10 Dream Jobs That Aren’t That Glamorous
Who wouldn’t want to be a travel writer? They visit some of the most interesting and beautiful places in the world, and they get paid for it. Or a celebrity assistant? They get to hang out with celebrities!
The truth is that while these jobs certainly do come with great perks, even so-called “dream jobs” aren’t perfect. Though all 10 of the following people love their careers and wouldn’t change them for anything, there are times when, like the rest of us, they think work sucks.
1. Travel writer
The perception: Trips to the world’s most beautiful locations and meals at the best restaurants, all expenses paid.
The reality: “It’s a difficult industry to get into and it can be a tough field to stay in because it’s not known for paying well,” says Sarah Sekula, a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Sherman’s Travel and USA Today. “Therefore, this is not the right profession for you if your main concern is making a ton of money.”
Plus, Sekula says, although the travel is great, it can interfere with her personal life. “You’re on the road often, so you miss things in town like birthday parties and weddings,” she says.
2. Celebrity assistant
The perception: Behind-the-scenes access to a world few get to see.
The reality: “From the outside looking in at [the life of] an assistant to Hollywood icons looks glamorous. Not really,” says Lisa Krohn, who says she often worked 75 to 100 hours per week as an assistant to celebrities and business powerhouses such as Martha Stewart, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and author and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber.
“You’re an intimate confidant and muse for people 24/7 on top of doing all of the administrative work. It is crucial for you to find, maintain and grow in your own character, personality and identity constantly. Otherwise you become a victim, emotional cripple and you live vicariously through your boss and his or her life,” she says.
The perception: “[Since I work from home], many people immediately jump to the conclusion that I get to work whenever I want, sleep in every day, go out with friends all the time, make a ton of home-office tax deductions, and that it’s an overall easy lifestyle,” says Andrew Schrage, editor of the personal finance blog MoneyCrashers.com.
The reality: “I have had to overcome some major challenges to working from home to avoid business failure,” Schrage says. “Not having the structured 9-to-5 routine forces me to become extremely disciplined and prepare for my work-from-home job. Moreover, working from home makes it difficult to separate work from my personal life. Working at an office allows you to shut out your work once you leave and get home. Unfortunately, I rarely get to enjoy that freedom, which I’ve learned is priceless.”
4. Conference and meeting planner
The perception: It’s all menu sampling and international travel. Paid for, of course.
The reality: “My friends think I lead a glamorous life — traveling to all the great resorts in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii,” says Hillary Bessiere, director of business development for Bishop McCann, a firm that produces meetings and events for brands around the world. “However, what they don’t realize is that as planners we usually only see one part of the destination from the time we arrive to the time we depart, and that’s our operations office to make sure our clients’ programs go off without a hitch. I’ve been called a jet-setter, but what people don’t see are the days you are up from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m., and sometimes you’re lucky if you are able to change clothes every day.”
5. Jewelry designer
The perception: Arts and crafts, for adults.
The reality: It can be a logistical nightmare.
“The part of my job that is not glamorous (that few realize before setting out) is the complexities of managing and financing a lot of inventory,” says Kathy Loewenstern, who designs and sells her jewelry collection at KathyLo.com. “To be successful in the jewelry business, you need a very wide product assortment and you need to be constantly changing and updating to stay abreast of trends and to give your customers something new.”
This need for an extensive product assortment creates stress throughout the business, from designing to sourcing to selling, she says.
6. Social media manager
The perception: Tweeting? How hard could that be?
The reality: “On the outside, it may look as though my job simply entails playing on social media and telling people what music I like,” says Corina Newby, a community manager for Supernova , an online indie music community based in Ontario.
In reality, though, Newby says there is a lot of behind-the-scenes analysis and planning that goes into creating an effective social media strategy. “Not only is there a planned time, place and format for each message posted, but every like, share and click must be tracked meticulously to determine levels of engagement,” she says. “All of this data is then rolled in to the next campaign, so that those deceptively ‘random’ tweets and Facebook posts can be used strategically to deliver results.”
7. Private investigator
The perception: Life is one big “Magnum P.I.” mystery, waiting to be solved.
The reality: “I work very long hours and not every hour is paid,” says Brian Baker, a licensed private detective in Pennsylvania. “Cases have budgets, and you may go over what you have contracted. Scheduling is dictated by the objective of the case. Plus, people think you have special access to private information, but so much is protected (fortunately for privacy) that if you violate certain laws or person’s rights you can get sued.”
8. Sporting Event Producer
The perception: “[People believe that] I have the opportunity to go on a lot of the experiences we create. We create experiences to major events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four,” says Robert Tuchman, author of “100 Sporting Events You Must See Live,” and president of Skylight Entertainment, a company that produces sports-centered events and travel experiences.
The reality: “Everyone thinks because this is what I do that I am actually the one enjoying these once-in-a-lifetime type experiences,” Tuchman says. “At the end of the day I am making sure they go well and are planned out correctly. It is long hours and the event planning process is very tedious. People don’t realize a lot of the time all the back end that goes into a great experience.”
9. Bed and breakfast owner
The perception: “Most folks think being an innkeeper is about entertaining guests and having fun,” says Jan Preus, owner of the Inn at Sandwich Center, a bed and breakfast in Sandwich, Mass.
The reality: “While it’s true [that my job is fun], the other side of the equation is the amount of work involved,” Preus says. “The two things most people are really surprised about with my job are the time I spend doing laundry and the sheer volume of it, and the amount of time that you must spend managing your Internet presence: blogging, tweeting, Facebook interaction, maintaining your website, tracking your presence on Google, Yelp, Yahoo, etc.”
The perception: That the job is easy. “I get emails from women all the time telling me that they would love to be a matchmaker because they have had luck matching up their friends,” says Marla Martenson, who also gets frequent “Millionaire Matchmaker” comparisons.
The reality: “People don’t realize how particular my clients can be. I have had a client not go on a second date with a woman because she was wearing a puffy skirt and he couldn’t be 100 percent sure that her butt wasn’t big. I have a client who sends me photos of supermodels and wants me to track them down so he can date them. I am only a mortal matchmaker and not a magician.”