What to Do if You Hate Your First Real Job

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You hate Mondays more than most. You dread coming into the office, sitting in your 6x6 cubicle with the pushpin photos of you in Hawaii or Mazatlan. They serve as a sober remainder of when you didn’t think about work. Your boss is an idiot. And the work you do is mundane, boring, unrewarding and just plain blah. You watch the clock and can’t wait to leave for lunch, break or 5 pm. Take heart. You’re not alone. A recent Gallop poll of 100 million Americans revealed that as many as 70 million of them hate their jobs and are miserable.

So you picked the wrong career path. Most 20-somethings don’t really have a clue as to what they want to do after graduation. They read the glossy brochures in their school’s career guidance office—the one’s showing grads happily doing creative, fun things in playground like settings like Google. Then, after working at Wal-Mart or Denny’s for a year, they eagerly accept the first “real job” just to get a new car and move out of their parents’ house.

The problem is that most young grads confuse a job with a career. They take a job because times are bad, they need money, or they just can’t bear to tell their employed friends that they’re still out of work. They tell themselves that the job will get better. They get used to the steady paycheck, which they now need for rent, bills, clothes, a new car and overpriced nightclubs. After 5 to 8 years at the “job,” they convince themselves that it’s their career since they’ve invested time, training and experience toward it. The misery index grows and they realize they’re trapped. Is there a way to prevent this scenario? Yes.

Have the Courage to Work Your Passion

Tom McDermott, who heads up Ignite, believes that you need to follow your passion. You should not fear it or put it away as a young adult puts away childish things. He believes that our natural child-like curiosity is the internal compass that will guide us to happiness and success in life. He advises recent grads to dare, explore and question what truly inspires them, and to have the courage to follow through, take the leap and see where it leads. The secret, he asserts, is to find something you are “passionately curious” about and have the innate ability to do.

Look (Work) Before You Leap

Resist the urge to move out of your parents’ house, buy a new car and go clubbing at expensive watering holes. Instead, go on informational interviews with companies that share your passion. Ask endless questions, talk to lots of people, and check out the workspace. If you can get a paid internship, that’s even better. Here, do more of the same. See what it’s like to do the work on a daily basis. Talk to people who have been there for a while, both the average workers and the top performers. Are they happy or miserable? Ask yourself if you want to do this for the rest of your life. Experience the corporate culture and attend as many of the company’s social events as you can. People are far more candid at these get-togethers. It’s surprising what they’ll tell you. Finally, check out The Guide to Getting a Dream Career Internship (that doesn’t exist) by Brad Zomick for eight steps to the ultimate internship.

Hate your job? Find your true calling by courageously pursuing your passion.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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