Category: 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?

A Look Into Work PTSD

Blogger’s Note: The below blog post has been in progress since 2019. As of today, 17 April 2021, I will scheduling it to go live in May 2021 in honor of Mental Awareness Month.

Person lying on bed

I didn’t realize anything was wrong until the third time I broke down.

I was in the bathroom, dabbing at my eyes with a wet tissue to try to hide the swelling.

I had learnt the trick from walking in on a co-worker crying after she had been passed over for a promotion (for the second time in a month). She had been near hysterical and at that time I didn’t understand why.

(Turns out that she had been with the company for over five years so the disappointment was understandable).

Anyway so there I was teary and sobbing and I thought “this isn’t right”. It was my third breakdown since we restructured and got new managers.

I remember thinking that the amount of time I had spent crying in the bathroom was equal to, if not more than, someone in an abusive relationship.

Except I wasn’t physically abused. No, it was just emotional. But it was destroying me all the same.

That was when it hit me. My beloved workplace, the place I sacrificed everything for, was a toxic environment.

In my mind I played it back. All the arguments, the discrimination, the employees crying in the bathroom.

Would no one do anything about it?

Our managers were awful. Would no one step up?

Turns out that no one did. Within a few months, the new normal was accepted and we went from a company who respected and valued employee satisfaction to one that is only chasing the bottom line.

I was desperate to leave. But no one was hiring. There was an internal vacancy in a different department and I applied. Maybe it would be different in another department?

But then management stepped in and the role that was initially advertised internally was given to someone externally. I was speechless. Sure the rule was that we searched externally if no candidates were found to be successful internally. But I had been eavesdropping on cooler talk and I knew that job was supposed to be mine.

I stuck it out for another two years before I finally got an opportunity. It was in a field that I was interested in and it was a job role that I was interested in a while.

I placed my notice and against my better judgement, served those 30 days cautiously, convinced that management would find some reason to either fire me or worse, keep me forever. I knew the fear was irrational but I couldn’t stop it.

Eventually time came for me to leave. I literally said goodbye and walked out. No big drama. No big farewell speech. I thought that was it. I was wrong.

When I started in my new role, I struggled for the first few months. Not just because it was a completely new field but apparently I had mental wounds that still lingered.

I was too scared to leave my desk (in my previously role we weren’t allowed to). I didn’t even want to take lunch in the canteen downstairs for fear that my manager might need me and I wouldn’t be there. The first few times I asked for permission for stuff (can I drink my tea here? Am I allowed to stick up this photo? I didn’t know I was allowed to keep my phone on me) my coworkers found me funny. But as time went on, they came up with a phase for my experience- Work PTSD,

I hated it but it made sense. For so long, I had worked in an environment where I had not been allowed to do anything, this freedom- especially in a purely administrative role- was a novelty.

One of my issues with my first job is that I didn’t make the effort to learn more about the company and it’s culture. I was not going to make that same mistake again. I made an effort to get to know how things and people worked in this new role and focused on unlearning the new habits that I had from my previous workplace.

It took time and I thought I was fine. Until a friend and I made plans for lunch and I dropped by my old workplace to pick her up. I walked in to Reception and there they were. The UNholy trinity as I had nicknamed them. My former boss, her boss and his boss. Three levels of toxic management who were always seen together laughing and talking or altenatively meeting with staff and making them cry.

Instinctively I felt my shoulders hunch over in an attempt to protect me from their attention. “Please, please don’t see me”, I begged mentally.

Desperate, I turned away and started examining the stack of brochures on the receptionist’s desks, my hunched shoulders to them. Once I heard their laughter died down, I relaxed. The receptionist, who I had known from my time there, offered me a small sympathetic smile.

I waited for my friend to come downstairs and we went out to lunch. But I never made plans to hang out with her again during the workweek. I had felt like I was finally getting better but I couldn’t see them. I was still too fragile for that but maybe one day.

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.

6 Ideas for Selfcare Sunday

So Selfcare Sunday is by no means a new idea however it is something new for me.

I usually wait until I am close to tears before I decide “That’s it. I need a break.”

By picking a specific day, I know I am going to actually make time for me and I swear it makes the work week easier. Here are 6 ideas on what you can do to carve out some time for yourself. Also side note- it might say Sunday but you can (and should) always make time for YOU!

  1. Enjoy a warm beverage- For me this is either hot chocolate or a second cup of tea/coffee. Nothing brings me more comfort than the feel of a warm mug in my hands. (Often I end up drinking lukewarm tea because I was too busy using the mug to warm my hands).
  2. Journalling- Get out all your thoughts before the week begins so you can start the new week clearheaded and free. Bonus points for writing out your to-do list for the week so when the morning rolls around, you know exactly what it is that you need to do.
  3. Coloring- Coloring is an excellent destresser and a great way to calm your mind.
  4. Have a spa day- Whether it’s just a face mask and moisturizer or a full-on facial, take the time to treat your skin. It’ll feel amazing AND your face will be glowing by the end.
  5. Go all out for breakfast- Treat Yo self. And your tummy. You deserve to be spoiled and what better way that to start your day and your week with a breakfast that you’ll love.
  6. Escape into a book or TV show- Now this is something you all know I love. Watch some Netflix or catch up on your reading. You can escape reality without even leaving your couch.

Do you participate in Selfcare Sundays? What are your Sunday selfcare tips? I’d love to know below.

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.

Happy Two Year Work Anniversary

Today marks exactly two years since I started working in Customer Care. Fun fact, I will be moving to a different department soon and I absolutely CANNOT WAIT.

But what I want to talk about is my move to Customer Care two years ago. Basically my manager at the time had me assisting the Inbound Customer Care line and when an opening came up, I immediately asked to apply.

However originally when I started my career, there was nothing more terrifying to me than speaking to customers on the phone.

In fact that was the main reason why I didn’t want a job in the call center. But my manager who knew that I was scared of the phone pushed me and eventually it became one of my favorite things.

It may not be my dream job but when time comes for me to leave, I will definitely cry like a baby.

Moving to Customer Care was one of the best decisions in my life and so I leave you with this quote which should be words to live by:

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