Imagine for a second that you are a third-year undergrad student, and you are working part-time as a server in a somewhat high class Italian restaurant. Everything is going well – your boss is super nice, your colleagues are supportive and fun, the customers are lovely, the work environment overall is simply a 10 out of 10. Plus, the pay is excellent! You are getting $14 an hour plus an enormous amount of tips from your customers, which, of course, are all going straight into your pocket without deductions!
Skip forward a year. You're graduating next month and your manager asks you if you want to work full-time when you graduate. Why not, right? The work is easy and familiar, and the pay is great! Imagine the full-time salary plus all those tips that you are going to get from working more hours! So you ultimately decide to keep working there.
Ten years later, you are still working as a server. The pay doesn’t look so great now compared to what your friends are earning, but the work is still more or less the same. Where will you be in another ten years? Imagine yourself still in the same workplace doing the same thing. You may no longer have the drive nor the flexibility to switch careers. You've become too comfortable - maybe too complacent, and you may feel that somewhere along the way you lost your passion for trying to pursue your dream career.
This is the entry level hammock. It's easy to get in and comfortable to stay in, but difficult to get out if you aren't willing to risk potentially falling on your face. You are lured in by instantaneous gratification (relatively good pay and easy work), but miss out on valuable growth opportunities in the long run. It is perfectly fine if your career goal is to be a server, and there can be opportunities for upward momentum in that industry. But for a lot of people, this wasn't their original dream. They get stuck in the hammock due to the low growth potential of a server job. This is not meant to be a dig at server jobs. There are many administrative and retail sales jobs that could also result in a hammock situation.
The bottom line: when you look at a job, don’t just look at the current salary and benefits. Think about the longer term growth potential. Think about the learning potential. Don’t just look at the short term gains, think about your long-term objectives and what you would like to achieve in the future. Working as a server to start your journey is great. It's great sales and customer service experience not to mention team management. But if you aren't planning to be a server forever, make sure you constantly remind yourself of your goals and keep growing. Time flies! Ask anyone over the age of 30. :)