Unfortunately, sometimes a job is just a job. It is a means to an end, and you might not have any intention of staying in the field you are currently working in. Whether it is a transitional stage in your career or you are trying to make some money to get through college, you have likely had a job that didn’t care much about. For some of us, the thought of going to these jobs is something we dread every day.
My worst-nightmare would be working in the food-industry for the rest of my life. Yet, most of my jobs thus far have involved food in some way or another. I have worked as:
- A cashier in a grocery store
- A hostess
- An ice cream scooper and “frymaster”*
- A student worker in our Union’s cafe
- A student worker in a college dining hall
- A server (or waitress, whatever you would like to call it)
And the biggest thing I have taken away from these jobs is that I will never work in the food industry past college. Since the mission of this blog involves encouraging people to pursue their passions, I decided to write about when it might be time to call it quits at that job you cannot stand. Don’t get me wrong, we all have to go through these jobs sometimes, because unfortunately no matter how hard we dream of it money will not magically appear in our bank accounts. But there comes a point when enough is enough, and you need to know when it’s time to move on.
It might be time to quit if:
There is excessive work drama.
Good coworkers can turn around a bad job. You have someone to vent to and switch shifts with if you really need a day off. Likewise, bad coworkers can make a bad job even worse. It’s one thing if coworkers are complaining about how long the day is or that one really sour customer. But if people are talking behind each others’ backs or starting rumors at work, it’s trouble. You should not have to worry about whether or not you are on so-and-so’s good side so they don’t trash talk you on their smoke break.
The managers are constantly talking down to you.
There is a difference between constructive criticism and treating you like you don’t know what you are doing. Keep in mind you were hired for this position, meaning you had to go through an interview process to prove your qualifications for this job. But sometimes no matter how hard you try, there will always be managers that act like nothing is ever good enough for them.
The work environment is no longer welcoming.
This one can go hand in hand with the first two. It might be a combination of both, or it might be that everyone seems to be in a perpetually bad mood. Think about it this way: if the manager is always cranky, the employees are likely to let that rub off on them, too. And being surrounded by negativity is draining. It can take a toll on your mental health, and you are likely to bring some of your frustrations home with you.
The commute is too much.
Sometimes the commute to a job is not really worth it. You have to factor in the value of your time, and how much it is costing you to get there. If you make a few less dollars an hour somewhere closer, it might actually not be that big of a difference if you think about how much it is costing you just get to and from a job.
Your managers have unrealistic expectations.
As someone who has worked two jobs while being a full time student, I know that coordinating everything can be difficult. You have to prioritize, and you have to be clear and honest about what you can handle and when you are available. When I got the second job, I explained my situation and they said that they would be flexible, and we could make it work. A couple months into it when one of the managers asked if my other job could schedule me out two months in advance I failed to see the flexibility. Especially seeing as they let me know my schedule the Thursday before a new week started, I would say it was pretty unreasonable to expect any job would schedule that far an advance.
You have bigger goals.
Eventually, the time comes to let go of the jobs you are sick of working. There comes a point when the money is not worth it anymore. If you have to take a pay cut to work in the field you want to go into, it might worth it. For me, the experience that I am getting at my current job is invaluable. Clearly I still need money to survive, but I am willing to make adjustments and be more careful with my money to get experience in the field I eventually want to have a career in.
It’s a pretty funny world we live in. We spend so much of our lives working to live, but if we spend all of our lives working jobs that we hate, is it really all worth it? At the end of my research seminar last year we had a banquet, and one of my fellows who was graduating read this story during his speech about a fisherman who was approached by a businessman. The businessman was confused as to why the fisherman was not out working hard and making a living. By the end, the businessman justifies all the hard work he would have to do by saying that at the end of the day (by retirement) he could sit on the beach and do whatever he wanted, but the fisherman points out that he is already doing this.
Ask yourself this: is what you are doing right now helping you get to where you want to be?
*Once upon a time, I got really good at making french fries. And yes, “Frymaster” was my official title.