Chloe started working straight after finishing school. Sadly, she learned a lot about what’s not okay. She also learned how a bad job can teach you really good lessons about your work life and self. Here’s Chloe’s story and some tips for anyone seeking or starting their first full-time gig.
At the end of last year, I graduated year twelve at a school where it felt like you had to know what career you wanted for the rest of your life by the age of 17. The all-important decision of whether you were going to Uni or getting stuck into full-time work was looming. With my vision blurred by dollar signs and the pressure to succeed as fast as humanly possible, I chose to defer my spot at uni and get a job.
I took the first interview I got, landed the job and ran with it. Little did I know, a mere six months down the track I would be hitting that 5 pm knock-off and never coming back.
I was an administrative assistant for a financial planning business
The job was part of a financial services traineeship, which means along with “on-the-job training”, I completed booklets about being in the industry and was taught the basic skills of being a financial services clerk.
I thought it was going to be an open door, an opportunity to learn something new. This type of traineeship could set me up for future jobs in the same industry, I thought. I was willing to work hard. However, my dedication wasn’t reciprocated by the business and I found myself running in circles.
In high school, I was driven and motivated. I could balance assignments and my social life. I read, wrote, went to the gym and even managed to post on Instagram once a week. This job was like locking me in a room and throwing away the key. With no space to learn or grow, I saw this light of success slowly diminishing.
Office life was more intense than I thought it would be
There were at least two emotional breakdowns per week. That’s around 104 emotional breakdowns per year. Yikes.
An outsider looking in might see the money spent on invite-only client boat parties and the grazing tables for networking events and think it’s great, but on the inside, all I could see from my shoebox-sized desk were big red flags. However, I was 17, desperate for that fortnightly paycheque to prove that I was somehow on top of life.
The calendar flipped to May. After four months of knocking on different doors asking for help and countless emails being sent to the boss man requesting training, enough was enough.
In your first full-time job, you need to be brave
Ask questions, believe in yourself and go with your gut. Unfortunately, I think a lot of young people get by ignored their bosses and colleagues in the workplace. So, with that in mind, I started to reach out to the traineeship company. Let me tell you, my work did not like that.
Along with not getting the learning opportunity I signed up for, I spent my days cleaning my boss’s dishes, looking after their children and fetching the boss’s wife’s vegan protein powder and skincare collection. PSA: If your job description does not say ‘personal assistant’, then you are not a personal assistant.
We all know that with your first real gig you want to impress, but don’t get taken advantage of. After letting the business walk all over me, I built up the courage to send a more abrupt email requesting that I get back to what I was promised in the beginning and actually get some training on how to do the job. The following week, I was called into the meeting room and told that they “would no longer be needing me.” How convenient, right?
3 things to remember
If you are reading this and you are currently looking for your first full-time job, or you are about to start with one, here are three tips from my experience.
1. Reflect on your values. And the company’s values. It’s an important step before taking on a new job. Then, if you outgrow a workplace and your values no longer match theirs, it could be a good time to have a look at new jobs that do.
2. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. Don’t feel trapped. There are hundreds of more jobs in your city that could seriously change your life.
3. Getting fired isn’t all bad. It’s not something you should hold onto for too long. Sometimes, it’s a blessing in disguise. You don’t have to be right for every job, especially your first.
Lessons have been learned. I decided a long time ago that it was okay for your first full-timer to be a flop. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself coming out of high school, we are all on our own journey. Work hard and attract what you want in life. It will come.