toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

June 02, 2012

the crazy first day at work

Kylie was married very young, while she was still studying, and after graduation it took her six months to find her first job. Her husband wasn’t earning enough to support her through college, so her father footed the bill for most of her expenses.

"I’m an only child," explains Kylie, "and my dad would move heaven and earth for me. He calls me the apple of his eye!"

Even though it is not her dream job she sees it as a stepping-stone to one, and without a post-graduate specialist degree she is very lucky to be accepted by a corporation accepting arts generalists like herself.

Like all new recruits, Kylie spent her first day at work filling in forms relating to taxation, insurance, next of kin and banking. She was annoyed that her employer did not warn her of all the details she needed to bring in with her. She felt pressured to fill in things she was not sure about and later regretted that she did not request to take the forms home with her. Her employer didn’t even give her that option.

Unfortunately for Kylie, she wasn’t part of a recruitment drive. Her father had networked to find the job for her. She envies her friends who joined companies at the same time as other young people because they were inducted immediately. As part of a group of new recruits, they were able to sit back for a couple of days, relax and make friends during the induction process.

"Everything was explained to them," explains Kylie, "they didn’t have to ask a lot of dumb questions like I had to. Their ‘start’ was so easy compared to mine."

Kylie’s start was difficult.

She was the sole new recruit and will have to wait until sufficient new people join the company for a proper induction process - if indeed the company decides to hold one. Not all companies do. In the meantime, Kylie has to feel her way around the place and ask dumb questions. She is lucky, though, to be assigned to a department where an older lady took her under her wing and acts as a mentor. Most older women, or even younger women, are not too keen on acting as mentors as they fear the new recruit is going to commandeer their job - and it does happen.

The last thing on Kylie’s mind that first day was to commandeer anyone’s job!

"I was terrified during my first week at work," sighs Kylie. "It was so different from college."

"The worst part of my first day," says Kylie, "was being introduced to everybody in my group. I didn’t know that it is customary to shake hands with each person, and I felt very uncomfortable shaking hands with a whole bunch of strangers."

"I knew that you are supposed to extend your hand and smile at interviews," she adds, "but nobody told me that this sort of thing happens on the first day at work. What was worse was that I couldn’t remember anyone's name. Not even the name of the lady who was introducing me to everyone!"

In Kylie’s case she was introduced to the whole department rather than just her team, and anybody would find this to be horribly stressful. Kylie just wanted to be shown her desk and bury her head in work!

"Of course," says Kylie, "I understand now that the idea behind the introductions is for everyone to know who you are, rather than for you to know who everybody is - and nobody expected me to remember their names - but I wanted so much to get everything right on my first day and I was mortified when one name after another blanked out in my brain."

Another part of Kylie’s first day was being shown around the key locations in the building. She was half expecting a full fire drill after the mammoth introduction procedure she had just been through, but thankfully she was just shown the location of the fire escape, first aid facilities, washroom and canteen.


"It was all I wanted to do," sighs Kylie, "but after visiting the stationery department for all the things I needed, organizing my workspace, setting up my PC, registering my email address and lots of other little things, my first day was over without my doing anything!"

"I went home that night with a splitting headache and wondered if tomorrow would be as stressful," adds Kylie. "I was filled with foreboding rather than excitement. Work is really scary!"

Kylie’s husband is not much older than her, and because he works as a mechanic he had no advice to give to her other than ‘keep a low profile’.

Kylie’s is not so sure that keeping a low profile is the best way to get ahead in a corporation, but she’s nevertheless happy for the emotional support that she gets from her husband - and her father.

"Dad called that night and wanted to know how I got on," says Kylie, "and he’ll be there every step for me. He even told me that he’ll keep on supporting me financially until I get on my feet, and that’s good news because I need to spend a lot of money on new clothes for work."

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