As kids, a lot of us have a dream job that sits in our brain like a north star. This north star looms over us like a guide, showing us which opportunities to apply for and which skills to build up in hopes we'll someday get paid for it.
Having long-term goals can be deeply clarifying no matter what, and even if your course changes along the way, it clears your initial path. However, it can be hard to let go of that initial dream job if you never get that opportunity. But it's helpful to remember that even dream jobs aren't always what they seem.
All throughout childhood and college I wanted to be a zookeeper. When I was finally offered the internship though, it took me less than a week to realize I couldn't stomach it. It's a lot less 'playing with and training cute animals' and a lot more 'cleaning up the vilest messes and being bombarded with the absolute worst smells on planet earth' than I imagined.
I always wanted to be a flight attendant. Then I actually was one. No thanks, ever again but for a few years it was fun, then it just became a series of indistinguishable hotel rooms and it wasn't worth putting up with the passengers anymore 🤷🏻♀️
I dreamt about working in Veterinary Medicine my whole life. When I finally did, I ended up traumatized. It wasn't the blood, the abuse, or even the euthanasia. It was how we just didn't talk about it. Bad day? Don't talk about it. Got hurt? Don't talk about it. Rude pet parent? Don't talk about it. Burnt out? Don't talk about it. I felt so alone in situations where having support was essential.
Working as a chemist in an academic research lab. Academia is full of narcissistic nutjobs that pretend like their research is the holy grail of their field when it's actually practically inconsequential. The stakes are so low that the results don't matter and everyone is just scavenging for what little funding they can pull together for something nobody really wants or needs.
The amount of pettiness, sabotage, and frankly fraud is rather pathetic. But they face little to no repercussions because, again, nobody cares. Which is why I now do research in a corporate lab.
I got close to it. Close enough to see what that life would actually be like. And it sucked. It turns out, I don’t like working on celebrities. They’re kind of annoying clients. It’s not fun and glamorous. It’s unnecessarily stressful. And I don’t want to be a famous stylist or famous anything.
It makes people weird. Mark Ruffalo is only normal because he hasn’t figured out he’s famous yet. I still enjoy doing hair. And I still like people, for the most part. So I went with a more low-key path. I’m very happy with my choices. Sometimes on the way to your dream job, you have to make adjustments.
Doctor. Currently working 7am-7pm 6 days a week for months at a time. 4 weeks of vacation a year. I am getting paid about $12 per hour when you do the math out. That is residency.
I wanted to help people but this field takes advantage of that and the hospital CEOs and decreasing insurance reimbursement takes advantage of that. I chose to do diagnostic radiology because this internal medicine lifestyle and workload is just ridiculous.
A couple years out of college I got my dream job working for the DA's office. I was the youngest employee by far. Upon getting interviewed, I let them know I had vacation planned for 10 days the next month. They said no problem. One of my 'big' jobs was to print and highlight overnight arrests so the prosecutors had a list of cases.
Every morning they'd go to the computer and hit print, and this gigantic stack of every inmate would print. (This was a large city jail!!) Then you'd go through and highlight the new arrests. On day 2, I pointed out that you could ask the computer specifically for dates ranging from here to here, thus only printing the names we needed. The boss flipped. Didn't trust it. We still had to print them all.
Add in several similar instances of technology available in the office not being utilized efficiently. When I returned from vacation, I worked 3 hours of OT getting things filed. The next day, I worked through lunch, then was called into a meeting. I was fired on the spot for being on unauthorized leave for 10 days. I'd already been replaced.
Someone went back into the office and got my purse. I left the building absolutely shelll shocked, calling my husband from a pay phone and crying. There is zero doubt in my mind that people felt threatened because of my knowledge. I thought I was making things easier around the office, but I obviously stepped on toes.
It was satisfying a few years later when the prosecutors office was cleaned out and the DA fired after an investigation of fraud and abuse. Maybe I dodged a bullet?!
I have been fortunate enough to land my dream job several times. Sometimes I actually hired into it, but most times I hired into another job but was able to create a dream job for myself with an internal transfer after doing superlative work for a few years. And every single time it didn't last.
No matter how well I did the job, no matter how profitable for the company, no matter how satisfied the customers, at some point upper management wants more and hires in additional management to 'improve' the situation. The new management doesn't know what we do or how we do it and starts micromanaging until the dream job is a daily nightmare.
Every single time. Idiot managers often don't even know what damage they have done until we all quit and the business collapses. Some of the worst management-idiots even escape to a new promotion and suffer no consequences for the destruction. Still salty about it? Yes, yes, I am.
Teaching. Thought it be nice but was totally not suited to it, was dreadful at managing behaviour and just couldn't understand how to plan or deliver lesson. I sucked.
It amazes me how much teaching is promoted by the mass media and society as am 'anybody can do it job'. It certainly isn't and I met some unhappy colleagues who hated it too or that weren't suited to it either when I was there but were trapped in it.
Also if you can't control a class don't expect management to understand, they won't. They'll see it as your fault. To them, the school is their business and the kids and their parents are their customers they want kept happy. Parental complaints look bad on you so don't expect management to side with you or have empathy.
They often see it as your fault and you as the problem. It definitely is a marmite profession that comes back to your personality type. Just being able to manage kids alone isn't enough, it's so much more that requires a massive array of skills and talent. You either have the knack or you don't and in my new profession now I'm often asked why I left such a 'cushy job/ handy number' like teaching.
The same people won't believe me when I try to tell them and believe it's an easy gig. People appear to think because the holidays are good it makes it a dream job and negates everything else.
I worked for a small non-profit doing work that I was super passionate about. I thought it was going to be a dream job. In reality, I was super overworked and underpaid. And being such a small organization there was lots of interpersonal drama that I was just not into.
I now work a more “corporate” job, but it’s still work I’m passionate about and makes a difference. I’m getting paid over double than what I made previously, my work load is manageable, and I am way less stressed. I also really like my coworkers and boss AND I work from home full time. The job I was unsure about wound up being the dream job.
I got my dream job as a designer of skiing magazines, but then my workload doubled with no raise, the raises I was promised never came, all of the people I liked working with left, and things just got gradually worse. I left three months ago, and they still haven't been able to fill the position because they're offering a wage that was low nine years ago for half of the work.
I worked in forensics and while the gruesome parts didn't affect me directly, I kinda lost my smile? It's a dark world, yet exciting. Worst part was for sure the work place and how it was managed.
Teaching at a college. I love my field and I love research. It's easy to ramble for hours on end about a topic. The passion and curiosity I held for my discipline, I thought, would make me a good instructor. What I did not expect was how much hatred, contempt, jealousy, and sabotage would come from administration.
'Oh, you're enjoying teaching an entry level class with 30 students? We'll raise the cap so it has 75 enrolled. Have fun grading until you cry each week!'
'Oh, you want to be an expert educator in one area? Then you get to be the (unpaid) consultant on *all* department exams on that topic. Enjoy re-writing 7 midterms for your colleagues with one week's notice!'
'Oh, you haven't had a raise in six years? The football coach *needs* to be highest paid person in the state. If you ask for a cost of living increase again we'll set the students against you by claiming inflation adjusted raises for instructors would result in doubling tuition costs for students!'
And so many of the students see the courses as box checking and are burnt out from previous bad educational experiences. I don't blame them, but no matter how hard I tried to be kind and share my excitement for the subject it felt like throwing a dandelion into the grand canyon of despair.
My dream job for a long time was being a paid writer and/or screenwriter. I’ve more or less reached that point where I’m making a living writing, but boy is it different than what I expected. I could be cut/let go at anytime. Years on a temp contract with no benefits. I get the weirdest notes on scripts by someone who has no idea what storytelling is.
It’s a lot of keeping your head down, producing content, and hoping it doesn’t get noted to the point you have to restart. My freelance writing work is similar where no one has what I dreamed of being an “artistic vision”. It’s more “we can’t shoot this in Los Angeles, so change it to Seattle” and then I have to go through the script and make the changes. A lot of it is just textual grunt work.
I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to make a living like this, and when I say “I’m a writer” as my living, people get all starry-eyed, but the life of a working writer is really just implementing notes and trying to make it seem like no one else can do what you do.
I actually have my “dream job.” Growing up I would watch ASPCA cops and loved the idea of being a dog trainer or behavior person to help the damaged dogs get better and be adopted by loving families. I condemn a lot more dogs to death and see broken dogs unable to be saved that ASPCA cops did not show lol.