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Dream jobs from around the world

By Kate DuBose Tomassi, Forbes
Last updated on: June 01, 2006 15:18 IST
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Love what you do for a living?

Turns out you aren't alone. Although it sometimes seems that folks do nothing but whine about their jobs, in an informal worldwide poll a shockingly high percentage of people claim that they are working in their "dream job."

We interviewed randomly selected people on the streets of 12 major cities around the world, and a full 55 per cent said they are either working at their dream job or can't imagine doing anything else.

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Nigel Archer, 36, a professional hunter from Nairobi, Kenya, told us that despite having clients who sometimes "come out for the wrong reasons," he "loved" his job. In Wellington, New Zealand, David Clayton, a 27-year-old lead animator for Weta Digital, the studio associated with Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame, said he "couldn't imagine doing anything else."

And its not just glamour jobs that people love. When asked about her dream job in London, Christine Parker, who stands outside all winter in a market stall, said, "This is it. There's nothing else I really could do. It's in my family. My great-grandfather was a market vendor, then my grandfather and my mum too."

Not only do people love their jobs but they've also been doing them for a while. In our informal survey, 39 per cent of the respondents had been at their job for more than ten years. And at the extremes, they've been doing them for decades.

Suresh Awte, who supervises a fruit stall in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, has been working there for 46 years, since he was 13, and he plans to keep at it until he turns 72. Garrick Andrews, who works in airline maintenance in Wellington, New Zealand, has been on the job for 38 years.

But not all is well in the land of the employed. Workers in Iraq were concerned about their security; all six native Iraqis that we interviewed said the hardest part of their jobs is the security situation. Just getting to work can be fatal. One woman we talked to at the Baghdad International Airport told us she had lost colleagues commuting to work along the "Road of Death."

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Other tales were strikingly sad. A 38-year-old street scavenger in São Paulo, Brazil, told us he sometimes makes only $1 per day. "It's tough. You suffer. You have to walk a lot."

And there was disillusion as well. One woman who thought she'd found her dream job as a health care worker for a nongovernmental agency in Nairobi now finds the job "frustrating and depressing."

Love it or hate it, the world of work is nothing if not diverse: We talked to a man who sells hallucinogenic mushrooms to tourists in Amsterdam; a telephone repairman in New York City told us his story; and a man in Tokyo who runs a "capsule hotel" business explained how he is hoping to expand to Western cities like New York and London.

For our report on work around the world, we interviewed at least five randomly chosen people on the street in 12 major cities: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq; Hong Kong; Shanghai, China, and a town in China's Inner Mongolia province; London; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Kenya; New York; San Francisco; São Paulo, Brazil; Tokyo; Washington, D.C.; and Wellington, New Zealand.

We asked them all a standard series of questions: What do you do? How long have you been doing it? What's the hardest thing about your job? What's the best thing about it? What's your dream job?

Interviews by John Giuffo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Russell Flannery in China, Musab E. Majhool and Ahmed Abdal Razaq in Iraq, Christopher Noon in London, Nazneen Karmali in Mumbai, India, Alexandra Polier in Nairobi, Kenya, Dan Frommer in New York, Rachel Rosmarin in San Francisco, Brian Nicholson in São Paulo, Brazil, Jessica Holzer in Washington, D.C., Zar Lilley in Wellington, New Zealand, and a Forbes stringer in Tokyo.

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Kate DuBose Tomassi, Forbes

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