Part of what shapes us as people (and writers) is our experience. A diversity of experience can be a great benefit to writing, and for most people, jobs are a large subset of experience. There are basically two camps of experience when it comes to jobs: either you've worked at one or two jobs for long periods of time, giving you extensive experience in a particular field; or you've worked many jobs for shorter periods of time, giving you a shotgun variety of experience in small doses.
I happen to fall into the latter camp. My "working" career hasn't exactly been stable or steady. Writing has been my only constant. I have moved jobs many, many times over the years, always believing that some day I'd find the best "fit" for me and never quite getting there. But regardless of the instability of my working life, I believe my experiences have at least benefitted my writing (because they certainly haven't benefitted my finances :-).
Some of the jobs I've held include:
* Department secretary for a Student Services office at a community college (an internship which led to a full-time job at a department that was dissolved after I'd been there less than a year).
* "Paid" volunteer for Americorps (we received a $100/week stipend for 45+ hours of work), which included working with the Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, various women's shelters and programs for troubled kids, and other community service projects.
* McDonalds employee - from regular crew person to trainer to manager and back to crew, over the space of 10 years and a number of stints in two different restaurants that ranged from a few weeks to the longest at 2 years.
* Parking lot attendant - a gig that consisted mostly of sitting in a booth, waiting for the shuttles to the stadium to show up so I could use my little clicker to count all the people getting on and off the bus.
* Newspaper layout assistant, a job from which I was fired for being too creative.
* Temporary agent employee, where I was sent on exactly two week-long assignments: one running insert fillers at a newspaper plant, and one performing quality control at a glass bottle manufacturer.
* Fed-Ex (formerly RPS) SWAKer and unloader: no, it doesn't stand for what you think. My job was to Scan, Weigh And Key packages as they came off the truck, which involved scanning a bar code and punching in a destination zip code. When there weren't any coded trucks to scan, I unloaded instead, which involved climbing around in the back of a truck and putting boxes on a conveyor belt. This job won the award for most unusual hours - my shift ran from 2 a.m. to anywhere between 7 and 9 a.m., whenever we finished unloading all the late trucks for the day.
* Gas station cashier/attendant: running a cash register at a gas station. The biggest problem here? Trying to go to the bathroom when you're the only employee on the premises, and the restroom is outside the building and requires a key.
* Freelance writer/editor/copywriter: another unreliable staple I've worked at for several years. Sometimes there's work, sometimes there isn't.
* Waitress - this one lasted about three weeks, or until I figured out that making four bucks an hour plus tips averaged out to less than minimum wage when you couldn't remember which tables you were supposed to serve, and your customers got a little agitated when they didn't get their food, and therefore failed to tip you.
How about you . . . where have you worked, and how has that experience contributed to your writing?