What is Your Dream Job? Are You Doing It?
December 20, 2004 4:42 AM   Subscribe

What's your dream job? [+]

This question is coming out of a few things, but really solidified in my mind when I passed a TV this weekend that had the first episode of Stargate Atlantis on it. O’Neill was talking to his pilot and the conversation went something like this:

O’Neill: Why’d you become a pilot?
Pilot: I think anyone who doesn’t want to fly is crazy.
O’Neill: Well, I think anyone who doesn’t want to go through the Stargate is equally wacked.

So, what about you? What’s your dream job? What would have you saying, “I have the coolest job in the world?” Are you sitting there doing it on this Monday morning?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Work & Money (80 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
working at home for a startup with enough money to keep me happy, no pesky customers, and a requirement to solve some obscure problem in "as long as it takes".

so why did all the funding go away?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:17 AM on December 20, 2004

Peter: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.

My dream job is also to do nothing.
posted by seanyboy at 5:19 AM on December 20, 2004

Several people have independently told me that I have the 'best job in the world'. I don't know whether I'd go so far as to agree with them but it is a pretty decent job.
posted by adrianhon at 5:33 AM on December 20, 2004

I used to think it was being a Graphic Designer. Now that I am, I don't think that anymore.

My problem is I don't know what my dream job would be. Asking myself what I would do if I had a million dollars is no help either because, like seanyboy, my answer is inevitably nothing. Although lately I have been thinking my dream job would be Bartending.
posted by studentbaker at 5:48 AM on December 20, 2004

It was never really a dream to have it, but I do love my job (law firm librarian). It keeps me thinking, and there's always some problem that needs fixing.

If I had millions of dollars... I'd probably still be doing this, but maybe part-time, so I could spend all that money on fabulous vacations.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:02 AM on December 20, 2004

Well goodness gracious, adrianhon, don't hold out on us- what do you do?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

No! studentbaker! Bartending isn't your dream job! I did that for a while - and it takes all the fun out of being in a bar! I had what seemed to most like a dream job as an editor for a city magazine, and all the perks (invitations, free tickets, trips, etc.) were wonderful (and I even mostly liked the work), but the corporate bullshit was horrible. I had migraines all the time. I actually had a much, much better time as a lowly underpaid writer for an alternative weekly.

Evidently, though, my dream job is to read books, drink wine and smoke cigarettes.
posted by taz at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2004

I want to be independently independent and do as little as possible towards keeping me that way.
posted by kamylyon at 6:20 AM on December 20, 2004

Pinball machine designer/engineer.
See here.
posted by adamkempa at 6:31 AM on December 20, 2004

Daniel Lanois' career seems pretty damn sweet to me.
posted by davebush at 6:43 AM on December 20, 2004

seanyboy, my sentiments exactly.

"Two chicks at the same time, man."
posted by thirdparty at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2004

Disney archivist. Like this guy.
posted by icontemplate at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2004

Clipping coupons.
posted by caddis at 7:03 AM on December 20, 2004

On-line advice columnist. I mean, really, to get paid to tell people how to solve their problems? How could it be better than that?
posted by davidmsc at 7:04 AM on December 20, 2004

Working with good friends (which I do), for good people (which I do), making something worthwhile (which I do).

The actual job isn't as big a deal as the environment, approach, and purpose of the job.

For what it's worth, I work for an independent educational press.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:12 AM on December 20, 2004

Disc Jockey. Columnist. Porn Star.

Actually, the first two would be great in some kind of alternate universe, but from what I've heard and read about both professions from within, they ain't all they're cracked up to be. So, ultimately I'm probably best suited for retail slavery or clerical drudgery. C'est la vie.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 AM on December 20, 2004

My ideal job would be one in which I could get paid to (attempt to) satisfy my seemingly endless curiousity.

Although, if I had an infinite supply of money and didn't need to worry about what job I held, I would probably open my own engineering firm with my best friend after finishing my Master's degree and getting my Professional Engineer's license.

Currently, I'm an environmental engineer for a state in the northeast US.
posted by LouMac at 7:27 AM on December 20, 2004

I'd like to write an Inaugural.
posted by cribcage at 7:36 AM on December 20, 2004

Live-in librarian in a library like this one.
posted by jessamyn at 7:37 AM on December 20, 2004

Gangster of love.
posted by naomi at 7:42 AM on December 20, 2004

Gentleman scholar.

Though really the librarian cabal has got me intrigued.
posted by kenko at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2004

Kept woman.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2004

Nationally syndicated opinion columnist.

I'm on my way! At 20 I'm assistant editorial page editor. So maybe by 25 I'll be full editorial page editor, here or elsewhere. And from there it's just a matter of writing things people want to read.
posted by u.n. owen at 8:07 AM on December 20, 2004

When I grow up, I want to be an Architect.
posted by C.Batt at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2004

Prime Minister of Canada.

/me dreams of turning Canada into a libertarian paradise...

posted by shepd at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2004

Clinical law professor focusing on international human rights - based in a major U.S. city (NYC or SF), with frequent trips to Asia and Latin America for fact finding and consulting.

Or alternatively, independently wealthy spoken word poet.
posted by buddha9090 at 8:12 AM on December 20, 2004

comic book writer.
posted by Stynxno at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2004

Ignoring the talent requirements of both professions, I think I would spend 25 years as the greatest knuckleballer of all time, then achieve renown in academic and art circles as a poet.
Ruling those two out (thanks a lot, talent requirements), I'm cool with being a librarian; indeed, it's so much a part of my personality that I have trouble even daydreaming about being anything else. On preview, this second paragraph should just read, "What Jessamyn said."
posted by willpie at 8:34 AM on December 20, 2004

College Prof. Performing songwriter. Priciny/Yield analyst.
posted by weston at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2004

I'm the managing editor at a little press. I love it. I get to be bossy and anal and they pay me for it. My co-wokers are awesome, yet I get to work at home a lot too. I help make things I belive in. The only way it could be better is if I got paid more & had health care.
posted by dame at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2004

Professional gift-wrapper. Rocket scientist. Lottery winner.
posted by casarkos at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2004

I'd love to own and run a small youth hostel in Montreal, with a cafe/bar and a really good support staff.
posted by sophie at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2004

I'd love to be indepently wealthy so I could be a full time tutor for my son. Working from that angle I'd possibly like to teach other kids if the opportunities were slightly less sucky and kids weren't such utter bastards when they are grouped together.

Either that or a professional hitman.
posted by longbaugh at 9:02 AM on December 20, 2004

Computational astrophysics. They do all sorts of large simulations and models, and their storage requirements are immense. The models they do today are greatly simplified and best-case, but there's going to be some really interesting stuff happening in the next few decades in this field. I like it because it feels like a cross between theory and experiment; you implement simulations with different parameters, and then watch the systems evolve and see how they match the real universe. And it seems like a good way to get your hands on immense data sets without having to work for a government security agency.
posted by beaverd at 9:04 AM on December 20, 2004

Drawing cartoons. Still. But the actual job isn't as big a deal as the environment, approach, and purpose of the job is true also.
posted by furiousthought at 9:10 AM on December 20, 2004

Shoot birds at the airport.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:23 AM on December 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

I've wanted to be a writer, and only a writer, since I found out in second grade that some lucky people actually make a living that way.
posted by Acetylene at 9:26 AM on December 20, 2004

I think I'd like to direct movies. I certainly can't write the damn things.
posted by codger at 9:27 AM on December 20, 2004

Jack Black's job at the end of School of Rock. I want to teach the children of the world to rock out.
posted by COBRA! at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2004

Photoshopper for the Weekly World News.
posted by Monk at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2004

The first song I ever wrote was entitled "Dream Job" and it was about being the manager of a McDonald's.

My real dream job, however, is to be the frontman of a successful recording/touring band. And I'm already there, minus the success and the band.

posted by ludwig_van at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2004

Voice-over artiste.
ISDN (or whatever) at home.
Video-link with studio/client over PC.

"You'll be AMAZED at a Mazda!"
....and so on.

I can do THAT!
posted by JtJ at 10:21 AM on December 20, 2004

I'd host a show on the Food Network ... the recipes would actually be healthy for you (i.e. NOT taylored to fad diets such as those pandered to on Low Carb and Lovin' it or Calorie Commando). Alternately, I would do show on Travel that explored hole-in-the-wall eateries with great food that most often get ignored, say like the taquerias on the east side in Austin where you have to order in Spanish.
posted by fourstar at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2004

A filmmaker with funding.

Although, it's actually been way more fun than a person should be allowed to have just making a movie and not having any money. There's something really cool about sitting around on the set at 2am after shooting all night, drinking whiskey and looking at all the people who have been working their asses off with no pay, all smiling and laughing. We all definitely end the nights much happier than when we come home from any other job. Would it be the same if we were all getting paid?
posted by spaghetti at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2004

I would love to be a travel writer. Go around the world, stay at places and see sights for free (or get reimbursed), and all I have to do is tell you what I think of them? Who wouldn't want to do that?
posted by SisterHavana at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2004

Professional sleeper. I would put in so much overtime...
posted by hootch at 10:38 AM on December 20, 2004

1. Federal judge
2. Food critic for the Times
3. Trucker
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2004

Vice ruler of the world.
posted by Mossy at 11:14 AM on December 20, 2004

Kept woman.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:56 AM PST on December 20

That's my current job. It ain't all it's cracked up to be. I'll be looking for work starting in January. Anyway, my choices are:



I don't have the money to go to school so I'm destined to be a clerical flunky for life. I can't tell you how depressing that is.
posted by deborah at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2004

Actually, working with mentally handicapped people has interested me at times. Or being a librarian. or running a record store. or a candy store. or having a kissing booth.

Or oddly enough, being a stay at home dad.
posted by jonmc at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2004


Or maybe Larry David.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2004

1. Automotive designer (at the Chris Bangle level, not at the "design-a-new-console-in-a-Ford-Escort" level) or automotive restorer.

2. Professional chef.

3. General manager of a professional sports team.

posted by fet at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2004

posted by kavasa at 11:59 AM on December 20, 2004

Professor. Writer. Voiceover. Hugh Jackman's love slave.
posted by oflinkey at 12:03 PM on December 20, 2004

Late night radio DJ on a non-corporate station.
GM for a MMORPG like World of Warcraft.
Bicycle Mechanic.
Philosophy Professor.
Cafe owner.

Resume and reference available upon request!
posted by Dantien at 12:28 PM on December 20, 2004

I am a writer and organizational consultant. I would like to be a more successful writer, phase out the organizational consulting, and be the Books editor for a newspaper or magazine.

I think that my dream job would be being a lighthouse-keeper and essayist, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2004

Lighthouse keeper! Awesome!

I'd like to have a small restaurant. I'm pretty happy doing what I'm doing, which is raising my infant twin niece & nephew, but the social isolation may start to get to me soon. They're seven weeks old and coming up on 7 lbs each. I'm also quietly reorganizing this house & making it a happy, livable space. My sister & her husband, however, have different taste than I do and are "collectors" unwilling to throw out much of anything. I could totally dig being a professional organizer. Who knew that that existed until "Mission: Organization" and "Clean Sweep," huh?
posted by palegirl at 12:58 PM on December 20, 2004

If I could, I'd teach practical programming to first year computer science college students. Failing that, anything to do with helping people use computers (either better or at all).
posted by tommasz at 1:15 PM on December 20, 2004

I have it; I'm an academic neurologist.

Other things I'd like, in no particular order:

Goat farmer - for cashmere and milk more than meat.

Vineyard-keeper. Someone else (a partner) could deal with the winemaking; I'd like to deal with the land and the vines.

Real estate magnate.

Guitarist in a blues band.

Teaching gifted students. I get to do a little of that with med students, which I love, but I wouldn't mind getting them a little younger too.

Trauma surgeon. They are the only other specialists who still bother to do a careful physical exam on their patients.

I used to think I might become a computery type, but if I had, knowing me, I'd doubtless be an academic specialist in something arcane and math-y that the current me has never heard of.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2004

If I could, I'd teach practical programming to first year computer science college students. Failing that, anything to do with helping people use computers (either better or at all).


Frankly, my ideal job is one where someone pays me $100,000 a year (inflation-adjusted, please) just for existing. I can exist, no problem.
posted by kindall at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2004

People pay me to write extremely short stories that are mildly amusing. One or two per week. They don't mind if I take a week or two off here or there, or even once a month. Someone else edits them for grammar and spelling. If I want to write something else, that's OK, too.
posted by Hildago at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2004

Read, write, and listen to music, where 'writing' sometimes includes 'making websites'.

Which is pretty much exactly what I've been doing for the last year and a half.... ah, grad school, how I love thee.

Except for that pesky 'finishing the thesis' part.

I'm a good editor, and nurse a fantasy that working at an academic press would be ideal, but like many jobs (rock star, for example) it might look better from the outside... So I'd have to say any job where you can use your brain to make things-- i.e. being 'creative'-- and still make enough to live on.
posted by jokeefe at 1:46 PM on December 20, 2004

I'm wondering how to become a professional book-reader and radio critic -I like to talk, not so much to write- since book reading is my favourite pasttime along with forcing book-opinions on my friends.

Also I've always wanted to host a early morning radio show.
posted by mummimamma at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2004

big reward if you name the reference

Seriously though, it's different for every person. Most people would say their dream job is "having a load of money and not having to work in the first place", no?
posted by ac at 2:19 PM on December 20, 2004

What Taz said. Only I quit smoking 11M 2W 2D 8h 36m ago.
posted by ginz at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2004

i want to have a small, design within reach furnished office overlooking something scenic.

people will call or email me with problems or requests for ideas.

i will solve the problems or direct them to the perfect person in my network of contacts to solve it.

they will pay me what they think the idea or problem was worth. If i feel like it wasn't enough, i won't work for them again. Simple. Ask.Philafilter.com would be programmed by Matt Haughey. I would pay him what i thought it was worth, and it would be a lot.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:17 PM on December 20, 2004

same thing I do now

aka: humor writer
posted by moooshy at 5:24 PM on December 20, 2004

I'd be a race car driver, professional chess player, concert pianist, or Supreme Court Justice. It's too bad I don't have the talent to be any of them even with a million dollars.
posted by gyc at 5:54 PM on December 20, 2004

Indie game designer. Shame you can't make money at it. Also I'd quite enjoy teaching, but only if it were one-on-one/small groups and I could be assured that my students actually wanted to learn.
posted by squidlarkin at 6:08 PM on December 20, 2004

I'd like to be a musician appreciated enough to make a decent living, but obscure enough to go to the movies completely unmolested.
posted by melissa may at 6:19 PM on December 20, 2004

My ideal job would be one in which I could get paid to (attempt to) satisfy my seemingly endless curiousity.

That's what I do. It's awesome. I'm a reporter, and I don't ever want to be anything else. If I was a millionaire I would still do this, only I'd have a better car and take nicer vacations.

There are things I would change about my situation, however. I'd like to have more professional recognition. I'd like veto power over silly assignments and more time and freedom for in-depth work. I'd like better pay. I'd like to be more widely published. I'd like a shorter commute. Hopefully this all will come with age and experience.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:03 PM on December 20, 2004

Well, I'm already living the dream as a photojournalist. I never get tired of it and never will. The pipedream jobs include lounge singer and international food critic.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:33 PM on December 20, 2004

I've been thinking about dream jobs for awhile, since many people have been asking me that lately for some reason.

I've come to the conclusion that I don't have one. I refer to one of the stories in Einstein's Dreams where people live forever. Half the people rush around trying out every profession for two weeks. The other half just hangs back, knowing that there will always be time down the road to do this or that.

My dream job is that I can live forever and try every profession for as long as I'd like. If that makes any sense.

I think I'd start with running an orange grove, for what it's worth.
posted by dogwalker at 12:35 AM on December 21, 2004

fx / futures trader. Took me a while to find it: started out as a lawyer moonlighting as a daytrader and sadly discovered billable hours, inscrutable latin and horsehair wigs just didn't hit the right buttons.

I was spending my daytimes dreaming about my nightshift, and somehow found the courage to pull the pin and make the switch. Every coming day is a jigsaw puzzle that evolves from the chaotic cornerpieces of the one before ... I love a challenge, and the markets take you on a journey by asking of you intellectual, emotional and even spiritual questions in a manner that nothing else I've come across can match. It's like staring into Neitzsche's abyss every session - you address the unknowable, the infinite, the universe, and reduce it to something within your grasp. After that, writing briefs on corporate trust structures seemed kinda insignificant.

When you're in rhythm, in sync, and feeling the markets' heartbeat, you're a surfer hitting the perfect wave or a skiier nailing the first-morning powder. Dali painting or Jordan shooting or Hemingway writing or, christ, I dunno, a really good singer singing. Picture what you're best at, and insert your own imagery here. It's any moment between lovers that transcends words. I imagine it's what a scientist feels on that first electric shock of new understanding - there's a purity, a recognition, an identification with another natural force / sentient being that we can only touch and comprehend via unconscious self-expression in that moment. You're not thinking about the brush or the ball or the pen. You're not thinking about anything, really - you're channeling something, and bringing the unconscious out into the bright light of day is a joy.

All over-verbose grandiosity aside (I'm really shuffling fiat paper around and making my own drama out of it), the dream is to trade, travel and write for a living. I've got the first two going, and working on the last. I think the real key to happiness is finding a way to experience as many of those pure moments as you can in a lifetime - and if you've found a job that allows you to express your talent inside those moments, it doesn't get any better. For me, the issue is freedom: of expression, of movement, of thought, of association. Without it, nothing else has meaning.

All reality aside, I'm intensely jealous / envious of those with artistic talent - I'd love to able to express myself through pictures and see the world the way they do. A whole 'nother level of being. My sister's got it in spades. Photography's about as close as I get.

I'd love - even for an hour - to be able to express myself on a musical instrument the way Charlie Parker or Thelonius Monk could. I'm a hack blues / rock guitarist and get a taste of what could be for moments - just moments - when you're improvising and hit something somewhere and try and run with it and my god it's intense. No wonder Bird found heroin and so many musicians drop dead by thirty - nothing else in their life would come close to the experience of freedom, purity, of absolute self-expression they get through their music. Nothing. If you haven't felt that, even for a moment, you're missing something huge.

Being King of somewhere smallish - say new zealand or hawaii - would be alright. I don't think I'd be very good at it (think Nero with more burning and less fiddles), but we'd all have a helluva good time before the lights were turned off ...
posted by bookie at 1:26 AM on December 21, 2004 [2 favorites]

Oral historian & documentary filmmaker/photojournalist. Essayist. Poet (currently working on making that semi-viable). Librarian. Part-time used bookstore clerk (in the "if I had a million bucks" scenario & could perpetually travel & take interesting classes, too).
posted by soviet sleepover at 2:17 AM on December 21, 2004

1. Shepherd
2. Retiree
3. Rock Star
posted by Meatbomb at 2:57 AM on December 21, 2004

I've gotta change my answer - I forgot about truffle farming. You get to take care of a couple pigs and walk them leisurely on a leash until they smell the truffles. And then you just have to dig a little.. Truffles make a lot of money and the work is seasonal.
posted by sophie at 2:59 AM on December 21, 2004

1. Drifter
2. Permaculturalist
3. Winemaker
4. Cult leader
5. Zen monk
posted by Ritchie at 4:49 AM on December 21, 2004

Host of Fresh Air, even if she does work like a dog.
posted by deliriouscool at 7:28 AM on December 21, 2004

« Older Help me get this Wacom tablet to work   |   Suggestions for New Years in Chicago? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.