Recently, I left my customer service job for a new one at a much larger online retail company. I decided it was time to leave when I realized that higher pay and advancement opportunities were simply not in my near future at my old company. I took my first job as a foot in the door, but what I didn’t realize was that the door of opportunity was so small, and there were so many other people trying to run through it, that we were all getting stuck. There were too many people and too few opportunities, so job growth was stagnant. Customer service was not what I wanted to do, so after two years it was time to move on.
Since publishing opportunities are few and far between, I decided to look for a new job in larger, growing industries. Boston is home to a few large online retail/tech companies, so I focused my search in on one of them and applied to five open jobs on my first go. I was rejected immediately for my dream job, but received a call about another job I had applied for in a studio that was closer to where I live. I had no experience working in a studio and during the interview process I had a nagging gut feeling that this wasn’t the job for me. But I pushed it away, figuring it could be a good opportunity to get my foot in the door.* They needed to hire people ASAP, so good timing on my part and a little desperation on both our parts landed me the job. I gave my two weeks at my old job, secured my references, thanked everyone, and left. I was ecstatic.
And then I started.
I like to think that I have a good sense of intuition, even if I never listen to it, so though I’m less than a month into the job, I have a pretty stinking awful feeling that this is not a good fit. This is obviously something that is hard to accept: I made a decision out of desperation with a predictable result. So what’s a girl to do?
Personally, I’m creating five promises to myself to keep me sane, to make the most of a temporarily “meh” situation, and to stop me from making any rash decisions that will only burn bridges.
1. Save! Save! Save!
My commute has been cut from two hours to 15 minutes. That $325 is back in my pocket each month. That means I can divert more of my paycheck into my 401K, and take the highest employee match I can. Now that I’m not working in the city, I won’t be tempted to eat out for lunch every day. That’s $10 a day I’ll be saving, $50/week, $200/month. That money can go in a fund that will be used to fund a large down payment on a house. That’s $525 a month that is back in my pocket, all because I cut my commute. Money that isn’t allocated to rent, food, and emergency warm clothing (it’s cold in that studio) will go straight to my savings/emergency fund just in case the worst happens.
2. Keep looking for opportunities inside the company.
Okay so, this job is starting me back on a pretty low link on the food chain. I came home from the first day of work, had two glasses of wine, and cried. I felt like a failure because all I could think about was how it was another entry level job with low pay. I’m 27 years old, dammit, I don’t have time for this. But I’m working for a tech company, much larger than the publishing company I was working for, and there are always going to be opportunities to advance my skills simply because they are growing at lightning speed. During my interview, I made sure that looking for other opportunities within the company was not frowned on, and it seems like my manager knew this was a stepping stone kind of position. After a month, if I’m still miserable, I’ll talk to my boss and assess my options.** So every night for the next month, I’m going to go home, have a glass of tea (or, let’s be real, red wine), and try to give myself a break.
3. But don’t scant on the work that you’re being paid to do.
Just because this isn’t my “dream job,” whatever that means, doesn’t mean I’m not going to try hard and work hard at the job I’m being paid to do. Otherwise, it’s both my and the employer’s time being wasted. I’m not going to get anywhere by being a deadbeat employee. I’ll give myself a month and reevaluate the situation. If I’m happy, awesome. If I’m not, I’ll see what my options are. It’s selfish and childish to use a job I’m not totally sold on as an excuse to not give my best — and that’s a reputation that’s only going to follow you wherever you go. Not putting in effort at a job is just a less dramatic way to burn a bridge.
4. Make connections.
I’ll be working with a group of people that I’ve never had the opportunity to work with before, with connections and skills that I’ve never been exposed to. I would be an idiot to not try and capitalize on that. They’re creative types, stylists and photographers, who probably know people in other creative occupations. Whether this means that we could possibly help one another with creative freelance projects, or simply exchange great feedback on things we’re working on, it’s hugely important to tap into this resource while I have it. Just because you’re not crazy about the job itself doesn’t mean that you can’t jump in with both feet in getting to know your coworkers.
5. Still, I won’t forget my dreams.
I’m writing this at 6:30 AM because I want to write, and that’s what gives me fulfillment. That’s what makes me happy. So I’m not going to give up on that just because I have a new job. I’m going to wake up early to write. I’ll look for paid opportunities to write when I’m at home. I just have to keep plugging away and hope something will work out, and be thankful for the fact that my full-time job allows me to pursue my dreams on the side without worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to pay my rent.
Starting something new is hard, especially if it seems like another detour from your dreams. But having patience, something that I don’t have much of, is important. It can help you see the big picture and not miss opportunities that you might otherwise not see. So I’m going to wish myself luck, and not be too hard on myself.
*Sensing a pattern? I just did…
** Some advice: some companies require that you work in a position for a certain amount of time before applying to another internal job. Always check with your manager, and if you feel comfortable, to see what options are available. Sometimes, they’ll be happy to work with you. Other times, they won’t. Really try to get a good sense of what kind of manager you’re working with.
Regina is not her real name, because she doesn’t want to lose this job, even though it’s not her favorite.