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Should I quit my job?
February 1, 2012 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Should I quit my job? I really hate it.

I am in my early 20s and this is my first post-college job. I've been there for a few months, and I cannot stand it. I'm not really performing any of the listed job duties--I'm a skilled technical worker and I'm doing the equivalent of editing word documents. I am not doing what I thought I was hired to do. It's a pretty toxic environment (not my words--I was talking to coworkers about it) where there is really no challenging work. I ask for work and there is nothing. The person who is training me leaves me hanging for days. Today, I was given the task of reading one page in 3.5 hours. I feel like my brain is rotting. I am a hard worker and this is difficult to deal with. I have spoken to my coworkers, and discovered that I have learned and done more than some of them have done in twice or even thrice as much time. It's almost a joke to them; they have told me often that they do little to no work. I would rather be doing useful projects in my field for free than getting paid to do almost nothing. I hate the thought of wasting my precious, limited time on this earth.

I have been accepted to graduate school for the fall. I have enough money to live on and travel on and have oodles left over for the nights that ramen is too much to handle. I have 6 months to go until school starts. There is a definite end to my time at this job, but I just don't know when I should quit. I definitely wouldn't be looking for another job in that time--who would hire somebody that would leave a few months later?? I wouldn't feel ethical lying about it, either.

I'm getting paid really well and I REALLY like all of my coworkers/boss. I don't want to be a flake and let down the people who hired me. My sense of duty is very strong. Should I quit now? Should I put in a few more months? I want to do the right thing, but I also don't want to hate every day. Is it terrible to quit so soon??? I feel awful for wanting to leave this easy, cushy job when so many are struggling to find work, and I don't know what the right answer is.
posted by 200burritos to Human Relations (47 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounds like you don't need the money and you're miserable - quit. Two weeks notice is polite.

While you're unemployed, volunteer, try to get an internship, or do something - don't just hang around.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Quit. Take a trip to Europe or Asia or something. Life is short. Young life is shorter.
posted by just sayin at 3:19 PM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Heck yes you can! Run, run, run. You're only young once.

I quit every one of those jobs I had in my 20s (and even 30s!) that I hated, and I never once regretted it. Be nice, be cordial, ask how much (reasonable) notice they want, be appropriate but take off and FLY FREE. You'll be so happy.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:19 PM on February 1, 2012


Leave. Travel for a few months, then spend a few months getting ready for grad school--find an apartment, read up on interesting material related to your field, get your study space/stuff organized, explore the campus and surrounding town (if you are able to move there a bit early).

I fully support jumping ship, but only if you have a plan, and only if you're doing it to invest in your sanity so you kick ass at grad school.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 3:20 PM on February 1, 2012


Well, if so many are struggling to find work, perhaps your leaving will help one of them find a job... taking over for you!

You have two choices here. One, quit. You will almost never be in this situation again, so take advantage of it NOW.

The other is only workable if you can do it there, but... do all sorts of other stuff to keep your brain going. Make a blog for yourself. Work on web skills or other stuff you think would be helpful to you in the future. Read Project Gutenberg. Get your WORK work done fast and well, but then take the rest of the time to please your brain. I'm mainly saying this because you will likely be a better worker if you aren't bored and have an active brain. But of course not everybody has an environment like this.

But if I were you, I'd quit.
posted by Madamina at 3:22 PM on February 1, 2012


"Be nice, be cordial, ask how much (reasonable) notice they want, be appropriate but take off and FLY FREE."

Agreed. It should be obvious: Don't burn any bridges. Make sure they'd provide a positive reference in the future.

Something else to consider is offering your services as a contractor if you think you'd enjoy the work and/or the money. Think of the work they need, tell them you'd be willing to do it as a contractor for $X/hour if they'd find that valuable. You never know, it could turn into something lucrative that you do on your own time.

If not, go play. Those stints between work and school are soooo valuable!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 3:25 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


So as a guy in his mid-to-late-30's (today's my birthday!) I can say this is really the money quote, in more ways than one:
I'm getting paid really well and I REALLY like all of my coworkers/boss
So, as I understand it, the job is mindlessly dull, but you're paid well, you actually like the people you spend most of the workday with, and it has a built-in expiration date already that's not far off.

First, don't look down your nose at the money; the older I get, the more I value the freedom of having extra- as opposed to too little- cash. If the job isn't life-threatening and you enjoy the people you work with... fuck it, unless you have a trust fund just stick it out and pocket the cash- grad school you will be thankful for the extra savings!


Second, ou mention that it's a toxic environment, but that doesn't seem supported by your other statements: the people relationships are okay, and the money's okay, so the fact that you're given too little to do? I hate to be all "git off mah lawn", but that is not toxic, not by a stretch. If you're bored, then meh... bring a book or something- or bring work you can do that interests you.
I would rather be doing useful projects in my field for free than getting paid to do almost nothing
Wait... it sounds like the job you claim to hate is actually giving you excess time to do whatever you want, including I'd assume useful projects in your field. Why quit a job like that?!


So I'd say, sure you can quit if you want to, but if you think you'd appreciate not living off savings for 6 months when you're going to grad school afterwards, you should keep the job. Trust me, there are far worse jobs you could have, that you'd have to do to have a place to sleep and food to eat.

Yes, the job sounds boring, but honestly? A lot of people would love a job that pays well, involves people you like, and gives you loads of free time. Besides, that's life: a lot of boring bits interrupted by occasional mayhem.

I can't recall the link, but someone had a great description of finding "passion" in life and career that was one of the best quotes of the year; it pointed out you shouldn't try to worry about your job being your passion: go do your passion, and have the job be the thing you do as little of as you can get away with, to support that passion. In this case, you have six months of doing it sounds like whatever you want. How incredibly fortunate of you!
posted by hincandenza at 3:29 PM on February 1, 2012 [42 favorites]


As long as you have enough money to pay student loans until you start graduate school, quit. I actually WOULD look for a temp job or internship during the interim though. I quit my job in early December, and the gap between that and when my law classes started up was easily the most boring period of my life [but I was broke so..] Also, you may think you have time to take up an internship in grad school, but that's rarely the case unless it's specifically part of the program. I'm actually jumping the boat from law school to European history, and the school I'm looking into will actually accept an internship that was completed prior to the start of the program.

Depending on whatever program you're entering, I would take a language class. For mine, I need to demonstrate reading compensation in three European languages [dear lord, no!], but an additional language would probably compliment any program.
posted by oxfordcomma at 3:30 PM on February 1, 2012


In light of hincandeza's comment, I should add that I cannot do other things while on the job.
posted by 200burritos at 3:30 PM on February 1, 2012


There's certainly no imperative that you stay in the job. One thing you might think about, though, is how nice it would be to save up a good cushion of cash before going in to grad school. One thing you could do (seeing as you have nothing to lose) is talk to your boss and tell him/her straight up that you're woefully underemployed. If there's more (and more interesting) work to be given you, great. If there isn't, ask if it's o.k. if you use any downtime you have in the office to read material in preparation for grad school. Explain that you'll complete and any all work asked of you, but that sometimes you find yourself just sitting and twiddling your thumbs and rather than just looking busy you'd like to spend your time doing something productive.

That way you get to grad school feeling a little more on top of your subject and with a healthy-looking bank account.
posted by yoink at 3:32 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am so disgusted with myself right now, because my first response was WTF, YOU WANT TO QUIT YOUR HIGH PAYING JOB IN THIS ECONOMY HDU.

NO. There is clearly some kind of terrible gnome trickery afoot in my brain. Flee and enjoy yourself! It's only 6 months, not a lifetime of wanton madness. This is what you're supposed to do post-college.
posted by elizardbits at 3:32 PM on February 1, 2012


I cannot do other things while on the job

Ah, sorry--you posted this while I was writing my comment. Curse the inscrutable "preview" button and its unfathomable mysteries.
posted by yoink at 3:33 PM on February 1, 2012


You get paid well? I'd hold out a little while longer and save hard for a 3 month trip somewhere (the length of time often allowed without a visa for some places, but I'm Canadian, ymmv)

What about thinking up options for make-work projects you could get your boss to approve? Reorganize something, catalogue something, prepare a resreport on a topic relevant to the company, something to let you feel productive. If that doesn't fly with the boss, by all means leave now.
posted by lizbunny at 3:45 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is amazing - you could be me in my previous job, except that I went to grad school on their employee benefit and kept being bored out of my skull for two more years until I found the job I have now.

Leave! But make sure you've got structure before school starts. Set up some goals and projects for that time.
posted by jgirl at 3:46 PM on February 1, 2012


Can you read online? I'd keep the job and get the introductory syllabus for your program, and start doing readings in advance. The first semester of grad school is no joke and to me it sounds like you have paid study time.
posted by spunweb at 3:49 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


By all means quit if you want, but hey you're getting well-paid, and you like your co-workers... Those are reasonably rare things!

Franky, maybe I'm cynical or my expectations are too low, but this: "this is my first post-college job." + this: "I'm a skilled technical worker and I'm doing the equivalent of editing word documents." and its corollary doesn't surprise me too much.

In my job, there's a certain type of graduate that is the bane of my existence, because they not only hate doing banal meaningless grunt work (perfectly natural, no one likes it), but they complain about it ceaselessly and think they're above it. I don't know what your field is, but most workplaces reward experience far more so than intelligence.

Grads will almost always find themselves doing shitty meaningless grunt work. This is partly because they have the least power, but partly because - as an hourly rate - they are the cheapest workers in any given environment and thusly given the most low value tasks. Whether there the smartest or not is no matter.

Rather than quitting, perhaps you can devise some "Stretch" projects for yourself, and float it with your boss? Another thing I've noticed with some graduates is, whilst they're smart and super hard-working, they expect a certain amount of spoon-feeding in regards to work. It's a natural and reasonable expectation, but in a lot of workplaces may not be forthcoming... If you're bored with grunt work, finish it in half the time and generate your own high value work. You will get something much better to put on your cv and may not hate your job so much?
posted by smoke at 3:49 PM on February 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


Put in a few more months, save some more money, and then quit. 3 months is still a lovely break before school.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:50 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Split the difference and stay on 2-3 months until the weather's warmer. Then use the extra money and travel a bit before school or sock it away for a rainy day.
posted by mochapickle at 3:54 PM on February 1, 2012


Should have previewed. TPS is wise. :)
posted by mochapickle at 3:54 PM on February 1, 2012


At first I was going to say, never underestimate how much better it is to have a crappy job where you have nothing to do than a crappy job where you're overworked.

But then I got to: I have been accepted to graduate school for the fall. I have enough money to live on and travel on and have oodles left over for the nights that ramen is too much to handle. I have 6 months to go until school starts and I cannot do other things while on the job

So my real answer is QUIT NOW AND DON'T LOOK BACK!!

who would hire somebody that would leave a few months later??

The answer to this, btw, is a temp agency (or, more literally, a company a temp agency works for.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:55 PM on February 1, 2012


Yes, quit.
posted by mleigh at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quit. If you are in your early 20s and don't much care for your job or the idea that you should care for your job, you have to quit. There are no negative consequences. You will not go homeless. If you are short of money for a while, it will give you a useful lesson. You will be ashamed of yourself, later on, if you do not quit now. More importantly, you will be proud of yourself, later on, if you quit now. You'll feel good about yourself for a long time. Having the fucking guts to quit a job is the kind of thing that will set you up for life.

There is no one over 30 (who is not a total whore) here who will not wish you to quit your job. Be brave and run from it.
posted by cincinnatus c at 4:13 PM on February 1, 2012


I'm singing this in my best opera voice, "QUUUUUIIIIIITTTTTT!"
posted by Pecinpah at 4:26 PM on February 1, 2012


I would either put in a few more months, or quit and temp, or quit and volunteer, or something. I wouldn't just quit to go do nothing, is what I'm saying. So before you do, make sure you've got some other things lined up even just to pass the time.

But also, a bit of warning -- this meaningless, boring, not-quite-enough-of-it-to-fill-my-day type of work may crop up again in your future when quitting is not an option. If you can get anything out of this job that would go towards preventing that, I advise you to try to do so. If not, well, eff it.
posted by sm1tten at 4:28 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have spoken to my coworkers, and discovered that I have learned and done more than some of them have done in twice or even thrice as much time.

Let's assume for a second that this is really true. I bet it isn't* (really? same quality? same deep level of understanding? same capability of putting things into action?), but the hell of it, let's assume it is.

Time to put your money where your mouth is, kid.

My advice to you is that you should go to your boss with a plan of action.

"The purpose of this is to iron out my career path in this company -- I think I can do much more than I'm doing now. All right, through this research I've done (puts hard evidence on table), it's clear that I've learned and done more (puts more hard evidence on table) than some folks here have done in twice the time. Given that, here's my plan for the next 90 days (puts plan on table) and here are the measurable, quantifiable deliverables (puts list on table) that I will accomplish. I'd like to schedule a review of this in 90 days and at that point chart a course for advancement and a compensation increase. Otherwise, I'll have to start looking for a place that better fits my intended career path."

If you do this, you'll be a motherfucking superhero.

Get going.

* Anecdata: Guys in their 20s in their first college jobs are rarely very good at being an objective judge of their own capabilities. Here's hoping you're the exception.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:32 PM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Before you quit, find out how much this is really going to cost you. The money you fail to save (and spend, should you elect to travel) in this well-paying job is money that you'll be borrowing to pay for grad school.

Do some calcuations, figure out how much more you'll borrow as a result of quitting this job, and compare it to how much you'd borrow if you worked at this job for the next six months. Figure out how much more your student loan payments will be as a consequence.

Once you have a dollar figure--even if it's just going to be an approximation--you can make a more properly informed decision. Asking yourself, "Should I quit this job?" vs. "Is it worth $25,000 in extra student loan payments so I can quit this job where I'm bored but I like my co-workers?" might let you think about it differently. If the answer is still "yes," then you can be confident you've made the right choice.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:48 PM on February 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm not a guy, Cool Papa Bell. I do appreciate your seasoned viewpoint and attempts to rouse the spoilt youth to action, but I am not trying to start a career at this company. I will be leaving sooner or later to go to graduate school. This question was posted in an attempt to help me figure out if my inclinations to leave 'sooner' were petty.
posted by 200burritos at 4:51 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm getting paid really well and I REALLY like all of my coworkers/boss.

You don't have a ton of experience, but liking your coworkers/boss is a huge advantage no matter what you do.

I don't know if there's a way for you to keep your job and still try something new somehow, because I think that if you knew, through experience, how easily passion for work (and work alone) fades, you'd be extremely happy with your job.

FWIW, when I had my first job, I thought it was so boring and I was so anxious about what it would lead to. So I got a new job more specific to what I thought I wanted to do, but the environments at the next two jobs were so dysfunction and straight up fucking crazy that I wish I'd known how good I had it at the first job (even though it didn't remotely resemble what I went to grad school for).
posted by anniecat at 4:53 PM on February 1, 2012


Also, how old are you and what are you hoping to go for grad school for? I feel like grad school is a real pull for folks with just a general bachelor's because you think somehow it'll make you this really happy and passionate person when, after 30 or so, you want some of those trappings of life that you feel too young for before 30.

After 30, you just wish to hell you'd majored in engineering and weren't loaded down with student debt and didn't go with the whole "passion" stuff people were selling.

But you only get a good understanding of what you want after you have bad experiences. When you're young, getting paid nicely, and the world is your oyster (and the job and pay came very easily), you think you can do even better.

If I could go back in time, I would have kept the first job and gotten hobbies. If I could redo everything, I would have waited until I was 30-ish to go to grad school.
posted by anniecat at 4:59 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


really? 6 months? then you know you're off to grad school? as someone in my mid 30's, with a good amount of work experience, i would wholly recommend that you stay and finish out your time there. it's really rough out there right now job-wise, and any money that can be put away towards grad school, the future, etc., why would you even think of doing otherwise? you have a definite end to your employment there. its not as if you'll be talked into staying 6 months from now. you are too young (relatively) to know that you will encounter plenty more toxic work environs, plenty more mindless, menial tasks, and that -this- is sometimes how it is. build that cushion for what comes next, joke with your colleagues, and play some words with friends.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 5:06 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Life is short, yes, and quitting is good, but grad school is a long haul and a huge money suck. It's not just the costs but the income loss. That is, if you're permitted to work at all, you will generally work at most half-time and for the pittance of a grad school stipend. Having some financial resources going in will reduce your stress. Well, that source of your stress, anyway.
posted by gingerest at 5:25 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stick it out. I'm in grad school and wish I'd done so with the job I had before I started. The extra money you'll have is worth it, if only to save for AFTER grad school when you're looking for real work.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:25 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


This question was posted in an attempt to help me figure out if my inclinations to leave 'sooner' were petty.

Then it's only petty if you want it but aren't trying. Do you want it? If no, then quit. If yes, are you trying? Really? Then stay, but give yourself a mission to accomplish, a mountain to climb, a spreadsheet to turn into an all-in-one, wonder-process that makes more money for everyone, you included.

If you stay but aren't giving yourself a mission, then you're not trying and you're petty.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:26 PM on February 1, 2012


Oh, and go to your boss's boss and propose a project that will keep you occupied for the next few months.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:27 PM on February 1, 2012


Also, how old are you and what are you hoping to go for grad school for? I feel like grad school is a real pull for folks with just a general bachelor's because you think somehow it'll make you this really happy and passionate person when, after 30 or so, you want some of those trappings of life that you feel too young for before 30.


I am in my early twenties and going to graduate school in computer science at a top university.
posted by 200burritos at 5:29 PM on February 1, 2012


Can I have your job? I'm about to graduate and need the work, so if you want to quit...

The serious answer: Don't quit. Use this time to build up your nest egg. Well-paid, AND you like your co-workers? In the post-graduate world, you can only pick two from the well-paying--awesome position--awesome people triangle. You lucked out over so many other people in the well-paying field. Take advantage of the time you have at work to prove your worth as a diligent, take-charge, kickass employee. The bosses at your current job may not notice and give you another 1-pager to review, but the employers that "really matter" will.
posted by Ashen at 5:37 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that you're both willing and able to quit is quite powerful. Can you leverage that into doing something better at work?

You have the upper hand here, by far. Can you go to your boss and say something like, "I really like my colleagues here, and would love to make a significant difference to the firm. However, I don't feel like I'm being challenged. I'm considering giving my two weeks notice in order to pursue [whatever], but would really prefer to stay here if you can find a suitably significant project for me to work on."

If you're a good worker they'll really not want you to leave. Can you come up with anything at work that you'd like to do? Ask and you shall receive...
posted by losvedir at 5:38 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stay and leverage the space, time and resources to read, plan for school, take long weekends when you can, and develop good will and a bigger bank account. Grad school is work, but it's also freedom and you can travel plenty during vacations ... with the cash you've stashed from this job. Six months will go by in a blink at your age and the time in the job will look very good to future employers. I like TPS' idea, but I'd narrow that down to a month off.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:41 PM on February 1, 2012


I have enough money to live on and travel on and have oodles left over for the nights that ramen is too much to handle.

Is this from a scholarship/stipend or loans? If the university is giving you money to attend and you won't be racking up any debt while in grad school, then quit for sure. If you're going to have oodles left over because you're maxing out student loans, then oh God, please stay at the well-paying but boring job and minimize those loans.
posted by jabes at 5:42 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can you not do other things while on the job? If your job is to read a piece of paper, is someone looking over your shoulder checking what that piece of paper says? If your job is to do something on the computer, is there no way you could actually be doing something else on the computer? I'm not saying you need to stay, I'm just surprised that you can't, say, print something out and read that, or write in a notebook or do some coding, without anybody noticing.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:15 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming that your CS degree at a top university is fully funded...

I'm still in graduate school, so I don't necessarily have the benefit of perspective, but I'd say heck yes you should quit, put your stuff in storage, and go travel! I'm already at the point where I have more money than time (on a graduate stipend!), and I'm so glad that I took time off before starting school to travel.

When else are you going to be in a situation where you have a job lined up for 6 months in the future, and total freedom in the present?
posted by Metasyntactic at 6:15 PM on February 1, 2012


Stay or don't stay. It's pretty much a coin toss, if you ask me. However, don't stay because of this:

I don't want to be a flake and let down the people who hired me. My sense of duty is very strong.

If you stay, it should be because of this:

I'm getting paid really well and I REALLY like all of my coworkers/boss.

I was in your shoes a couple of years ago (except that my job had absurd, unattainable expectations and my boss was a slave driver). I split the difference: took solace in knowing I was out the door, showed up and did adequately, collected a paycheck for six months quit in June, and took a couple of months off. That's how I'd do it again, personally.

I gotta say, also, from someone like you circa five years ago: working, generally, just kind of sucks.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:44 PM on February 1, 2012


I'd say stick it out for three more months or so, save some more, and then do something fiscally prudent but fun. It may be years before you can do meaningful travel again, for example. I haven't traveled for fun since 2006 and that was to visit (nice, fun) relatives, not to go to a new place.
posted by Frowner at 6:47 PM on February 1, 2012


Agree with chickenmagazine. As long as you are staring at that screen and it's not Facebook, chances are no one notices what you're doing. At one do-nothing job I had, I read books on gutenberg.org for just about four months solid without anyone noticing. That's a lot of Balzac and Thackeray! It was when I brought in a real book to read (which my immediate boss had OK'd) that the highly observant VP finally noticed I had nothing to do and laid me off, thank God. I went on to something better in a few months' time. Right now, when I have nothing to do, I do some Groovy programming or read articles in my field, and when that gets too much, I read a lot of film blogs. No complaints or pink slips yet and this has been going on intermittently for 5+ years.

Can you quit about a month or so before you start grad school so you can travel or do something else fun? Definitely travel when you are in your 20's as much as you can, before the aches and pains start setting in and/or you get married & have kids. Once the old fartitude starts to creep in, travelling won't appeal to you as much.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:53 PM on February 1, 2012


If you're in CS, and you really are actually good at it, then fuck it. Quit your job and travel now. It is relatively easy to scrounge up money in grad school as a CS major. Work internships in the summer and save a good chunk from them. You aren't paying anything for your tuition and you have some sort of TAship/RAship/fellowship for your living expenses, right? As long as you won't be expecting to live well, you should be fine with that money alone.
I honestly wish I had traveled a bit more when I was your age, instead of staying in boring but well-paying jobs that I hated. Travel cheap, but see the world while you have absolutely nothing holding you down.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:57 PM on February 1, 2012


Unless you have a compelling reason to quit between now and grad school, stick with it. The money will always come in handy, if not, sock it away for retirement.
posted by TrinsicWS at 1:52 AM on February 2, 2012


I am in my early twenties and going to graduate school in computer science at a top university.

Dang, then get the company to pay for it. A good friend of mine is a software engineer who got her company to fully fund her master's in CS at a top private school during evenings and weekends and give her a full workday off each week to study. She was paid a really great salary at the same time.
posted by anniecat at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2012


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