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.