When we are young we often dream about having that one particular job. Some of us want to be a fireman, a ballerina, a teacher but do we ever think of the sad reality that getting a fulfilling position on our desired field might not come as easy as we think?
Getting there to be able to even apply for the position is a long way, it’s very important but not enough to figure out our topic of interest at an early age. For some it might be natural that they knew what they were truly into, but let’s just mention all of those who struggle trough a life looking for true interest or passion. So after we passed this first milestone we can start preparing. We can focus on the right subjects at school, read books and do research on our own, volunteer at the right locations and complete all the necessary education, let it be a certificate or a diploma. All this - of course - requires strong will, endless motivation and support. So if we were tenacious and lucky enough to have support, we are able to pass the second big barrier and get out there to the real world looking for our dream job.
Out there normally comes the first disappointment: there is always someone better that you. In your whole life leading up to this point you might have believed that hard work will pay off right away, that having a degree is the key to a brighter future, and that if you do your best everything is going to be alright, but then you start looking for vacancies and you realize that you don’t have the experience, not even to be a junior assistant or secretary, and that for months nobody will even bother to reject your application, instead there will be complete silence. If you’re mentally strong, and you make the effort to learn to build a sparkling application from what you have, after a while you’ll start having job interviews and eventually you will get hired.
By then you’ll lower your expectations with 50% and you accept any kind of schedule and salary as long as it allows you to survive, and then you’re in. Finally you have a job on your field. Congratulations. That’s the point when all of those gigantic rocks roll off of your chest, and the knot in your stomach that you had carried for no one knows how long will dissolve. I don’t mean to be the breaker of bad news but there is an unfortunate chance that as a new hire your vicissitudes are not quite over. Job hunters in general, but especially entry level opportunity seekers are not treated fairly on the job market, and that unfair approach can continue accompanying you as a new hire. Because in theory you have rights, right? You have a contract that says the amount of hours you work for your money, you’re supposed to receive training, you should have support and room for growth. Instead you might end up working unpaid extra hours, never receiving any training and just be forced to figure out things for yourself. You might have an invisible supervisor and a bully as a colleague, who will take every chance to "ask" things from you but never a minute to help you out.
All and all as heartbreaking as it sounds getting the long-awaited and desperately desired yes after a job interview might not mean the end of the bumpy road. And it is very upsetting because there is no good fix. As a new employee you are the bottom of the food chain, the new face everybody has expectations towards. You haven’t shown your best, proved your abilities, and from that position it’s tricky to stand up for yourself. It can come across as being an entitled brat or as complaining. So at the beginning while you’re supposed to show all the enthusiasm and initiative, you should just try to turn the other cheek instead of fighting. Try to have a positive attitude, as much patience as possible, and teach everybody who is being difficult a lesson with an amazing performance and spotless kindness. That should do the job, and for the most part it will work.
For those occasions when it won’t, if after giving an amazing performance and fantastic attitude there is still no support, no recognition, and after the first couple to few months you wake up to stomach ache before you have to go to work, sometimes there’s no shame in "running". A workplace where they have no respect and no support for you might not worth the time and effort, especially if the stress it brings manifests in physical signs. Before quitting you can start looking for an other opportunity, you can try to use those few positive connections you have made to give you references, maybe even ideas, and always make sure, even in the worst situations to act professionally and leave a polite last impression.
When it comes to a few month-employment there is unfortunately always a risk, that if it appears on your resume they might tag you as a job hopper. I find that extremely unfair but it’s something that’s worth thinking of. If you have a 3-4 month employment that you terminated, have a proper explanation in your head why that happened. When sending a resume, attach a cover letter and explain it briefly (without bashing out on your former employee!) that the circumstances weren’t right for you, and how difficult decision it was for you to leave because you’re looking for a stable, long-term opportunity where you can establish yourself.
And finally: what to learn? Having a bad work experience, especially after a lengthy job hunt is always challenging to digest. You will feel hurt and hopeless but you needn’t to give into those feelings. Not everybody fits into any environment. Not everybody feels comfortable working among wolfs, not everybody is ok with not receiving any leadership. It solely depends on your personality. If you keep searching you will eventually find the right fit for you, and while learning about yourself you can also learn to express these preferences (gently!) during your future job interviews to eliminate similar experiences. Whatever the case may have been I would just like to point out something I firmly believe in: There is no such a thing as a job you can’t learn from. Whatever your experience brought you, you can always learn at least how not to do things, you can learn from your own and others’ mistakes, you can practice patience and your social skills, and set high standards based on an unpleasant example.
As an end let me share Thomas A. Edison’s wise words: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”