CHICAGO — Like many epic journeys, it began in boredom -- a dead-end office job at a bioresearch firm in Skokie, Ill.
"I was staring out the window wondering what the hell I'm doing," said Daniel Seddiqui, 27, a native of Los Altos, Calif.
He wanted adventure.
He needed a job.
So he hatched a plan: work a different job in a different state every week for nearly a year. He cold-called companies throughout the country, relying on ingenuity, networking and luck to get hired for one-week stints. He estimated that 100 companies per state rejected him.
First came a gig for the Mormon Church in Utah in September 2008. Last came a week as a cellar master at a winery in Napa, Calif., last month. He plans to return to Skokie soon to write a book and update his resume.
Here's a quick rundown of his jobs, in the form of superlatives:
Hardest: Making cheese in Wisconsin. "Try bending over the vats, shoveling out 40 pounds of cheese for two hours straight. It's back-breaking work."
Sleaziest: Working at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. "People were getting married for 50 bucks at the drive-through. They'd ask me what date it was -- on their own wedding day!"
Most fulfilling: Dietitian in Mississippi. "We have an obesity problem in this country. I enjoyed teaching people how to help themselves."
Worst bathroom: Coal mining in West Virginia. "We just went on the walls of the mine and you see the coal eroding."
Worst boss: Film company executives in Los Angeles. "They treated me like garbage. I quit after the first day."
Most revealing of local culture: Coaching high school football in Alabama. "They had 15 coaches for a high school team. Every white kid had the same frat-swoop haircut. Football is life."
Most dangerous: Border Patrol in Arizona. "A lot of people throw rocks at agents. We carried pepper-ball guns."
Most lucrative: Medical device manufacturing at Metal Craft in Minnesota. "I made $2,000 -- they gave me extra for marketing. I got them on CNN."
Best boss: A landscape architect in New Mexico. "He motivated me to wake up and see what it means to be passionate."
Dirtiest: Oil refinery in Oklahoma. "I was in Tornado Alley, with a lot blowing around. Oil got everywhere. And dust."