John Heitinga coaching a football team from the sidelines.
Stories

The world’s coolest jobs

In our world’s coolest jobs series, we profile professionals who have chosen some of the most exciting, adrenaline-fueled jobs in the world. From footballer to firefighter diver, read our interviews to find out more!

Some people are satisfied to work a normal nine to five, but for a select few, they aren’t satisfied with the norm. Read more about a day in the life of some of the coolest, out of the ordinary jobs.

  1. Footballer & coach – John Heitinga
  2. Firefighter Diver – Laetitia Lilou
  3. Actress – Sara Maria Besgen
  4. Winemaker – Ria Zeliskova
  5. Entrepreneur and former snowboarder – Wojtek Pawlusiak

Footballer & coach

Name: John Heitinga

Occupation: Former professional football player who traveled the world with Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Everton, Hertha BSC and the Dutch national team. He is currently the trainer for Jong Ajax – the youth team of Ajax

What does an average day at work look like for you?

I always start the day at the club, where I talk through and prepare the training of that day together with my staff. I talk to the club doctor and the physiotherapists about the fitness and employability of the players and then give one or two training sessions, that we evaluate afterwards. On match days, the name says it all – Jong Ajax plays a match and I do the coaching.

John Heitinga in the rain while he is coaching a football team.

Why did you choose this job?

Playing soccer is my passion and my life. I love to share my own experiences with the players, and I would like to take them to the next level. As a player, I had the pleasure of playing in the World Cup final. Now I want to experience how far I can go as a coach. And of course, I will do a lot, if not everything, to reach as far as possible.

How did you start doing this job?

As a footballer, I experienced a lot that helped me get this job. My mother gave me professional training at Ajax for my birthday. As a coach, I attended several courses and did internships. After I successfully completed my Professional Football Coach Course, the coaching world really opened up to me.

What are the advantages of your job? What are the disadvantages?

There are many advantages – being on the field every day, being busy with football, the thing I love most, and – in the long run – perhaps the earnings. The disadvantages: the stress experienced by top trainers and the long days you work. You are a coach 24/7.

Tell us about a good memory from work! Why was it so memorable?

I divide that into the player and the coach John Heitinga. As a player I enjoyed all the transfers, the championships with Ajax in 2002 and 2004, reaching the World Cup final with the Orange (The Netherlands national team) in 2010. Why were the championships and the World Cup final so memorable? Because at such moments you see how much joy you give the fans.

What would your tip be for someone who wants to do your job?

Give your heart and soul to the fullest to seize the opportunity when it comes along. Listen to esteemed predecessors, because their experiences can help you avoid the pitfalls that every trainer encounters.

And last but not least, know your own shortcomings and take them into account in the composition of your staff. In short: look for people who are complementary to you.

John Heitinga coaching a football team from the sidelines.

Firefighter diver

Name: Laetitia Lilou

Occupation: Former firefighter diver and fire fighter who, among other things, helped put out the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, 2019

What does an average day at work look like for you?

I start my shifts at 7:45 am for 24 to 72 hours of work. We all start off with an assembly and verification of the equipment. Then it’s sports until 10 am in a diving suit.  In the afternoon we do first aid and we work in our services. More sports at 5 pm and that's it! Afterwards we can be called at any time during the day to respond to an incident.

Laetitia Lilou in her firefighter diver wet suit ready to do a dive.

Why did you choose this job? ?

Because I love the aquatic environment and being active in the water. I also really wanted to give meaning to my daily life. I was looking for an altruistic profession to make a difference.

What are the advantages of your job? What are the disadvantages?

The advantages are numerous – I do something that I really like and in which I make myself count. It is an active and sporty occupation – and I adore playing sports! The disadvantages? I am not at home all days of the week (since I workdays and nights) and at those times I really miss my children.

Have you ever been scared or nervous at work?

Yes. I specialize in cave diving, and we dive in closed, narrow, dark environments. And at one point, I had problems with the equipment… with a very real fear of dying as a result. But everything went well, and in the end, I had nothing to worry about.

What would your tip be for someone who wants to do your job?

Take the plunge or the deep dive and just do it!


Actress

Name: Sarah Maria Besgen

Occupation: An actress from Germany who is known for her work in TV shows and movies like Verbotene Liebe and Rote Rosen.

What does an average day at work look like for you?

Always different depending on the production. But usually, I start working at around seven when I get into make-up and costume.

Sara Maria Besgen waiting for the cameras to be set up for the next scene.

Why did you choose this job?

Because I wanted to do something creative and be my own “tool”. As an actor you are your own instrument, and you learn to play it better and better over the years.

How did you start doing this job?

At the age of sixteen I got an agent. He came up to me on the street and I started having auditions. I was lucky. But I went to acting school from age twenty to twenty-three.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

Every day is different but when you have family it’s very hard to organize everyday life. And you are never safe moneywise.

Tell us about a good memory from work and then a scary memory.

I was filming on a cruise ship in New Zealand when all over sudden the whole sea was full of dolphins! Once I had a diving scene with almost no experience in Mexico. I was scared to death.

What would your tip be for someone who wants to do your job?

Don’t expect too much from the business but the most of yourself. Work hard on your skills and steal from the best.


Winemaker

Name: Ria Zeliskova

Occupation: Winemaker, we take care of 7 vineyards together with our relatives and children.

What does an average day at work look like for you?

I’ll give you an example of an autumn day. We take our kids to school in the morning, and then me and my husband get some breakfast. We pack water, sunglasses and scissors. We prepare our toddler and head off to the vineyard, where we pick the grapes. Afterwards, we pick up our children for lunch and have it all together.

After lunch, we process the grapes in the taproom. The kids help out. They wash crates with me and things like that. During this time, we also have to help them with their homework. Then we play a little before bedtime. Autumn is our most hectic period of the year. We are jumping from the wine to children and back. It’s a relief at Christmas!

Ria Zeliskova and her husband in their vineyard carrying grapes.

Why did you choose this job?

My husband had been helping his father with winemaking since he was young. He learned from him and as he was growing up, he found new winemaking processes – which fascinated him! He wanted to push and progress further in this art. So, we went on the wine tasting together and then made our first label and tried to organize our own wine tasting. That was in 2009.

What are the advantages of your job? What are the disadvantages?

A huge advantage is that we can have wine whenever we want. A disadvantage is that with our kids we do not have time to drink it. Days are just too short!

Another advantage is lots of fresh air and the nature we are in. But this can be a disadvantage as well, when the weather is bad, or when we are afraid of the wild animals who eat our vineyard.  But the biggest advantage is that we are masters of our time. We work only when we want and take a rest when we want!

Have you ever been scared or nervous at work?

While working on the vineyard or with the grapes, the winemaker is scared quite often. There are so many things that can go wrong with the grapes. There are caterpillars that eat young vine in the spring. They are replaced with deer, who also like the young vine roots very much. We are also afraid of spring frosts, which may burn the leaves. Wine diseases are an issue during the summer, as well as storms and hailstones. We also experienced that someone stole our wine in autumn. And once every grape is picked off, we are scared that the fermentation process might go wrong.

We are scared a lot, but as soon as we taste first sip of our young wine, everything is forgotten, and we start all over!

What would your tip be for someone who wants to do your job?

Having a vineyard is demanding both from a physical and a mental point of view. It is important to study a lot about the grapes and winemaking. It is also important to work hard manually. The best start is to feel that vineyards are your love and that you are fascinated about the tastes and fragrances of the wine. 

Ria Zeliskova, her husband and three kids at their vineyard in the winter.

Snowboarder and entrepreneur

Name: Wojtek Pawlusiak

Occupation: Former professional snowboarder whose career included victories at the Billabong Freestyle Festival, the Red Bull Upside Down, the Coalition Jam and more. He is currently an entrepreneur running his business, Nested Brushes

What does an average day at work look like for you?

I have the luck and the privilege of shaping and adapting my work time to my needs. I can organize my time in a way that allows me to find the time for a quick trip to the Polish mountains (during the winter) or some other snowboarding destination abroad.

But days when I’m performing my office duties are similar – I get up early and start with checking the mail, orders, messages from my partners and contractors. Then I’m ordering components, arrange shipments and deliveries, work on new designs, etc.

Wojtek Pawlusiak walking to his car in the snow with a Thule RoundTrip ski bag.

What are the advantages of your job? What are the disadvantages?

I would say that the biggest advantage is the fact that I’m not tied down to my desk – I can work from any place on Earth, and I’m using this opportunity to the fullest. One day I’m on a snowy slope, other – on the coast of Baltic.

Of course, there is no place for anarchy here – I have my duties and obligations, planned meetings, photoshoots, overseeing the production, etc. But I am the one who creates my schedule, and I care profoundly to have time for work, active leisure, and family in it.

Has there ever been a time at work where you’ve been scared or nervous?

The pandemic – especially its initial phase, when I was not sure how it would influence my business, my family, and my life. Luckily, it turned out to be quite ok business-wise – my products are mainly distributed online and last year was extraordinarily good for e-commerce.

What would your advice be for someone who wants to do your job?

I would advise extensive e-commerce schooling and workshops to anyone who wants to conduct business with a strong online presence. It is just so much you don’t know when tipping your toes in this river – and it’s good to learn as much as it’s possible.

I was in quite a privileged situation, with many friends who specialize in e-commerce, so I always had someone to call and ask about some details, procedures, or advice.

But for most people, the right learning course or workshop is the best solution – there are some great products like this in the market, so you can easily choose the best for your business.


Thule ambassadors in this article:

Johan Heitinga.

John Heitinga is former professional football player who traveled the world with Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Everton, Hertha BSC and the Dutch national team. He is currently the trainer for Jong Ajax – the youth team of Ajax. Follow him on social media to find out more.

Laetitia Lilou.

Laetitia Lilou is a French former firefighter diver and firefighter who helped put out the Notre-Dame fire in 2019. Follow her on Instagram for more inspiration!

Sarah Maria Besgen.

Sarah Maria Besgen is an actress from Germany who has been in theater, film and TV shows like Alles oder Nichts and Rote Rosen. Follow her on Instagram or get in contact with her agent here. (Headshot photo credit Lena Faye).

Ria Zeliskova.

Ria Zeliskova takes care of 7 vineyards with her husband and other relatives in Saint Jur, Slovakia. See more what her life is like on a vineyard on her Instagram.

Wojtek Pawlusiak

Wojtek Pawlusiak is a former professional snowboarder whose career included victories at the Red Bull Upside Down, the Coalition Jam and more. He is currently an entrepreneur running Nested Brushes brand. Find out more about his work on Instagram.


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