5 Things a Terrible Job Will Teach You

We’ve all had terrible jobs, whether it was bussing tables, stacking cinderblocks, or even just dealing with ungrateful bosses and coworkers at a desk job. And chances are, the second you left for something better, you breathed a huge sigh of relief and washed your hands of it. But while the experience may have left you with recurring nightmares about still working there, you may be surprised by the valuable life lessons you learned at that terrible job.

  1. The importance of keeping your cool.
    Let’s say that you’re working at an ice cream shop and an ornery customer gets critical about your scooping methods. While the little devil on your shoulder may try to tell you that this person should leave the shop wearing the sundae, resist the urge to comply. Instead, just smile and either work with the customer or call over a manager. Remember, there will always be crabby customers, clients, and people in general no matter where you work or live — learning to deal with them in a calm manner will likely help alleviate the situation quicker than if you snapped.
  2. The importance of reaching higher.
    Let’s face it — we all get a bit complacent from time to time. But rest assured, this will not happen if you are working a terrible job. If you’re tired of leaving your fast food job each night reeking of fries, spending a full day doing back-breaking labor in the heat, or getting yelled at by disgruntled customers who are hopelessly frustrated with their non-working bit of technology that you are supposed to be able to fix instantly over the phone, all of this will give you the motivation to do something more with your life. Not only that, but it will help you pay the bills and keep food on the table until you can figure out something better.
  3. The importance of building relationships in less-than-desirable environments.
    Another good thing about working a terrible job is that in just about all of them, you’ll be working that job with other people. So, while making coffee for disgruntled office employees may not be an ideal situation, you’ll likely find at least one coworker with whom you connect. You can talk to them about music or technology, or they’ll at least pretend to listen while you ramble on about this great idea you have that will make you rich and famous. But the best thing about building relationships with coworkers is that you may meet someone who can share their wisdom with you, or at least let you know if a better job opportunity comes up. In other words, you’ll learn how to network effectively.
  4. The importance of building character.
    You’ve probably heard this one before. In fact, it was probably your mother who told you, but terrible jobs really do build character. Chances are that during your stint at your terrible job, you are going to have to complete a task that you really hate. While it sounds corny, learning to do your best to complete the task quickly and efficiently translates to keeping a strong work ethic so that when you finally do land a better job, you’ll know how to work hard.
  5. The importance of just learning whatever you can, wherever you can.
    All terrible jobs, no matter what type they are, will teach you some sort of handy skill. Work in customer service? You’ll learn great ways to calm people down when frustration boils over. How about manual labor jobs? Chances are you’ll get much better at working with your hands. You might even learn a few skills that can help you fix a few odds and ends around the house. Regardless of what your terrible job may be, approach it with the intent to learn something, and chances are, you will.

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