Overrated Career: Advertising Executive

Many ad agency employees spend a lot of time trying to win business from competitors.

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The Appeal: It looks glamorous on TV, coming up with brilliant commercials and then watching them come to life in broadcast programs or print campaigns.

The Reality: Many ad agency employees spend a lot of time trying to win business from competitors or catering to demanding clients. The inventive part of the job is fun, but many creative types find they're nagged by the reality that their biggest success is simply persuading people to buy Charmin instead of Northern.

Alternative: Social marketing. A few ad agencies work to persuade people not to buy—cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.