Why It's Okay to Hate Your First Job

Both in the job world and real career world, I will totally admit I hated my first gig.


(Jessie via Disney Channel)

My first high school job was at an ice cream shop, which sounds easy, breezy and light, but it was in fact a nightmare. I was way overworked, paid under minimum wage, forced to scrub toilets and floors and had a horrible boss. Now, I look back and laugh at the atrocity, but at the time, it was torturous.

miserable girl scrubs floor at work

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But this wasn't the last of my hard-working woes.

Following my six-month stint at the ice cream shop, I went on to land a few retail jobs at places that had me really excited. When you're on your feet all day, work is work, but nevertheless, I was happy to be employed at these locations. But come my first dip into the "real job" aka "career" space and it was basically back to square one.

I always knew I wanted to be a celebrity gossip writer, but whad'ya know? Your dream job doesn't just get handed to you on a platter. I ended up having the opportunity to take on a production assistant gig at a well-known entertainment company, and I thought this was my golden ticket—even though production was entirely out of my realm of knowledge or interest.

Anyway, to put things mildly, I was not so good at my job. I definitely gave it my all, but I just wasn't a fit for the position. Aside from being heavily critiqued each day on my performance, we seriously had the craziest schedule. One week I'd come in at 6 a.m. each day, the next week I'd come in at midnight each day. The hours obviously messed with my sleep schedule (and naturally, my happiness), and the constant critique certainly did little to boost my self-esteem. So here I was, wondering if this was it for me. Would I be stuck here forever?

Frustrated woman at computer

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Well, sure enough, my executive producer and I came to a mutual decision that it was best for me to move on. It was definitely a weird feeling, and not something I'd experienced before, but if I wasn't happy coming to work and they weren't happy with my performance, there was really no point in prolonging this professional relationship.

Fast-forward a decade later (wow, has it really been that long?!) and I look back on those humble beginnings (both at the ice cream shop and in the production job). Do I have any regrets? Do I feel like a loser? Oh my gosh, no!

They call it "climbing the corporate ladder" for a reason: You have to move up! You don't just wake up one day with your dream job, a real mentor for a boss and a glowing paycheck. We all start somewhere. Everyone I know started in retail or fast food, or was an intern or assistant. It's called paying your dues. Once you get through those trying times and start picking up skills that will make you an asset in bigger positions, you will indeed move up that coveted ladder. You're not expected to know everything or have every skill set when you first start out. And it's totally fine to dip into other career avenues that don't necessarily scream "the one." These experiences are what will help you really find your niche and passions.

Google search on laptop computer

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Having a job you hate is not only something you can look back and laugh about (or complain that the struggle was indeed real), but it truly makes you appreciate everything that comes your way after.

pizza delivery girl looks unhappy on the job

(via Shutterstock)

I'm so grateful that I've endured some of the most incredible career experiences since parting ways with the terrible ones. But part of my office excitement stems from remembering those harsh times in the beginning, when I thought that was how I'd spend the rest of my days. Being in a dark place in your work life where you honestly don't know what will happen next is a truly terrifying experience, but just know that with proper effort, you will not be stuck in that space forever.

Patience and hard work will get you far—but yes, it's only human to complain along the way (just not to your superiors).


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