Bad jobs I worked before I started my career


I have an irrational (or maybe not-so-irrational fear?) of something going terribly wrong and me becoming unemployed and forced to look for entry level positions. Maybe I will soon be a barista, or an Avon lady, who knows what kind of doom and gloom the future holds? I don’t consider myself above miserable work because:

  1. bills make me humble and I will do what is necessary to pay them.

  2. the only thing that scares me more than a bad job is no job at all.

I think remembering the bad jobs help you to not take your good job for granted. Let us all take a moment to remember the worst jobs we’ve ever had.

I narrowed my list down to three, but I think I could get 10 if I thought you wanted to listen to a 2,000-word rant about my teenage and early-twenty-something employment history. Here is what I did before I came to do what I do now:

Sales associate at Kohl’sThis job wasn’t actually that bad, but I’m listing it because my pay was so low. I was working in Utah and the minimum wage was much less than it had been in Canada. I was 16 and making $6 or $7 an hour. The problem was first, that the job was mind-numbingly boring and second, I was around clothes and purses all day so I usually spent my entire paycheque as soon as I got it.

Server at a 24 hour diner (yep, I worked the night shift 10pm – 6am). The worst part of this job was obviously the schedule. The rest of it wasn’t so bad: restaurants really aren’t that busy at 2am! I spent a lot of time watching TV or playing cards with the other staff. On the upside, the money was great. In addition to being paid more per hour because it was the night shift (I think I got $11 or $12/hr), tips were generous — and why not? I was a young college student working through the wee hours of the morning to pay my tuition. It wasn’t unusual for me to go home with $200-300 in cash from tips at the end of the night. I alternate between being terribly ashamed that I worked here to not giving a damn because I was making ~$1,000 per week. In any case, the stint was short lived and many less lucrative serving appointments followed.

The Apple Genius Bar. I worked here part-time for a year while in graduate school. In addition to basically every customer lying about how they broke their electronics (Oh, you don’t know why all the liquid sensors have been triggered? So weird! Yes, I’m sure the screen spontaneously shattered in your pocket also! Right, it dropped 6 inches onto plush carpet and just bent in half! Crazy!), Apple was continuously revamping our schedules and appointments to make us “more efficient”. 15 minute appointments got slashed to 10 minutes, and we were expected to do more than was really possible in the time span we were provided. To add insult to injury, when I was promoted to another position, I didn’t receive a much-deserved raise. I complained about it for 2 months… while aggressively pursuing a job elsewhere. When I told them I was leaving, they offered a five-figure boost to my pay — which INFURIATED me instead of made me want to stay. If you could afford to pay me so much more this whole time, why did you wait until I was halfway out the door? I sold my Apple stock a few months after I left the company with a bitter taste in my mouth (though I won’t be giving up my iPhone any time soon).

What was your worst job(s) so far?



  1. I was a retail manager and I HATED it. Some of the employees were horrible (the store owner hired them) and customers can be not so nice a lot of the time.

    • This was my life throughout my first few years of college. I hated it with a passion and I genuinely think that this awful job is what made me so cynical.

  2. What the hell kind of salary does the Apple Genius Bar pay if they offered you a FIVE-figure increase?! Oh my.

    I looooove night shift jobs.

  3. All of the food service jobs I have had have been nightmares. I have also worked in retail before and hated it. I belong in an office!

  4. Wow apple sure knows how to make their employees happy. My worst job was when I was a cart pusher for a grocery store.

    • Bridget (Author)

      Yeah it was pretty disappointing. Apple is probably great to work for in the corporate offices though.

  5. SWR

    My first social worker job was overnight at a wet shelter- with people coming down off alcohol and drug binges. It was really difficult, and often disgusting, but I’d go back in a heartbeat.

    The worst for me was working food service in college. But- it paid the bills. So I stayed

  6. I worked at basically an ice cream shack for several summers. Most of the time it was fine, but one summer the A/C was broken. It was hotter inside the little trailer then it was outside, and ALL of the ice cream was too melty to scoop – but yet, we stayed opened. The health inspector even came and said everything was up to standard. Don’t ask me how serving liquid ice cream is healthy… but apparently it is. Then, because we couldn’t serve the ice cream, we lost a ton of business, which of course was blamed on us…

    • Bridget (Author)

      wow that’s horrible. I’m impressed that you kept working I would have bailed… (guess that doesn’t bode well for my work ethic. I also don’t like ice cream haha)

  7. My worst job was working retail at Addition-Elle a plus size clothing store in Canada when I was 18. I didn’t last one week. After one woman who had tried on a gazillion and one things became irate because the clothes weren’t fitting her right she pretty much threw them at me and walked out the store. I looked at the floor manager and said I’m right behind her and I left and never came back!

  8. Brian

    I guess most people would consider the job at the doughnut shop (4am to 10am) on Saturdays my worst job. But I really enjoyed it. My co-worker would pick me up (no matter what state of inebriation I was in) and take me to work. Basically I was there for company and to make this lady feel safe. The pay wasn’t great, but I got as many doughnuts as I wanted, so as a result I don’t eat many doughnuts anymore.

  9. I’ve had nothing but bad jobs.

  10. John S @ Frugal Rules

    I’ve actually read a few articles about how Apple pays crappy wages at their stores and that a lot of the employees are very unhappy. My worst jobs have been ones I had while in high school or college, basically in the fast food industry. Now that I know how some of the stuff is made I stay as far away as I can.

    • Bridget (Author)

      Yeah it’s surprising because initially it started out very good but rapidly declined until we were all feeling overworked and under-appreciated. Corporate Apple seems great to work for but retail Apple? no thanks.

  11. toocreatives

    I had a call center job in which I sold the company’s insurances. The money was bad and the insurance was too (and dealing with rude clients didn’t help) but it was the company itself that made me hate it. Every paycheck was wrong! From saying I missed days (which I never did) to discounting the access card (that they misplaced when I left),… I practically had to beg for MY money!

    • Bridget (Author)

      That’s messed up, though there seems to be a lot of companies out there that hope employers won’t check or go to the effort to get what’s rightfully owed to them. It’s really awful.

  12. I think that everyone needs to work in retail/servings jobs at least once in their lifetimes to understand how shitty it can really be.

    I’ve had a lot of not so great jobs including golf cart beer girl, motel housekeeper, barista, and laundry worker at a cadet camp. I was a server at the keg for awhile years ago, and when I dyed my hair from blonde to dark brown they told me to “clear it with them” the next time (having that come from a manager with frosted tips just added insult to injury). Um, NO.

  13. My worst job was working as a nurse’s assistant at a major children’s hospital while I was in college. It paid well – $12/hour in Pittsburgh, which is a really good wage – but the work was terrible. One time I had to physically restrain a screaming child while she got blood taken, another time I had to “babysit” a 16-year-old who was on suicide watch, then take him to the psych hospital. It was connected to the children’s hospital by an underground tunnel, and I had to wheel him over in the middle of the night, alone. Another time, I was stuck in the NICU and had to help the nurses take care of babies who had all been born addicted to drugs. It was horrible, draining work.

    Luckily, I figured out quickly that I didn’t want to be a nurse and changed my major pretty fast.

    • Bridget (Author)

      wow.. good that you got that experience but that definitely sounds less than ideal lol

      • Tekoa

        “I had to help the nurses take care ob babies who had all been born addicted to drugs.”
        All I can say is holy crap

        That and my heart would break

  14. Haha I’ve totally lied about my broken laptop. I said it just stopped working but really I spilt a cup of Baileys all over it. Thankfully they covered it under my AppleCare, which I still find surprising, and my laptop still works! I’ve also had my fair share of crappy jobs. Cashier at A&W for starters. Smelling like grease for two years in highschool was not fun. But it definitely does make me humble that’s for sure.

    • LOL I also worked at A&W for my first job. it was disgusting. But we had fun, we were always deep frying everything we could get our little hands on when it was slow and we’d have water fights in the kitchen with the sprayers.

    • Bridget (Author)

      haha Jessica!! I hated customers like you!! People were always like, “I don’t know what happened” and I’m like, “really? because it smells like Coca-cola”

      A&W sucks you two. My condolences.

  15. Tekoa

    I think the worst job I’ve ever had is the one I’m at now working at an emergancy homeless shelter. Its classified as a dry shelter, but guests still try to get in while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. I have to search bags for banned items, deal with decieption, unapreciative/disrespectful clients and break up fights. The rules always change too. For someone who craves stability, harmony and order….this is not a good environment. Today I had an interview at a pet food store.

  16. SK

    There have been several instances in which I abandoned all dignity to pay the bills.

    1. Tim Hortons. This was during a hellish summer in which I worked two jobs so I would have enough money to last me throughout the school year. The customers were rude, management was awful, and other employees were snotty. I left halfway through a shift because a hideous lady threw a cup at me. The owner “lost” my last paycheque and I had to go through the corporate office to get it.
    2. Starbucks. The store manager scheduled us as lightly as possible so it was basically impossible to get anything done. She also frequently scheduled us to work the turnaround shift, which was illegal because there is less than 8 hours in between the closing and opening shifts. Customers constantly took advantage of the “Just Say Yes” policy and made ridiculous demands. The district manager put A LOT of emphasis on how we were only allowed one piercing per ear and couldn’t have any tattoos showing.
    3. Material handler at a warehouse. I rode a power jack around a warehouse all day and packed up orders. That was actually really fun. However, the quotas were really demanding. I probably would have been fine, but management put me in a section with heavy products. I can lift toilets and pressure washers, it just takes me longer than a burly man.
    4. Receiving at a university food service company. This was awful because of management. The company did weekly financial reports and altered the information constantly to make it seem like they were more profitable than they really were. I was strongly encouraged to lie when I did inventory, and the guy who did payroll frequently “forgot” to pay people for the full amount that they had worked. I had to start taking pictures of the sign in sheet because one of the managers was altering what I wrote down. I would say this was the worst job I ever worked.

    I’ve been fairly lucky in that I live in Calgary. There are always jobs. I’ve always been able to get a new one when my current job gets unbearable. The trickiest part is finding a job that works with my school schedule, but it’s doable.

  17. I’ve been really lucky because I worked co-op jobs all through university which were admin assistant type jobs in office settings. But before that…my worst job was a gas station cashier. The managers treated me like crap even though I did a lot of managerial type work by the end of it. I was good at counting money though.

  18. My worst job was as a dishwasher for The Sign of the Beefcarver. I was locked in a cage. It was my first and worst job that i’ve had.

  19. I love crazy genius bar stories. My favorite was when an old lady came in and put her iPhone in my friend’s hand. “What’s wrong with it?” “It fell in the toilet… before I had the chance to flush.” TMI and EWWWWWWW.

  20. My worst job isn’t probably what most people thought it is… It was equally one of my most rewarding jobs as well as my worst jobs. I worked as social worker type during high school. I taught literacy to adult disabled individuals. When you spend a weeks trying to teach them a letter, it’s awesome. But at the same time, you’d have students who won’t get it. Who don’t change. Who’s screaming and crying. And you know nothing you do will change or help them. And that’s really disheartening. I quit doing social work once I got into university. I basically “burnt” out and couldn’t do it anymore.

  21. The summer after I graduated high school I worked in a call center for a really cheap calling card (500 minutos a Mexico $5!!!) and we handled the “customer service”. The only problem was, we weren’t allowed to do anything for these people. They would buy the card and it was supposed to have 90 minutes and it would have 7. All I was allowed to do was apologize and let them know there was nothing I could do. We were even encouraged to put them on hold for a supervisor until they hung up. It was hilariously unethical. Plus it was a huge office with 20 cubicles and there would 2-3 of us working. I think I lasted 2 weeks.

  22. I worked for a government-run, unionized tourist attraction that was fueled by nepotistic despots. It was the highest paid job I ever had due to the union contract, but I was a “casual” worker who would have my contract renewed every three months. Basically they could let us go without much warning and there were always cross-over days where we worked without a signed contract.

    The employees were just as bad as management. People would take extra long lunches, disappear mid-shift, circumvent all kinds of rules and leave you to pick up the pieces. It was a nightmare. I gained about 15lbs working there, had terrible breakouts of acne all the time and was always stressed and sick.

    But it’s still the highest paid job I’ve ever had.

  23. J-O-B-S. The possibility of being ‘let’go’ at any time drove me nuts. Started my own business: the only one who can fire me is….me.

  24. FAST FOOD. hands down, terrible all around. You stink of it when you get home and get this slime or film all over your body.

    Will never, ever do it again, and have the utmost respect for those who do.

  25. Marion

    I worked at a dessert place on Whyte Ave for about 4 months in uni. The owner/manager was HORRIBLE. I was the only server from 6PM-close alongside my friend who was the only person on food prep. Our closing time would often be changed depending on the crowd – I remember once having to stay until 3AM because customers just kept coming in. Don’t miss those serving days at all!