My first “real” job was horrendous. It was part-time, because the company wouldn’t step up and hire me full-time even though there was more than enough work for them to justify it. My boss was a piece of work, the company had no real structure, and the office was more disorganized than the slob I lived with sophomore year. By the time I finally quit to take another opportunity, the list of things I would have rather been doing with my time had escalated from binging on Netflix and spending time with my friends to pulling out my own fingernails and other archaic forms of torture. Anything was less painful than working there.
Despite how a vehemently hated the job, I did learn a few worthwhile lessons. Here are five things you can take away from a truly crappy job.
Working independently is a gift.
As the kind of person who can take a set of instructions and complete a task without so much as another word, having a boss check in multiple times a day for updates is an unwelcome hindrance. The time I had to spend playing a corporate version of “21 Questions” would have been much better spent, you know, actually completing my tasks. Being allowed to work independently and check-in with my current boss when it’s necessary is a godsend.
There is a right way to handle office conflicts.
When I put in my resignation, my boss’s reaction was less than ideal. She repeated over and over that I had terrible timing (she was expecting and I had made it clear for months that I was looking for a full-time position). Then she broke down in tears. Two days later, after giving me the cold shoulder and responding to everything I asked or said with a nice dose of snark, she stormed over to my cubicle, demanded to know if I “had a problem,” began yelling at me, and finally, when a nearby coworker informed her that she was being disruptive, she demanded that we take it outside. While it was hard to keep my mouth shut, rather than stooping down to her level of teenage angst, I amended my letter of resignation and left there the next day with a smile on my face, after filing a formal complaint.
Communication skills are crucial in any work environment, no matter the field.
The-Company-That-Must-Not-Be-Named had no structure whatsoever. No structure leads to absolutely no clear rules or communication. For example, I assumed a new title in April, but I didn’t sign an offer letter until August or complete the “mandatory new employee orientation” until October. (Never mind the fact that I had been employed there for more than a year.) This new title was also supposed to come with benefits that kicked in after 90 days. In six months, no one could tell me what said benefits were and when I would see any sort of benefit. On a larger scale, the company had no real budget, least of all for the marketing team, so we never knew what we could or couldn’t afford to do. It also would have been fantastic if it hadn’t taken two weeks to get a response to my emails. Clear, consistent, and efficient communication would have made everything that much easier.
No one appreciates your personal calls.
I shared an office with a woman who spent a solid hour making personal calls each day. It would have been one thing if they were quick little calls, but this woman spent an hour loudly gossiping, talking about how much she hated her job, and discussing her personal problems (I really didn’t care to hear in depth about her infected ingrown toenail after lunch every day for a week). I get it, I wasn’t exactly pleased to work there either, but her daily gossiping was disruptive, distracting, and reached a new level of TMI. A word to the wise: if it’s not something you’d like repeated to other employees, don’t discuss it during the work day.
Checking things at the door is not a suggestion.
Whether you’re having issues at home or at work, checking your problems at the office door is a necessity. Bringing your personal problems to work will make you unproductive, distractive and unpleasant, which is not at all what any employer would want from an employee. Conversely, taking your problems at work home with you will ruin any relationships you have. Not separating your problems will make you an all-around grump, so just don’t do it.