Posted by: Michaela | 2019/06/20

Young & unhappy at work

Dear CyberShrink, I just want to start by saying that I admire your answers and have been following you for quite some time. I graduated from university a while ago and I am currently employed in a job that I’m not too fond of. Having no experience whatsoever I thought this would be a great stepping stone to use on my CV. I’ve come to realize that this work environment is extremely toxic to the point where I often end up crying in the bathroom. I’m the youngest in my company and everyone else is relatively older so I don’t really have someone I can confide in. I don’t really do anything because it’s a desk job but I just feel that because I am young I should be doing more with my life. When I took the job I assumed I would be out more but that was not the case. My mom tells me I should be grateful for the job because there are so many graduates still looking for work and I understand, because I was in that boat too. My contract is not for a long period of time but I’m worried about my mental health. Do I stay for the duration of my contract and tough it out or should I get out while I can? I’m worried that if I don’t stay for the full duration (even though it is not that long) then it might count against me when I look for another job, especially because I am so young and took this job for experience. Thank you so much for your time.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2019/06/20

Hi Michaela,
Thanks for your kind words.  While obviously a primary problem for our country is unemployment as such,  there are related problems : how many people especially in SOE's, it seems, have a job, but contribute absolutely nothing of value to the nation or community ; and the problem you draw our attention to, of people who have a job, but one which is insufficiently satisfying : people don't need jobs which lead to them sobbing in the toilets.
It troubles me that so many SA companies are really, really badly run. Even when shopping, I find excellent staff, reasonably good management at the local level, and idiocy at top / national management, making foolish decisions and not respecting or benefiting as they should from local expertise.
I don't know the nature of the company you work for, but I'd guess you are not the only person who feels about it the way you do.  Don't they have a competent HR department who should recognize, help and avoid the situation in which a young, able employee feels so despairing about the lack of work satisfaction? 
With difficulty in finding even an unsatisfactory job as severe as it is these days, it's usually not wise to leave a job before you have something better lined up.  Don't worry too much about the CV. Sensible employers ( and there are some !) know there are many lousy jobs around, and should be interested that you kept to the agreement you initially made, and appreciate that it is wise for you to look for more satisfying work with them.
You are indeed gaining work experience : experience of how some organizations are unsatisfying, of how to cope with work that is less than you hoped for, and of how others cope with that, too.
Try to explore what more you can learn there : maybe chat with those other, older, employees about how they find the work, how they deal with the aspects of it you find challenging. Maybe see if you can talk with your supervisor / boss to explore whether s/he can suggest ways in which you could enhance your experience : maybe assisting someone in another part of the work, trying brief secondments to other areas of the company's work ; some more contact with customers, whatever.
And meanwhile,  keep your eyes and ears open for alternative jobs you could eventually seek

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