We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community, “Tell us about the job you love and never expected to have.” Here are the best, most inspirational responses.
1. The Fashion Buyer
"When I was in college, my mom bought me a sweater at a store called Kinnucan's. The sweater was too small, so I went in to exchange it. When I went in, a friend of mine was working part time as an associate and encouraged me to apply. Since I was in my last semester of college, I decided to go for it.
I got the job. I was a part-time sales associate when I started in January of 2011, and by June the same year I was the general manager.
Four years later, I now work at their corporate office as a clothing buyer/designer and analyst. I studied fashion in school, but never dreamed that I'd have this amazing job now! All because my mom bought me a too-small sweater. Funny how things work out."
—Sara Elizabeth Denton (Facebook)
2. The Preschool Teacher
"I took a break from the rat race of academia so I could stay home with my daughter when she was born. When I needed to go back to work, I randomly applied for a job at the preschool she was going into, kinda just out of curiosity. But when I actually got the job, and decided to take it instead of resuming my old career, I discovered very quickly that teaching preschool was the dream job I never even knew I wanted! It's fun and rewarding and makes me a better father."
3. The Self-Made Editor
"I married young and was a stay-at-home mother for 15 years. I held a few jobs here and there: teacher, medical assistant, volunteer, but nothing long term. I dabbled in writing children's books and poetry, but when I got involved in writer's groups I always liked the part where I got to critique other people's work more than submitting my own. Group members seemed to really like and seek out my feedback, so I started offering additional readings outside of the group for, like, $5.
Then my husband left. So there I was, with two kids, and a mortgage, and bills to pay, and NO MONEY. We were eating from the food shelf. I got desperate and sat down one day and thought, OK. What are my resources? What DO I have? I had a B.A. and remembered the critiques I had done for writing groups. I took my last few dollars, created a website, and started an editing business. Much to my amazement and gratitude, it worked! I started off on the cheap and raised my prices as I gained experience. As I earned money, I was able to join professional organizations, network with other editors, and take classes to improve my skills.
Now a few years later I make enough money to support the three of us. I'm always booked out several weeks, and I love my job. I can do it in my pajamas at midnight if I want to, and I'm always home to be with my daughters. Plus I get to read all the time, which is like a dream come true!
I never knew what I wanted to do with my life when I was younger. It took me 36 years and a crisis to stumble upon my career, but I'm so incredibly happy now."
—Sonnet Fitzgerald (Facebook)
4. The Sexpert
"I work at a sex shop. A higher-end sex shop, but still, we sell vibrators and Fleshlights and lingerie and porn. And it is the most challenging, intellectually stimulating, rewarding job I have ever had.
I went to NYU for journalism. I came back to my hometown and went to college for science ed. I come from a family of lawyers, college graduates, and intellectuals. In short, my family had big plans for me.
But I will tell you that not one feature piece, publishing internship, or trip to the watershed to collect samples has ever been as rewarding as helping a sexual abuse survivor choose her first vibrator. Or showing a woman living with her ailing, religious mother that we can find her a totally silent toy. Or assisting a cancer survivor toward finally being able to have sex with her partner again, after scarring had made it impossible for years.
When I was desperate for a job, I got wind of this one: full time, with benefits, retail sales (which is always what I've done while trying to get my degree/s). I practically fell into it, with zero to negative expectations. And it is by far the best job I have ever, ever had."
—Xana Stathea (Facebook)
5. The Stock Clerk
"I always thought I would end up something like a secretary or receptionist. You know, an office job. When I hit 20 I ended up working for a national merchandising company doing grocery store resets. It wasn't until I had been with this company for years that I decided to make the jump into working in a grocery store as a stock clerk. Here I am, almost three years in with a highly rated grocery chain, and I've never been happier with my job. You think it's just opening boxes and putting things on shelves, but I'm in charge of a whole corner of my department. I do it by myself. I have men who have been doing this job for over a decade that know less than me. At this moment I'm the only female stock clerk and I hold my own (I am also stocking water from our deliveries…and I weigh just over 120 lbs). I have found my dream job and I didn't even know it would be something that seems as menial as it does. I put a lot of work and pride into my part of the store and it shows."
6. The Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate
"I always thought I would be some kind of translator in another country and move abroad. That was my plan. I graduated undergrad with a degree in Spanish and women's studies. Someone showed me a job posting for a bilingual sexual assault advocate a few months before I graduated. It fit both my majors perfectly and is the weirdest, most unusual job I could've asked for. I didn't even know this position existed, but I love what I do now. They pay me to be a feminist who helps Spanish-speakers. It makes perfect sense for what interests me but I don't think I would've ever dreamed of this if it didn't fall into my lap. And now I can't imagine any other career path that would fit me nearly as perfectly."
—Courtney Love Foster (Facebook)
7. The CPA
"I almost didn't graduate high school because I failed so many classes, including multiple math classes. I took community college classes here and there but couldn't decide on a degree. In my mid-twenties, I worked at a hardware store for several years as a cashier and then in the back office, doing bookkeeping. That experience led me to get an accounting degree. Today I'm a CPA (passed all four parts the first time!)"
8. The Manager
"In my sophomore year of college, I was accepted to my school's study abroad program in London, but in order to support myself during my semester abroad, I decided that I really needed to get a job.
I worked on my resume and printed at least 50 copies that I gave to different stores, restaurants, supermarkets, etc. every weekend. One of those resumes went to a cute little gift boutique in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, where I chatted with the nice woman at the counter.
Fast forward a couple of months, I get an email from her asking if I would like to accept a position at her store. Unfortunately, I already had two jobs that summer, so I couldn't take her offer.
So I went to London, had the time of my life, and came back to Philly to finish my junior year. I had planned on going back to my old hosting job at the brunch spot I worked at during the summer, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I decided to try my luck again at that little shop. Not only were they looking, the same woman at the counter was working that evening, and she totally remembered me!
Two years later, what started as a part-time retail job to support myself through my last two years of college has become my full-time job and career! I'm now the general manager and buyer for the shop and I've been working side by side with my boss ever since. I had always imagined that I would be working my way up to becoming an editor at a major publishing company, but I fell into this job and I haven't looked back since."
—Jess Lai (Facebook)
9. The Body-Sugaring Practitioner
"I never expected to have a job in hair removal and then like that job in hair removal. I'm a body-sugaring practitioner and now part owner of the company I work for. What I love about my job is the client interaction. I've always been an outgoing person, but this job has brought me completely out of my shell, where I can now start a conversation and hold a conversation with almost anyone. In my younger years that was much more difficult for me. I did leave my job here for a little while and got an office job, and I completely hated it! There was no interaction with others, aside from lunch and breaks, and you were sitting at a computer all day. I decided to come back to my current job. Now I'm a part owner, and should have my own shop within the next two years!!"
10. The Nail Polish Creative Director
"When I was 17, I started getting into makeup. I started a beauty blog in 2012 as a hobby, doing nails and makeup looks. This eventually turned into an everyday thing. I tried learning something new every day, created an Instagram for it, and decided I'd eventually go to cosmetology school to get my license. (Or so I thought.)
In November of 2013, I was asked to be a graphic designer for one of my favorite nail polish companies. I did this for about a year and started to rethink cosmetology. I got a surprise email from my favorite indie nail polish company asking if I'd be interested in managing their social media accounts. The months following, jokes were made about me moving across the country to work full time with them. Next thing I know, three months later, I'm visiting Las Vegas. Two months later, I'm packing everything I own up and moving from Florida to Nevada.
I'm now the assistant creative director of ILNP Cosmetics. I get to work with people I absolutely love and admire and do the things I love, something that I never thought I'd be doing as a full-time job. I'm one of the few lucky people, who at only 19, has their dream job."
11. The Video Game Admin
"I work for a video game company. I started off in property management post-college — it paid the bills, but I truly hated it. I went to school for theater production. I picked up projects outside of work on contracts here and there, and I was production-managing a show. The writer was the person who would become my boss.
In our roundtable updates, she mentioned she was looking to hire two executive assistants at her company. I was working as the assistant to a VP at a property management company. I told her I was interested. A little background: My husband was actually a game designer at the same company, but I never applied there, because what do I know about the video games industry?
Anyway after two interviews I was in. I've been here for going on three years and I can say it's the best job I've ever had. The environment is amazing, the work can be challenging, and the people are great. It's like the nerd place I never knew I belonged in."
—Tiba LaMusga (Facebook)
12. The Biotechnician
"I had no idea I was good at science. At 25, I was going to a community college for nursing, but I was slowly starting to see the nursing world wasn't for me. One day, there was a poster for a new biotechnology program outside of one of my classes. I didn't even know exactly what that was, but I enrolled.
I quickly started to notice that I not only loved biotech, but I was also at the top of my class. Everything fell into place: I got a paid internship at one of the few biotech companies in town, and after I graduated they hired me full time. For a long time, I woke up every morning excited to get to the lab. The perks and benefits were unbelievable too.
I don't work there anymore, but that's because I'm back in college, working on my bachelor's (and possibly a master's later) in biotechnology."
—Darah Johnson (Facebook)
13. The Deli Clerk
"I got fired from my job as executive chef for "not trying hard enough" even though I constantly got treated like garbage. I got a job in the deli at Publix, and I'm still amazed at how much I love working there. I get up a lot earlier, I get to socialize with all kinds of different people, and my overall lifestyle has just become healthier. For the first time in my life, I have health insurance. I have a retirement savings and they match my contribution in company stock (which just took a major jump). But the most important thing that makes me love going to work every day is that I always know that my hard work and dedication are appreciated."
14. The Paramedic
"During high school I became very sick and [had] liver failure. I was supposed to be in an occupational health class junior and senior year, but I ended up being too sick to commit to the classes. The next year, senior year, I had a bunch of open hours in my schedule, so my guidance counselor told me to take the EMT class. I became enthralled with medicine and went straight from high school to paramedic school.
I gave up a full-ride scholarship to Michigan State University that I had worked my entire high school career for. I gave up the plans that I had set in place years before to go do what I have a true calling for. All of that to go work on an ambulance, for poor pay, and being exposed to the worst of the worst. However, when you join EMS you gain a family that will support you through anything. I wake up (almost) every day happy to go to work. It's not a job if you love what you do, and that can't be more true for me. That was three years ago and I haven't looked back. I love being a paramedic and helping my community. I know that this decision will make me a better doctor when I go to medical school."
15. The Chef
"I've always felt creative — one of those kids who wants to be an artist when they grow up, someone who dragged their paints and colored pencils into the yard when told to go play outside. Once I realized I wasn't talented enough to be an artist I went to school for art history, picturing myself working in galleries or art museums. But I just didn't love it. There were things I found interesting, but I wasn't passionate.
I was nannying at the time, putting myself through school, and I was always cooking for the families I worked for. Not just mac and cheese for the kids, but entire meals for the whole family. I realized that cooking was my creative passion. I started working part time as a kitchen assistant at a cooking school and getting jobs as a personal chef. I thought about restaurant work but ultimately decided I liked the closeness of working directly with people and families and the freedom to make my own food rather than someone else's dishes night after night.
I now teach cooking classes and run a culinary program as an assistant resident chef and love my job. I used to fear the responses when someone would ask what culinary school I went to, but when I tell people I'm self-taught I get the most inspired and impressed reactions, which makes me even happier I chose the path I did."