What If You Could Explore the What If Jobs of Your Dreams?
Alisha Fernandez Miranda on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan
On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Mitchell Kaplan is joined by Alisha Fernandez Miranda to discuss her memoir, My What If Year, out now from Zibby Books.
From the episode:
Alisha Fernandez Miranda: I like working. I like being busy. I like getting under the skin of a job and learning about it and being around people. And … I have always loved musicals, and I would go see a musical and be on the audience side of things and just think, God, wouldn’t it be amazing to be on the other side, to be in the rehearsal room? And I would do anything. I know I have no experience or like talent to bring to this situation, but I can get people coffee, I can fold playbills. I can clean bathrooms.
And so this idea of just kind of doing anything I could to help in exchange for being a part of something like a musical had been in the back of my head for a while. I articulated it to a couple of girlfriends of mine, and we started talking about, Yeah, well, maybe you could do an internship and what else would you intern in? And so we had this kind of martini-fueled night. We came up with all these different ideas. Many were very radical. You know, we got to shrimp farmer and local government official, all of these different things. And then we left. But the idea was still with me, and I had this list in my phone of all the things that I would do. … I went about eight months just thinking this is the craziest idea I’ve ever had, and there’s absolutely no way I could turn this into a reality.
But when I decided to do it, the plan was to go and put myself forward as an unpaid intern at jobs I always wanted to do when I was a kid and kind of take these mini-sabbaticals throughout a year and just experience them, learn about these different careers that I was fascinated by art and fitness and marine biology and, you know, working at Disney and all of these things that I had always dreamt of and just say, I will come. I will work for you for free for a month or two months, if you would let me. And all I’m asking for in exchange is the opportunity to learn. And I would do literally anything you want me to do.
Alisha Fernandez Miranda is the author of a coming-of-middle age memoir, My What If Year, coming from Zibby Books in 2023. Detailing her year of unpaid internships in the dream jobs of her childhood, the book follows Alisha on her quest to figure out what might have happened if her life had taken a different path. Her story has been featured in Business Insider and Moms Don’t Have Time to Write. Alisha is also a co-author of 50 Years: Kinloch Lodge, a culinary celebration of one of the Isle of Skye’s most exceptional hotels, and the host of the award-winning Quit Your Day Job, a new podcast that takes you behind the scenes of your dream jobs. Alisha is a Cuban-American, born and raised in Miami who has spent her adult life in New York and London. She is currently based in Scotland.
In addition to being an intern, Alisha is the ex-CEO and current Chair at I.G. Advisors, an award-winning social impact intelligence agency that consults to the world’s biggest non-profits, companies and foundations on their philanthropy and social impact. She counts among her clients the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and UN Women. She speaks and writes regularly on women’s empowerment, social impact and sustainability. Alisha also built and launched an app called Not My Style, focused on sustainable fashion and is an advisor to economic research firm Fideres. She’s a proud graduate of Harvard University and the London School of Economics.
Alisha loves to read, travel, sing, watch Gilmore Girls, be served coffee in bed by her adoring/long-suffering husband, and hide from her 11-year old twins when they want to play Pokemon. Her writing has been published in Vogue, Romper, The Good Trade, Grazia, Metro, Huffington Post, HerStry and Waterproof, an anthology published in 2021.