The Different Types of Jobs You Can Have

A totally comprehensive list.


‘Freelancing’ is actually short for ‘being an unemployed person with a college degree in your mid-twenties to mid-thirties who has some idea of how to make money via the internet.’ As a freelancer, you’re most often found ‘working’ (read: writing emails and watching YouTube videos) in coffee shops that offer free WiFi with purchase of a beverage. You have, perhaps, one or two ‘clients’ (again, short for ‘friend of a friend that has been paying you for an extremely short-term service in a noncommittal manner that in no way implies there will ever be a ‘steady stream’ of money) on whom you rely to fund perhaps 20 to 40 percent of your cost of living. Despite the fact that you make the remaining majority of your income (60 to 80 percent) through a combination of menial service jobs such as ‘barista,’ ‘server,’ ‘bartender,’ and ‘office assistant,’ unemployment checks, food banks, food stamps, short-term loans, and ‘borrowed’ money from parents, your most common reply to the question, “So, what do you do?” is the quick, self-satisfied response, “Oh, I’m a freelancer.”

A Job That is Unsatisfyingly Similar to What You Ideally Want to be Doing

This kind of job is one you take after a certain amount of mental back and forth and an eventual difficult compromise. “It is a writing job… That’s what I always wanted to be…a writer,” you say, upon a salary offer of around $30,000 with decent benefits after a vaguely positive but mostly awkward series of interviews with the “Chief Experience Officer,” “Information Guru,” and “WordPress Ninja.” But the position you’ve accepted is “Content Manager” and in actuality you’ll be writing articles on real estate and educational resources for first-time homebuyers at a startup absolutely filled with business casual Web 2.0 enthusiasts who ‘get’ the internet. This is, of course, incredibly far off from what you really want to be doing (a novelist), but also frustratingly close enough that you figure it will work for your resume; it will eventually land you a more suitable job. Over time, however, you begin to have some serious existential crises about becoming a total ‘normie’ and find that you are unable to procure any shred of bohemian or intellectual dignity from what you’re devoting the majority of your time to.


Being a barista is technically almost identical to working fast food but without the unmentionable stigma that fast food carries that is “being totally ghetto,” or basically just “being really unseemly.” This is because as a barista you’re much less likely to have coworkers that don’t share your worldview/ don’t genuinely enjoy and promote mainstream values and clientele that generally thinks you’re ‘cool’ or superior in some way because, they feel, you have an in-depth knowledge of the correct (i.e. Italian) way to make a macchiato, for example, and how stoic you appear while executing the extremely detailed task of preparing a latte (note: not applicable for Starbucks baristas). Being a barista further allows you, generally, to control the music played over the stereo system in your coffee shop, which further adds to the street cred of the barista position as well as your better-than-fast-food worker status, and as additional benefits you receive tips, don’t have to wear an unseemly uniform, and can sometimes hang out with your friends. In all, being a barista is an OK job, but not one that ‘gets you anywhere,’ and as such is typically a transitional venture, because you definitely don’t want to be making people’s skinny lattes for the rest of your life.


Usually reserved for ‘alternatives’ that are in college or newly post-college that perceive themselves as a bit more stylistically refined than other members of their culture, you work retail because you’ve taken it upon yourself to assume the role of cultural arbiter at a place like Buffalo Exchange, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. Retail positions as a rule can generally lead ‘nowhere,’ except perhaps to ‘Manager’ or rarely, something called ‘Regional Manager.’ Resultingly, these jobs are treated basically as transitional duties one must accomplish to make ends meet before finding a career job, unless, of course, you think retail and fashion is your ‘talent’ and strive to one day be the ‘head buyer’ at some independent vintage shop in Williamsburg or some amalgamation of the Cobra Snake and Dov Charney.

Fast Food

If you’re reading this blog and work fast food you’re either a struggling ‘actor’ in LA, you’ve ‘given up’ and have made a sort of unconscious statement about your incredibly authentic existential apathy and honestly not ‘giving a fuck,’ or you’re extremely motivated to appear as authentic/ironic as possible and thus have found the most underpaying, demeaning job available. Either that or you’re genuinely poor and through some anomalous situation have arrived at this blog, perhaps via a Google search for “food stamp benefits for part-time fast food employees,” or something.

Typical Office Job

Like working in fast food, working the typical office job indicates that you’ve basically given up on your life goals. Unlike working in fast food, however, you’ve used your college degree to settle/compromise on a job that pays well with decent benefits (because, well, it’s worth the money). You are comfortable with business casual, well-spoken and socially secure enough to answer interview questions like “Can you describe a time in your professional life in which you had to overcome adversity?” and “What are your three best qualities, and if hired, how will they make you a positive asset to our team?” with gusto and confidence. At the office, you’re agreeable enough – working as an administrative assistant or some other non-specialized but business-oriented position – but you avoid lunch with coworkers because in the back of your head, your job is, from a certain, unavoidable perspective, a bit depressing.

A Job You Actually Like That Pays Above Minimum Wage

Pursued by so many but attained by so few, A Job You Actually Like That Pays Above Minimum Wage is reserved for less than .000001% of the population, and as such cannot be written about here for lack of field data and informational resources. One can only speculate on its opulent mysteries, and hope, one day, to come across such a significant, satisfying goldmine that pays the bills and makes you happy at the same time. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • Erik Stinson

    i heard STD has the last kind of job listed someone should interview him

    • stephen

      sup dudes

  • Heretica Neue

    A Job You Actually Like That Pays Above Minimum Wage – I fit into this category. ;D

    • Evan Hatch

      your mother and i are very proud of you

  • fl

    I'm hoping to get offered a Typical Office Job and the first sentence rings true, no matter how depressingly.

  • Michael Inscoe

    the barista description is so accurate it makes me suicidal

    • Baristajockey

      girls love baristas. they say 'oh, he makes a really good coffee' and swoon. as if that makes a difference. fucking baristas.

  • Kent

    Typo in the second section. 'Want' is missing from, 'incredibly far-off from what you really (want) to be doing.'

    This was so cynical.

    • Brandon Gorrell


  • adamhump

    “get a grip and grow up, Brandon” – Judd Apatow

  • cb

    forgot temp

  • Calvin

    Bummer how accurate it is. I'd add “Temping” because it's just as bad as a Typical Office Job, but your depression is temporary.

  • Ray Allen 4 3

    Oh you hate your job?
    Theres a support group for that, it's called everyone
    They meet at the bar everyday at 5pm

    • Brandon Gorrell

      at least quote your sources bro

      • Joseph Ernest Harper

        Yeah. Dumbass trolls.

  • EmiliaBedelia

    the scare quotes in this piece are perfect.

  • anon

    incredibly depressing. apparently true. fuck the world

  • ok

    I love you BSG.

  • Daniel Schealler


    Guess who's in the top 0.000001%



  • Silly Leftist

    It's silly to think you're job will fulfill every existential desire you may have. Marx believed people should have a varied work day–spend a few hours in the factory, a few fishing in the afternoon, and a few contemplating philosophy at night. While we may be spending most of our time in the proverbial factory, an eight-hour work day leaves plenty of time for other pursuits with which to define our senses of self.

  • kelly huckaby

    “..perhaps via a Google search for “food stamp benefits for part-time fast food employees,” or something. “

    read this and thought 'meta'

  • jon

    “…incredibly far off from what you really want to be doing (a novelist), but also…”

    You can have said job and still do novelists. That's what you meant, right?

  • Maule One

    Thought Catalog,

    I grew up poor, and I continue to be poor. I genuinely enjoy reading the articles/essays/musings on this website. The section on your options/reasons for working in fast food is funny, yes, and I know that most of the things written here aren't supposed to be taken seriously. But I was left extremely offended. The idea that you might be interested in learning and culture and wit, haven't “given up,” and also stuck in McDonald's might be hard for you to comprehend, but I would imagine that you left a welt on at least some percentage of your readers. I know comments sections aren't for complainers. I just think sometimes these articles might do a better job at hitting home if they also didn't marginalize.

    Oh, and, you know, whatever. Apathy, boredom, fuck you, whatever.

    • Brandon

      i'm sorry for offending you.

  • D. S. Aldridge

    I'm almost 60, and I've done all of the above. I had to do what made the most money when my kids were growing up, which was office work, largely law offices (a step above general office work and way above my first office job as a state clerical employee). I went back to school to pursue my passion (horticulture) at 30. Found I could not make enough money to support my children, so ended up back in offices. At 40, I went back to school to study business management, which got me exactly nowhere, so I ended up back in offices, again for the money. After the kids were gone, I needed a break so I worked retail for awhile, but the inanity and the caliber of unintelligent people who yes, have given up on their lives, made me insane. I left my last job in grocery to pursue my freelancing career. I'm happy, but poor. Poor doesn't bother me, unhappy does.

  • alternatekev

    WordPress. Capital P.

  • Robertbenesh

    Sweet, another article on TC telling me that I'm never going to find a job that will be satisfying or pay well, no matter how much education I receive or how intently I pursue one. Such is life, I suppose.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Nah. That's just sour grapes.

      It's definitely do-able.

      1) Find something tricky that businesses need and that you enjoy
      2) Get to be good at it
      3) Pick up project management and ego-stroking skills
      4) Find an employer
      5) Make it clear to that employer by word and action that you're going to work your butt off regardless of how they treat you – but if they don't compensate you, you'll just find someone else who will

      I'd have to personally recommend IT – the scope of IT is so broad that you can do almost anything. But I'm sure other fields have similar opportunities to offer.

  • Depressed Bear

    im now going to kill myself because i linked all of my views to this article..

  • Maggie

    About to head to my interview for “A Job That is Unsatisfyingly Similar to What You Ideally Want to be Doing.”

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