ADHD Work Stories: The Jobs You Love and Loathe
Finding great jobs for individuals with ADHD takes time, practice, and a few false starts. Don’t give up! Here, ADDitude readers share their work stories about jobs they love — and some they loathe.
When you have ADHD, pursuing a career path that you think is the perfect fit may actually involve some bumps, detours, and even crashes that leave you feeling more like a professional failure.
Don’t give up! Understanding what you want (and need) from a job takes work. (No pun intended.) As many of us know, it may take one or more false starts to get there.
Adults with ADHD can thrive at work if that work aligns with their passions and strengths. Here, ADDitude readers share their work stories about jobs they love and some they loathe. Share your stories about your disastrous or favorite jobs in the Comments section below.
Your ADHD Work Stories: The Best and Worst Jobs
“I started my career as a legal secretary. I had to keep track of everything — calendars, filings, reports, etc. I was simply not up to par, and it was a real blow to my confidence. I am smart, but my inability to keep track of things, prioritize, pay attention to details, and so on let me down. At the time, I was undiagnosed, and I now understand that the job I picked was one of the hardest for me to do. Now, I work for myself. I write non-fiction stories about crime; and publish them as a podcast.” — Sinead
“My most disastrous former job was doing data entry for a local architecture firm during my senior year of high school. The quiet atmosphere and monotonous work made me fall asleep at my desk. Fast forward 20 years, and I’m a receiving manager at Whole Foods, which plays to my strengths in attention to detail and organization. I constantly interact with others, and I never have to stay still when I get antsy.” — Anonymous
“My favorite job was as an auto parts auditor. It was a line job, and I loved it.” — Anonymous
“My first day of training was my last day at The Great Escape Amusement Park. We had a terrible uniform. It was so loud, crowded, and confusing that I couldn’t remember anything about the training.” — Anonymous
“During the summer before my senior year of college, I took a custom picture framing job at an A.C. Moore craft store. I’ve stuck with picture framing ever since because it ignites my hyperfocus and creative problem-solving superpowers. I never get bored because I see different art pieces every day, design unique frames for them, and then build them in the shop.” — Ellen
“While acting as PA my boss realized I had a talent for design, and that’s how I started my career as a digital product designer. I make beautiful things for people without having to talk to them. I absolutely love my job.” — Bonita
“I loved being a high school English and creative writing teacher — at first. After teaching mostly the same curriculum year after year and grading so many essays, it became harder to stay excited and engaged. I always wanted to become a writer, not spend my workday teaching others how to write. After years of feeling like a failure because I ‘couldn’t handle being a teacher,’ I learned how and why it wasn’t the best fit for ME. Now I am a staff writer and digital editor for a local magazine that focuses on outdoor recreation and lifestyle, which totally aligns with my personal passions.” — AM
“Once I took a job at a call center that did troubleshooting for people applying for Obamacare. There were too many rules, and we weren’t allowed to talk with those around us. I got fired for nodding off too many times because being trapped at a desk with nothing to do but read the IRS website is not stimulating at all!” — Valerie
“I love my kids and enjoy doing things with them, but being a stay-at-home mom was a really bad fit for me. I was unmotivated by the monotony of cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. and overwhelmed with trying to keep track of what everyone was doing. I’m loving my new part time job in the interior design world because it’s full of new exciting projects. My husband now takes care of the monotonous work, and I take care of all the projects’ like deep cleaning and renovations.’” — Anonymous
“I was a bank teller for a few years pre-diagnosis. It started off well, but by the end, I had issues keeping my drawer in balance and the numbers straight in my head and on the computer. Numbers and math were never my strong suit in school but all the tips and tricks couldn’t help my unknown dyscalculia and ADHD. Now I’m a testing proctor at a local community college. It is not the career I thought I’d have, but it works. Focus is hard at times, but my co-worker and boss are understanding. They give me time and space and help come up with things to keep my brain engaged in the work.” — Anonymous
“Working in the library in college was terrible. There was no structure and it was also very boring. Plus, you’re not allowed to just read all the books!” — Alex
“I loved being an elementary teacher. There was something new every day and lots of ways to be creative. I was surrounded by creative people and enjoyed making a difference with what I did. Being a teacher was the best career for me. I’m now a stay at home mom and, while I love my kids and wouldn’t change it, I’m not as good with juggling ‘mom’ things as I was at being a teacher.” — Anonymous
“In my early 20s, I was thrust into a store manager position. I often opened the store late and turned the music up really loud in an attempt to stay engaged. As a people pleaser, I found it terrifying to have hard conversations with my staff. A couple of months later I was fired. I was actually so relieved. For the past 20 years, I have been a massage therapist. I absolutely love my job and am grateful every day for it.” — Sarah
Career Choices and ADHD: Next Steps
- Free Download: 8 Dream Jobs for Adults with ADHD
- Read: Great Job! A Career Happiness Formula for Adults with ADHD
- Read: How to Align Your Career with Your Passions
- Self-Test: Do I Have ADHD? Symptom Test for Adults
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