Tag: welcome to the real world

Welcome to the Real World: First Job Problems

By day 3 of my data capturing job, I grew bored of training and they offered to let me capture on my own. So I agreed. My typing speed as a writer meant that I was one of the fastest capturers on the team. In fact it wasn’t long before management started questioning how and why the new girl was capturing faster than the old staff.

My typing speed combined with my introverted ways did not win me any fans. By the end of my second week word got out that I was a college graduate, drove myself to work and had gotten the job because of my aunt who worked in the company. I could feel everyone silently judging me.

Some of the staff didn’t like me because of how fast I worked. Some didn’t like me because of my aunt and a large chunk didn’t like me simply because of my degree. I was confused. I knew I was privileged to have had the opportunity to study further. But I also knew that my degree meant nothing. I worked as hard as I could to prove myself as a serious employee. People thought I was just there to pass the time. While data capturing may not have been my dream job, it was a job I had wanted and it was a job I worked for. I was grateful nonetheless.

Despite the dirty looks that I saw tossed my way on the daily, I pushed through and tried to focus on work.

The manager who hired me tried to get me to understand the importance of getting to know the people in the other teams but as a recent graduate I didn’t get it. I was there to work. Why did I need to make friends with people who definitely didn’t like me?

The lady I worked with decided to toss me into the ocean and sent me to sit with a different team. At the time I was uncomfortable being surrounded by strangers but it wasn’t long before the new team made me feel comfortable and I started to come out of my shell. Eventually I made friends with my co-workers and work got much more bearable.

I understand now that getting to know the people you work with is so important. I wish I had known that back then. There were tons of people who I ended up becoming close friends with. These were people that originally I was intimidated by or just didn’t make an effort to connect with.

What lessons did you learn from your first job? I’d love to know below.

Welcome to The Real World: The Sweet Smell of Nepotism

Shortly after my disastrous call center stint, my aunt contacted me to see if I would be interested in a data capturing position at the company she worked at. This would also be at a call center but I felt a tiny bit better about the fact that it wouldn’t be a sales position.

I went for the interview and could tell the managers interviewing me were skeptical of hiring me. I had a degree and to them that seemed to mean I would leave the job at the first opportunity that came my way.

I knew this was a lie simply because no opportunity seemed to be coming my way but I worked hard to show them how sincere I was about the job.

I got the position and started the next week. I was overjoyed. Except for the tiny problem that I needed a day off for graduation. I tried to push my starting day back by a week. They refused. I offered to start the day after graduation. They refused. I explained that I needed to get my graduation gown and attend my graduation ceremony. They offered me one day off which seemed ridiculous. It was like they were saying that either I attend the graduation or pick up my graduation robe but I couldn’t do both.

Eventually I ended up taking the day unpaid but I was sulky for the actual graduation. I hated that I would lose a day of pay for a degree that didn’t even get me a job. I had to ask my family for a job. I felt let down by the system. Why did we push high school students to study further if finding a job was so tough? The graduation ceremony just felt like something that I needed to push through to get back to my normal life. I didn’t even get proper pictures with my parents since we didn’t know that we would need to pay extra to take pictures with them.

Cranky and annoyed at the entire university system, I returned to work the next day, ready to continue with my new job.

I didn’t know it at the time but that was the start of me allowing everything in my life to be consumed with work.

I loved my job, the environment, my co-workers. Everyone was helpful and friendly. I instantly fell comfortable. For the first few days anyway. But that’s a story for another day.

The right job is supposed to also be a right fit for you. If it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not the job for you.

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Switching Career Fields

  1. It’s a challenge: Considering the fact that I studied two Marketing modules in university and four different Marketing short courses, I was pretty confident that I would be able to grasp my new job easily. I was wrong. There were days- scratch that, there are still days when I struggle and wonder if switching career fields was worth it (I’m proud to say that recently though, whenever this thought pops in my mind, I answer “YES!!!” without having to think about it)
  2. The internet has resources for everything: As someone who lives on Google this was shocking to me. Yes, I knew that you can Google pretty much everything but I had no clue that the internet could EDUCATE YOU! My mind is blown away by the amount of resources I’ve found online. But also
  3. I will not know everything: This is hugely upsetting and something I struggled with in my first few months. Back in Customer Care, I knew ALOT! Of course I did. I spent three years there and besides some basic process changes, things remained mostly the same. In Marketing, not so much. There are always new Marketing trends, new data on consumers or spending habits. You have to keep reading and studying in order to keep yourself up to date. At first I found this disheartening. I wanted to know everything and I wanted to know it NOW! Over time however, I accepted that I will not know everything. But with a little hard work. I can learn a bit about most things.
  4. Speaking of trends, I wish I knew the importance of keeping up to date with important industry information: Previously, I did not pay attention to any additional information if it didn’t directly impact me or my life. Like when Huawei stopped making phones with Google. Which then led to countless customer queries about that. Now however, I read every email link, Hubspot report or social media survey that lands in my inbox.
  5. Failing is a thing…and that’s okay: Keeping in with my perfectionist tendencies, I did not expect to fail. I don’t like failing. I’ve mentioned before that failing is (was?) a foreign concept to me but when you’re in a new field, failing happens and honestly it’s just a part of life.
  6. Lastly and certainly not least, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: Growth is uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. But when it’s the right field or the right job for you, you won’t even mind. There are certain days when my anxiety skyrockets and I get really uncomfortable with a task but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did you change careers or start a new job? What was something that you were not expecting?

7 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and What to Do About It)

Girl in toxic workplace

A toxic work environment can affect more than just your workload. It can affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Worried that you might be experiencing more than just a “stressful time” at work? Here are a few signs that your workplace might be toxic.

1) There is little to no growth: Okay so this one is kinda understandable considering we are in a global pandemic and at this point we’re lucky to even have jobs. But if your company usually has slow or very little growth, this is not a good sign. Businesses (in non-pandemic times) should be growing and so should their employees.

2) People keep quitting: No job is perfect. But if your job has a high amount of people coming in and leaving especially after a few days, this is a major red flag.

3) You’re constantly worried about being fired: A moment of silence for my past self because this is something that I could relate to. Being constantly on edge because you fear you might be fired for the smallest little thing IS NOT NORMAL. If you’re an honest worker and not stealing from your company in some sort of way, you shouldn’t have to constantly be worried about being fired. If you ARE stealing from the company/doing something you shouldn’t…well that’s on you and you really should be worried about being fired.

4) Staff keep getting sick: Like I said, toxic workplaces affect you physically. Headache? Back pain? Catching the flu more often than usual? The culprit might be the office itself.

5) Your workload is unreasonable: Here’s the thing. All jobs have targets. As a team, employees need to achieve targets. If you’re repeatedly not hitting targets because they’re too difficult or you feel like you have too much work to do that you can’t cope, it might be a sign that your workplace is toxic.

6) You have no work-life balance: Say it with me now, “In 2021, we do not glamorize the grind.” Occasional overtime is okay and I am always up for taking that overtime if work needs to get done. But all work and no play makes me a cranky worker. Jobs need work-life balance. It is a “job”- it is supposed to be a part of your life for a specific amount of hours, your job is not supposed to be your life. If you finding yourself working excessive hours, especially with a workload that you cannot cope with, this is another sign of a toxic environment.

7) There’s bullying and/or cliques: This one is my absolute favorite because PSA we’re not kids at school anymore. You’re an adult. Please act like one. If you noticed that certain employees are favored over others or given the best opportunities while everyone else is ignored, this is another sign.

So You Work in A Toxic Environment, Now What?

  1. If you think it’ll help, speak to a manager: If you think a manager can assist, feel free to set up a meeting. Of course, this might be an issue if your manager is a part of the problem. When I first started having issues with work being toxic, I went to the head of the department. I knew the issues stemmed from a recent change in management so I couldn’t speak to my manager, my manager’s manager or my manager’s manager’s supervisor. Yes, I skipped three levels of management in order to get assistance. Did it help? Yes, for a while. And then things worsened a few months later. By that time I had already left the business.
  2. Ask to move to another department: If there is no other way forward, ask to be moved to a different department. Be sure to do your homework and ensure it’s a department that doesn’t have the same issues.
  3. Start preparing for a new job- This is my last suggestion because jobs are tough to find on a regular basis let alone through the Covid pandemic. But if you are still exposed to the toxicity, update your CV, updated your LinkedIn and start applying for other jobs.

Toxic jobs slowly but surely seep into your everyday life and trust me, this is not something you want. If you find that you are in a toxic workplace, it’s best to leave. But whether you leave the team, department or the business itself is a decision that depends on you and your work environment.

Have you ever dealt with a toxic work environment or bad work PTSD? I’d like to know below.

Welcome to The Real World 4: The Interview that Never Was

The 4th interview was for a Human Resources position at a call center. Apparently they some sort of database at the university and they had picked up my information from there. I don’t know how true that story was but it made absolutely no sense for them to call me.

I had completed a single Human Resources module. I was not qualified for the job. I knew it. And if they had read my CV, they should have known that as well.

The company’s offices were a mere five minutes away from my house. So I got dressed immediately and went in for an interview.

They had me fill out a form and asked me to wait. I agreed. I waited an hour. Then another. I watched as the receptionist called someone who they had previously offered a job to. They had found someone who was a better fit so they called him to let him know that he didn’t need to report to work the next Monday.

My heart fell for him. Imagine thinking you’re going to start a new job and all of a sudden you have to learn that “we’re found someone else, sorry.”

After three hours of waiting, I was finally shown to a room with a frenzied lady who was in the phone of a phone call.

She asked me a couple of quick questions about my background in Human Resources and looked surprised when I pointed out that I had just graduated. She was even more surprised when she learnt that I had no knowledge of Excel. Apparently they were unable to hire me but they would keep my curriculum vitae on file.

I was stunned. They had made me wait for THREE HOURS? For something that could have been confirmed by simply looking at my CV or via phone call.

The receptionist took down my details and my list of skills but I highly doubted they would call me again (I was right. They didn’t).

I went home incredibly annoyed and tired. I had missed my nap because of a job interview I didn’t even have.

Welcome to the Real World 3: The Runaway Trainee

Red telephone

The one interview/job opportunity we don’t talk about is my first call center. In February 2017, I found a local call center that was looking for agents. It was for their night shift campaign and honestly I have no idea why I agreed to it.

There wasn’t anything specific that bugged me about the place but the whole situation felt off. I was considered an oddity because I didn’t smoke or drink which made me feel out of place. When I voiced my concerns about working night shift, they moved me to the daytime shift. When I explained my father’s concerns about transport as the call center was a distance away, they graciously arranged a lift club for me.

I did feel grateful that they took my worries seriously but I always found it strange that they were so determined to keep a girl with no experience. I also felt a bit iffy since the job was described to me as a Marketing role and not sales- a tactic I would later learn that several call centers used.

Regardless of the team trying to ease my situation, my father hated the job. Naturally he did since it was a call center and call centers have a bad reputation among the Indian community (because of all the drinking and smoking the agents indulge in). But my family had been pushing me to get a job and I didn’t know what else I could do.

I tried to push through the training. But towards the middle of the week it became clear that I was a bad fit. While I easily remembered the theory of selling and the benefits of the product, I struggled to fit in and doing roleplays as a sale agent made me uncomfortable. The trainer told me that I had a dead voice and she was right. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to inflect my voice with any kind of emotion. Looking back, this is ironic because once I did move on to Customer Care a few years later, I was always praised for my bright and friendly tone.

When they took us out on the floor for us to get the “vibe” of the place, I was appalled. It was chaotic. The agents were loud and all talking over one another. As an introvert, I was traumatized.

I went home and never went back to the call center. I had been in the process of changing my cellphone so I simply switched to another number, refusing to allow anyone from the call center to contact me and change my mind.

The lesson I learnt from this was that not every job is for every person. I did eventually go on to work in a call center and it was a much better fit and a better environment than this first one I ran away from. I also learnt the importance of accepting others for who they are. The call center that I ended up working for had agents who admitted it was unusual that I didn’t drink or smoke like them but it was no big deal. Which to me, meant a big deal.

Luck and Stuff

I hate talking about my job. Both on this blog and in real life. I know it sounds weird considering I spent months complaining about my lack of success at finding a position in my field. However everytime I’m asked about my job, I get a wide goofy smile on my face and I have to mentally slap myself (“You’re a professional! Act like it dammit”).

That being said there are several days when I can’t believe my luck at finally getting the job.

And that, my friends, is where the problem starts. I keep telling myself how lucky I was to get the marketing internship especially since our company hasn’t had any internal positions in the entire three years that I’ve been there.

While several marketing internships have administrative tasks only, I get to learn new things everyday while also actively learning about paid media.

So yes, in that case I was really lucky. And I really do appreciate it. Except I forgot a vital part of the story up until I overheard a conversation between my mum and aunt.

My aunt was telling my mother how excited she was for my new job and how I was “so lucky”. My mother agreed and then said I worked hard for it.

At this I was mildly confused. Sure I worked hard at my Customer Care job but it wasn’t a tough job. But then my mother continued, “She was always studying and doing things online. She really wanted that job.”

I felt like she was speaking about someone else. I had forgotten about that. I had spent early mornings, late nights, lunchbreaks at work and even a few leave days working on Digital Marketing courses and assignments. It seemed like in the few months that I had the job, I had forgotten what exactly it took to get me there. The months of saving to pay for those courses (my father had paid for my university degree and I wouldn’t let him pay for more studies since there was no guarantee it would pan out), the times with friends that I sacrificed and even the one week leave I took to ensure I had adequate time to complete assignments.

I felt proud of myself but also a bit disappointed. It wasn’t luck. I worked hard and the right opportunity presented itself to me.

I am still so grateful for my job but the one thing I’m taking out of that conversation between my aunt and mother is that no matter what studying further IS important. You never know when the right opportunity would come your way.

We Need to Talk About Toxic Work Environments

Why does no one talk about toxic work environments? We need to talk about the feeling of dread and despair in the bottom of your stomach when you realize it’s time to return to work.

That feeling of being so exhausted no matter how much sleep you try to get. Eight, nine, ten hours…it’s no use. You’re still drained. Emotionally, mentally, physically. Sleep. Diet. Exercise. Nothing seems to help.

You don’t have the energy to do anything but no matter how much you try to “rest”, your body is still exhausted. It’s like your body decided one day to just give up.

We need to talk about that feeling of walking on eggshells, of working constantly and hoping that nothing you do or say will get you in trouble. That feeling of being watched, that feeling that someone is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can pounce on you.

That feeling of hoping that with all the hours you put in, all the exhaustion you’re feeling, you DON’T make a mistake because if you do that could cost you your job.

We need to talk about watching our friends and colleagues being forced out of jobs and fired. That feeling of heartbreak for them and their families. And then wondering, is it better to be forced out? Is it better to be left without an income but with your mental health scarred but not totally damaged. No, not yet. Or is it better to have money and watch as your mental health declines and slowly by slowly you lose all sense of self?

That feeling of seeing friends leaving jobs they’ve held for years and years just because your job has turned toxic. That hurt in your heart knowing that it was not supposed to be like this. That something somewhere has gone terribly gone.

But you don’t know what the issue is or how to fix it. So you sit quietly and you drag yourself to work. You walk on your eggshells and you hope for the best. That something someday will change.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger

Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career

Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career by Lauren Berger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the book that I wish I had when I started my first job.
Lauren Berger shares real life examples of how to deal with “The Real World”, possible pitfalls at work and just how to overall kick ass at work without suffering burnout.
Even after a few years into my first job, I still found so many things helpful in this book.
Lauren stresses the importance of work-life balance and taking care of yourself.
Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the workplace whether it is dealing with rejection, how to become better organized, possible problems you may encounter at work and how to work with different types of people.
All of this super-handy info is told in a conversational manner so it is almost like having a mentor guide you through the workplace (and speaking of mentors, she discusses that too).
If you are a college graduate or you know a college graduate, I highly recommend this book.



View all my reviews

Welcome to the Real World: 1) The Girl Who Made Dreams Come True


Sometime in late 2016, I was lucky enough to get an interview with a local newspaper. Granted, I only found out about the opportunity through my uncle who was a radio journalist but I was thrilled to have my foot in the door.

Walking into the building I had always dreamed of working at, I felt like things were finally coming together. 7 years of hard work were finally paying off.

At this point, I would like draw attention to the fact that I was still technically a college student. I was finishing up my final semester which was delayed by UKZN protest action. But I was tired of waiting for a job in my field (it’s been two years and I’m still waiting so yes the irony is not lost on me).

My interview went great and I was given a position to write for the cultural/lifestyle section of the newspaper. I instantly secured an interview with an author I knew. I conducted the interview, wrote my article and submitted it the day before deadline.

Three days later, I had the pleasure of seeing my writing in print. Above the fold.

I was overjoyed. And then came the payment. Or lack thereof. Here’s the thing though, I was more than willing to work for free. But apparently freelancers take a while to pay.

The next few months were brutal. I chased down the Payroll lady weekly for updates on my payments, completed university and started interviewing for regular 9-5 jobs. I was ghosted by my editor. No calls went through. Neither did my emails or SMS’es. And this was not for payment. No this was for my pitches. Radio silence.

My payment finally came through 4 months later in February 2017. I still tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to get interviewees but it was kind of hard when I didn’t know if I was even still a freelancer (SPOILER ALERT: I still was. I received a letter a year later confirming that they were releasing me from my contract as they no longer required my services. My co-workers and I laughed non-stop at the idea that I had been dismissed from a job I didn’t even know I had).

That was how my short-lived journalism career ended, leaving me with two very important lessons. 1) I didn’t want to be a freelancer and 2) I needed some sort of support structure in a working environment.

For a first job and especially for a first freelancing gig, this experience was absolutely awful and I would not like to go back. Though I supposed if I went back now, things would be different.

For one thing, I am no longer the same quiet girl. If I had been ignored for pitches now, I would probably get in my car and drive straight to the editor’s office to query if I could get started or not.

What I didn’t know at the time was that these experiences were going to shape and define me and help with a very important life choice that was coming up.

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: