Paul Sancya, AP
In this June 7, 2010 photo, graduates listen to the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich.

There are a lot of jobs out there in which workers accept low pay because the job has a small but real chance of a big future payday. It's a figurative lottery ticket, according to the New York Times.

The Times looks at the book "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, which investigates the strange economic behavior that drives many drug dealers, among other things. The authors discuss the classic guy working on the street corner, according to the New York Times. This guy made less than minimum wage but continued to work really hard with the hope that he would become one of the few extremely wealthy kingpins. This kind of conduct also exists in the legal world.

This happens in Hollywood. Hollywood is the prototype lottery industry in some ways. For the majority of companies, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to, as Google does, put promising youthful applicants through a string of tests and only hire the small number that pass, according to the New York Times. It's considerably cheaper for talent agencies and studios to hire a lot of workers in their youth and put them through a couple years of low-paying work.

This process enables workers to weed themselves out according to their drive and skill. Over time, they will find something else they're better at; others will lose their commitment; others will come to realize they don't have the necessary skill set, according to the New York Times.

When the time comes to decide who becomes a partner or gets the top job, employers will have much more information to look at, according to the New York Times. This strategy has done pretty well at pushing people with promise to the top.