How to Get Past a Bad College Job Experience
If this headline is enough to make you cringe, you are my target audience. Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of working a bad job here and there. It’s like a horrible blind date that you’d prefer to never talk about again: uncomfortable and best forgotten. Few have the luxury of finding their dream job or having little to no complaints about their professional endeavors. Thus, here we are together, reminiscing on a moment or two we’d rather not think about. But, today is all about remembering. Better still, it is all about moving on.
There’s always a key moment when you realize what you are in for or what you’ve gotten yourself into, and that is when the dread sets in. Micromanaging bosses who insist they aren’t micromanagers, new bosses who are unsure how to lead, unbearable commutes, or simply being kept out of the loop can contribute to that feeling. But overall, you realize you don’t belong. Then, you sit in fear… fear of rejection, fear of not being able to find a new job, fear of how your age will be perceived, fear of lack of experience, etc. Whatever the internal dialogue, the good news is that you can divorce a job like a poor high school record. It doesn’t have to count against you if you don’t want it to, and you most certainly can recover from it.
Be responsible for your part. You don’t have to feel that everything that happened at this job was your fault, but if you gave up on trying to communicate your thoughts and feelings, if you were too concerned to voice your opinions on policy, etc. that means that you acknowledge something didn’t feel right in that job, and yet, you stayed there. Own what is your baggage so you can learn from it and let it go.
Understand What is Out of Your Control
You aren’t going to be good at everything. It’s perfectly normal to go into a job thinking it’ll go one way and have it turn out completely different. It’s okay to say that you are terrible at sales. It should not be embarrassing to admit that you aren’t the best telemarketer or barista. Accept it.
Accept the Decision
If you’re fired, take it with grace. If you’re given notice about your performance, appreciate the honesty. Accept that someone was honest with you and that it is now time to be honest with yourself. The next step after that is to…
Make Your Own Decision
If you’re working somewhere and you’re hating it… if you’re dreading coming into work each day, either wondering if or hoping you’ll get fired, perhaps it is in your best interest to not sit around waiting for the worst to happen. Understand that your life is yours and yours alone and that in order to get anything that you want, you have to do things differently, use a new perspective, and take a different path. You can leave a job you dislike. If your boss is always giving you a harsh critique and you feel like you could be doing other, better things, you’re usually right. If you’re not sure about what to do, talk to a school counselor or someone you trust such as family or peers, to give you more perspective about your specific situation.
Use Your Resume Strategically
Just because you had a negative experience doesn’t mean that experience has to own you. Your resume is your tool to sell yourself, and as such, you have all the power in the world to list your accomplishments and positions the way you see fit. If you had a bad stint for a few months, consider leaving the job off of your resume entirely. If you worked there for a few years, include it and use the experience to sell yourself anyway. Either way, you win.
Continue to Build Your Skills
In order to get better jobs suited for what you need and want, you have to keep acquiring new skills in the industry you want to work in. Just because an employer is wrong for you, doesn’t mean an industry is wrong for you. Know the difference and keep moving forward. Don’t look back if the past has nothing new to teach you.
Have Faith That the Right Job is Out There For You
And if the right job doesn’t find you, maybe you were meant to forge your own path by becoming an entrepreneur. Even if you don’t get your dream job right now, I promise you there is a company and a job suitable for you that you will enjoy and be satisfied with.
Your past might be set in stone, but your future never is. If that sounds frightening to you, it shouldn’t. All it means is that you are responsible for where you go, what you do, and what you’re known for. You have all the potential in the world to go somewhere magical, and I have the confidence you will.