People On TikTok Are Sharing What It’s Like To Work Their Unusual Jobs

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The videos are like “Dirty Jobs” meet a viral TikTok dance challenge.

If you’re not active on TikTok, it’s easy to assume the Gen Z-beloved app is nothing but lip-sync challenges, pranks and viral recipes. (Think that omnipresent feta pasta recipe from last year, which really was delicious.)

But there’s a fascinating little corner of the social media platform that even the most TikTok-averse would probably find fascinating: job TikTok.

On job TikTok, people in a variety of different fields share “a day in the life,” behind-the-scenes peeks at what they do from 9 to 5.

There’s Mr. Barricade, an urban planner with 500,000 followers who uses his platform to explore everything from the racist history of redlining to how dams are built. (Someone on TikTok had said the Hoover Dam is “straight up proof that we live in a simulation.” Mr. Barricade couldn’t sit that one out.) He also shows off his impressive work creating protected bike lanes and street designs around the Bay Area.

There are animal control officers squiring horses back to their homes while baby wild boars tag along:

There are crane operators like @mooselee5 showing how teeny tiny it is in the cabin of his crane when he’s all the way up there:

There’s even a “luxury picnic designer” who takes viewers along for setups of elaborate, themed picnics she’s hired to execute in the Bay Area:

For the casual viewer, the clips are a fun glimpse into how people get paid and the tasks that keep the world running.

But they’re also a really great method to uncover jobs that you may not have known existed ― or realized were as interesting as they are. That’s helpful not only to the high number of job seekers looking for new roles after pandemic layoffs, but also to workers reevaluating the type of work they want to do as the country gets back to normal.

“These videos could plant seeds in the job seekers’ minds,” said Peggy Wu, a Los Angeles-based life and career coach with the professional coaching company Ama La Vida. “You may not be the next traffic designer, but that thought may lead you to something you never before considered.”

Ayanna E. Jackson, a human resources expert and career coach in the metro D.C. area, is also a big fan of job TikTok.

“I could see someone finding their passion, a career pivot or a side hustle through these videos,” Jackson said. “The world of work is not all lawyers, teachers and marketing managers.”

The videos might not always show the less exciting parts of the job ― on social media, it’s the highlight reel that we tend to post ― but Jackson thinks they give job seekers just enough to inspire more research.

There’s an art to curating your TikTok feed so videos like this show up, but you can find a lot of the clips by browsing hashtags like #whatidoforaliving, #whatido or #adayinthelife. Some of the creators have turned their whole feed into an exploration of their work. That’s true of Jocelyn Chin, the aforementioned luxury picnic planner.

Chin, who’s always had a knack for decorating and party planning, started her business, Picnic ’n Chill, with her friend Coco Chan after Chan lost her job as an event planner at Facebook due to COVID-19.

“A year later, we’re hearing people say we inspired them to start their own picnic business!” she said. “It’s amazing how much TikTok influences young entrepreneurs and creatives to not be afraid to start their own business.”

Vignesh Swaminathan, the man behind the Mr. Barricade account and the CEO of Cupertino, California-based Crossroad Lab, also has followers who say his channel spurred an interest in urban planning.

“I’ve definitely observed a lot of minorities having a new interest in urban planning and engineering as a career, which is heartening because Indian and minority representation is poor in professional roles that aren’t the expected routes: doctors and computer engineers,” Swaminathan said.

“What I like about [job TikTok] is how it adds a human element to occupations,” he added. “It helps to remove the barrier of entry for people.”

Below, we highlight some of the most interesting “what I do” videos we’ve come across on TikTok lately.

A Truck Driver

Wazeer, aka “Trucker Wazeer” on TikTok, was new to the trucking industry when he posted his first TikTok about his job. At the time, he couldn’t get over all he was learning on the job every day.

“After annoying my friends and family with all that the wonderful world of truck driving entailed, my younger sister suggested I make a video about my experience,” the Texan told HuffPost. “She informed me that many people on the platform were looking for new employment opportunities due to the pandemic. She was correct because my second video received 1 million views in 24 hours.”

A Content Creator

A few years back, Jamie Milne left her job as a teacher to work full time on her Instagram account, @everything_delish, where she has about 360,00 followers. In her “day in the life of” TikTok video, she said she aims to do about four or five videos a day, which generally takes about eight to nine hours to complete.

An Urbanist

On Talking Cities, an urban planning intern and graduate student breaks down what it takes to turn a standard-issue suburb with shopping centers and heavy traffic into a small business and pedestrian-friendly mecca.

An Embalmer

Ever wonder how morticians embalm a body? Wonder no more! Embalmer and funeral director @retseleve gives followers a sneak peek into funeral home life, including how she prepares the bodies for viewing. (Not using actual bodies to demonstrate, thank goodness.)

A Mortuary Makeup Artist

But wait, there’s more! Here’s Heather, aka @beforethecoffin, showing us how to restore facial features for open casket services. Heather is mortuary makeup artist instructor at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.

A Fire Lookout

Kelsey Sims is a forestry technician in New Mexico. Also known as fire lookouts, forestry technicians like Sims scan for fire from atop fire lookout towers which tend to be located in remote areas.

“When I tell people that I’m a fire lookout, most people are shocked that it’s still a job and that someone my age is doing it,” she told HuffPost. “My hope is that through my posts I can educate the public on the importance of fire lookouts with regard to fire safety and fire prevention.” (She also answers the important questions like “Where do you pee in that little booth?!”)

A Social Media Manager For An NFL Team

This one-off video shows us a day in the life of Megan Julian, the social media manager of the Los Angeles Chargers. Gotta make sure you get everything on IG!

An Airline Pilot

@pilot.drew answers questions about his job and gives viewers behind-the-scenes looks at life in the sky. Don’t worry about safety; all videos are taken during non-safety-critical times!

Private Jet Pilot

The plane guys of TikTok like to show off, but we don’t mind — their jobs are pretty dang cool. Michael Potts is private-jet pilot who gets to do fun things like shuttle bridal parties to tropical places for bachelorette parties (and sometimes, he’ll spot a celebrity private plane, like Kylie Jenner’s pink one).

An Instacart Shopper

So many of us were reliant on Instacart shoppers at the height of the pandemic. This video, from TikToker @coffeeeelover, shows just how much work goes into the job.

A Boudoir Photographer

Bri is the owner of Babe City Boudoir Photography in Bend, Oregon. On TikTok, she shows off her work (as well as her impressive collection of lingerie) and offers advice on how to get over your shyness if you’re considering doing a boudoir shoot yourself.

A Street Sign Maker

Austin Mollno has been working at his family’s business, ROW Signs and Graphics in San Dimas, California, for about six years now. He specializes in vinyl graphics. A video that went viral on TikTok showed him creating a very nice street sign.

“Some of the most common responses to my videos are, ‘I thought prisoners made street signs,’ or, ‘Wow, I don’t want to steal street signs anymore,'” he told HuffPost.

A Voice Actor

Stefan Johnson has been a voice actor for about 11 years. Two years ago he made it his full-time job. His TikTok shows all the work that goes into your favorite commercials and video games.

“I’ve had comments like ‘this is a real job?!?!’ and those make me chuckle,” Johnson told HuffPost. “People don’t realize that VO is all around them. From automated phone messages, the voices in their kid’s toys, the commercials that make you buy the things you use every day. I’m happy to ‘pull back the curtain’ a bit.”

A Machinery Operator

Gary Reilly is a machinery operator (with a lovely Irish accent!) who walks viewers through how to do things like lift cargo into a ship’s hatch. Pretty impressive stuff!

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