5 Ways a Horrible Job Helps You

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A horrible job can be a blessing in disguise. I’ve had my fair share of horrible jobs and I can say that I took something out of each one. It taught me so many life skills and characteristics that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. There are 5 ways that a horrible job can actually help you, instead of hurting you.

I worked a part-time minimum wage cashier job the summer before college. I stood up in my shifts (some were 6 – 8 hour shifts), holiday weekends were hard, and I found 4 grown rats in the kitchen. Good times.

During college, I worked a call center job calling alums for donations where I’ve actually been yelled and even cursed at. I was a 17 year old kid trying to raise money for scholarships and the alums I called were well into their careers, yet they still felt that they needed to curse at me. It was a horrible job. Looking back, it was the best thing that I experienced, career wise. 

A Horrible Job Taught Me Life Skills

The reason why I said the call center job was the best job experience I’ve ever had was because I needed the job. Desperately. I didn’t need to have the money from the job, I needed to be able to speak on the phone. As many of my blog followers know (that I’m so thankful to have, if I haven’t said it before), I am an immigrant.

For me personally, that gave me a handicap. It was hard for me to talk to people coming from a completely different country. I didn’t feel like I had anything in common with anybody. I was scared out of my mind to talk to a stranger. As a result, my communication skills turned out terribly.

I didn’t know how to talk to people and when I spent 4 hours per shift calling alumni and talking to them, I learned a few things about talking to people. Especially on the phone where I get nervous.  Here are some other things that I learned that helped shape my perspective.

1. It Helps You Differentiate Yourself

Guess how many people actually wanted to call alumni and ask for money? A very select few. It was a horrible job. Turnover was ridiculously high. There seemed to be a new face every shift I went to. None of the people that got the job the same day I did was there 3 months later. I was the only one who was left from my group.

This gave me a significant differentiator. While people were leaving and quitting, I was putting in the hours. The competition for promotions was gone. Just by showing up, I differentiated myself and was able to get 2 promotions along the way.

I moved up from being a “Caller” to “Lead Caller” in 6 months then to “Supervisor” in another 6 months. This meant that I was managing other callers and coaching them on how to improve their calls. I managed upperclassmen who were 20 – 22 years old. I was 18.

This taught me something. I wasn’t the best caller with the best stats. There were callers who got a donation almost every time they talked to someone. That wasn’t me. What I did was that I showed up and put in the work. I applied for promotions, I took their coachings and remembered every single thing to apply to the next call.

It led to other supervisors noticing me. Everyone else was leaving left and right but since I put in my dues, the competition for promotions dwindled away.

It gave me a point of differentiation that I needed to score the Supervisor promotion. The 47% increase in wages (from $8.50 to $12.50 an hour) didn’t hurt either. 

2. It Teaches You Resilience

There were times during my call center job when I felt so stressed. Also, it didn’t help that alums would curse and yell at me for doing my job. Yes, it was really pushy what I had to do. I asked for money 4 times before letting them go. I understand it, but it wasn’t necessary to yell at a college freshmen for doing his job.  

However, I stuck it out. Honestly, I don’t know why I stuck it out but I’m so glad that I did. By going through it all, I learned how tough a job can get. After my last day, I told myself that “hey, if I stuck it out through this, I can stick it out through anything,” No job seems so bad anymore.

3. You Become Better at Handling Things You Don’t Like

When you work a horrible job that you dread, the little negative things working in a job you don’t mind seems trivial. There are small things in my current full time job that I don’t like. If I hadn’t gone through a hard and bad job, then I wouldn’t have brushed the small things off.

I think about how trivial those things that could bother me are and let it go. It’s hard to be bothered by something that wasn’t the worst of what I went through.

4. You Learn Actual Job Skills

During my job, I increased my communication skills, I got to learn how to sell, I got to learn how to connect with people better. Yes, it was hard to learn. Yes, it was so outside of my comfort zone. The great thing is, when you are outside of your comfort zone is when you get to learn the most.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn all those things had I quit early. They are INVALUABLE. No amount of me throwing money at it would have taught me those skills as well as my call center job did. The best part? I got paid to learn rather than paying to learn. It was a blessing in disguise.

5. You Learn More About Yourself

Figuring out what you don’t like is just as helpful as figuring out what you do like. I figured out that cold-calling sales isn’t the best route for me to take. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing a sales oriented job.I actually highly contemplated accepting Oracle’s sales role, as it was more of a B2B (business to business) sales position. 

However, doing a cold-call sales oriented job isn’t for me. If I hadn’t taken a sales role like the call center job, I would have always rejected a sales job. Being more educated and going through the process helped me realize that not all sales jobs are bad.

Conclusion

I’ve been there. I had a job that gave me a tremendous amount of stress. Granted, it was only a part-time job but it was still a job I was nervous to go to. Sticking through with a horrible job can be one of the best decisions you can make, as I detail above. I’m thankful at my past self as I wouldn’t have learned all of these skills if I quit like everybody else had quit.

It gave me an endless amount of opportunity and personal growth that’s helped shape who I am today. A bad job can be a bad job but with the right perspective, it can help you so much later down the road.

Readers, have you ever had a horrible job? Did you stick with it? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

Read more about me here.

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28 thoughts on “5 Ways a Horrible Job Helps You

  1. For me the best thing about having a horrible job was that it created a fierce drive in me to get a better job and increase my income. It made me work harder and smarter– which has been essential to helping us chip away at our $600k in student loan debt. Great post!

    • Finance Solver says:

      A horrible job can certainly act as a motivator and give you that push for you to succeed and get what you want / deserve. I was a student back then so I didn’t really think of looking at other opportunities but looking back at it now, if the same thing happened to me I would work hard to not be in the same situation again!

  2. I completely agree with you here. Two things come to mind to illustrate your post : “you never want to fail due to a lack of effort” and “we thrive in adversity”. The easy path is rarely the most rewarding. Good choices!

    • Finance Solver says:

      If only the easy path WAS the most rewarding! I haven’t heard of the quote “We thrive in adversity” before. I will have to use it next time. An uncomfortable situation provides the most opportunity to learn more about ourselves!

  3. Every job, success, or failure is an opportunity to learn and develop. My least favorite job was one of my first out of college. I worked in a role that had me delivering incentives or removing incentives to suppliers based on whether they met certain compliance requirements. It taught me a lot about how to handle a negotiation. On the flip side I actually hated that half my job was telling companies over the phone that they would not receive 100s of thousands of dollars, sometimes for events outside their control. I ended up moving on after about a year and a half to something that was a better fit for my skill set, but the role taught me more about what I liked and didn’t like.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Wow, what a great story. At least you didn’t leave after working a couple months or something. I told myself that if I work a job that I don’t like, I will at least stick it out for a year or two before deciding to move on. At the end of the day, it’s a job, and jobs, no matter how menial or bad it may feel, teach something.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Glad you to see you really stuck it through and learned from your experiences FS, it takes good character to succeed and work well in those situations.

    I can’t say that I’ve ever had a particularly bad job, obviously there’s certain things that aren’t/weren’t as good as others. But I know what I DO want to do in life, having had the jobs I’ve had.

    Tristan

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thanks so much Tristan! I’m so glad that I stuck it out as well. It sure was difficult.

      Jobs can teach so much about the person. I would have never known how to communicate effectively and do sales if I hadn’t gone through with the position. I didn’t even know how to talk like a normal person to my friends back then, I’m so glad to have gone through it!

  5. …when you are outside of your comfort zone is when you get to learn the most.” This is so true! You stuck it out and continued to improve despite being uncomfortable. I think it’s great that you persevered! 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad that I persevered as well, if I had that job right now, I don’t know if I would persevere or not. Oh how times have changed.

  6. I wouldn’t say a horrible job, but a challenging boss. Which taught me so much…how to be a better leader, how I want to treat people in general, how to stick up for myself in a respectful way and much more. I stuck through it, but jumped when a different opportunity came along.

    Every step along the way is an opportunity to learn. And like you said, experiences like this can help us so much later on in life. 🙂

    • Finance Solver says:

      If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of things did the boss do to be challenging? Out of curiosity!

      Being diplomatic about dealing with people is definitely an overlooked skill to have and a hard one to master. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out but if I ever do, a blog post will go up about it 🙂

      It sure can, experiences are invaluable to shaping someone’s attitude and behavior.

  7. I have also been in your shoes doing the call center gig. I didn’t have anyone curse at me, believe it or not –private Christian universities do have some advantages– but people were definitely peeved at times. Like you, I learned a lot from the job in a short time. The most important lesson learned was the ability to function like a chameleon without being fake. I learned that it was important to get to know all kinds of people in all walks of life in order to be friendly and conversational with them. Knowing a little a bit about a lot of different topics goes a long way.

    • Finance Solver says:

      I just had my first call asking me for a donation, ha! Speak of the devil. I was too busy so I asked to reschedule the call but I do plan on donating back to my alma mater.

      All kinds of people in all walks of life – you will certainly meet them whether you like it or not if you work in a call center environment. Everyone has different tendencies, it’s a great skill to have to know how to adapt to each different tendencies.

    • Finance Solver says:

      That’s a great point, Emily, I hadn’t thought of that! Comfort can act as a detrimental friend. Comfortable and familiar yet can be toxic. Recognition is an important trait.

  8. Thanks for sharing those life lessons. It is true that showing up is half the battle. Perseverance seems to be a trait that we are slowly losing in our country; but those who have it tend to be rewarded. Thanks for those lessons and an upbeat article.

    • Finance Solver says:

      No problem and thanks for commenting! It’s one of the hardest traits to have but can be some of the best traits that you can have. I’m glad that I persevered and powered on through without complaining.

  9. Nicely summarized and nothing quite like experience to give you things you didn’t originally want but ultimately are good for you!

    Getting out of your comfort zone is a powerful way to grow as an individual both at work and in life. Your experiences will stand you in good stead to navigate the ups and downs that life invariably throws at us.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you Mr. PIE! I’m glad that I realized I didn’t want that job until after I was well into working in it. Otherwise, I would have given up much sooner!

      I hope it does. It isn’t easy to withstand the downs by any means and being down is an inevitable part of life. Having a great support network helps but sometimes it’s just not easy..

  10. My last job had a TERRIBLE boss who had no idea what was going on. She was abusive and the staff basically quit while the managers above her refused to deal with the problem. I stuck it out as long as I could and honestly got to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore and found a better job. After that situation I learned a ton about myself and how I would treat others in the future. Isn’t it amazing how much more we learn from bad managers/jobs than good managers/jobs?

    • Finance Solver says:

      Ha! Bad managers are great teachers. They teach you through actions, which speaks a lot more volume than by teaching through words. That’s great that at least you gave it a chance to really figure out what you didn’t want and what you did want. I feel that I’m currently in a great spot and I’m hoping that it doesn’t change anytime soon. Time will tell!

  11. I am very thankful in this regard in that I have had a good career. I have had one or two not so good bosses that I have had to deal with.

    You point out two things that are excellent – (1) we need to step out of our comfort zone to learn. (2) You need to be diligent – you may not be the smartest person in the room – however, you sure can outwork anyone and produce results.

    Doing these two things have helped me advance in my career.

    • Finance Solver says:

      That’s great! What kind of bad bosses did you have, if you don’t mind me asking?

      Staying out of our comfort zone is when we learn the most. I just read an article the other day that someone used to never do something because “They were afraid”. Someone else fired back “Okay, so be afraid and just do it!” It’s been hard for me to follow this path but reading personal stories such as this really helped me think about life differently.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting Michael!

      • I have had awesome bosses who have helped me come in my career.

        Bad means extremely micromanaging, manipulative, and insecure. I have had two such bosses in my 16+ year career.

        If you are good at what you do and have the skill sets to do what your boss can do, some of them cannot deal with it. They become insecure and keep you in the dark and don’t give you enough information to do your job.

        The lesson I learned was how not to be that kind of a boss. For the past several years, I have people reporting to me and I don’t treat people that way. I have helped people get promoted to be my peers.

        • Finance Solver says:

          Oh man, I cannot stand micromanaging bosses. Looking over my shoulder isn’t something that I would appreciate. Mark Cuban says that he micromanages employees until he trusts them. I would be a horrible employee in his eyes because I want to be trusted until I do something wrong instead of doubting me until I do something right.

          I’m glad that my current bosses aren’t like that (not that I have skills that they can’t do). They include me in everything that they can include me on. That’s a great story Michael! I haven’t thought about what kind of boss I want to be yet because I feel like it’s way down the road. I guess time will tell, ha!

  12. This is an insightful post, FS. It is true that we often learn the most from challenging situations because they push us to recognize areas in which our skills are lacking (or conversely, to dig deep inside ourselves to tap into personal qualities we have but that usually lie dormant). Challenges push us to question our accepted framework or assumptions, and therefore we learn and grow. I believe you can learn a lot about people by what kinds of challenges they set for themselves, and also by how they handle unexpected bumps in the road.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Thank you Dr. Sock. Challenging situations allow us to find out more things about ourselves. Uncomfortable situations are where we have the most opportunity for growth and I’m so glad that I was naive enough to stick it out for as long as I did. Life is all about growing and adapting to changing situations so it was quite an experience to go through!

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