What better way to appreciate good jobs in your life than starting out with a bad one?
In order to fully appreciate the good in life, you have to experience the bad. That's my theory, anyway.
I have had the good fortune to work for two really great places in my life, The Cobb Group and TechRepublic. There are always some little aggravations here and there but, on the whole, they were and are great corporate cultures to work in. I've encountered employees for whom this is the first place they've worked and have heard them gripe about this and that, and I just want to shake them and say, "You don't know how good you have it!" They could really benefit from a little perspective.
My first job out of college was a veritable crapfest. Pretty much everything about it sucked, from the boring, mind-numbing work to my fellow employees who had lost the will to live years before I darkened the doorway. When I interviewed for the job, nothing appeared to be off. My guess is that they surreptitiously went about sprucing the place up before interviews, stashing seriously defective employees in the attic until all the candidates were out of sight. I didn't know what I was getting myself into.
My boss, as it turns out, was like Attila the Hun, but without the organizational skills. You could almost feel the temperature drop when she walked into the room. She was a scary, humorless woman who would probably not offer a compliment or slight encouragement to an employee even at gunpoint. My coworkers, who I was not allowed to actually meet during the interview, were very fond of stabbing her, and each other, in the back. There was a centrally located vending area in the building operated by a creepy old guy who would hold your hand just a little too long when giving change. I lasted at that place about a year, although I don't know how. When I finally quit it was literally at a point where I just couldn't take it anymore. I just walked out one day without having another job lined up.
Now I'm not saying I've judged every job after by the bar set by that stellar example of psychic punishment, but I've never forgotten it either.
So to all you recent grads out there: Do yourself a favor and get a really crappy job right of the gate. It can only go up from there.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.