Oprah Winfrey worked at a corner store, Elon Musk was a janitor, Obama scooped ice-cream, and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, worked at Maccas once. These are all stories you hear about in clickbait-y listicles and overly positive life coaching seminars to remind us that we too are one solid idea away from making a million bucks. I’m not going to tell you that you’re going to be a millionaire if you stick out your crappy job, but I am going to use these stories to help prove a point.
Rome wasn’t build in a day, and neither were media empires, and more relevant to you, you won’t be where you want to be in your career with your first, second, or even third job – that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile though.
Think of the money
First of all, there’s the money. Even if you’re not earning as much as you want to be (who is?), it’s hard to complain when you’re earning money at all; like countless rap songs have taught me, slow money is better than no money.
Most crappy jobs are taken during high school or immediately after, which means that for many, this is their first stint with independence, and I won’t be the first to tell you that it’s fucking hectic.
It gets a bit trickier to stay positive when you’ve been slugging it at your crappy job for a few years and the novelty of earning your own money wears off, but it’s better than the alternative. Hopefully you’ve been a basic level of smart with your money and have let some accumulate over the years, leading to bigger and better fun things you couldn’t do before, like travelling the world. Or moving out. Or even saving for a mortgage.
More importantly, a crappy job is never just a crappy job, despite what you think.
There are skills that you learn in every role that are useful and transferrable to any number of other jobs. Heck, even waking up in the morning and going to work for consecutive days of the week teaches you discipline and develops your work ethic.
Working in retail can improve your confidence and interpersonal skills, telemarketing can polish your phone manner for office administration roles and working the till at a fast food joint can train you to be really good at handling money – a skill that’s important for loads of other jobs. If you’re dedicated, you can even score yourself promotions and get your first experience in management.
At the very least, your crappy job might be your Devil Wears Prada moment where you’ve worked in the worse possible environment and can handle literally anything else life throws at you. In all seriousness though, the job market in Australia is so tricky for young people that not even a university degree guarantees a job right away.
Shitty jobs are soul-crushing at times and fucking boring for the rest, so it’s hard to keep on keeping on. Sure, we should always be looking for ways to improve our situation, but given the cards we were dealt with, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for having a crappy job. You can find some real worth out of them while you have one, and you’ll be real smug when you can escape.