AdviceHey, Bonita!

I Hate My First ‘Real’ Job

Dear Bonita,

I am a recent college graduate in my first “real/adult” job, meaning I get benefits, and my degree is applicable. I hate it. Most of the people I work with are OK, but my boss and overall work environment really make me hate coming into work. I feel underpaid, overworked, undervalued and very angry and unhappy on a daily basis. I’ve tried discussing aspects of this with my boss, but it is always pushed off, disregarded, etc; my boss is very work-driven and doesn’t understand my complaints. Its starting to affect my work ethic and mood even when I’m not at work.

I know that, for my first “adult” job, it looks bad to future employers if I stay less than a year. Ideally, I’d like to get my name on a publication before quitting, but I don’t think I can stand working here for that long. (I’m not even sure I can make it to the one-year mark without losing my sanity.) I’ve been looking for other jobs, but so far that’s going nowhere. I’ve only been working this job for about six months, but have been thinking of quitting since the third month.

Is it worth it for me to make it to the one-year mark? Should I just save my sanity and happiness and move on, regardless of if I have another “adult” job lined up? How can I cope with this? Is it worth it to discuss it with my boss again?


Adult-Job Hater

Dear Hater,

First off, I want to congratulate you for finding a job in your field immediately out of college. Most people I know end up in the service industry post-graduation, so you’ve already shown a level of industriousness that makes me believe you’d bounce right back if you left that shitty job. I think you just work at a real bummer of a place—somewhere that’s either too big or too swamped to really take care of their human resources.

I’d advise against talking to your boss about your issues with work, though, because a recent college grad complaining about his or her job can come across as pretty obnoxious to the person who’s eventually gonna have to provide a reference for you. Also, your boss is probably as overworked as you are, so be sensitive to that. I recommend commiserating with other employees who have worked there for a while and know how to handle what’s clearly a stressful environment. (However, if you feel there are labor law violations being committed, go directly to the Georgia Department of Labor and talk to someone there about how to proceed. And keep searching for a new job.)

Most post-undergrad jobs suck, so you’re gonna have to put in time at some crappy places, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with any mistreatment. Work shouldn’t leave you angry and unhappy. Talking will only get you so far, because it’s really hard to change the culture of a well-established business.

That’s why I recommend finding a new job—something in your field but completely different from what you’re doing right now. Maybe somewhere smaller that does more nuanced work. Or, if you’re at an overbooked start-up, try a larger company with enough employees to handle its workload. And don’t worry too much about how your résumé looks. Most managers base their hiring decision on the interview, so just make sure that you’re really good at talking about your talents and how much better any company would be with you working there.

I wouldn’t recommend leaving before you have another job lined up. You could be unemployed for a quite a while in this job market, and believe me, it’s the worst. You do not wanna move back home. The search might feel fruitless right now, but that’s no reason to give up. Something will come along.

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