I left my first job on Friday. I was always told to trust my instincts and for over a month something simply did not feel right. Instead of choosing to return to the office on Monday, I spoke with HR and simply told her that while I greatly appreciated the opportunity I was not happy and felt that it would be better for myself and the company if I collected my things and moved forward. In an industry where literally 50 people are queued up and ready to take your place, I knew there was someone better suited for the job long-term. It just wasn’t me.
Yes, I am now unemployed. My mom, while shocked that I would make such a decision in this unpredictable job climate, is being supportive and understanding, as I would often call her during my lunch breaks to help restore some of my strength. I made certain that I had over 6 months of expenses saved up, and obviously I will be cutting back a lot, something I should have been doing anyway. I will also need to choose whether or not I will keep my job on my resume or not, which I have yet to decide given the mixed feedback from those I have confided in. It is frightening, it is exciting, and my dad has no idea.
I am well aware that your first job is not always your favorite and that I need experience in the work place. Then again, it should not take every fiber of your being to get out of bed every morning and motivate yourself to do your job. The pressure after college to find a job immediately is serious, and the expectation that you will know exactly what you want to do is forced on us from the time we enter high school. I do not subscribe to the theory that everything needs to be “figured out” right away – there are still adults figuring it out at this moment. My whole young adult life up to last week I had thought I wanted to be a talent agent. My entire undergraduate career, extracurriculars and internships were centered around that goal. Now thinking that my career goals are no longer what I originally thought is probably the most terrifying piece of this, but I have no doubt that there is something better out there just for me and I am not willing to settle for whatever is thrown my way. The last thing I want to do is make leaving a job a pattern of mine, which is why the next few weeks are going to involve a very thorough evaluation of where I want to go next.
While not having a job is scary, there is something to be said about the fact that I was relieved after leaving the office. Even waking up today knowing that I would not have to clock in was a bit jarring as I was used to having the structure, it is thrilling because I have no idea what I am going to do next. I know that I have an incredible arsenal of skills from my academic career and degree (communications) and those developed over the years of collaborating, learning, and growing inside and outside of the classroom, so it is those I will bring into my job. My work ethic is strong when I am passionate about the tasks at hand, and that passion is what I am searching for. I have also had time to think about my other interests and goals outside of agency work, and want to explore editorial, PR, non profit, or even sports careers. Then there’s grad school and entrepreneurship, two things that have always interested me but I have put off with the idea that I should have some “real world” experience first. I am getting a do-over, and now everything is on the table.
More than anything, I have been thinking about my wants, something that I don’t do much given my tendency to want to please those around me. If I am going to go back to a standard desk job, I will need to be in a high-energy and collaborative environment, not simply sitting behind computer day in and day out. I need to be hands on and able to interact and connect with those around me, because that is where I thrive. It is possible that I am not made to be at a desk five days a week, and I need to be hands on and see my work come to fruition in a meaningful and tangible way, and feel a sense of fulfillment knowing I made an impact. These are the things I need most to be my best as an employee.
College students: please do not grab the first opportunity that comes your way if you are not at least 75% sure about it, just to appease others. Also, keep an open mind. I’ve learned there are so many avenues out there that you can take, and it might be one that you never considered but aligns directly with your passion. If you are money motivated, there are literally countless ways to make a great living for yourself that your parents or college may have never told you about outside of being a lawyer or doctor. Explore those avenues to the fullest, and do not let a looming graduation date override your intuition.