About 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. It may appear as if Millennials plan on being job hoppers with no loyalty, but a lot of this is unplanned. Most Millennials are not fond of their first job and often go through several before finding one they really enjoy.
It’s no secret that Generation Y isn’t scared to quit when their reality doesn’t fit their expectations. After all, why should you stay at a job you hate?
It seems like the logical thing to do when you’re not happy somewhere is to leave, right? However, in a TED Talk, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist who studies achievement, attributes success to a trait she calls grit. She defined grit as passion and persistence for very long-term goals, having stamina, sticking with your future day-in-and-day-out—not just for the week or month, but for years, and working really hard to making that future a reality.
Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It is being able to persevere in situations that are less than ideal on the path to success. A big part of grit is being able to stick with a job you hate. In most cases if you’re not happy, I think it is a good idea to find a way out. However, when it comes to careers, I believe that patience is a virtue. In most situations, you’ll find that you have more to gain by sticking through it than quitting.
Everyone has to start somewhere
Before Amanda Palmer became the star she is, she stood on a carton as a bride on the street exchanging flowers for money. At night, her band would ask the crowd for donations. Jay-Z’s rap career took off in 1996, but he had been trying to break into music for at least 10 years. His first album was sold out of the trunk of a car.
I could go on about these humble beginnings; everyone has to start somewhere. The beginning is never glamorous. It’s rough, challenging and usually doesn’t pay very much. This is a part of the process; embrace it.
“Where you are is just as important as where you’re going”
Last September, I attended a conference on advertising and marketing in DC where Richard Kirshenbaum, a well-renowned pioneer in the industry, was a keynote speaker. He said something that I hear in my head everyday: “Where you are is just as important as where you’re going.” As tough as they are, these early experiences are full of intangibles that will come in handy one day. Too often, people refer to these experiences as “stepping stones.” I’ve never been too fond of the term as it downplays the importance of the present.
These humble beginnings are where we prepare for the future. As tedious as they may be, entry-level positions are where we learn to master things such as details, deadlines and data, among other skills that we’ll need to execute our dreams. The beginning is also where we make some of our most valuable relationships. People don’t become mentors and friends overnight. Relationships take time to build. The relationships, experiences, lessons and skills we have to gain from this first job we can’t stand won’t manifest if we quit too quickly. We can’t develop if we don’t take the time to focus and succeed in our current jobs before moving to something better.
Take time to explore
When you start a new job, it takes about a good three months to really learn the role, company and environment you’re working in. In the time that follows, you are in the process of building trust, showing your colleagues what you are capable of and getting a sense of where the organization is headed. By quitting in less than a year, you are selling yourself short. While it’s important to be well-rounded and have many different experiences, you can’t reap the rewards of each experience if you leave before the right time.
Quitting your job too quickly has consequences far beyond the regret that follows missed opportunities. By quitting a job you don’t like in less than a year’s time, you’re sending a message that you are a bad decision-maker. Future employers can read into this easily. When you quit a job while you’re unhappy, you set yourself up to make more bad decisions. Most people make poor decisions when they’re unhappy, often thinking of immediate gratification without considering long-term consequences.
When I first started my job, I had doubts. I wasn’t sure that I made the right choice and thought about all of the opportunities I had passed up. A lot people probably don’t like their first job. When talking to others about how I felt, I got the same advice that many people my age hear: “Get the experience and quit after a year.” As tempting as it might seem to quit quickly, something about that mentality didn’t feel right, either. It’s been 10 months, and I can say that I am happy I didn’t quit. In addition to gaining a solid understanding of the future opportunities available to me, I’ve encountered a lot of pleasant surprises and new opportunities—opportunities that I would’ve missed out on because of impatience.
The minute you realize the opportunity you have to grow where you are, your feelings about your job will change. Your feelings of disappointment and fear of missing out will turn into gratitude and drive. When it comes time for you to leave, you’ll look for new opportunities from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. After all, if you can excel in tough situations, imagine what you’ll be able to accomplish at your dream job.
Note: I want to give a special thanks to entrepreneur and George Washington University Alum Dan Simons of VSAG. If it weren’t for him taking the time to share his experience, I wouldn’t have been able to write this post.
How have you handled jobs you didn’t like? Should you quit or not, and how can you best manage a position you don’t like? Share with us in the comments!
This post originally appeared on Levo League.
Alix Montes is a recent graduate of George Washington University, where he studied marketing through a concentration in International Business. Someday he would like to start his own business where, ideally, he’d get paid to come up with great ideas. Currently, he works as an Account Coordinator at LM&O Advertising, Washington DC’s largest independent ad agency. He likes to learn, laugh and think.