Why I’m Thankful for That Job I Hated

Many of us can look back at our lives and remember our first job. For me, that’s the job I hated. But here’s why I’m thankful for it. 

Why I'm Thankful for that Job I Hated

I sat in the crowd at my college graduation, head on a swivel, staring in awe at the sea of people surrounding me. I surveyed the audience to find my family, whose support served as a lifeline on many occasions. Their smiling faces sent flashbacks in waves through my mind like a sea brushing against a sandy shore. Growing up with parents whom I so fervently looked up to as role models created a deep-rooted desire to avoid disappointment at all costs. My only goal was to make them proud. I’d always understood the sacrifices they made for me, and wanted to proceed down a path that not only of which they approved, but with which were overjoyed.

I graduated from college in May of 2014. I’d begun searching for a needle in a haystack, I mean, a job, in January of 2014.

I was a Business Development intern at EXOS in Pensacola, Florida. I had it set in my mind that I was going to move to Carlsbad, California and work for this company that I’d fallen in love with.

One phone interview and about five follow-up emails later, I finally received a big, fat, resounding, no.

This isn’t going to be as easy as I thought”.

Thus, the search began. Spending my nights sifting through LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster… Five months of job pursuit with nothing to show for it. And I was surrounded by classmates whose internships had seamlessly rolled into jobs. They were walking across that stage in the O’Dome with their futures set.

Meanwhile, my feet were milliseconds away from slipping out of my Jessica Simpson patent leather pumps as I walked across that graduation stage. I had not a clue what the future held for me. I felt directionless. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And believe it or not, it’s incredibly hard to find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

I have my B.S. in Sport Management and a minor in Business Administration. Throughout my entire college career I’d envisioned myself working for the Miami Heat. That is, until I realized that for a job that would undoubtedly consume my life (sports business is no joke… your life = work), the passion that I would need to survive was running on “E”.

And there I went… floating into a cloud of question. What the hell am I going to do?

Why I'm Thankful for That Job I Hated

By now, it’s July. Let me refresh your memory: I had been looking for a job since January. SEVEN MONTHS. Needless to say, the pressure to find something and start making money was at an all-time high, and the confidence I had in my future was at an all-time low.

Then, I received an email from the University of Florida career resource center. These were a regular occurrence, but I’d never found anything that interested me. But this time, something caught my eye. Something familiar. So, I clicked on it, read through the responsibilities and qualifications and with the shrug of a shoulder I thought “I can do that…”

Immediately upon expressing interest in this position, I realized that a close family friend of ours worked for this company. Now, I’m not going to disclose what company, but it’s important to know that this particular company is ginormo, and worth probably $35 billion.

It was a field sales job. (SALES. ME. I can’t sell water to a camel… or tell jokes). The company promised quick promotions (~4-6 months), insurance benefits, 401k, the whole nine. “Lezz do this”, I didn’t say to myself. I don’t actually speak that way to myself, just here.

I landed the job. I was so excited. I was so relieved to have found something. Somebody wanted me to work for them. Finally, I was starting my trek into the real world.

But something loomed over me. I was grateful to have found a job, and excited that the search was over, but I was not excited for this job. It was for a brand I didn’t care for, in fact it was something I didn’t really support in my everyday life. It wasn’t a position related to anything I was passionate about. But it was a job. And that’s all I needed.

Upon my first day on the job (which happened to be a ten-hour day), the ever so dreadful phrase “what have I done?” was blinking in my head like a clock after the electricity shuts down.

To make a long story short, I lasted seven months.

Seven months of being at work by 5 or 6AM in a sketchy part of town. Of being yelled at by grumpy customers. Of doing physical labor for hours everyday. Enough complaining, you get the picture. It wasn’t for me. It was back-breaking work. And as I’ve said before, I am all for working your butt off and working your way up. But the thing was, I had absolutely no desire to move up in this company, or in this industry for that matter. So I felt like I was dealing with all of this bullshit for something I didn’t even want.

But, with all of that said, I’m thankful it happened. Because…

That job I hated allowed me to make (and save) some money out of college.

I got to experience what adulthood is like… Making an actual salary for the first time, understanding the logistics of insurance benefits and 401k and budgeting. This job got me off my feet.

That job I hated showed me what I don’t want.

And for someone who didn’t know what she wanted, this was pretty important. When you feel lost, it’s better to experience something that allows you to check it off the to-don’t list, than to wait and wait and wait for the perfect option (because that may never happen).

That job I hated helped me turn a negative into positive.

I was depressed. I was not only depressed because I hated the job, but I was depressed because of how lost I was. I’d just spent years in school, busting my ass, for what? I felt useless and had absolutely no confidence. I was so down, that I would go to bed at night not wanting to wake up in the morning. I would drive from customer to customer (again, field sales), not caring if a car slammed into me on the way. I’d never, ever felt that in my life. And at the same time, I felt guilty for feeling this way. Because I had a job that paid me a salary, gave me insurance benefits, you know the deal. I had a roof over my head, food to eat, water to drink. But all I kept repeating to myself through the whole experience was that this was put in my path for a reason. And looking back, I know this was put in my path to show me that we go through rough times, and we come out stronger. We are never given more than we can handle.

That job I hated made me seek happiness.

This job gave me the cojones to find something I knew I would enjoy with passion. I had been at the lowest point, and I was ready for the highest. I was not going to settle. I knew there was more out there for me, and that job lead me to seek out light in the darkness. I so strongly hated what I was doing for 40+ hours a week, that finding something at the opposite side of the spectrum was a necessity. At this point, I felt unstoppable. Because I was not about to go through that again.

Why I'm Thankful for That Job I Hated

I began this job in Gainesville, the city of my alma mater. Months had gone by, and my hatred for this job grew and grew. I requested transfer to go home to be with my family, thinking maybe that would help. Plus, my home city being a bigger market, I thought I could get a better experience (since I was doing a job that was not in the job description). It wasn’t until I moved back home that my family really saw how this was affecting me. They saw the depression and the anxiety. They felt it.

Even after moving, there were many sleepless nights, tossing and turning, frequent panic attacks, the thought of quitting loitering in my mind. And finally, I’d had enough. I realized that if there were any time in my life to choose passion and happiness, it was now. So, I quit. 

And I am so glad I did. Now, I work full-time for a startup company (I went from a company with thousands of employees to one with 15) which has been a colossal learning experience. I own my own business (this blog right hurr), and have begun a new venture with my best friend. And had I not had that first job, I might still be lost.

The point is not to say that I was searching for a job that was blissful every hour of every day that bared no stress and existed without an issue arising. That’s impossible, and I know that. Everything you do will inevitably be accompanied by some type of stress or pressure. But I had experienced my bottom of the barrel, and I used it to fuel my fire to seek something more. And after having experienced such a low-point, I now look at every negative experience differently. Now, having the understanding of why that situation was put in my path and what I took from it, whenever I am in a situation that might be discouraging or frustrating or painful, I think: something better is on the other side.

Join the conversation:
Have you ever had a job that you absolutely hated?
Did you know what you wanted to do from the beginning, or did you ever feel lost?

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh I have disliked a lot of my past corporate jobs, but if it wasn’t for them I would not be where I am today! Getting laid off from corporate America was the best thing that could happen to me. It made me find my passion. It made me buck up and start my personal training business, which then led to starting a blog, which then led to becoming a Social Media Manager…CRAZINESS but grateful for it! XOXO
    ACKTIVE LIFE recently posted…Inspiring Women Who Inspire ME: Elizabeth InpynMy Profile

  2. says

    I love this Christina, it’s amazing how you were able to turn this experience around and see what you learned from it. Since I graduate in a year, my “job”, besides being a full-time student, is hostessing a few nights a week and that’s definitely a job I’m only doing to earn a little money. After graduation I know that I don’t want to do something just for the sake of having a job. Even if that means I’ll be making almost nothing. I’d rather be happy! :) Thank you so much for sharing these words of wisdom! <3
    Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…The Importance of SleepMy Profile

    • says

      I actually had a couple jobs in college that I disliked as well, so going from job to job to job and not liking any of them I was so discouraged, I thought something was wrong with me that I didn’t like anything lol! While my college jobs were purely to make money, once you graduate and are dedicating over 40 hours a week to something, I realized I better make this something I like! Thanks for reading <3
      The Blissful Balance recently posted…Why I’m Thankful for That Job I HatedMy Profile

  3. says

    I LOVED reading this! I had no idea that was your background or that you had such a miserable job before, but I think you writing that down and sharing it is so helpful to see where you are today and it’s beyond inspiring. I majored in Recreation Sport Management, but I had a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation to work with people with disabilities, but I’m sure we took similar classes. It was funny because I’m not a sports girl at all and I didn’t realize I’d have to take so much on the sport management side too, but I learned a lot in them! I’m so happy that you started working with the start-up. and I was so surprised to hear that you didn’t have a background in PR or marketing because you do such a great job with it.
    Margaret @ youngandrungry recently posted…Guest Post: Beauty and HealthMy Profile

  4. says

    One of the reasons I’m taking my time to find a job is because I don’t want it to make me miserable. I had a summer internship that I despised so much (9-5 at a desk) and it has made me picky about the future. I know part of it comes with maturity and accepting that jobs aren’t forever, but right now, I would MUCH rather find a job I find fulfilling rather than one that pays a ton and just sounds good.
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted…Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  5. says

    Christina I can’t even tell you how perfect the timing of this post is. I had my last day at my first post-college/corporate job this last Thursday. I too am going from a company of thousands to a company of about 10, and I’m thrilled. I’m a year behind you but had the exact same drag of looking for a job since January and then graduating in May having no idea what was next. I finally found a job and just took it. It was fine to say the least but it wasn’t it. The things it taught be are unforgettable though and for that I am thankful.

    I started working there last June and never liked it. This past January I had to re-start the job hunt. At this point I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I met with too many people to count for informational interviews. But just like your post is giving me encouragement, so did everyone I met with. I almost felt bad for not liking my job. I felt bad for looking for another job while having a job. Everyone told me I couldn’t feel bad. I had to do what was right for me. Four months later I have a landed a new job that is going to be so much more fulfilling. I can’t wait!

    This post has so much truth Christina and I could literally copy and paste everything you said, about my situation too! I touch lightly on this topic in my post today so I linked to yours for my readers to see. (http://www.takeabiteblog.com/blog/2016/4/10/bites-of-my-life)

    This is great.
    Best,
    Annie

    http://www.takeabiteblog.com
    Annie Tucker recently posted…Bites of My LifeMy Profile

  6. says

    This post hit home, Christina! You’re so right though; a job you hate can be such an amazing learning experience about YOURSELF. For me, it made me realize that I had to stop making the decisions I thought others wanted me to make. I had to focus on what I wanted, how I wanted to live my life, and on what would make ME happy.
    Seriously girl, this is perfect timing. This is a message more people need to read.
    Alexa [fooduzzi.com] recently posted…Sushi Burrito BowlsMy Profile

  7. says

    I went through just about my entire nutrition schooling and internship set on being a food service director for child nutrition, and once I was there I HATED it. I toughed it out for a year, and am so thankful I did and that I also didn’t stay in it. I learned so much, especially that I didn’t want to do that job!

  8. says

    I hated my first job out of college too. I lasted a couple of months and then I quit. I recall the same feelings you had coming out of college and searching for a job. I had an interview with a company that I determined was THE company that I wanted to work for. I went through a brutal interview process. 3 interviews, mock sales calls, the whole nine. And then I waited/followed up for a month before I got a letter in the mail saying they went in a different direction. It was SO disappointing. But, like you, I eventually found a place where I “fit.” They don’t tell you ANY of this in college. I really wish they did.

  9. says

    I can relate to this 100%. It took my almost a year to get into my current position that I love. Over that time, I was an executive assistant for people I disliked who didn’t respect me or my time. The only saving grace was my Fridays off where I volunteered at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, where I eventually got my dream job. Just like you, I wouldn’t appreciate or love my current job as much if I hadn’t hated the one before it. But I also think if I’d walked out of college into a job immediately, I would have grown bored or found things to dislike since I didn’t have to work so hard for it.
    Emily Weir recently posted…From Treadmills to TrailsMy Profile

  10. says

    I love your honesty in this post, and your ability to look back and think about a phenomenon I am a big believer in – that our experiences in the past, however miserable, helped us get to the good places we are in today, and even if we can’t fathom why some worse than bottom of the barrel happened, they happened for a reason. It’s difficult to take that on faith but it’s so true.

    My current job is not a forever job. I knew that going in, I was going to try it for a year and see how it went, and maybe stay for 2-3, but that I wanted to focus on getting experience, figuring out what I do and don’t like, and go from there. 6 months in that’s still the plan and it really helps keep things in perspective when I’m answering emails on a Sunday at home.
    Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…Weekly Workouts and Updates 4/4-4/11My Profile

    • says

      My story is ironic because my father is retiring soon and has been with the same company for about FORTY years! I feel like that’s pretty rare these days. I would have stuck with the crappiness if it would take me higher in a company I cared about, but that wasn’t the case. Thanks for reading Alyssa! Best of luck to you with your career!

  11. says

    omg, basically everything you wrote resonated with me so much. There is sooo much pressure to find a job right out of university, that you’ll accept anything that comes your way. i think its such an awful way to start your post university career, but it happens so often. I’m so happy that i got to move to Toronto to a different team, because its 100x better than what I was doing in Vancouver. Thanks for sharing this bbgurl xx
    Beverley @ Born to Sweat recently posted…Seafolly Swimwear & Sleepless NightsMy Profile

  12. says

    I can completely relate to this, I spent an entire year after school working three jobs at once. Going in for 10 hour days, then taking on call jobs on the side, and eventually working a part time job I did enjoy but i made no income at… But it taught me hard work and got me the job and the job security I have today! I think it’s so necessary to go through something like that, out of comfort to show you perspective and to keep you thriving for more!
    Hilary recently posted…5K, Zunzi’s & Weekend In SavannahMy Profile

    • says

      Thats so great to hear that it lead you down the right path! Having a full-time job and growing two blogs/businesses, I feel like I have three jobs, I never stop working. But I know it’s leading me in the right direction and the day I am able to focus on the two, it will all be worth it!

  13. says

    Ughhhh my first job out of college was awful. I’m talking like… I was so bored that there was no reason fir my position to even exist and I’d wake up daily and dream of quitting. And then one day I did and then I took another job that ended up letting me go 4 months in aaaaaand that’s how I wound up here! I totally know the ‘wtf am I doing with my life’ post college feeling though. It sucks.. I think if you have ‘everything happens for a reason’ permanently in your brain then it’s not quite as bad ha .
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted…Honey Glazed Yogurt ParfaitMy Profile

    • says

      Each of those instances lead you to the right path!! My job was so exhausting – I was stocking grocery shelves 8-10 hours a day, definitely wasn’t in the job description. But I learned a lot about myself!

  14. says

    I love how you turned this negative experience into a positive one! There’s such an unnecessary stress placed on seniors (especially during 2nd semester) on what’s next and where they’re working and what they’ll be doing, etc. I’m working at the same company I started working part-time for during my senior year in college. I’m extremely grateful that I love what I do and know that it’s for sure a rare thing. In the future if there’s ever a second I dread coming to work, I know that’s when I need a change. Thanks for sharing all of this!

    • says

      I knew I needed to make a change when I started to desperately look forward to the weekend – thats sort of my ‘I’m burning out’ alarm lol. I don’t want to absolutely dread every Monday, that’s no way to live!! Love love love to hear that you are enjoying your job <3

  15. says

    You are such an amazing writer! This post was great, and your perseverance is inspiring. I try believe every thing in life happens for a reason and that how we deal with each task/challenge we are given shapes our character.
    Sarah recently posted…Marvelous In My Monday #2My Profile

  16. Amanda F says

    So uh, I’m on second job post college (May 2013 grad with a BS in Mechanical Engineering). I interned with a fairly large company that was on a hiring freeze when I graduated (which is good because I absolutely hated the area it was located). Turned down a job offer and graduated job-less. My husband (also an engineer) got a job offer that he wanted first, so we picked up and moved to another state. I found a job in our new city in August with a small company that made something I could be proud of and lots of guys my age. Turns out, for me this isn’t enough. I missed being around ANY women and the small company wasn’t super stable. So I started looking again. Turned down another job. Then finally took another (with a GIANT company). I have met some cool women in my field and I am learning a lot. Do I want to be here forever? No. Absolutely not. I’m not the biggest fan of the corporate life, but it gives me the means to pursue my side hobbies (cooking, teaching craft classes, speaking to young girls about the STEM fields) so I am just keeping a look out for opportunities and squirreling away money.

    • says

      Wowza! I wish you the best of luck. The job I had was manual labor and left me exhausted day after day, I didn’t have any motivation to do anything else! On days where I get frustrated at my current job, I always look back on how much I hated what I was doing before haha.

  17. says

    My first job I had out of college I also hated! BUT I learned from the experience, and gained insight as to what I wanted for my career. I realized that I cannot be one of those people who work 9-5 and does not love what they do, I NEED to be in love with my job! I still work a 9-5 but I am working towards my dream job!
    Victoria recently posted…Monday Prep and Plan for Healthy LivingMy Profile

  18. says

    I can relate so much to how you felt at that time. I also feel exactly the same way about how difficult it can be to be looking for something when you don’t even know what you’re looking for. I feel like Goldilocks sometimes…it’s hard to know what you like without trying it!
    Sam @ Barrister’s Beet recently posted…The Healthiest Food ShortcutsMy Profile

  19. says

    Wow, this is so amazing, because I watched this Vlogger, a couple months ago, say the same thing. He said that it is often good to do a job you don’t like as much, just to get that work experience. He said that it will prepare you for doing something in an area that you are gifted, doing something that you do love. It’s amazing how those experiences can cause us to grow in a tremendous way.
    Emily recently posted…Thankful That I’m Not A NumberMy Profile

  20. says

    Love this post, Christina! I majored in Sport Management for my BS too – years ago. After college, I spent a few years working in large athletic departments, doing statistics and website reporting. It was fun, but like you said a TON of hours, and my passion dwindled. I learned alot about what I didn’t want in those jobs, and while I love sports and always will as a fan, I couldn’t work in them. Now, as a dietitian, I couldn’t be happier with my career change. I truly believe past jobs all provide learning experiences and growing opportunities – we just have to have the right lens to see them!
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…Banana Oatmeal Almond Butter MuffinsMy Profile

  21. Megan says

    I am going through the same thing right now. I graduated in May from Florida (go gators!!) and am working at a job I hate. I have many of the same feeling as you, and I am so glad to see that you got a new job and how much that helped you. I have a one year contract so I cannot leave until July.
    I never comment on blogs, but I just wanted to let you know your story really meant a lot to me and gave me hope for my future.

    • says

      Hey Megan! It’s so great to hear from a fellow Gator :) I think many, many of us go through this phase of life, and it’s leading you in the right direction. This is the home stretch now – I know you’re ready for what’s to come, and I wish you the best of luck! Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  22. says

    I can so relate to this post, Christina! I’ve been in the same job/position for three years and I don’t necessarily hate it but it’s just not something that I get excited about. The only reason I’m sticking around is because it’s easy, it pays the bills, and it gives me enough freedom to spend time working on my blog and grad school work which are ultimately going to lead me towards the career I want.

  23. Sarah says

    I am so glad to not be alone. I have been at my new job for two months, and it truly could be a part time job. I have not once looked forward to coming to work, I wake up with anxiety, knowing I have to spend the next 9 hours just sitting in an office by myself without any meaningful work to do…. or sometimes no work at all. I thrive off of human interaction and truly helping others. I have two bachelor degrees in business- marketing & communication- and I’m questioning the last 4 years I spent in school.

    For the same reasons you mentioned, I also feel like I’m being ungrateful, but I have such a passion to work hard where there is a purpose. I have about a 30 minute commute to work too and the same thoughts of “Well, a minor accident wouldn’t be terrible”, cross my mind. I have never, ever had thoughts like that before! I thought this was my dream job, but my expectations far exceeded the reality.

    I’m trying so hard to work on my mentality and perspective, but I am struggling daily. I would be so much happier on my feet getting coffee, making copies, and truly helping people, even in the most menial ways, as opposed to sitting behind the desk in a corner office all day.

    I keep telling myself to stick it out for a minimum of 6 months, but this job is not an investment to myself, my future, and there is no where to go within the position (I work for a small city government). Every single week I can get through is a small victory.

  24. says

    Great post, Love your photography…cool shot from above of the coffee. I also have had jobs (plural) that I hated. But as you say, there are lots of lessons to be learned from going thru that experience. I feel like I appreciate the work I do more now and try to find gratitude for small things. Congrats for finding such wisdom at a relatively young age…it definitely took me longer to start to figure it out!!

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