When we were little, we had a huge, active imagination and a list of dream jobs. We wanted to be a ballerina who got to twirl around for a living or a firefighter who was praised for being a hero and for helping people. But as we got older – particularly when we graduated from college or university – we realized that not every job is good or even enjoyable.
Many of us struggled through summer internships and first jobs that didn’t excite us, bored us to tears, or we completely dreaded. But you can actually be glad you experienced those less-than-thrilling positions because they made you who you are today. Here is why you should have at least one shitty job in your life.
You learn to stick it out
Even if we land our dream position, we quickly learn that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and there are parts of the job that we don’t enjoy. There are always going to be aspects of any job that you won’t like. The positive thing about having a horrible job, whether it’s a boring retail position that has you standing in a store all day long or answering phones when you’re not super outgoing, is that it forces you to show up, stick it out, and do the same thing all over again the next day. You can’t be successful without realizing that you have to show up for work even if you’re not feeling it that day or are coming down with a cold. It’s called a full-time job for a reason, after all.
Another bonus of sticking out an awful position is that you will come across as the kind of person who never quits, which is always a good thing, career-wise. Plus, it really doesn’t look great when you have huge gaps between jobs on your résumé, so filling those gaps with even a shitty job could radically increase your job prospects.
You become a strong, resilient person
Think about the person you were before you started the job and the person you are now that you’ve left it and landed in a much better office environment. When you took the bad job and realized it wasn’t right for you, you most likely went through a mourning period where you felt sorry for yourself and wished things would magically get better. Then you understood that you had to suck it up and get strong. What often separates the worst jobs from the best ones isn’t the tasks and responsibilities themselves but the people you have to work with, and many of us have to deal with a mean, angry boss or a bullying co-worker. While it never feels like it at the time, when you look back, you can be glad this happened because you learned to deal with different kinds of people and to stand up for yourself. You will always need these people skills, no matter what jobs you end up in or where your career takes you.
You learn what you don’t want in a job/career
We spend so much time in school planning for the future and trying to figure out what kind of career we want, but we should spend an equal amount of time considering what kind of job wouldn’t be good for us. Some of us are shier and others are more outgoing, and the same types of personalities won’t always do well in the same job title. And while some of us are bored by paperwork and filing, others absolutely thrive on organization: being a librarian could be your own worst nightmare but it could be the dream job of the person standing next to you.
We often take an unpaid internship or a first job right after university thinking it’s the best thing to do and that the position will get us where we want to go. We have stars in our eyes about the industry and think we’ve finally got it all figured out. It’s a fact of life that things change; we change and your awful job can make you realize you want to switch fields altogether or go back to school. This is a very valuable lesson because it allows you to stop yourself from wasting years or even decades in a position or field that you hate. Don’t feel like you wasted time, because you didn’t. You just changed your mind.
You learn from your mistakes and do better next time
We always want to do our best in a job even if we hate it, but sometimes the reason why a job is so dreadful is because it’s the wrong one for us, and we’re not doing our best work. Or, on the flip side, we stop doing good work because we hate it so much. Whatever the reason, you’re bound to make a lot of mistakes in a terrible job. If you see them as a way to learn, you won’t regret the position at all but will actually be so happy that you experienced it. You can then do an absolutely incredible job next time and blow everyone away. There are always things to learn even in a lousy situation, whether it’s speaking up more in a meeting, asking for what you want in a polite yet assertive way, or managing your time better so you can get everything done in order to meet an important deadline.
You have lots of answers for your job interviews
No matter what the job title, responsibilities or industry, a common job interview question is, "Why did you leave your last job?" Another common question involves asking you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and a time when you faced a work crisis and what you did to fix things. You will have so many answers to these typical interview questions and will be glad for the horrible experiences as they may help you ace that interview for the job that you really want. Just make sure to frame things in the most positive of light, of course. Your prospective employer doesn’t want to hear you complain about your last job or about the mean boss who insulted you all the time.
You realize you can do anything and can inspire yourself
Instead of wincing every time you picture yourself back in your old job, remembering how much you hated going into the office every day and how much you wanted to cry during your lunch break, hold your head high and feel proud. Because you survived, and that’s very important. Where others would just quit immediately at the first signs of trouble, you waited it out and tried your best. Let the fact that you got through it inspire you whenever you need a boost of energy or motivation.
See Also: 5 Signs You’re in a Dead End Job
Reframe how you think about the worst job you’ve ever had, and appreciate the experience and the lessons you learned. We all go through it: boring positions, overwhelming tasks, mean bosses. Don’t feel sorry for yourself – be proud of yourself, instead. You got through it with your wits about you and now you can work hard at your new position. And be glad you’re not back in that horrible job.