It’s no secret that the first years of your so-called “career” are not always going to be rainbows and orange sherbet, but instead a constant reminder that you’re still young with a lot to learn. With today’s economic climate and the growing lack of available work, many 20-somethings are forced to take jobs that may test everything they believe in.
Before you go jumping headfirst into the shallow end of the job pool, here is a collection of the worst jobs for a 20-something to have, based on job security, working conditions and, of course, pay. Hopefully, we can help point your compass in the right direction toward endless orange sherbet parties, and away from being a fluffer in low-budget porn.
10. Dog Walker
Dogs are adorable and make wonderful companions, but is it worth it to be jerked in a dozen different directions by butt-sniffing, neglected canines like medieval stretching torture with never-ending poop bags?
The surprising truth about a dog-walking career is that with a consistent number of clients and an affordable pricing system, dog walkers can make a couple hundred bucks a day working fewer hours and getting more exercise than most jobs.
The downside to dog walking, aside from its lack of job security, is the liability of having an appendage ripped off without the health benefits you would find in a stable job. A dog-walking career also leaves little room for potential, but you would be a walking wet dream for the drooling, dog-loving ladies. Still, your best shot is to sack up and become a veterinarian instead.
9. Nonprofit Environmentalist
Somebody has to save us from ourselves and the impending end of the world, but it might be best left as a hobby rather than a career path. This is a lifestyle that requires a lifelong dedication to solving large, frustrating problems like oceanic pollution, while getting little in return in the process.
Although you’re assured to meet amazing people and learn numerous life lessons about yourself and the world along the way, the not-for-profit sector is not for the faint of heart, as it requires a clear mind, a tolerance for failure and a certain peace of mind with having a light wallet.
8. Freelance Writer
The drug-addled days of Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac scavenging the lands in search of a story worth telling are gone. To follow that path now would only make you seem like a misguided Generation-Y lunatic with a booger sugar problem.
Freelance writing is sure to have its perks, but it also comes with its setbacks. Although it’s tempting to set your own schedule and work when and where you please, the lack of available writing opportunities makes it damn near impossible, plus the grind of just getting by financially never makes it easy to travel the countryside with a trunk full of expensive, experimental substances.
The best you can hope for is to find a recurring, full-time freelance gig with an established company, but they’re mostly smart enough to rent the work out to hopeful college kids with big dreams. And let’s face it, nobody reads new literature anymore, so that leaves you just one failed screenplay short of looking like every other jerkoff at Starbucks with a laptop and a half-cocked theory as to what people want to read. That, or you could be writing this very article yourself.
7. Production Assistant
Signing up for this gig is the public admission that you secretly intend to be the next James Cameron. It’s the equivalent of being an extra on set, waiting for your big break, but only contributing to the process by doing the jobs that the talented, successful people don’t want to waste their time doing.
The problem here is that you’re doing it with the wrong intentions, most of the time just trying to get ahead in life no matter what it takes. The low pay and lack of security due to constant cancellations are only minor speed bumps, right?
You’ll go to bed at night convincing yourself that someone is likely to notice you and get you out of the mail room and into a higher-paying role. But even if that happens, you'll just end up wasting more time rebooting trilogies based on one-dimensional vampires that suck not only blood, but every penny out of classic American film culture.
6. Military Soldier
How would you like to be one in a massive number to put your life on the line every day for people you’ve never met? The rewards for the military are obviously nothing to shake a stick at (free education, health care and a long-term payout), but the idea of fighting for your country, although honorable, should perhaps not involve 20-somethings carrying automatic weapons, taking lives and then being sent home expected to perform normal household chores.
There is also the issue of being taken away from doing what you love. If you were an artist and somebody took away your paintbrushes halfway through a mural, would you not be a bit perturbed? With the armed forces, much of your life is dictated by events that you probably cannot control, and whether you’re a cook or a crack shot, you might not get to do it as long as you hope.
5. Energy-Drink Promoter
There didn’t seem to be much hope for you, but alas, overpriced energy drinks offer a chance not only to don the most ridiculous get-up and drive around in a car that looks like it has a giant male member strapped on top, but the perks include getting college kids hopped up on liquid cocaine and being paid a solid $10 per hour.
If you’re expecting to do this modern traveling salesman stuff into your later years, remember that quality strippers usually get moved to the Tuesday-afternoon shift once they start showing wrinkles and stretch marks. There should still be a free lunch buffet, though.
4. Mid-Level Marketing Man
Comedian Bill Hicks put it best when he said, “If you’re in marketing or advertising, kill yourself.” Hicks is referring to the soulless devil’s little helper that you’ll become if you were to enter into this industry.
Whether you’re working for a big-time agency or a sleazy pyramid scheme disguised as a small consulting firm, cold calling complete strangers and conning them into buying rancid perfume is no way to make a living. You’re likely to pull 60-hour weeks at a measly pay rate (many of these jobs are commission-based) only to end up hating your life and all people in general.
These days, acting is seemingly the quickest, easiest road to fame, especially in a world of reality shows. The true crime is that, outside of talent-based theater, acting is the pursuit of becoming the next lead in a cheesy vampire flick, all while waiting tables at The Cheesecake Factory.
It’s not rocket science to know that very few possess the talent, and even fewer have their talent discovered, making this profession one of the least secure and least profitable jobs for an inexperienced 20-something. Without a solid background and the right people looking out for you, it’s another pit stop on the road to shelling out Jell-O shots in hopes that a famous somebody will walk through your door so you can slip them your overpriced headshot and a dry handy under the table. Otherwise, it's hard to catch a break.
2. Lab Assistant
To be short and simple, it’s just not a good conversation topic to tell people that you test a few hundred blood and semen samples each day for an average salary of barely more than $34,000 (Salary.com). Unless of course you’re really into it.
Next: Tipping Etiquette for Men
1. Internet Start-Up Production Team Member
Being a 20-something employee of an online start-up company is best equated to being doo-doo on the bottom of a giant's shoe, as you’ll be walked all over the whole time you’re there by the person in charge, and it’ll stink something stupid.
Aside from negative job security and sweatshop pay, the working conditions of doing five people’s jobs for the price of one and having your manhood ripped away and urinated on in front of your colleagues for not being able to perform a task you were never hired to do will teach you the meanings of words like “alcoholism” and “abusive relationship.”
If we could leave 20-somethings with one solid piece of advice, it’s to not overwork yourself during your most exciting years while getting dumped on by a disillusioned, money-grubbing narcissist who arrives at noon in a six-figure penismobile while you bleed out your best work only to ride the bus home with Hobo Joe. Have some respect for yourself, aim higher, and be happy, kid.