I just graduated college and have been working full-time for one month. I really don't like my job because I think I ended up in the wrong industry/type of business. I'm hoping for any suggestions, advice, or thoughts about how I can go about figuring out what industry/type of business/job would be a better fit for me. I am talented, smart, and hard working, but I feel like I am wasting my life because I'm not interested in my company or the work we do.
posted by laffytaffy9000 to Work & Money (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Hi everyone! I've been a long-time lurker of AskMeFi, and I look forward to contributing now that I'm a member.
For now, I'm hoping people can give me some advice and thoughts about my life and career, as I find myself particularly frustrated and angry with how things are going for me.
I just graduated from a top university (hint: we’re ranked above Harvard on the latest Forbes top colleges list—not that these rankings mean anything though) where I majored in philosophy. I wasn’t very pre-professional in college, nor was I involved in extracurricular activities, which made my job hunt more difficult since I couldn’t spin extracurricular interests into a job or focus on a particular track (e.g. economics major → banking). For most of college I thought I wanted to be a philosophy professor, so I just focused on academics and hanging out with my friends. I did very well (got a 3.8/4.0) and made some great friends. Then I did some research about the lack of tenure-track positions at good schools and I realized that I wouldn’t be secure after going to graduate school in philosophy, so I decided to look for a full-time job following graduation. (I also realized that philosophy is my personal passion, not my professional one).
I had some summer work experience, though nothing special, and I’ve ended up working for a PR/communications consulting firm in NYC full-time.
Although I’ve only been working for about a month, I have a very strong feeling that I want to leave in one year. I know most young people don’t stay at their first company very long anymore, but it is still frustrating going to work everyday feeling like I’m wasting my time.
I’m hoping for advice on two fronts: (1) how I can figure out what industry or type of work is a good fit for me; (2) whether any industries or work fits with what I think would be a good fit for me, based on what I’ve learned in my month at work.
Starting with (2), here is what I don’t like about my current job:
(a) PR/Communications is very, very time sensitive. If one of our clients needs help with a communications or PR issue, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is or if it is a weekend, we have to work (we do bill by the hour, though). I don’t like this because I don’t feel like I have a life and, to be honest, I don’t care about the issues of our clients.
(b) It is not intellectual. When confronted with an issue, the solution or procedure is usually “Just go find examples of other companies that went through the same thing and see what they did.”
(c) I don’t feel like I’m in control of what I’m doing. Since I’m in a client-focused business, it’s all about the client.
(d) My workday never really ends. This is related to (a), but also because I have a company blackberry that my superiors use to ask me to do things based on the clients’ schedule and needs.
Also, I’ll just mention that I’m not very happy with the pay. I’m earning 50k, which is a lot better than many people in this economy, but its not a great deal considering the living expenses of NYC and considering the time I work after I leave the office and on weekends. Things have been pretty slow since it’s the summer, so I haven’t really experienced what it is like to work at my company, but I’ve been told that the hours get much more intense (leaving after 8 pm) if there is a client issue (which is frequent since that’s what we work on).
In any case, are there any industries that have the opposites of (a)-(d) as working conditions? Let me say this, too: I don’t have a problem working long hours—the “good old days” of the 9-5 are over. But I don’t want to work a lot at something that I don’t care about, and when the work day ends (even if that is like 8 pm) it should end; I shouldn’t get emails on my blackberry asking me to do more stuff before the next day (that being said, maybe that wouldn’t bother me if I cared about the work I was doing). I’m having a really hard time figuring out what type of work, industry, or companies would be a good fit for me. I’ve come up with the following, but I don’t know if they match up to a possible job:
(A). I need to work with other people. I had a summer job where we worked in small teams working out particular issues for the company and we got to present those issues and our solutions in meetings. I really enjoyed working closely with other smart people for the entire work day. At my current job, I’m often told to do something that I then just email off to whoever asked for it. I understand that’s part of being new at the company, but I also think it’s a waste of my talent and intellect.
(B). I like working at an abstract level that actually applies to the concrete level. I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson and I love how philosophical discussions about the user experience and design influenced the actual products Apple makes. A job where conceptual thinking makes a difference in how something is done, or in imagining what is possible, would be great for me given my interest and talent in abstract thinking. Really, I feel better about the work I’m doing when I’m helping to determine how it’s going to be done. I like making a plan to accomplish something and then executing the plan.
(C). I prefer customers to clients. I hate how I basically work for the client. That can interfere with innovation since you have to do something the client is comfortable with. Although customers and clients are similar, they are also very different. I think making something that a person uses would be good for me (I currently make information that a company uses for PR/communications purposes, but I feel like that is either too abstract or just fluff; whatever the reason, it doesn’t excite me).
(D). Laid-back/more relaxed culture. My company is mostly older people and that definitely gives it a more conservative corporate feel, even though it’s a small company. I like working with young people that are a bit more laid back. I have to wear a suit to work everyday even though clients don’t come to our offices….that just doesn’t make any sense to me.
All of this seems to tell me that I should try to land a job with a start-up in California, but I’m really open to anything because life is too short not to be happy with what I’m doing. Money is important to me, but after having worked for a month, I realized interest in my work is more important, and will lead to greater overall happiness (possibly even wealth).
That leads me to (1). How do people figure out what type of job, etc, is good for them? I’m sure a big part of it is just trying different stuff; just being in this job for one month has helped me figure out a little bit what matters to me in a job. But, what are some other things that people do to figure this stuff out?
I have reached out to my friends and family about this, but most of them just say “well that’s work, it’s not supposed to be great every day” or “just be happy that you have a job in this economy.” I definitely know everyday isn’t going to be fantastic in any job, but I really think I’m in the wrong industry/type of business. And, I know the economy is terrible, but I really don’t want that to make me feel like I’m stuck at this company forever; things will change eventually and even if I have to wait it out a few years, I’d like to have an idea of where I might try going next.
My apologies for how long this is, but I wanted to give you a full picture of where I’m coming from. I really feel awful every day because of my job and I want to start being constructive about it, so this is my first step!
Thank you in advance, everyone!