You Don’t Have To Settle (4 Lessons to Learn)

My friends and family said “you’re going to be a fresh grad, it’s decent pay and good experience, you should take it.”

Graduation was a mere four months away, and I was in a haste to secure a full-time job in my field of study. A few weeks earlier at a career fair, I networked with a senior hiring manager who connected me with the unit manager of a company I had been interested in for a while.

But What Happens When it’s Not The Right Fit?

Overjoyed at the prospect of finding employment right out of the gate, I dove right in. Little did I know, how the next few months would unfold and affect my overall well-being.

I am writing this because I would like fellow students who are about to graduate, to not be scared of uncertainty and to not settle if you don’t feel it’s a good fit.

A few moments foreshadowed the position might not be a good fit for me or vice versa and I pondered if I should take it but the idea of uncertainty overwhelmed me and I settled. I thought why not, give it your best shot, maybe you’ll grow to love it.

My first clue should have been the hurried interview process followed by a rushed offer , was I really that suited for the job or were they just looking for a body to fill the position? Looking back, it would have been beneficial to understand the reasoning behind my predecessor’s pursuit of a different opportunity, which leads me to lesson number one.   

Lesson 1: If possible, network with previous employees of the same team before accepting the opportunity to understand the culture present within the organization and management team.

Two weeks into the job, I noticed the harsh words employees exchanged about the manager, but I didn’t read too much into it, smiled, and brushed off what I heard.

Related: I Just Graduated, What’s The Best Advice For Negotiating My Salary?

Lesson 2: Why did I just let that slide? It’s a big red signal when employees speak negatively about their employer.

A month into directly working with management, I realized the particular management style was different to what I was accustomed to. As a new employee I figured I just needed some time to adjust to that specific style and did my best to adapt and respond to it.

Wrong.

Lesson 3: Yes, adaptability is essential to any job, moreover most life situations. However, as an employee, it’s important to hold true to your values and stand your ground when you feel like you’re being disrespected. Do not be afraid to speak up and voice your concerns if you don’t feel like you are being treated the way you should be.

I was attempting to thrive in an environment where the fit wasn’t right. I felt like I was a square trying to push its way into a circle. Eventually, I realized the toll it was taking on my general well-being and resigned from my position, but not without much debate.

Looking back I don’t regret taking the position as I learnt about different management practices and a glimpse into corporate culture. I am grateful for the opportunity and the training provided to me.

The experience made me explore deeper into what exactly I was looking for in a workplace environment while still prioritizing my career goals.

Moving forward from the experience, inquiring about the company culture and management style have been my two main priorities during any interview session. I have also started taking any opportunity to network with both previous and current employees at the organization I am interviewing for.

This Brings Me to Lesson 4 

Lesson 4:  Going back to the interview, ask questions that can reflect the culture of the team. Questions such as; Can you tell me about my direct report/reports? What are the team’s biggest challenges? What is the team culture like?

If your interviewers are your direct reports  ask their opinion on the difference between a good employee and the best employee. How do they respond to beginner mistakes? What does a typical team meeting looks like? How is team development encouraged?

As fresh grads, we don’t want to seem picky even if we have varied work background and multiple internships under the belt. Although it may seem wary passing up a job because the prospect of another may not be in your direct line of sight, always trust your gut and know when something isn’t working.

Your happiness isn’t worth compromising to gain experience and you certainly don’t have to settle.

Author: Su Thazin Thin

Su is a Nutrition and Health enthusiast, Project & Brand Management specialist and the latest member of our FoodGrads tribe!


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