When I finally finished my Masters in English with kick-ass grades from one of the finest Arts college in Pune, my sense of self was pretty elated. Little did I know that once college got over, it would all be a downhill from there. The much talked about “quarter-life crisis” became a little too real, too soon. Geared with the degree that was going to take me places, I moved back home and applied to about 25 places. Turns out, that to land a decent job one needs more than just a degree and some confidence. I got call backs from only a handful places and after several rounds of interviews, my inbox would blink with bad news. So, I gave up trying for awhile and started wallowing in self-pity. Negative thoughts kept coming into my mind every waking hour - Am I that under-qualified? What does that other person have that I don’t? Why am I so useless? One fine day I got a lead from my best friend. She knew someone who was working in the advertising industry and I had always been intrigued about how the advertising world worked. A few calls and a decent interview later, I got a job as a Copy Writer for a very famous advertising agency.
Finally, something! I had landed a job! It wasn’t paying well, but i thought the exposure will help in my career ahead. I was very eager to work with creative minds. I’d always wanted to make creative, funny ads that would bring the point home, with very little said. It mattered on the execution and a witty play of words. It didn’t sound too hard, in fact, it sounded exciting.
When I joined, the boss told me that the first three months at work would be a probationary/ training period. I knew it was a ploy to pay me lesser but I didn’t mind it too much because, well, this was my last resort. Also, three months of rigorous training would shape and mould me better and by the end of it, I would have had so many tricks up my sleeves. He told me that based on my performance, I would either get a raise or get fired. I wasn’t looking forward to the latter, at all. So I put in everything I could. I read up on the world of advertising, learned what works and what does not and all the little things that followed. For the first two weeks, my supervisor just gave me some press releases to write and some to translate. I thought, okay, this isn’t so bad, maybe next week I’ll get to work on ads and the training will start. I did get to work on ads but the training was a hoax. There was none. They just gave me an old computer and told me to learn what I can. If they needed copy for ads, they’d come to me and say “Hey, think of something amazing, catchy, something that would attract people’s attention.” Yes, I knew this already. But they never really told me what they wanted, never even gave me a brief. I never had anything to work on, except the product itself. We would have meetings with my boss and all of us would chip in ideas. Every idea that my boss came up with though, good or bad, was met with blind appreciation by everyone else.
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I knew how ads worked. I’d come up with these great lines and great ideas and would tell my best friends about it. Since my best friends are also great critics, they were always honest with me. They would blatantly tell me what they loved and what they hated. But no one at work would appreciate my ideas, simply because “the audience wouldn’t get it.” But what would the audience get then? No one offered an answer to this.
It wasn’t the field of work that depressed me, it was more the people who ran the organization. From the outside, the company had an impeccable reputation, the CEO was always involved in charitable work. Everything from the outside was brilliant. But on the inside, that place was a horrible place to work. No one respected anyone, everyone was always loud, all the good ideas were thrown in the trash can and basically, no one was happy. And there was one bully who used to play music so loud you could hear it till the next building (with him, I had several hundred fights, everyday).
The three months came and passed but the training never happened. Oh, and the raise, what raise? I started skipping work more and more and I was actually turning ill because I was so sad all the time. The only reason I would go to work was because (a) I felt useless staying home and doing nothing and (b) I did find a few genuinely nice friends at work across departments. They kept me going, they fuelled me to trudge on.
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After 6 months of being stuck in a place that killed my creativity and didn’t help my mind grow or help me in any way whatsoever, I decided to quit. Everyone advised me against it. They said a lot of things: “It takes a little time to get used to a new office", “Not everyone at work is bad, no?”, “It’s easy money, stick around”, “It’s just been six months, it’s going to look bad on your CV”.
But by that time, I had had enough. So what, if it was easy money? Was I to volunteer to let my brain die? So what if some people were nice, the rest were of no help whatsoever. So what if it looked bad on my CV? Seriously, so what? Was I to miss out on other opportunities just because it would look bad on a piece of paper? Of course not.
So, I quit and moved on to another job. That place taught me nothing except for the fact that one should not stick to a job they hate just because “you have to give it time”.
You really ought to take that leap of faith and see where life takes you. It may take you somewhere great and it may take you somewhere worse, but you have to be able to make that decision. Never stick around in a place where you are not valued and specially if you feel like you aren’t growing as a person. Leave and move on to other jobs. I did and I'm so much happier now.
Published on Sep 13, 2016