When I was a fresh college grad, I had high hopes for myself. My university had me believing I was the best of the best, and that the real world eagerly awaited my descent. I didn't know what job I wanted, but I did know that it had to be fulfilling, challenging, fun, and financially rewarding. So I enjoyed the bum life, rejected offers, laughed at JobStreet recos, and waited for the perfect job to fall on my lap.
Eight months later, I was desperate. My friends were all working and I was stuck at home, bored and broke, reduced to watching Maury Povich. I said yes to the next offer that came my way: a corporate accounts assistant at one of the country's biggest banks. It paid minimum wage, and the hours were very strict.
My job meant making myself available to clients every time they had a problem. My landline would ring nonstop with complaints, usually from a small-time CEO who had his card decline or from an entrepreneur demanding a bigger credit loan.
I hated it. I thought I was way above my job. There would be times when I would hide in the fire escape, call my dad, and cry because an entitled businessman yelled at me. I know, I sound like a spoiled brat. But I was. I didn't take my job seriously. My mindset was, I was only doing this for the "experience," for something to do while I figured out what to do with my life. I could quit whenever I wanted.
Six months in, my boss told me he wanted to regularize me, but that I had a problem with tardiness. I was allowed 18 lates and I had 36. Finding out I could be let go was my wake-up call. I thought, Who was I, really? I was a 22-year-old college graduate who was about to be fired from her first job, because she couldn't wake up early. The school I went to, who my parents are, and where I lived didn't matter. What mattered was that I had nothing to show for myself.
That day, I realized I was just one of a million employees in the workforce. I was easily expendable. If I wanted to set myself apart, I needed to work my ass off. If I wanted to someday get my dream job, I had to show I was qualified for it.
Luckily I was offered a second chance, and I took it to prove that I could be an adult. I challenged myself, built my resume, improved my skillset, and made myself into someone who deserved a fulfilling, challenging, fun, and financially rewarding job.
I'm now part of a team that launched the video on-demand-service blink-now.com. Being a brand manager is exciting, interesting, and difficult, but I feel that my previous work experience, though sucky, qualified me to handle this responsibility. And being able to say that, with the conviction and the confidence that comes with knowing I earned it, is fulfillment in itself.
This story originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, February 2015.
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors