My First Job: Why I Quit + Lessons Learned

Note: Be sure to read to the end to get my look 🙂

I used to care a lot about how a company’s name would look on my resume that I never thought about the particulars of the actual job. I think it was caused by peer pressure during university and not understanding that internships are completely different from full-time employment. Now, with nearly a year of full-time work experience under my belt, I see things differently.

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My first job, like many recent college-grad workers, was not the most ideal, but I needed something on my resume so I could be a a little more picky the next time. It just so happens that the CEO of the company that gave me the offer was a major share-holder for another company that basically invented the one thing most of us can’t live without: WiFi.

Without hesitation, I accepted the offer, and by month four, I had learned my first valuable adult lesson:

Learning how, when, and what to say ‘no’ to.

Learning to say ‘no’ to certain tasks, gave me some of my life back. And of, course, it wasn’t going to be a ‘no’ forever, but more like ‘I will get to it on my own time.’ If I didn’t get to it within the span of 8 hours, then it would have to wait for tomorrow. The only exceptions to the rule were if a task was labeled as ‘rushed’ or if there was a predetermined deadline.

By month six, I realized three things:

  1. I was one of the longest people who had ever lasted in my position (the previous was 3 months).
  2. The company had a high turnover rate.
  3. The company said they were family oriented because, and my CFO even mentioned it in a meeting, we were all “willing to spend more time at the office than with our own families.”

I was drained out of my wits but it took a fainting episode and sudden bouts of weight loss to tell me something was wrong. Being a hungry first time employee, I was all too eager to prove my worth and promotional capabilities that I took on anything and everything, stayed overtime including weekends without pay, and endured a terrible 2 hour commute to and from work until I realized that I was no longer really living. And until I fainted, I never once complained or turned to someone for help. In came my second major adult lesson:

Learning that it’s okay to ask for help, we’re only human.

My supervisor and I were struggling being the only two people in our little accounting department and splitting the responsibility of work that should have been made for four people. When I left for a week long bereavement leave during my grandma’s passing, my supervisor took on all of my work and eventually had to ask our controller for help. No help was ever given and when I finally returned, my supervisor was so stressed, she asked to take a day off to take care of her mental state. My controller simply replied that while my supervisor was at home (and should have been resting), she should train another employee about her job function via email so that work could still be done. There was no “I hope you feel better” or “rest up”, it was just a request for more work.

There were many other experiences that made me question the treatment of my fellow co-workers and I, but I won’t get into too much detail. I had always known that corporate America was brutal and that one needed tough skin in order to get through it. However, I also think that life is that way in general. Which leads me to the final lesson I learned with my first job:

Learning to ask the right questions once you get the offer.

When I first interviewed, I didn’t ask about the dynamics of the company. I simply wanted to get through the initial interview, take the accounting exam, and get through the last round of interviews. Once this happened and I got the offer, the rest was history.

What I should have asked after receiving the offer:

  1. What’s the turnover rate?
  2. Why is the last person in my position leaving?

What I should have asked a current employee after receiving the offer:

  1. What does your day look like?
  2. Do you feel like you have a good work/life balance?

I’m not writing this to discourage anyone from seeking employment with their desired companies, but I do encourage you to do your research and not be blindsided by the ideal of working adult-life. It doesn’t matter how awesome a company’s name looks on your resume if they don’t treat their employees right. When you’re looking for employment, make sure that you have some sort of idea of what kind of environment you want to be in, the values you want that company to have, and whether or not you’ll love the actual job. Don’t go for a company because it looks good to your peers.

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And while, I would have wanted to be in a different situation, there was one good thing that came out of it: The difficult experience made me a more efficient, detail-oriented, and stronger worker. If anything, coming out of this experience, this was the one thing I noticed at my next job and so I can’t really say I regret going through it. I have a lot to thank my previous supervisor for. She was tough, but I couldn’t have been this confident at my next job without her.

At this moment in my life, I’m much happier having landed a job in finances for an entertainment company. Though my division is small and out of the limelight, it’s an employee-friendly environment, I feel valued as a person, and upper management listens to everyone’s voices. I feel like I finally have my life back and have the time and energy to put into activities that matter in my personal development. Up next, I’m hoping to transfer my career from Accounting to UX/UI Design.

Sorry this was long, but thanks for reading my story to the end. I just wanted to let you know that you don’t ever have to feel stuck in a job environment you don’t want to be in. When one door closes another opens. Finding another job may be difficult and you may make some sacrifices, but it’s worth it if it means that you’ll be happier in the end. Your life belongs to you, not to a corporation.

P.S.

I love showing leg even if I’m just sitting at a desk for 8 hours. Who says you can’t go to work in style?

Get the Look:

Top: Kate Spade Night Sky Blouse

Bottom: Urban Outfitters High Waist Pleated Tweed Dress Shorts

Bag: Kate Spade Finer Things Merry Leather Backpack

Shoes: Bandolini Grenow Pumps

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