Job Blues: I’m Here and I Hate It

Theresa was a fine U.S. Air Force officer. She’d spent nine years in the service working in the comptroller’s office. She had a firm grasp on Air Force procurement spending and was well known for being a whiz at finding money. She’d left the Air Force for greener pastures and found the market to be soft.

Theresa and her husband had enough savings to allow her to spend more time with their kids and postpone searching for a job for nearly a year. Once she started looking, she used a recruiter and landed a job in the corporate finance department of a major bank, where she worked as an underwriter. The pay was great, a full 20 percent more than she made in the service -- not including her bonus. Her team was fine group who knew their industry well. She even felt that she caught on to her new job fairly quickly.

There was only one issue: Theresa hated her job. She absolutely hated it. Randall, the lead underwriter she worked with, had no appreciation for her work. She would spend countless hours working on developing a strong case for supporting a proposed loan, only to hear him say that he "didn’t understand her point." Additionally, her coworkers had no camaraderie. Each day, they would eat at their desks, spending no time getting to know each other, and leaving her alone. She had only been at the job for a month but was ready for a change. Where does she go from here?

Theresa is not alone in her feelings. I’ve spoken with numerous veterans who, once they leave the military, find something lacking in their new job or company. Sometimes they miss the camaraderie, sometimes it’s the sense of purpose. Sometimes it’s the respect they’d built up, just by being affiliated with the service for so long. Then they had to start all over again. That is never a good feeling. Here’s how you can get through it:

1. Find an ally. In this case, Theresa was the only woman underwriter; her administrative assistant was also a woman. Do not underestimate the value of great assistants! They often will have insight into the people around you. Try striking up a conversation and genuinely get to know your assistants. They might be able to help you understand what is going on with the others in your office. When you’re the new employee, you may not be aware of things that have transpired in the lives of the people around you. Many times, the way coworkers react to your work has nothing to do with you.

2. Be patient. Different people take longer to warm up to strangers in their environment. Giving folks time to observe you and befriend you in their own time is a great way to make long-term work relationships.

3. Work hard. Be the hardest-working person in the office. When new to a job, there are so many things to cope with, from the idiosyncrasies of people around you to the corporate culture’s requirements. Focus on learning those things and you will end up miles ahead.

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