Just over a year ago I accepted a position at a place I thought I would stay for the remainder of my career. The company was larger than my last, there was a better structure in place, and there were greater opportunities. It was perfect…or so I thought.
Why I Started in the First Place
I came from a small company (26 people) and knew that I wanted more. It wasn’t that I hated my old company, I actually loved it and the people I worked with. The issue was I wanted more. I wanted to be somewhere where there were opportunities to rise through the ranks and make the most of my opportunities.
So, I did what any 20 something year old did, I left, and I left on a good note. I didn’t want to leave them in a position where they couldn’t find anyone or go weeks without filling their marketing coordinator position. My parents have always taught me to never burn any bridges I would never want to walk over again.
When I accepted the position with the new company, things seemed like it would be a great fit. I could take the stairs every day up to the fourth floor to get some exercise. There were plenty of businesses in the area to eat and shop on lunch breaks or after work to spend time with coworkers off hours. I could truly see myself staying at this company for the foreseeable future.
Where Things Turned
After my first month was in the books, I quickly noticed things were not as they appeared. On the outside, the company was stable and the future was bright. On the inside, the department was unorganized, backstabbing was a regular occurrence, employees were miserable, and the business itself was improper.
In the marketing department, there were eight of us, six in the office and two remote. We each had our own talents and it seemed that we used them to our advantage. However, micro-management and criticism reigned supreme. When tasks were asked to be completed to given specifications, it turned out that one individual would change their mind mid-way through the project.
When this first happened to me, I figured it was something I had done wrong. So, I made sure to get more specific guidelines for each task provided. As more projects came in and were submitted, the change of this individual’s “vision” changed. At this point, I realized it wasn’t just me, it was others in the department as well. This individual wasn’t understanding of what they wanted and would continue to change on the fly, resulting in work being delayed and deadlines being missed.
It became clear that I was seen as an “outsider” and since I hadn’t been with the company for more than five years, I wasn’t understanding of the industry or the work that we did. I continued to conform and do my best to follow the guidelines provided but time and time again, it wasn’t the way someone else would’ve done it. This resulted in extremely low self-esteem and overall job satisfaction. How can it be enjoyable to come in to work every day to only be told that everything you do is wrong, even when following the tasks provided?
When Monday morning rolled around and coffee was the first thing on everyone’s mind, the conversations with coworkers were bleak. “Good morning, how was the weekend?” “Well, I’m here so looking forward to Friday.” Did I want to deal with that for the rest of my life? Coming in to work every week feeling ready to take on the world and having negativity around me day after day?
The coworkers I worked closest with presented an even greater problem. Besides having one of them change direction on project after project, there was an underlying issue of needing to prove that being smarter than a coworker mattered. Time and time again insults, disrespect, put-downs, and pettiness were brought upon me. I would suggest an idea, make a comment, put forth any type of effort and time and time again was put-down and made to feel inferior to everyone else.
There was a time when I truly thought it was just me. I thought that maybe I just needed more time adjusting to the “corporate” lifestyle. That wasn’t the case. I knew this when people in other departments made comments to me and was even asked by other coworkers if I was an intern…I was not. When you are a full-time employee and are fulfilling your job duties and you’re asked if you’re an intern, you’re crushed. You come in to work every day and put forth your best effort and you’re asked if you’re an intern? That’s not only embarrassing or insulting, but it’s also hurtful.
There are businesses around the world who should look at themselves in the mirror and ask if what they’re doing is ethical. The company I worked for is one of them. Sure, they make money, great money, but at what cost? Roughly 90% of the customers served are unhappy with the product because they are forced into using it. The best part of seeing all of the negative complaints and concerns come in was one employee’s blatant disregard for it all.
We served thousands of customers across the country in the education industry and time after time there were complaints about us and how we went about charging for our services. When these complaints came in, it was often a diamond in the rough to find a positive comment. But when that happened, we took it and ran with it. We would post it everywhere and anywhere to let everyone know who hated us that there were people who found our services beneficial. Not only were the majority of our customers displeased with our services, many employees even found what we did disturbing.
How I Quit
I found a new job. I searched and searched for a new job to get me out of this place. I came home every night miserable and hating where I was in life. My personal relationships were falling apart and my relationship with my girlfriend was constantly stressed. The smallest things would set me off and make me angry. I wasn’t mad at the world, I was mad at myself for being in the situation I was in.
So I did everything in my power to get out. I began taking classes to enhance my writing skills at the University of Pennsylvania. I wrote every night when I got home, I searched for opportunities to better utilize my skills to make me more valuable to others. I wanted out and I knew that I was the only one who could make that happen.
If you’re feeling down or feeling like you need to make a change, YOU need to make it happen. There isn’t going to be a golden goose who drops an egg in your lap and things get better. You’re going to have to work, and work hard to make a change.
I come home each night not dreading having to go back to a place that makes me miserable. My relationships with friends and my girlfriend are much better and pleasant. My stress has drastically decreased and I don’t have negative thoughts and insults running through my head every second of every day. I feel like I’ve been to the mountain top and seen the grass on the other side. I’m better for it and know what I want out of life now.
There are so many people out there going through this same thing and all that you can do is make the change yourself. Use your connections, don’t burn bridges, make new connections, work your tail off to be the best you can be. Put your best effort in to everything you do. Make the change, be the difference. You’ll thank yourself later!
Read more of my work on Medium: Nate Winans