Reality TV stars who worked regular jobs

Donald Trump isn't the only former reality star who ditched Hollywood for a normal job. Okay, his job isn't exactly normal, but he's not the first Apprentice star to shake up the world of politics. He just so happens to be the one who made it the farthest. (Sorry, Clay Aiken.) The truth is that once the money and the glamour of reality TV fades, every star has to make a choice: cling to your 15 minutes or join the workforce like everybody else. Sometimes, this is out of necessity, like when Jon Gosselin was spotted flipping burgers at TGI Fridays. Other times, stars decide to embark on new passions, such as Jen Bunney, who squashed valley girl stereotypes after The Hills and went to Harvard.

These reality stars may have gotten used to the limelight, but they all returned to regular jobs outside of the entertainment industry — at least for a time. Whether it's training pups or running for office, let's take a closer look at these reality stars' resumés.

For Angelina Pivarnick, leaving the Jersey Shore was a lifesaver, literally

Angelina Pivarnick swooshed in and out of MTV's Jersey Shore faster than the tide. After being dubbed "The Staten Island Dump" and "The Dirty Little Hamster," she eventually succumbed to a series of explosive fights (which may or may not have been sparked by a dirty tampon — you can't make this up) between her and everyone else in the shore house, including the guy who ran the boardwalk t-shirt shop. She packed up her trash bags (because she's a real grown adult who actually used trash bags instead of a suitcase) and headed home to Staten Island, N.Y.

Remember that work ethic that got her booted from the t-shirt shop? That's the Angelina of the past. Pivarnick spent three months in training with the Fire Department of New York and became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). She didn't even let a bad breakup ruin her success (unlike that time she ditched her t-shirt shop shift because of her cheating, married boyfriend.) Though Pivarnick is reportedly committed to serving the good people of Staten Island, while posting glammed-up selfies in her EMT uniform, of course, she returned to her shore roots for the rebooted Jersey Shore Family Vacation in 2018 , where — you won't believe this — she got in a fight with JWoww. On the bright side, if there was a need to call 911, there was already a first responder on the scene. 

Bachelor Tanner Tolbert would like to sell you a car

Tanner Tolbert struggled with a lot more than love behind the scenes of Bachelor in Paradise. The reality star was apparently actually supposed to be working and almost lost his real job while taking a chance on love. 

Tolbert appeared in various Bachelor franchises over the years, but it all began when his sister nominated him for the 11th season of The Bachelorette. As a finance manager for Legends Honda in Kansas City, Kansas, he was granted a temporary leave to film the show. His co-workers were so supportive, they actually closed the dealership early on Mondays to watch him. This was fine for his first go-around, but when producers asked him to return for Bachelor in Paradise, things were a little iffy at work. Tolbert reportedly promised his boss that he'd get himself kicked off within two weeks — but then he actually fell in love. Tolbert decided Jade Roper was worth the risk and proposed in the show's finale. 

Tolbert eventually got promoted to sales manager of the dealership's Toyota outlet, but it seems that he's since parked his auto trade ambitions. As of this writing, it's unclear where he punches a clock. Us Weekly reported in January 2019 that Tolbert would have time to help Roper care for their second child because "he's no longer working long hours at a car dealership." 

Amber Portwood: from flipping off Gary to flipping houses

Amber Portwood became infamous on the first season of MTV's 16 and Pregnant for her volatile relationship with baby daddy Gary Shirley. The spin-off series Teen Mom tracked her continued downward spiral, which bottomed out in 2010, when she was charged with three felonies after slapping, choking, and kicking Shirley on camera. She was put on two years of probation, which she violated after getting into a physical fight and being discovered with illegal prescription medication. Amidst an alleged suicide attempt, Portwood took a plea deal and was sentenced to rehab, but instead of completing the program, she asked to be placed in prison, where she spent less than two years behind bars.

Since then, Portwood seemingly turned her life around. She sparked a new passion for style and design and ran a house-flipping business as well as a boutique called Forever Haute. Her home renovation escapades were documented on Teen Mom OG, where she worked alongside her then-fiancé Matt Baier. However, Portwood and Baier's engagement blew up right in front of Teen Mom cameras, so her house-flipping gig probably went with it. But don't worry, Portwood's doing just fine. In two exchanges with fans on Twitter, who were concerned over how she'd make ends meet if she quit the show, Portwood replied, "Stocks are full and house is paid off." She also tweeted that "there's other things that I will do and it will be to help people like I've always only wanted to do!"

American Idol's Clay Aiken still wants your votes

Clay Aiken rose to infamy when he lost American Idol in 2003. It was the long-running show's second season, and Ruben Studdard took home the top spot. Aiken, however, arguably found just as much success with his runner-up standing. He nabbed cameos on Scrubs, 30 Rock and Law and Order: SVU, and even landed a single on the Billboard Hot 100. During a 2012 stint on The Celebrity Apprentice, he placed second and then decided to make a career shift. Much like the show's host, Donald Trump, he caught the bug for politics.

In 2014, Aiken ran for U.S. Congress as a Democrat. He was no stranger to asking for public votes — during his American Idol days, he received 12 million votes from the finale's more than 38 million viewers. Alas, the curse of second-best struck again. Aiken lost to incumbent North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers. Though running for office was a departure from the entertainment industry, Aiken reacted to his political loss in showbiz fashion: by filming his campaign for a documentary called The Runner-Up. 

Though Aiken told Time in 2015 that he wasn't giving up on his new political passions, he hasn't launched any new campaigns, as of this writing. Well, unless you count dragging the president on Twitter, which, if we're being honest, is as depressingly prescient a signal of a political run as anything these days.

The Gotti brothers ran an auto parts store

Growing Up Gotti is arguably one of the most iconic early-aughts reality shows that somehow almost always gets forgotten. With enough hair gel to embalm half of Queens, the series followed the ridiculously frivolous lives of mob boss daughter Victoria Gotti and her three sons: Frank, Carmine, and John Gotti-Agnello. It was a diamond — or gaudy neck chain — in the rough, partly because it aired on A&E, which wasn't really known for ludicrous, over-the-top reality shows.

The Gotti brothers spent the years since their reality TV glory days apparently wreaking havoc in their mother's home. A 10-year reunion special in 2014 showed that the brothers were still living in their mom's Long Island castle. Considering she put it on the market in 2015 — and noting that one of the brothers allegedly grossed $2.5 million in wedding gifts — we're hoping the boys have all moved on to more mature pastures.

If one thing's for certain, it's that the brothers do keep everything in the family. After the series ended, they reportedly started running their own auto parts business. Unfortunately, it was raided by the FBI in 2016. Okay, so maybe their "regular" jobs featured a little irregular bookkeeping?

Jen Bunney went from the Hollywood Hills to Harvard

Most of the stars from MTV's iconic reality show The Hills went on to launch fashion brands and modeling careers, make cameos in numerous reality shows catering to lesser-known stars, or get totally addicted to plastic surgery. Like her BFF, Lauren Conrad, who became a best-selling author and launched a lifestyle empire, Jen Bunney also made a total reality TV 180. According to her LinkedIn, she traded her stilettos for a pair of scrubs and became the chief population health officer and senior vice president of Regal Medical Group, one of the nation's largest independent practice associations.

This wasn't an easy path for Bunney, who graduated with honors and a degree in neuroscience from the University of Southern California. She later earned her masters in both business administration and public health from Loyola Marymount and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. She also  took classes at Harvard before graduating with a doctorate of public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Bunney may have left the red carpet long ago, but she's undeniably one of the most successful girls from The Hills. However, she's still in touch with former co-stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, who already signed on for a reboot of the series, called The Hills: New Beginnings. In fact, Speidi named Bunney the godmother of their baby boy, a connection that Elite Daily concluded could lead Bunney to "bless fans with a cameo." 

Bachelor Alex Michel left Hollywood for Silicon Valley

All it took was a single rose to change reality TV forever. In 2002, The Bachelor aired its very first episode and became one of the longest-running reality shows of all time, rivaling the likes of Big Brother, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol. It was the golden era of reality TV, and Alex Michel was the very first guy looking for love. Unfortunately for Michel (pictured right), things didn't work out with Amanda Marsh, his final pick. Seriously, how are people supposed to fall in love in just six episodes? After starring in the series, he tried his luck as a TV spokesperson for Match.com and Princess Cruises before hiding from the limelight. He lost touch with host Chris Harrison (pictured left), who joked to Katie Couric that the former TV star was in witness protection. So, where is Michel?

Since the series, Michel has reportedly mended his broken heart and climbed the corporate ladder. The former reality star left Hollywood and headed over to Silicon Valley. Okay, so it was Silicon Valley by proxy because Michel actually worked in Microsoft's London offices, but you get the point. According to his LinkedIn profile, Michel worked his way up in Microsoft to eventually become head of strategy. According to Us Weekly, as of January 2019, Michel "has kept a low-profile," "appears to be single," and "works as a media industry executive" in New York City. 

Deena Cortese took a break from her permanent vacation to train dogs

Deena Cortese joined up with the Jersey Shore cast in 2011 as one-half of the Meatballs, which can only be described to those unfamiliar as the most epic Jersey duo since that time Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi decided to collaborate. After Cortese's hangover subsided, which we assume took a number of years, the reality star got back to normal life. She became a dog trainer, and she loved it. Her adorable posts with her doting student pups prove that. Cortese supplemented her career with canines the way any former reality star would — by hawking detox teas on Instagram. You can't deny she looks good, though. The star lost an impressive amount of weight, whether it's because she chugged flat tummy tea or simply stopped consuming massive amounts of alcohol with Snooki.

Cortese put her dog days on hold when she appeared on Jersey Shore Family Vacation, but she missed some key party scenes for a good reason. According to E! News, this time around Cortese was not only a a married gal, but she was expecting her first child during the taping of the season. Her mini-meatball, son Christopher, arrived on Jan. 5, 2019. So, one job we can now state for certain that Cortese will be doing for the foreseeable future is mama.

Kevin Jonas is building homes and tech startups

Kevin Jonas didn't get his start as a reality star. He launched into mega-fame alongside his brothers in the made-for-Disney boy band, the Jonas Brothers. Though Kevin was once one of the most recognizable Disney stars — there were two Camp Rock films and a number of Jonas spin-offs — he's since ditched the crowds of screaming teenage girls for a quieter, more normal life.

Kevin's brothers continued being massively famous. Nick's 2016 album Last Year Was Complicated peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and he married actress Priyanka Chopra in one of the most high-profile weddings of 2018. Joe Jonas' band, DNCE, released a self-titled album that birthed "Cake by the Ocean," one of the most inescapable songs of 2016. As of this writing, he's engaged to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. Kevin also ditched his purity ring after marrying Danielle Deleasa, a suburban New Jersey hairdresser in 2012. Together, they filmed the two-season reality show Married to Jonas before completely retreating from the limelight.

Kevin, now a dad of two, embarked on two different business ventures in wildly eclectic fields. He became a contractor and launched a construction business called JonasWerner Homes, and he created The Blue Market, an influencer marketing company that partnered with popular video-sharing app We Heart It. However the siren call of the seas of chanting tweens lured Kevin back to the stage in 2019 for an epic JoBros reunion

Jon Gosselin was slinging half-price apps at TGI Fridays

Jon Gosselin quickly rose to fame alongside his wife, Kate Gosselin, when their reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8 debuted on TLC in 2007. Two years later, the infamous couple endured a very public divorce (perhaps one of the most infamous on reality TV.) According to Kate, Jon experienced some sort of midlife crisis (even though he wasn't yet 40) and basically spent his days riding around on motorcycles and staying out late while she was at home with their eight kids. Lets not forget Jon's penchant for bedazzled Ed Hardy fashion — if that wasn't a red flag, what is?

Cars, hard-partying, and mountains and mountains of Ed Hardy is not cheap, so when Jon found his fame waning, he apparently had to pick up an extra job to pay the bills. Thank God it was Friday — or TGI Friday's, to be exact. That's right: the Gosselin patriarch found himself slinging half-price apps and Jack Daniels chicken at TGI Friday's. Though he was allegedly a "full time DJ" when he embarked on this new business venture, he decided to pick up some part-time shifts because he "likes to cook," reported Entertainment Tonight. (So said every struggling musician ever.) As of this writing, he's still living his dream, spinning records (or, you know, pressing play on a Spotify playlist) at hot locales like the Great American Pub in Phoenixville, Pa. 

Does Stacy London wear pajamas to work now?

Though Stacy London once joked about not getting out of bed for less than $10,000, it appears she's changed her tune. The fashionista rose to reality fame with her long-running TLC hit What not to Wear, which ran for ten seasons before it was cancelled in 2003. Her second series, Love, Lust or Run, failed to gain traction, and after a few cameos on The Rachael Ray Show and a book tour, London found her life in shambles. She was broke, her health was deteriorating, and she couldn't find a job,

"For me [2007] was a financial, physical, emotional s**t show (and after 2016, that's really saying something)," she wrote in a Refinery29 essay. "So, by the time the year was up, I wasn't just almost broke, I was broken. Because when s**t happens, no one necessarily tells you s**t can get seriously expensive, too."

After a wake-up call from her accountant, the reality host reportedly stopped spending cash on expensive vacations, fancy art, and mountains of clothes. She doubled down and got a real job — one where she doesn't have to don fancy clothes at all. As of this writing, London is a freelance writer with essays in publications such as Cherry Bomb. She's also "a prolific fashion influencer with 275,000 followers on Instagram," according to Spectator|USA. She also sponsors a fashion program for kids at Pioneer Works and occasionally wears a statement hat.