January 5, 2012, 6:00 am

What I Learned From Working Crappy Jobs

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles
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2012 is here! Man is there a lot of work that I want to get done. What about you? What do you have left to do? What do you want to start?

As much as I have left to learn and do, there’s plenty that I’ve learned over the years that’s worth sharing. Throughout high school and college I had many jobs that I didn’t care for at all. Sure, I could complain about these jobs. That wouldn’t be a fun post though. I wanted to have some fun and shared the good stuff.

You have a lot to learn from a crappy job. You can arguably learn from more a job that you don’t like than from your dream job.

What have I learned from working crappy jobs? I wanted to share a few lessons:

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge really is power. Without any sort of education or knowledge your options are going to be limited. You won’t have any power at all until you learn something new. Why would you want to hold yourself back? This is why I become a fan of learning at an early age. On top of my formal education, I’ve always taken online courses, read books, chatted with successful people, and took weekend courses. Knowledge is power. Try to learn as much as possible.

There are better options.

You have to remember that there are so many better options out there. Don’t ever feel like you’re stuck. You never are stuck. The only person holding you back is you. No matter how poor things seem to be going, you need to remember that there are better options out there. When in doubt, just take the next small step. Do some research about that degree in computer science you’ve always wanted to earn, enroll in a college class, do something. You are the one in control of your situation, and you are the one who can change it.

You put yourself in that position.

You’re in your current position for a reason. You can blame the world for your problems. You can point to circumstances out of your control. That’s fine once in a blue moon. You eventually need to stand up and take ownership for your life. You put yourself in your current position. You can’t blame anyone.

It’s cool if you’re intentionally staying in an entry level position because you don’t want a stressful job or because you don’t care for money. All that matters is that you understand why you are where you are. I’ve been in many lame situations. I’ve learned to accept that it’s simply my own fault.

You can get out.

The good news is that there’s always a way out. Since you put yourself in that position, you can easily take yourself out. You can always take the next small step or suck it up and fight through the tough times.

You need to work on the right things.

I don’t want to say that you should “work smart” because that phrase gets thrown around too casually. I will borrow a quote from Seth Godin on working hard on the right things:

“Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things that you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. “

Technically speaking, doing a job that’s considered hard work is the easy way out. It takes real effort to take risk. It takes even more effort to stand up after every time that you fail. Working on the right things will always be a risk. Are you willing to take this risk?

Your attitude will always determine your altitude.

This is so true. Your attitude will always determine your altitude in life. This is a quote that I heard at a religion retreat in grade 7 and it has stuck with me ever since then. Do you ever see someone with a positive outlook on life stuck in debt and complaining about the recession? Nope. You always see the same negative people complaining about the same crap. You know how it goes, “we’re getting screwed on taxes,” or “I would get a better job if the economy was the booming.”

The excuses are always lame and the attitudes are always poor. We’ve all been guilty of having a poor attitude at some point in life. It’s a waste of time and gets you nowhere. A positive attitude is something that nobody can take away from you.

That’s what I learned from working jobs that I didn’t like in the past. You can learn a lot from your first job or that job that you just couldn’t question. Instead of complaining about the job, you can take your lessons learned and better yourself.

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I love your attitude and altitude quote. That is so true and is probably the major factor in what anyone can achieve in life.

very well said. successful individuals tend to maintain many / all of those traits consistently

Out of the 6 you’ve listed, the 2nd one stood out for me. There are better options-always!

But I do get why other people stay in their jobs even though they hate every inch of it. The economy is just tough and leaving your old job for a new one becomes so much harder. Some people just settle for it because it pays the bills and some comforting themselves with the “you’re-lucky-because-you-have-a-job” mentality.

There are other options available, you just have to find them. I was stuck once at a bad job with no future. It took me about three months (back in a day when the job market was good) to find a better place. It can be pretty depressing to work at a place you hate. Just don’t leave your job without having a job lined up.

[…] 2. What I Learned From Working Crappy Jobs @ TFB. […]

It’s true that knowledge IS power and can lead you out of some pretty dark situations when you need it. People should be learning their whole lives. It’s insurance against stagnancy and is just fun!

[…] What I Learned From Working Crappy Jobs (The Financial Blogger) […]

@Aloysa: “It took me about three months (back in a day when the job market was good) to find a better place. It can be pretty depressing to work at a place you hate. Just don’t leave your job without having a job lined up.”

3 months when the job market was GOOD. Imagine what people are going through now to find a new job?

Also this quote from the article makes me laugh: “Do you ever see someone with a positive outlook on life stuck in debt and complaining about the recession? Nope.”

Actually yes, I know many people with positive outlooks who are having lots of problems. My anecdote trumps yours. Ha HA!

Overall this article is very out of touch with the real world. D+

I’m, going to have to take issue with a few of these things.
1. I agree, there are better options out there and you can always strive for them. However, you and about 20 other applicants are trying to do the same thing. It’s competitive and people are starting to do things by any means necessary to get by, that means lying and stabbing others in the back. It may seem awful, but, it’s not personal, it’s business.
2. night school is not an option for a lot of people. Those who are struggling to simply just pay rent can’t afford to take on student debt . The return on investment of a college degree isn’t what it used to be. What people should be doing is researching the hot job areas and find out the quickest track to that skill set. For example, Java development is hot hot hot right now. You can get a certification and an entry level job, even negotiate a mentor ship under a senior developer. Cheaper than night school, and BONUS! you get paid. I say look for options within your company and have THEM pay for it before exploring the option of more student debt.
3. You may have options, but you’re always dependent on others to let you through the door. You may be the best qualified candidate for a better position, but the fact that you’re looking for a slight increase in pay or benefits next to the other guy who isn’t requiring those items makes you a less desirable candidate. Remember, a company doesn’t see you as a person with bills, family obligations and needs, they see you as a head count on a balance sheet. Remember that and play the game.
4. There are plenty of people out there with positive attitudes who have been looking, taking classes, going to school, making connections and doing all the right things. Companies are simply choosing to stay lean until the storm passes. The globalization of our economy has a lot of corporations tied to other economies, including those experiencing turmoil. Companies have a number 1 obligation to their shareholders, not you, even if your hard work and productivity would greatly benefit them, hiring you might not be the best choice financially.
5. Accepting personal responsibility for choices seems to be a general feeling among certain people these days. This is great, except when you have to understand that sometimes, there is only so much you can do. There are simply some decisions that are out of your hands. Ask why, find out what you CAN do to make the changes you need to and start from there. Doors may close, but someone always leaves a window open. being positive can help, but it won’t get you a better job, house and life. However, telling people how unhappy you are might open them to say, “hey, there is a job I think you can do at my company..” Sometimes, it simply *IS* the fault of something else that you can’t change.

I work in a job that I didn’t pick. My former department was dissolved and I was given the option of doing two different jobs, neither of which I was terribly interested in doing, or I could go work in one of our retail shops and take a 30% cut in pay, or I could quit. With a mortgage to pay for, I opted for taking one of the jobs I figured would suck the least.

It started out okay, but has since become essentially a support position. I’ve asked what I can do to move up, and one manager basically told me that I should “dress better” in order to be taken more seriously. Which is funny, since our CEO has never been seen wearing a tie, nor does he seem to care much about using an ironing board. I have since changed managers, and that manager has suggested that I start creating the list of attributes of someone higher on the food chain than myself – essentially writing my own job description that they can then either approve or reject without explanation.

In other words, if they want to hire someone like me for a higher level position in my department, they don’t know what it means to do that job. Tell me – what should I learn in order to move up, if moving up is a moving target, and is not related to reality? All of this is why I’m learning to write grant applications, because even though the subject matter changes, the process of writing itself is a tool that should never go out of style.

Aphorisms do not trump reality – the equivalent of political thought reduced to bumpersticker slogannering. Nonsense.

by: Wendy Boudreau | January 12th, 2012 (2:07 pm)

signed up for your newletter, hopefully I can learn a thing or 2 lol! Very interesting stuff…I like the section which talks about things you learned from working crappy jobs, I sure learned alot…trying to teach my daughter that she shouldn’t want a “job” but strive for a “career”. Hope she was really listening while she was texting lol!

by: Wendy Boudreau | January 12th, 2012 (2:10 pm)

one thing my sister & I have talked about is that I would rather work where I LOVE my job and get a little less pay than work somewhere else that I find VERY stressful and dread going to work just for a few extra dollars!