I’m no wolf of Wall Street, successful entrepreneur, or big shot salesman. I’m just a millennial guy who fell into the trap of useless college degree, and am now trying to find my best way through life. I’m sure a lot of you all are too. However, what I do have are some experiences and cautionary tales that might help you all out.
Don’t work retail
Just don’t. Retail is the coal mine of our generation – shitty pay, long hours and mind-numbing work. There’s just no benefit or fulfillment in it. Work happens at odd hours and on weekends, so good luck trying to sync a social life with people doing the 9-5, or with other retail people, because most of the time one of you will be working when they’re not, and vice versa. Doubly good luck to you in trying to find a holiday or weekend off for something important and not get called in.
(I once tried to put together a bachelor party when half the people showing up had to trade shifts for a damn Saturday night. Getting my teeth pulled would have been a less frustrating use of my time.)
It’s also a waste of time, and I call it a waste because retail doesn’t give you any skills that translate to other sectors of the economy (but more on that later). Retail gives you experience for other retail. Moving up means becoming a manager, which gives you the experience to be… another manager, somewhere else. Once you’re sucked into the trap then there’s no way to leave unless you motivate yourself to develop skills outside of work, in your free time.
If you’re really hurting for a job, work at a lumber mill or something. At least then you’d have something substantial to put toward your resume.
The only benefit I see to retail is the store discounts if your retailer offers them, assuming you have the disposable income to take advantage of it. Me, I could barely keep my head afloat so the 30% off on sporting goods meant nothing.
Pick a job that gives you skills outside of work
I touched on this above, but it’s a good idea to find work which will not only give you skills for another job but also on your off time. For example, I was hired as a mechanic for a water treatment company over a year ago. Learning how to install and fix the equipment allowed me to fix up my house once I purchased it. Replacing water shutoffs and removing the garbage disposal would have cost hundreds to have a plumber do it. I did all the labor for free. Remember that applicable skills in certain jobs end up saving you money outside of work. Apprenticing as a carpenter, mechanic, or plumber will have cost-savings benefits in the real world, not just a paycheck.
Don’t be anyone’s bitch
This one is extremely important and no one will warn you about it. Older guys will likely tell you to hang in there and just deal with the bullshit your job slings at you, that you, as a younger guy with less experience, should simply take it. Don’t. Here’s why:
I lost around $500 because I was someone’s bitch. At the beginning of my employment, I tagged along with the installer to learn the skills and regulations that went into installing our equipment. With two installs a day, sometimes in crawl spaces, sometimes with cutting into drywall, I was lucky to have a “short” day of about 10 hours. My troubles were compensated with $10 hourly and overtime (WalMart Cashiers make around $12). My stress level went up, as did the physical strain on my body, and I even thought about quitting. But I told myself that this knowledge would lead to something better. Eventually, it did. I was moved up to a service/maintenance tech when we had an opening, which was great, for a while.
However, the new guy who replaced me was faced with the same thing – long hours of grueling work with little pay. What made this scenario different was that this new guy was ex-military and had served in Afghanistan. He’d seen some shit, got his first confirmed kill at 17, been shot, stabbed, and blown up. So when he started to get burned out like I had, he told the vice president of our office that he wasn’t going to do the work if he wasn’t reasonably compensated, because his time and body were better used elsewhere. He said, plainly, that he wasn’t going to be anyone’s bitch.
The management agreed to let him have half the install commission – about $40 per install. I missed out on that because I didn’t speak up, and it was entirely my fault. I didn’t know my own worth.
My advice to you is that if you feel as if you’re getting screwed, then you probably are. Don’t take it. A lot of times, management knows they’re pushing you too hard but either don’t care or want to see how much they can wring out of you before you tell them to cut it out. A lot of people think that working hard means doing whatever you’re told and keeping your head down. No. Working hard means doing good work, coming in when you’re needed, working overtime when required, all with the expectation that you’re fairly compensated.
If you’re a good worker it means you have a lot of leverage on your side, and, if you’re truly that good, it means you don’t have to do the bitch work. Know your worth and push back if you feel as if you’re getting screwed, just plan on leaving if it comes to that.
Know how to balance your time
I love my free time. It allows me to write this blog and my fiction. I hate doing 50-60 hour weeks because my life isn’t my work. Work is just what keeps me alive. The other techs put in those hours and they miss their family and have little to no free time. In the end, they’ll look back on their lives and what will they remember? They won’t want to remember their times at the office, but they also won’t remember the quirky little things their kids have done, since they weren’t around to see it. What good is supporting them if you never see them?
Me, I’ve worked 60 hour weeks for pittance and worked 25 hours a week at $20 an hour (after taxes). Hands down, I would rather have more free time to pursue interests that might make me some money on the side than focus on one, single thing. These days, you need to have multiple streams of income and multiple pursuits. Those who put all their eggs in one basket – at their job – are at the mercy of forces that could take that job away.
It’s up to you to know where your time is better spent and make the most out of it.
Don’t try to find a job that will make you happy. Try to find a job that won’t make you mad
People who like working 60 hours a week generally like what they do (or make the money which makes them like it). Those people are also the exception, not the standard, and you will likely never find a job that you’re happy actually doing. Instead, look for a job that you’re content with, one that doesn’t stress you out. Sure, painting houses wasn’t what you were born to do. It wasn’t your career aspiration in high school. But painting doesn’t make you blow your stack on a daily basis and make you take it out on the cat/dog/partner/kids.
With that being said…
Know the other costs of your job
All jobs come with opportunity cost. You could always be doing something else, something you rather like, but the real world isn’t some Communist utopia where no one has to work. You need to work.
But opportunity cost isn’t the only cost you incur when working. Consider the level of stress. Consider the health issues involved. Consider weekends, vacations, time off, health benefits, and being able to coordinate a social life.
What’s the point of making $100k a year when you can never use it? What’s the point of making that money and, by the end, you’re a 32 year old guy with the body of a 65 year old man? And what’s the point of making that money if you have the shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars to repair the damage done?
I’m all in favor of blue-collar work and working hard, but work that degrades your quality of life rather than contributing to it is parasitical. In the end, you should come out ahead.
The girlfriend effect
This one is special and for those in LTR’s, and could be an entire post on its own.
Before my current job, I worked nights and weekends. Girlfriend would get home at 3:30pm. I would go work at 5pm. That left a small window to hang out, and the weekends weren’t much better. Fortunately, we were living with mutual friends at the time, so I wasn’t leaving her home alone. She was happy hanging out with people even though I was gone.
However, if it had just been the two of us then leaving her to work nights would have given her means, motive and opportunity to stray, if you know what I mean. Out of sight, out of mind.
Some girlfriends/wives are more tolerant of your absence than others, but ultimately, and ideally, they want to spend time in your company. Give it to them. The good aspects of my current 9-5 (though it’s more like 7-4) is that girlfriend has the same schedule, and we can spend nights and weekends together.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention status. Chicks dig the status of your job. Plenty in the manosphere have already mentioned it, so I won’t go into detail here. Yeah, you’ll impress people with your high-status career, but remember the costs and benefits, and all I’ve explained above. Sometimes it’s worth it if the pay’s good. Sometimes it isn’t, like in cases where work comes home with you, or you have an hour commute every day. Remember to balance these aspects, and avoid time/health traps.
This last one is becoming more important by the day. As the Social Justice Warriors fight for more power, your ability to say what you like decreases as HR managers scan your every tweet and facebook post for PC blasphemy. This is also bad news if you own a business, or are in the public eye. If you piss off the Social Justice Warriors then they will try to take away your means of income (but it’s totally, like, not an infraction of free speech since the government isn’t burning your livelihood to the ground and silencing you).
The good news is that not every job is like that. I’m fortunate to have a boss that gives no shits about political correctness. This is the man, who after having known him for only 10 minutes, explained how retarded it was that the “bull-dykes” in Boulder legalized going topless, not so that they would, but so they could, for equality or some shit, even though none of them will.
Blue collar work is generally made up of conservatives or old school liberals who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about cisprivilege. Working around actual masculine men means you don’t have to tiptoe around delicate subjects in the office, lest it offend the current HR mule. These places might not have job security in our dwindling economy, but they do have what I call ideology security.
Sometimes I wonder if this blog will torpedo my career prospects, up until I realize that if any job is going to can me for my genuine thoughts then it didn’t want an independent thinker in the first place. This goes back to knowing your worth and not being someone’s bitch.
I doubt you’ll find a job with an ideal combination of all these aspects. I don’t think one exists, but at least now you should have some additional considerations when looking somewhere. One way of looking at your work is: in twenty years will the work I’m doing be worth remembering? If it isn’t, then you are effectively erasing a good portion of your life from memory, and therefore existence.
Anyways, I wish you good luck.