It’s Monday morning. You arrive late to work and sit down, slumping in your seat and thinking there is no way this day could get any worse. But then you’re greeted by an email from your boss that promises to do just that.
You sit back and start to think that maybe you don’t really need this job. Maybe if you quit and apply at one of the businesses in your community, you could have a great time and make better money.
Sound familiar? Well, before you slam that hot-off-the-copier resignation letter onto your boss’s desk, take a minute to consider the pros and cons of four very popular professions.
It’s easy to see how retail work is attractive. Pass by the window display in virtually any store at your local mall or walk into any grocery store within your city and “help wanted” signs all but reach out to hand you an application.
In college cities, retail jobs are a great way for students – both college and high school – to make some cash and gain independence. Retail jobs are perfect for those more outgoing folks who love to make their work into more of a social outing than an actual job – meeting new people and helping them find their perfect look or their next meal. In addition, some employees can look forward to 15 to 50 percent discounts at their workplace.
In retail, there is no such thing as a “typical” day. On Tuesday you may be wiping up a spill on aisle 13 and contemplating quitting your job and, by Thursday, you may be selling little Susie a bag of dog food and listening to her talk all about her new puppy. Unlike desk jobs where you will usually see the same faces from 9 to 5, retail offers a variety you just can’t get anywhere else.
Unfortunately, retail isn’t always all new faces, great discounts and socializing as some would have you believe. Often the biggest drawback comes from those you are trying to assist: the customers.
Customers can make or break a day in retail. For every Susie there will inevitably be a Sally who is out to destroy your day. Horror stories of changing room mishaps and grocery store catastrophes can be enough to turn even the most seasoned retail worker away from the profession forever.
Remember walking into the mall or grocery store and seeing all of those “Help Wanted” signs? Well, what do you suppose happens when all of those applicants get hired? That’s right, they are going to want hours. With some stores, finding work hours can be the biggest headache. There may be weeks where you only get one shift, making it hard to pay the bills.
The time of shifts varies as well. Clothing stores open around 9 a.m., and close around 10 p.m. But, when the doors close, it doesn’t mean the work stops. Some shifts go well into the night.
Seeing the cons listed in black and white kind of makes you want to think twice about brushing off the employees who ask if you need help finding anything when you walk into their store, now doesn’t it?
“What can I get for you?”
This phrase conjures up images of greasy hamburgers, freezing cold ice cream, salty french fries and the occasional beer or cocktail. The service industry – which includes jobs like hospitality (hotels), restaurants and bars – employed as many as 4 million Americans in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s one of the fastest-growing industries out there – and for good reason.
Many of these jobs are fairly easy to get. Workers are only required to be at least 16 (for fast food restaurants) to 18 years of age (for many bars and hotels). Most will train workers and can offer shifts with a minimum of seven hours.
If you count tips, these jobs can pay relatively well and sometimes also offer discounts to their workers such as a free or reduced meals or hotel rooms.
However, some aspects of these service-style jobs can dampen the glamour that comes with the title of “restaurant worker.”
As with retail, customers can mean the difference between a really good day and a really bad day. The day can get worse as you serve iced tea and chicken fingers or tidy up rooms while guests are out enjoying the scenery of your beautiful city. Some may utter the phrase, “I don’t get paid enough for this” – or maybe you’ve even uttered it yourself when cleaning up after a particularly tough guest, or fetching the sixth ranch dressing cup in 5 minutes.
That’s because the typical waiter or waitress makes below minimum wage. These workers often rely on tips to supplement their measly $5-per-hour paycheck.
When customers don’t leave tips, it impacts the amount of take-home pay workers receive. Hospitality workers may work many hours to earn a liveable wage, usually while worrying about 30 other rooms.
So remember, tip your waiter or waitress, and pick up after yourself a little when staying overnight in a new town.
Assembly Line Work
The buzzzz of the assembly line or the whirrrrr of the machines as they slide the product into your station, encouraging you to put the next piece of the puzzle together is enough to make anyone want to sign up for the next available position at their local product factory.
But if sound of mass-producing products doesn’t make your head spin, there are also a few perks that accompany such fast-paced innovation.
Assembly line workers bring home some serious cha-ching in their pocketbook. In fact, the average factory or assembly line worker can make anywhere from $28,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on their position and company. Most of this work is very easy to do – and jobs are relatively easy to get – save for some qualifications.
However, the great pay and easy work may still not be enough for some to jump on the assembly line train. Tasks for assembly line workers are often extremely repetitive. Doing the same thing every day for many years is enough to drive anyone insane.
Furthermore, the work can also be exhausting and dangerous for some workers. Worker fatigue and injuries are two of the most costly mistakes in factories when factoring in time lost and hospital bills.
These jobs are not very easy to keep either, unless you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Many companies have very strict alcohol and drug policies that can sometimes make it difficult for some people to continue to work.
The days of hailing a less-than-desireable cab from the street or calling an expensive ride from the airport after a long flight have all but disappeared. Nowadays, companies such as Uber or Lyft have taken to the streets to bring people where they need to go. But that doesn’t mean public transportation is a thing of the past. City buses, trains and, yes, even taxis are necessary for many people.
Working for companies like Uber or Lyft can be much more attractive to people looking at jobs in the transportation sector. With some pretty great perks like choosing your own hours, deciding who you want to pick up, meeting new people and seeing new places, companies like these make driving sound like a sweet deal.
But, as it seems to go, saving the environment or making your own hours isn’t always enough to get people running to their local bus station or the rideshare signup. When working for public transportation – say driving a bus for the city – you may work nights and weekends. Uncooperative passengers can create a very stressful and even dangerous environment for you as a driver.
As with any job, there are perks and drawbacks. After weighing the perks against the many drawbacks of retail, assembly line work, public transportation or the service industry, dealing with your less-than-stellar day may not seem so unbearable.