You must be thinking to yourself, that this is a typo, right? Nope. Meet Dave Herman. He’s a comedian, improviser, production assistant, video-editor, waiter, substitute college student, event production guy, deliveryman, mover, night receptionist and street musician and he’s on a mission to complete this project by the end of 2012. By the way, he’s already a quarter done.
Below is a record of our conversation, which covers his upbringing, schooling, the different attitudes towards full-time employment between older and younger generations and his reason for starting this project, to name just a few of the topics discussed.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the story of one man’s mission to work 100 jobs in 1 year.
Tell us a little bit about your background and your schooling.
I graduated high school in 2003 and then went to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) where I studied Television and Film. I was a videographer there for a few school projects. While I was there, I was a part of the improv team, Mixed Signals. I was also the president of a Christian organization.
On campus I was known as the “guy who knows everyone.”
I graduated from TCNJ in 2007. I started interning and freelancing around New York City, although I lived two hours away in Toms River, New Jersey. While interning, I was working as a waiter at Applebees in my hometown…how embarrassing is that? You see your friends you graduated with from high school and you yourself are working at a restaurant. They think that’s all you do.
It could be embarrassing but I made good money. Say what you will but I made money and I was doing what I loved. I did face some criticism from an older generation because I think an older generation, our parents’ generation, their attitude is, “Find a job that pays well and stick with it.”
And our generation is “find what you love and do it.” No one is really right or wrong, it’s just a matter of what we value. I mean different cultures value different things and different generations value different things. I value pursuing what I want to do and getting paid for it to such an extent that I have risked a lot and sacrificed a lot. I have spent a lot and invested a lot of money on myself and it’s worked out so far.
I graduated in ’07 and was a waiter while I worked in production. I was a waiter at the time because it was flexible and it pays well. I was a PA in NYC and for different projects in New Jersey. As far as movie projects, I was a PA on Morgan Spurlock’s Freakonomics in 2008. I was also a PA for a film called Blue Collar Boys in ‘09, which is now going around film festivals. I was an intern for Colbert in ’07, and then I worked at a karaoke company in New York for a while. Following that, I was a PA for the Food Network, Iron Chef America. Then I left and joined the Letterman Page program. I did this for seven months minus the two-month Writers’ strike. During that strike, I couldn’t pick up another job in the meantime. I was just sitting on my duff. Like I said, I’m a Christian. I asked myself, “What’s going to happen? Sensing from scripture, I thought “God is going to provide, just keep at it.”
What is the NBC Page Program? My knowledge of the Page Program is limited to 30 Rock’s depiction of it.
The Page program in that show is sort of made fun of. I think every character in that show is made fun of. The NBC Page program is an honorable program; it’s been around since 1933. There are pretty huge parts of it. I gave 522 tours. Tickets – ticketing office. Also, assignments. You get to do different assignments in the Page Program. Those assignments can be working at CNBC as a page, which I did. You can also be in corporate communications, news PR, guest pages for SNL, one of the more glamorous but less substantial jobs in terms of experience. It’s like being a gofer. I also got to work audience at those shows. I got to work the audience for Jimmy Fallon. I got to meet some great people who I respect in the industry.
The most valuable thing about the NBC Page Program for me was being able to make contacts. I haven’t worked at NBC since late October ’11 when my 1-year Page Program contract ended. I’m going back on Friday to talk to a couple of people to not just keep in touch but also because I really value their advice.
NBC is a great place to work. Personally I love it more than any of the other broadcast networks, even though they’re struggling in the ratings lately. For me, since I am so focused on entertainment, with the Page Program, I realized this is what I don’t want to do. And that’s great and that’s fine. What I don’t want to do is have an office-type job, even though the jobs in there are fine. If you’re that type of person, that’s great. I found out what I really want to do is be a writer and a performer.
And the way to pursue that is to throw caution to the wind and be a freelancer. Sometimes it’s being a freelance editor; one of the most common ones is being a waiter or waitress. For me, it’s been picking up random jobs through temp agencies, from people I know, from promoting myself and from other people hearing about me.
I picked up a video editing project on a site called Taskrabbit. I have gotten a lot of gigs through them. “If what you choose is not bringing you closer to your goals than it’s a failure. Success is making choices that get you closer to your goal,” said Val Nicholas, VP and creative director of news at NBC Universal.
“If what you choose is not bringing you closer to your goals than it’s a failure. Success is making choices that get you closer to your goal,” said Val Nicholas, VP and creative director of news at NBC Universal.
I just talked to my Dad on the phone tonight and I feel like I have been afraid to call him lately, not because of me or because of anger or anything like that but because he can’t relate to my position of not wanting to have a steady, full-time job. So I got the call tonight, “Hey Dad it was a great day, I freelanced an event production. I have been making a lot of money lately being a freelancer and I have been able to find a lot of work.” The last couple of weeks, in particular, have been great and he was happy to hear that.
What was the genesis behind the 100 Jobs in a Year?
The idea started on Monday, November 14. I was just two weeks out of the Page program. I knew what I really wanted to do was write and perform. I realized there are so many talented writers and performers that have been doing this longer than me…it’s only been just a few months that I decided I am going to pursue this.
What do I have, I have read enough about branding and business marketing in the past to think, “Ok, what makes an idea great is that it is simple and that it is unique.” My friend Gaby Dunn had done a project called, 100 Interviews, and she made a list of 100 different types of people she wanted to interview. She did that project from October ‘10 to October ‘11. She was called The Best Tumblr by The Village Voice. My friend Mark Malkoff does a lot of crazy internet projects, one of which was called Celebrity Sleepovers. He went over to LA and slept over at a different celebrity’s house during the course of two weeks. He met these celebrities through people he knew.
So I knew those people and I also interned for Morgan Spurlock, who is known for doing fun, insightful documentaries. And I thought, “Well I have all of these people as friends and I have this experience being with them, it looks like I am the perfect kind of person…I have been an NBC page. I am in the perfect kind of community and I have the perfect type of connections and the right kind of knowledge to have enough of a foundation to say, “Yeah, let’s go for it.”
On that day, for the first week, I thought, “Wow I have 5 jobs in just this one week. I think I can do 100 in a year.” That seems like a great simple and unique idea. As I was walking back from NBC, I stopped in my tracks and thought “Yeah, I’m going to write this out. I called Gaby and talked to her. I called Mark Malkoff and I talked to him.” I called my mom and to my surprise, she said, “Ok, go for it.”
Do you have an idea of what types of jobs you’re going to pursue?
I haven’t listed certain kinds of jobs I want only because I need to get these jobs. I need to convince someone to get these jobs. I need to be interviewed first whether it’s by email. That’s kind of tough. I’m already working 100 jobs in a year.
But I did put certain criteria on what types of jobs I work. I can’t work the same position twice. I can’t be a bartender twice. I can’t be a delivery guy twice. I delivered flowers yesterday for Valentine’s Day. I can’t count it in my blog because I was already a delivery guy.
You were paid to sit in on a class, correct?
Yeah I went to class. I got that on Taskrabbit. Basically, I went there and I was there for an hour and a half and took notes and got paid
40 dollars for it. I participated in the class too. I thought it was just fun being back in college.
What’s been your favorite gig so far?
My favorite gig was probably that substitute college student just because it was so weird and out of the ordinary.
My most lucrative gig so far has been working in event production because it’s a freelance-type gig. And they only call you once every two weeks or so. So they respectfully pay their freelancers well and as a freelancer you like someone who is not paying you the same rate as someone who has a full-time job.
Thus far, I have worked 19 jobs.
Are there any other jobs that you take that are ongoing, something like video-editing?
Yes. When I worked line registration, that was a week-long thing. The video-editing project I have been doing for three weeks on and off. I started a waiting job yesterday that is going to be full-time (a job Dave has since quit). I hear I’ll make good money but if they want me four nights a week, it’s going to cut into my performance as an improviser if I don’t get off work early enough. This obviously won’t help me reach my goals and that is why I quit.
What have you turned down thus far?
I have only turned down things when I was already working another day. This is why I might not want something full-time. I want the availability, so people can say, “Hey, I need you last minute.”
How do you manage your own career and own goals without relying on any particular institution or a steady paycheck?
I’m losing my job constantly, haha. But hey, you have to risk a lot to get a lot and if you work hard its one thing and if you work smart, it’s another. If you work both, it’s great.
How do you feel once you have completed a job, knowing that you’re never going back to that job again?
I welcome it. It’s exciting because I’m exploring a lot of different things. A lot of people are satisfied with having a few different jobs or careers. I like exploring; it’s always been my nature. I always think, this has always been an inside joke for me, to see how many different things I can do. Maybe you could call me scatter-brained; it appears like I am not focused.
I think in a sense I am tapping into a part of peoples’ psyche, a part of a person’s psyche that says, “Yeah, I want to try this.”
What’s your advice for those in jobs they don’t want to be in?
As someone who has already worked 19 jobs and its February 15th, I think that not taking up a job or being unemployed…and this is not a broad generalization and this is not true in all circumstances…but I think a big part of not having a job is pride. You’re too proud to get a job that you don’t like. I didn’t want to wait tables. I was in the NBC Page Program, how could I go back to being a waiter?
My friend’s Dad has been out work for one or two years. He worked in corporate America, tried to find jobs for a while, just recently he accepted a job at a fast food restaurant. That’s like the last place you would want to work. That’s a person’s first job as a pimply-faced teenager. But you know what; I have more respect for that man, than anyone who’s on unemployment or on welfare (meaning someone who can get a job but won’t).
That’s not why I started this blog. I didn’t start this blog to send a political message. My biggest problem isn’t finding enough jobs. My two biggest problems right now are finding enough money to keep this project going and learning how to promote. I don’t know how to promote myself.
Is there anything you won’t do?
I won’t do anything that goes against my beliefs. I won’t work in a strip club. I won’t work in an adult video store. If something is repulsive, like shoveling human poop, I think I would do that because it would be great for the blog.
When you finish this project, do you see it as a success or as a stepping stone for something else? What are your feelings when it’s done?
I’m doing this project for many reasons. The main reason is because it’s fun. I want to see if it can be done. Let’s take a really zoomed out view of the world. Who in history has ever done this? I don’t know anyone who has ever done this. I have Googled it and can’t find anyone. I did find someone that had a “100 jobs” project that she completed over the course of two years.
Secondly, I want to do this to promote myself as a brand and as a writer. Who knows what is going to happen with my future? But like I said, you have got one life to live, make something of it.
I’m going to do the best that I can. At the end of my life, whether things work out in this world or not, to the extent that it is circumstance or based on you, fine. Your heart and your intention and how you are as a person, that’s what’s going to stay through eternity. I think the only things that are going to last after you die are your relationships and your character. What you have done with your life and who you know.
So why not do everything you can. To be the best possible person you can be, to make the biggest difference you can. You have an idea, just go crazy. What other life are you going to have where you can do this?
Even though I know I am going to finish this project. At the end of the day, if nothing else happens, at the very least, I have a very cool project, a lot of people like it and I’m going to learn. There’s no way this can have a negative effect on me, it can only have a positive effect on me.
What’s your advice for those people who hate their job?
God created us to work 6 days. I love work. You don’t love work because you don’t work to love it. People say, “Oh man, I hate my job.” Well, first of all you have to work to change your attitude. And if possible, you need to change the situation you’re in. The only person responsible for you is you.
At least 90% of your success has to do with your attitude.
To follow Dave’s project, you can find his blog at 100jobs1year.com. You can reach Dave through the following channels:
As you know Dave is a sketch and improv comedian. You can see his sketch team, Simply Elegant, and improv group, Motley Misfits, through the following links:
Special thanks to James Moir for setting up this interview with Dave Herman and for playing such a large role in the interviewing process.