My Attitude sabotaged my career- and it was awesome
Almost a decade ago, I torpedoed my work life. I was 25 and working as an assistant at a major movie studio. At no point was I forced to interview for that job, or even accept the offer after the interview, but I did, and I enjoyed all the perks of being on a movie lot each day. One blaring problem was- and it pains me to admit these things- I felt my ideas were better than those of most people in my department. Not for the actual work being done, but in HOW the work could be done.
Each day brought more frustration around endless meetings that, in my mind, could have been updates on our SharePoint, or even a Google doc/spreadsheet. At the time, BlackBerrys were all the rage, which felt like we all had little mini laptops in our pockets. My mental whining was non-stop, “Why do we need to be here all day, when I have an ‘office’ in my purse?” My objections were expressed in the most juvenile ways: I was bratty, and I was frustrated with what I perceived as not being listened to. But really, how could anyone have listened when I wasn’t even speaking up?
My shitty attitude eventually got me fired, but before I got that tell-tale invite to sit down in my boss’ office with HR waiting to greet me, something happened. It finally hit me that the job and the company simply weren’t a good fit for me. This may seem obvious, but in a world where we are told the job hunt is all about impressing the employer, it feels foreign to go looking for them to impress YOU as the employee, aka the talent.
My time there was doomed from the beginning. If I wanted a tech savvy office that was chill about working remotely, I should have built that into my job search. Instead, I wanted, no NEEDED, that job. Not because it was right for me, but because it was there. This is the same shit I scold my girlfriends about when it comes to dating: “You don’t give up your time and energy just because they’re available and willing to have you.”
I didn’t have the balls to quit just like your BFF doesn’t have the balls to block her seven-time, on again/off again, non-committed “boyfriend.” What would I do without this job? At the time, I was prepared to stay there and be miserable, while judging everyone around me for my misery.
Three Things I learned:
- When job-hunting, you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. What do you want your workday to look like? Are you disciplined enough to maintain high productivity, while working remotely? If yes, you damn sure better be looking for employers who can respect that. How do you best communicate ideas and collaborate? In person, text and email, white board sessions? Knowing these things about yourself will help put together YOUR list of questions for the interview.
- Speak up. The moment you feel like your voice is not being heard, take a moment to check in with yourself to see if you’re even using it. It’s cool to process something internally and have your bratty tantrum, but after its over, re-group, and be clear on your frustrations and prepare solutions to present when you sit down and discuss it.
- Don’t wait until you get fired to leave! Sounds obvious, right? But just like in romantic relationships, we can normally sense shit ain’t right a few months before it falls apart. Use that feeling to plan your exit. If speaking up didn’t work, or you just know deep down it’s not a good fit, put yourself in a position to find something that is.
Overall, know your worth. You don’t have to accept the first job offer you get. If you find yourself in that position more often than you’d like, it’s time to get on a budget, girl! That’s an entirely different discussion, but keep your overhead low to buy yourself time to shop around.