What is your job really like?
Whether you’re hitting happy hour with your boss or bawling your eyes out in the stairwell, time at the office isn’t always the marathon of productivity and engaging meetings we might expect.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint, 68% of women have cried on the job, and 10% say they hate their bosses, although a reassuring third actually consider their supervisors to be friends...
We asked real women* who have been in these very situations to go beyond the statistics and give us a glimpse into their actual experiences. Here’s what they spilled–can you relate?
Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments!
I admit it: I’ve cried at pretty much every single job I’ve had after college–usually out of disappointment in myself. I cried when my editor gave me back a manuscript practically bleeding with red ink, when I wasn’t prepared enough for meetings and when I came too close to missing deadlines. At my last job, my boss’s response to anything I’d give him would be, “What more could you have done?” It was so discouraging that I didn’t know any other way out but to quit. The waterworks started when I gave my resignation.
At my very first job out of college, I worked on an advertising team where one of our main client contacts was in his fifties and had a stream of 20-something girlfriends. When he invited me to lunch one day, I naively agreed. Any chance to get to know the client better, right? During lunch, I asked him about his family and business, but he kept bringing it back to his dating life and his former job working for a luxury car company. I knew the jig was up when he insisted we share a dessert. I ordered a cappuccino, let him pay (he was the client after all), high-tailed it back to the office, and left the job less than a week later. Did I mention I didn’t like that job anyway?
I’ve lost track of the number of times my boss has asked for the status of a project I’ve never even heard of before. I would stall as I frantically searched through my email for any mention of Project X, then realize that my boss emailed everyone else in the department about said project except me, even though I’m supposed to be doing it. She never apologizes–just stares me down and asks, “So when will it be done?” As if I can produce Project X out of thin air. As if it is somehow still my fault that I didn’t know I was supposed to be CCed on an email two months ago. I don’t take it personally anymore when she huffs back to her office after giving me a stern “talking to” about being more organized. It’s just a job, after all.
I’ve been a high school teacher for about ten years, and I consider my boss both a mentor and a friend. We see eye to eye and can talk frankly about just about anything work-related. Plus, he respects my personal life and understands that as a mother of two, I have to stick to a very strict schedule. When I had my children, my boss not only understood but encouraged me to stay home, rest and be with my family. I’m totally devoted to my career and to being there for my school “kids” as well as my real ones, and my boss’s attitude toward the work-life balance makes me actually want to carve time into my crazy schedule for after-school activities and tutoring. It’s a nurturing, give-and-take dynamic that consistently works for both of us.
In my previous job, I had a co-worker who I knew for a fact had a crush on me. He was cute and I actually liked him a lot, but for various reasons I wasn’t really in a place to be dating anyone–he and I hung out a lot, but I refused to call it “dating.” Anyway, I ended up leaving my job to go to grad school, and towards the end of my time there, I started to feel a bit carefree. One day as he was leaving (I always stayed late), he convinced me to get on the elevator with him and make out all the way to the first floor! I’m still a bit ashamed, but I have to say: It’s a memory that warms me during long nights in the library.
When I decided to ask for a raise while working an entry-level job in my second career as a magazine editor, I didn’t really know what I was doing. (I hadn’t read success stories like these.) I told my boss that I just couldn’t live on my salary and he replied, “That’s the one thing that you never say.” I always remember that because he was right (even thought it was just so true!). To me it made total sense to ask for more money because I needed it; it’s just a practical issue. To him it was a faux pas. Your boss’s only concern when considering you for a raise is what you’ve done for the company–whether you deserve the raise based on merit, not your lifestyle needs.
I once temped for a summer helping an office receptionist. We were in Ohio, which is one state over from Indiana, and she once yelled at me after I labeled an envelope because, as she put it, “Indianapolis is the state and Indiana is the city.” Another time, she had me create a set of hanging folders labeled with the letters of the alphabet. She then came over to “check” my work and got angry because I’d messed up–”F doesn’t come after E,” she told me. I’m happy to report that ever since, I’ve worked for people who are a lot sharper.
I once had a boss who I think was quite possibly was the worst in the world. If I dressed up for work, she’d stop me and say, “You look nice today. Do you have an interview?” (How are you supposed to respond to that?) She once left an editing note on a recipe story that said: “Please be specific. Do you have to peel the egg before you boil it?” (Think about it.) But the only time I’ve ever cried at work was the morning that I found out that a young woman I’d interviewed for a story had died. The story was about her and her twin sister, and one had been diagnosed with lung cancer—at the age of 19. When her twin called to tell me that her sister had passed away that morning, I lost it. I emailed my boss to tell her what had happened, and to ask if I should order flowers on the magazine’s behalf. She emailed me right back and all it said was: “Did you get the story in time?”
*Names have been changed.
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