personal circumstances intertwine in these true stories. Truly a great project.”
Peter Alter, Ph.D.
Historian & Director, Studs Terkel Center for Oral History
Chicago History Museum
“Across vast differences in experience, environment and circumstances of birth, what remains most distinctly and abidingly human is the questing spirit. The stories in MY JOB reveal this spirit — through the common, quotidian aspirations to create, thrive and leave something better behind — and the myriad hardships and joys that are inherent in this struggle.”
David Bornstein, New York Times columnist, founder of Solutions Journalism, and author of How To Change the World
“As today’s global economy continues to evolve, it’s critical we analyze our roles as both people and professionals. Skees has done a great job unearthing touching personal stories, meaningful insights and inspirations, and diverse perspectives on the world we all share.”
Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Executive Director, Numi Foundation and Best Selling Author, Nonprofit Management 101 & Nonprofit Fundraising 101
No matter your station in life, you’ll find a piece of yourself in the stories Suzanne has captured. Each of the stories reveals, in highly personal and engaging words, the humanity, humility, caring, and desire to make the world a better place each of those profiled shares.
The book made me look at jobs—including my own job—not in the traditional sense as work but rather as a tool for social change and improving my own community.
In philanthropy we often talk about pursuing a passion and funding a cause. MY JOB reveals the inner philanthropists we all embody through stories of individuals giving so much more than money and making having tangible impact in their communities.
The book breaks down the walls and bridges the divide of geo-political barriers and reveals the universal human desire to make the world better. It sheds light on the powerful impact a job can have not only in terms of the product produced or service delivered, but on the person doing the job.
All too often the driver is work and the job seen as a necessity for survival. Suzanne has found people who share their stories highlighting the human spirit where their job provides nourishment of their soul and lifts up the community. A true win-win.
The humanity and reality rings loud. I think too often we hear stories of people accomplishing much but it never has the context of these stories. They are inspirational because I see that one need not have riches to make difference. One only need passion, desire and willingness.
Henry L. Berman, Ed.D, CEO, Exponent Philanthropy
At a time of deep economic transition, MY JOB offers a tapestry of rich storytelling, inspiring you to discover your own authentic hustle.
MY JOB is a brilliant peephole into the makeshift destiny that so often accompanies every day work and employment.
From a Masaii warrior in the grasslands to a Kentucky horse coach to a lingerie entrepreneur in Palestine, Skees takes us on a fascinating journey into the heartland of work. Lifting the veil on the “workforce,” MY JOB explores themes of meaning, craft, grit, hustle, and exposes the often-invisible humanity at the core of our economy.
Alexa Clay, Bestselling Author of The Misfit Economy
"As an author and philanthropist, my own work was influenced by my bout with brain cancer, as I turned my pain and fear into a journal for children to tap into their feelings about serious and terminal illnesses. It’s the same with each of the MY JOB stories—from the coffee farmer in Nicaragua who turned her heartbreak into empowerment of herself and other women, to the hip-hop artist in Chicago, who transcended gang and gun violence to mentor other young men in music. Despite our diverse cultures and life experiences, we transform our trauma and dreams into the work that gives meaning to our lives. We meet on common ground in the pages of this book, as human beings striving daily to make the world a little better place. With what brief time we have on this planet . . . That's the best we can do, and it is a lot."
Sheri Sobrato Brisson, philanthropist and author of Digging Deep: A Journal for Young People Facing Health Challenges
"MY JOB is a book about dignity. Whether a rickshaw driver or a technology entrepreneur, Suzanne draws out their intimate stories of success and survival to highlight the humanity we all find in work, especially work that we love. As a journalism entrepreneur who has spent the last decade creating jobs for women journalists around the world, I found this book to be a celebration and a true gift to people everywhere who work hard to make our world a better place."
Cristi Hegranes, Founder & Executive Director of Global Press Institute
This is not as much a book about jobs as it is a book about lives, of which the interview subjects’ past and present jobs are a part. Editor Suzanne Skees has interviewed individuals and pairs around the globe to share their lifetime challenges and successes, as they view them from their unique perspectives. Each individual’s distinct voice comes through as we learn details about others’ lives that we would rarely otherwise be privileged to know. We follow along as each interview subject takes us through the path their life has traced, as it is shaped by circumstance, interests, culture, politics, choices, relationships, and, yes, jobs.
The individual stories profiled here can help call attention to cultural differences around what is perceived as a good or a worthy job, and highlight the diversity of ways in which lives and careers are (and have been in the past) conducted around the world. The stories illustrate that there is not just one way to have a ‘good’ job or a ‘good’ life, but also that poverty, hunger, traumatic experiences and loss of freedom (as it comes up in varied ways through the interviews) can make any life a daily struggle. The interviews also address the question of women’s changing place in the work world, in families, and in communities, among other major topics.
Perhaps through reading this book in groups, and initiating discussions about reader perceptions of the individual lives highlighted, readers can build greater understanding of how they want to create their own work in the world, gain appreciation for the power of their complete life story and how it has affected their career, and develop increased awareness of the interconnected and yet individually unique world population.
Amanda C. Peters, Associate Director/Career Coach, Office of Career Advancement, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government
This wonderful book tells a story of how the human family finds agency and purpose through work. The diverse profiles paint a picture of the resilience and commitment of regular people working across the globe for what they believe. It shows how it's in our nature to build, create, and improve our communities. What is most remarkable, given how different the stories are, is the human theme of the human spirit expressing itself through work.
The stories made me think about the amazing diversity of ways people show up to get work done in the world and shows that there is little correlation between income and contribution to improving society.
The stories show, at their core, the basic dignity of putting in time and effort to achieve something you care about. Ben Franklin would applaud the industry and frugality of many of these strivers, and we should to.
Ben Powell, Award-Winning Social Entrepreneur & Founder of Agora Partnerships
What comes through so beautifully in the stories in MY JOB is the link between the worldly and the spiritual, between the daily goings-on of work and the larger purpose of the worker. Each of the storytellers in the book, from the slack-key guitarist to the Google technologist, has got some things figured out, or at least they think they do; but each is also searching for their mission. It’s fun to follow their various explorations, from the Maasai warrior who goes on a lion hunt, to the Nicaraguan coffee farmer who finds strength after her divorce. Through their narratives I connected with their search for purpose, and with my own; as I was reading, I found myself asking questions, jotting down ideas, thinking of my own stories. MY JOB is not only an enjoyable and meaningful read; it’s a demonstration of the principle that we grow together through stories.
Close to a billion people in the world live in extreme poverty, meaning US$1.90 per day or less. Many of the people in such poverty work as hard or harder than the tiny minority of people who make that much money in one second. MY JOB crosses national borders and income brackets to explore how people make a living and make a life through their work. Every one of them has a struggle; those struggles are not equivalent, but they are all illuminating. By learning about others’ struggles, we learn more about the larger struggle for equality.
I especially loved hearing people reflect on the best and worst days in their lives. There was a mythic quality in the stories of highs and lows, such as in the case of the Maasai warrior who as a youngster lost a herd of sheep to hyenas one day, to, years later, becoming a warrior. As with all good stories, these stories prompted other stories in me, and I’m sure they will do the same for other readers.
Paul VanDeCarr, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Working Narratives, and author of “Storytelling and Social Change.”