Once upon a time, I worked at a job I despised.
Unfortunately, I left a job I loved for the bad one.
I had a few years of experience behind me, won accolades at my previous job, and decided to broaden my horizons.
It was the mid-90′s in tech, and it was time to make more money.
For several days, it felt like I was born under a lucky star. My interviews went smashingly well and I was hired at an amazing billion-dollar company, for almost double the salary.
Although I was sad to leave my current employer, I was excited about this new opportunity.
Fast forward a few weeks…I soon realized that I had two things going against me.
1. I was female
2. I was hired from the outside
When you read #1, you probably thought “C’mon? Maybe in the 1950′s, surely not in the 1990′s!”
Sadly, it was true.
I work in a highly male-dominated field and encountered resistance from my male co-workers. My technical opinions were second-guessed (and repeatedly I was proven correct). Poor management compounded this problem as well…”Boys will be boys” is what my manager told me.
The company also had a long history of promoting from within. Concerning my position, there simply wasn’t anyone technically qualified for the job, so the company was forced to hire from the outside. This caused ambivalent feelings toward me as well.
It was near impossible to be productive when your team was busy arguing about whom was right and wrong.
I consulted with a friend (also my career mentor) who advised to approach my manager. Great advice, but that got me nowhere fast. Remember the “boys will be boys” comment? Yeah, well he took the team out to lunch and said we were like “his kids” and he wanted us “to play nice in the sandbox”. I was stunned by this display of effective leadership!
A few weeks later, I decided to talk to the HR Director, who was sympathetic but wasn’t able to offer any concrete help. I later learned he and my manager went “way back” and they were golfing buds.
Day after day, I grudgingly went into work, and fought my battles. I was young and felt I could tough it out. However, what was once exciting work turned into a never-ending task list, as I “battled” with co-workers on how to get things done.
Some days, I would pull into my parking space, turn off my car, hang my head down and pray:
“Please give me strength to deal with the mind-melting minutiae one more day.”
Dad and the kids noticed mom wasn’t so much fun to be around anymore. When you loathe the place you’re at for 8-10 hours a day, it is difficult to be a shiny happy person. Especially when you realize it starts all over again the next day.
I decided that no job was worth being unhappy over, and I needed to move on.
Through “networking” (as in personal, not the IT variety) I landed my first consulting gig a few months later. Things were happy again. My only regret is that I did not quit sooner.
So what do you do if you are stuck in a job you don’t love?
Tomorrow, I will post 6 tips that can help you cope.
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