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7 Questions With the Woman Who Accidentally Created the #First7Jobs Hashtag

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Marian Call: First 7 Jobs. Photo by Brian Adams It started with a simple crowdsourcing question. Marian Call, a musician from Juneau, Alaska, was working on lyrics to a song and asked her followers, “What were your first 7 jobs?”

Some of her 17,000 followers started to retweet back – many with the expected babysitter, lawn mower, paperboy responses. Then Sarcastic Rover and some fellow musicians – Regina Spektor and Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches – chimed in, and within 48 hours, the #First7Jobs hashtag kudzu was taking over with blue-checked celebs like Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Stephen Colbert playing along (slushee slinger and futon maker, respectively).

A hashtag star was born. We tracked down Marian while she was on tour to chat about memes, music, and when worlds collide.

Q: Are people surprised to learn this all started as a question you posed in writing lyrics for a new song? Are you surprised?
A: I am absolutely surprised. And other people were surprised, too. They couldn’t figure out where it came from. I even saw some strangers posit that it was hackers trying to get people to reveal answers to online account security questions. Which is silly of course, because so many of us were mowing lawns or babysitting when we started. It would be a useless security question.

Q: Did you ever envision “meme creator” on your resume?
A: I have been around the internet long enough to imagine that a lot of us will get 15 seconds of fame. I certainly never could have predicted that #firstsevenjobs would be mine, though!

Q: You didn’t even use it as a hashtag in your original tweet. Do you know who flipped the switch on that?
A: Not sure who started the hashtag, but I do believe it’s several people independently, not just one. It seemed logical – I would have done it if I had been playing the game someone else started.

Q: What’s the song about? Is it finished?
A: I got a little overwhelmed by the hashtag. I was just looking to finish a line in a song that had to do with work. Now I feel like I have to write a whole new one to be worthy of all the feedback – a song about this experience and how much we have in common. I’m not going to worry about working on that too much though. I have a different album to finish and nobody is going to pay me to work on this hashtag song.

Q: You never know! Months later, this hashtag is still going strong on Twitter and Facebook. NPR, TIME magazine, and Entrepreneur did stories on it. What do you think resonates with people?
A: In a word, nostalgia. I got to ask a few people in person and I loved how their eyes rolled to one corner as they tried to remember. It's a tiny time travel experience through a part of our lives we often forget. Few of us have first jobs that go on a resume, but they shape us so much. Mowing lawns, babysitting, washing dishes and delivering papers may not be of interest to an employer, but it's a landmark on the way to growing up. It was exciting to summon the common humanity around our working lives.

Q: Some celebrities jumped in on the fun. Who stands out?
A: I have to say Buzz Aldrin was a highlight for me. He was an astronaut by his fourth job! That’s hardly even fair!

Q: And you knew we’d have to ask – what were your first 7 jobs?
A: Babysitting, janitorial, slinging coffee, yard work, writing radio news, voice-overs, data entry/secretarial.

I was a young entrepreneur – I think I had at least 10 or 12 jobs before I finished high school. When I was about age nine, I sold cookies and treats by the dozen to my whole neighborhood without telling my parents. I came home to my mom one day with an order list I had made and an envelope of money. She was shocked when I told her she had to bake 40 dozen cookies at home within the week. The following year, my parents enrolled me in Girl Scouts so that wouldn’t happen again. Oddly enough, that was great practice for being an indie musician.
Follow Marian on Twitter and check out her website to see if that song ever gets finished.

What were your #first7jobs? Head over to Facebook and let us know.

Photo credit: Brian Adams