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How to Make the Most of an Undesirable Job

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You may have noticed this by now, but the economy is kind of…blah. It’s getting harder and harder out there in “the real world” for recent grads (or even long-since-graduated persons such as myself) to find a decently paying job in an area of his or her choosing. I spent four months working at a boutique shoe store in my hometown after taking the California bar exam immediately following my law school graduation.

This was not exactly how I had envisioned myself spending the months waiting to hear about bar results. Sometimes, we all have to take a job just for the sake of having work and being able to pay our bills. And that’s ok! You can still forward your career momentum in a job you think is not exactly the cat’s pajamas. Here’s why:

With any job, you can…

Forge connections

The owner of the boutique was so friendly, welcoming, and complimentary while I worked there. I think she appreciated that, though I had a law degree, I put everything I had into the job when I was on duty. She could see that I didn’t take the situation lightly, and that I treated her store and customers with courtesy and respect, even if it wasn’t the job I had imagined having at that time. Because of that position, I have a new professional connection in the form of my former boss, and it will never hurt you to have more professional connections. In fact, she even checks up on me on Facebook from time to time!

Learn new skills

You may think that a job that is outside of your “area of expertise” won’t give you any new skills to take to your next position, but you’d be wrong! I learned many things working as a retail associate that I have put on my resume as transferable skills, such as: the ability to determine a client’s needs, to negotiate a solution when we didn’t have exactly what he or she wanted, and the management skills required to be left in charge of the store when I was the only one working for hours at a time. I have brought up each of these skills in later interviews for different positions. People want to see that you’ve learned something from each job you’ve held, even if it’s not part of your ideal career path!

Appreciate it for what it is

Finally, there is something to be said for being able to appreciate a job for what it is: a job. Being financially secure is necessary in today’s economy, feeling productive and useful throughout your workweek is important, and occasionally you’ll even get a perk out of a position you didn’t necessary expect (like getting 50 percent off of designer shoes). At the end of the day, even if you’re in a job you don’t want forever, you have to remember: you probably won’t be there forever! Keep your head up, keep actively searching, and appreciate your current position for what it is while you have it.

Every job has good things and bad things about it—the key is learning what you can take from each job while you do have it, and staying motivated enough to keep moving forward along your long-term career path.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

Ask Megan Smyth if she ever had an undesirable job and how she managed it!

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