toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

August 29, 2012

stuck at the bottom of the career ladder?

Brianna is one of the lucky few graduates who scored an entry-level job in the industry of her choice -- advertising, a field she felt destined to enter since winning a competition for a jingle when she was only fourteen -- but she soon found that even if you gain a position requiring a degree, that job is not always going to be interesting and challenging.

"The bulk of my job -- the first job I've ever had -- requires me to file stacks of correspondence and stuff that other people have been working on during the day," says Brianna. "Nowhere in my job description does it say 'filing duties' and I hate doing this task and I resent the fact that my employer is so mean that he won’t hire a proper filing clerk."

"When I complained to my supervisor about the type of work I'm doing she just laughed at me," sighs Brianna. "She said that everybody starts at the bottom and I just had to be patient."

"She also said that everybody's job had an element of boredom to it and mentioned a case in the 1990s where a woman took an employer to court because her work was boring her to death and the Judge responded by saying that most of his work was boring, too."

"After that talk I accepted the fact that that’s the way things are around here and if I am to get anywhere in life I have to shape my own future as best I can," says Brianna. "I still hate filing, but I'm resolving the problem by injecting a bit of challenge into it."

"I designed a filing spreadsheet using Excel," says Brianna, "and I've now made filing a more interesting task. More than that, though, I've also gained accolades. Using my system, everybody can find things for a change!"

But the fact remains that Brianna is basically nothing more than a filing clerk at a large advertising
agency and her prospects for advancement are not good in the place where she is now working.

"Nobody above me is going to be leaving the company for a long, long time," says Brianna, "so I will be stuck here as a filing clerk until I'm an old lady. If that's what my supervisor means by 'patience' then that's not the sort of career I want."

Brianna and young people everywhere are quite indignant that they have spent anything up to five years of their youth studying hard and achieving a degree just to learn that it does not automatically give them a responsible position and a good salary.

"I didn't expect a six-figure salary in my first job," laughs Brianna, "but I sure as hell expected work that is commensurate with my education and a proper career path, too. If they hired me because of my education and bright ideas, why aren't they giving me a chance to use them?"

Because so many young people are educated these days, the value of education has dropped. Young people with degrees are, unfortunately, a dime a dozen and employers are becoming more interested in experience and other personal qualities than they once were.

Also, Brianna has a sneaky suspicion that she only gained the prized entry-level job she has because she was better looking than all of the other applicants. And that may very well be true.

"I still believe that my destiny lies in advertising," says Brianna, "but this prized entry-level job is not such a great prize after all. I don't believe all advertising agencies are like this -- I need to find a place where young people with fresh ideas are given a chance to shine."

"I am going to stay where I am for at least six months and then start looking for a job that can better utilize my brains," says Brianna. "I am not gaining any skills where I am now. All I am gaining is a working history as a filing clerk!"

For Brianna, a working history with a high profile company -- even as a glorified filing clerk -- is going to be a great advantage in finding a better job. She can use the name of her employer as leverage.

Until then, Brianna has determined to use her intelligence and ingenuity to make her job as interesting and challenging as she can.

Who knows, after six months of being a filing clerk par excellence, Brianna may learn to enjoy her job or she may receive a surprise promotion if the company hires a filing clerk.

"I'm not holding my breath for something like that to happen," laughs Brianna. "I'm in a dead end job, I'm not earning very much more than an uneducated filing clerk and I'm at the end of a very long pecking order around here."

"If I don't try to find a better job, I'll rot right where I am now," sighs Brianna. "That's not the destiny I had in mind when I trained for this field."

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