5 People on Their Unexpected ‘Dream’ Jobs, From Trader Joe’s to Sports Management

  • Finding a job you love can take some trial and error.
  • Five people share how they strayed from their career paths to pursue their dream jobs.
  • One person started his own sports management company; another became speaker in Spain.
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Have you ever dreamed of making a living doing something you love?

Insider spoke to a handful of people about how they landed the job of their dreams, even if it was very different from what they set out to do. This is how five professionals who love their job describe their work and what it means to them.

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Sion Dayson is a freelance voice artist living in Valencia, Spain

Sion Dayson

Sion Dayson.

courtesy photo

Anything where you hear a voice but don’t see a person is voiceover. I do a lot of e-learning and business storytelling – explainer videos, commercials, e-learning modules or PSAs, stuff like that. Voice acting requires a lot of skill and training. It’s not just reading a script! You need a solid understanding of a text and how best to communicate the message so a listener really feels it.

I was a writer for many years, so I love telling stories. I still use voiceover to tell stories… but I don’t have to write scripts. I can be creative, work with language and build relationships with clients – all in the comfort and convenience of my cozy sound booth.

Hugo Schwyzer, 55, is a crew member at Trader Joe’s in Hawthorne, California

In 2013 I lost my teaching job and tried many other things unsuccessfully before a friend suggested I might enjoy the camaraderie at Trader Joe’s. I had reached the point in my life where it didn’t matter if I had a PhD or if I had been a published tenured college professor. I just had to make a living somehow.

Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer.

courtesy photo

At TJ we do a little bit of everything – unloading trucks, breaking up pallets, stocking groceries before the store opens, working as cashiers and bagpackers at the tills.

When I was teaching or writing articles, I wondered if that mattered. I felt like a scammer. I don’t feel impostor syndrome filling cans with beans or joking with regular customers who come through my line. I feel needed.

Although I’m only making a fraction of the money I used to be, I feel a sense of competence and satisfaction almost every day.

Jon Potkalitsky, 41, became president of the Nxt Lvl Athlete Sports Management Agency in Twinsburg, Ohio

Headshot by Jon Potkalitsky

Jon Potkalitsky.

courtesy photo

I wake up every day and I’m like, wow, I have a job that most guys would kill for. I meet celebrities and network with high-profile professional athletes, including countless Hall of Famers. My company handles everything: branding, marketing, building and generating opportunities for signed athletes, whatever. We don’t just help athletes with their contracts; We teach them how to develop and be successful off the pitch.

Before starting this company, I ran a staffing agency. I found out I had leukemia. Then my wife ended our marriage. All of this motivated me to re-evaluate my life. Three years later I still have cancer but I’m grateful because I love my career.

Nkenge Browner, 36, is the grassroots director of Mothering Justice, a nonprofit organization in Detroit, Michigan

I worked at a mostly white-staffed shelter that served mostly women of color. After dealing with one racial issue after another, I prepared myself to quit. A white woman there asked if I had heard of Mothering Justice, so I looked her up. MJ was founded by a black mom who was literally breastfeeding during my interview.

Nkenge Browner

Nkenge Browner.

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My job is to build a community among black moms. I learn from them what issues are affecting their lives, and then I help them organize other moms to find solutions to those issues. We also teach this community to advocate for legislators who have campaigned on promises made to Black women and Black working-class families.

The best thing about this job is that I get to work with women who don’t see themselves as politically active. I love watching them grow to own their political power.

Gretchen Schwarz, 46, is a high school visual arts teacher based in Brooklyn, NY

Woman in Red Shirt, Gretchen Schwarz

Gretchen Schwarz.

courtesy photo

I originally wanted to be a working artist, but I became disillusioned with the art world. I wanted a career where I could share my love of art and making art without the industrial politics and pressure to become a “commercial success”.

I love working with young adults, seeing their work and helping them create art. I offer demonstrations in some techniques, but I prefer that you discover for yourself what a particular art material can do. I talk to my students about their ideas in a way that I hope will lead them to do work that is personally meaningful. When a student has that “aha” moment and I’m there to experience it – that’s my favorite feeling. It is a privilege to be part of their process.

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