Another "Should I Quit" Quandary.
January 16, 2011 9:47 PM   Subscribe

I graduated last May, but thanks to part-time jobs and internships, I've got 3 years of work experience in 2 different media-related fields. The problem: I absolutely loathe my day job, for a variety of reasons. I know it's a rough world out there, but I'd appreciate any advice that could help me decide if I need to leave.

Here's the situation: I am a 24-year-old who graduated last May with a B.A. in Journalism (I know, I know.) I live in a relatively suburban area on the west coast, but have been able to build up a relatively thick book of clips in local and a few national publications over the past 3 years by interning all throughout school. Both media outlets I worked for/interned at can offer me stellar references, and I'm extremely close to my bosses there, but they currently have no job openings (go figure).

The only full-time position I could find here after school was working in advertising as an account coordinator. I still get to write on the side (freelancing), but must balance it with my day job, which is pretty stressful (50 hour workweeks plus a 2 hour commute). Let me make this clear - I do NOT want to sound like a spoiled millennial at all. I am extremely grateful to have found a full-time job in this economy, but pretty much just grabbed the first thing that came along post graduation.

The place I work now has an extremely toxic environment; they have lost 7 of 14 employees in the time I have been there (1 year and counting) thanks to our horrible boss. I would go into more detail, but let's just say that every time someone leaves, he gives all of their work to someone else, making all of us do the work of 5 people when we have no experience with tasks he is throwing at us. I am the sole account coordinator on a major account, the office administrator, PR specialist, social media specialist, brand strategist, copywriter, and secretary. He takes great pride in it being a "sink or swim" environment and I was offered no training at all, clients are constantly lied to about our experience, budgets and hours, etc. My personal life has suffered terribly - my boyfriend of 9 years is getting the worst of it, and to make matters worse, my father passed away 6 weeks ago (obviously not an effect of the job, but it makes being there all the more life-sucking.)

To top it off, I have no interest in working in account management. I've found that unless I am doing something creative, I'm just not happy - I would love to go in to graphic design, which was my minor, or in to copywriting or journalism. I've even thought about getting my teaching credential, as I love to help people and be around kids.

I have been saving for the past 6 months and have almost hit my goal of $9,500 (I make $15 an hour, but as I live at home, am able to save what I'd spend on rent.) I think once I get there, I will be okay with leaving, though I have never, ever quit a job before unless absolutely necessary. My self-esteem is pretty low at this point. I know it's a terrible economy right now, but I will honestly work for peanuts and have no qualms with working at a service industry job.

Sorry for the long, long rant. I had to get it out. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
posted by shotinthedark to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry your work is so toxic. You are working hard and things are not great. If you think you can tough it out till the one-year mark, that will help a lot with getting your next job. But if it is just absolutely toxic, it's okay to start looking now. In fact, it's always okay to be looking for your next job.

With your background, you could go into social media marketing, marketing or possibly something entry-level. You note that you live at home and I assume that you have few costs. This is an ideal time to explore your options and find something that is sending you in the right direction.

Approach your college about alumni career counselling or options in your area. Perhaps you can find some time to figure out what you want to do.

Your boss doesn't soound like a great person to talk to, but you should also try to see if there are any options there. Your boss may really have no idea how you're experiencing all this and maybe there are some conversations that can change things for you. Your boss doesn't really sound workable, but it's hard to tell from this side of a post, of course.

Actually, maybe you could just find a job that is not toxic and closer to home. Imagine how much that alone would change for you. Then you could volunteer or do freelancing/consulting to test out other ideas and interests.
posted by acoutu at 10:10 PM on January 16, 2011

Your job sounds exactly like my first job was, and I mean exactly, to the point where I thought maybe you worked there until you mentioned the gender of your boss - I was account coordinator at a small agency with an insane, hostile boss who expected the sun, moon, and stars from young, underpaid, untrained employees and used taunts, threats, and backroom dealing as "motivators". Everything you mention going through in this article, I went through. It's mentally and physically exhausting, and there's no room for anything else in your life except getting through each day.

So as a person who went through what you're going through, listen to me when I say: that's not normal. It's not supposed to be that way. Even if it weren't an abusive work situation, it's not even what you want to do. Quit.

I know, there's the money issue. Doesn't matter. You still quit. You have a good cushion of savings and you don't have rent expenses. You also mentioned a boyfriend - is he employed in such a way that he could help you out for a bit while you job hunt if need be? You can work out the particulars depending on whether you end up needing it, but my boyfriend's pledge of support was a huuuuge comfort to me as I screwed up the courage to walk out.

Quit. Please. That kind of work environment not worth the toll it takes. You're a freelancer, and you've got great references and the beginning of a fabulous network to work. You'll be fine. FWIW I'm a year out of my own stint in hell, and when I look back on it all I do is wonder why I didn't quit sooner.
posted by superfluousm at 10:19 PM on January 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Your AskMe post, not "article." Though I hope to see your byline one day soon!
posted by superfluousm at 10:22 PM on January 16, 2011

Quit. $15 an hour? You could earn more than half that at a completely menial job (they're still out there) that allows you to leave your work at work. Life is too short, and you will be FINE.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:28 PM on January 16, 2011


At the end of 2008, I quit my job to start freelancing. I was in a similar situation to you: Living with my parents, with some savings to fall back on. At the time, I wondered whether it was wise to do it then with the economy the way it was.

But if I had waited for the economy to improve, I would still be waiting. And now the only thing I wonder is why I didn't quit sooner.
posted by jcreigh at 10:49 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cautious optimist here, but I'd try to find a new position/set-up, or at least a determined path before leaving. Job hunting, sniffing out leads, networking, the fact that you are doing it, actively searching before you leave may also distract you from the current toxic environment.

Just because OF the precarious work conditions during this recession, I wouldn't advise leaving before you have a better idea of what you want to do, or you might find yourself working a low-level customer service job which is usually also comes with a toxic work environment as well, for half the pay. Less pay doesn't equal less problems.
posted by darlingmagpie at 10:54 PM on January 16, 2011

There's a saying that you're most likely to find a job while you have a job. Having positive cash-flow certainly helps you be confident during interviews.

However, if your current job is soul-sucking, the best way to find a better job is to emotionally deinvest in this one. Whether you keep working there in the meantime should be determined by how bad it would be for you to live without the $15/hour in the meantime. The important thing is that you start to disassociate your identity with this job.

Also, check out Intersect, a startup in Seattle. They are doing cool stuff and hiring passionate journalists. (No affiliation, just a recent fan.)
posted by SakuraK at 11:02 PM on January 16, 2011

My self-esteem is pretty low at this point
Watch it skyrocket when you tell your boss you're not coming in to work tomorrow. I'll repeat, as I love to do, my advice from this old ask:
telling bad employers to shove it is one of the rare privileges of working life. The right to tell a boss to fuck themselves isn't to be given up lightly.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:10 PM on January 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

Thanks, guys. As a long-time MeFi lurker, it really helps to see my real question (and wonderful answers!) in this post. I've decided to stick it out for one more month, which will be when I hit my goal savings amount. After that, I think I want to travel for a month and move to a bigger city. Since I am young, with no debt and no ties (save for an incredibly supportive BF), I want to take advantage of this time while I can.

But it's so, so good to hear I am not alone in going through a horrible job experience - I hope that a year later I'll be posting on here with good news :)
posted by shotinthedark at 7:03 PM on January 17, 2011

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