Why I Quit My First “Real” Job

My name is Laura Ann and I am a Junior studying Accounting at DePaul University. In my entirety at DePaul, I have been a commuter student. I currently live in the Northwest burbs of Chicago.

My first “real” job was for a well-known human capital management (HCM) company. I started there as a contractor the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. A few weeks went by, and I had pretty much gotten the job down to a science: come in and check/respond to emails, listen to voicemails, call clients on the east coast, have lunch, call clients on the west coast. A few weeks more weeks went by, two new contractors were hired onto the project as well. I trained them, and continued my work. At the end of the project, I had a 10% sales increase over the initial sales team that had been working on the project. I was the only one of the three contractors hired on as a permanent employee.

As time went on, I volunteered for new projects and added responsibilities to my position. I was always busy. This continued into the future until I realized I was looking for something more.

Being in a grey, carpet-walled cubicle for ten hours a day is like living in a cloudy place that never sees the sun. I stopped leaving work feeling fulfilled. I wasn’t being challenged, or even learning new things. I’m not exactly sure why, but the last few months at the company I had to force myself to get out of bed and go into the office. Maybe it was just because I wanted more.

But I think the main reason I had to force myself to go into the office is because I stopped being happy at work, and eventually at home. I would go home and just worry about all the work I would have to do when I went back into the office. I stopped thinking I’d catch up. I just…stopped.

Thoughts of quitting my job starting to pop into my head. I have had a job since I was 16, so this was not a decision I took lightly. But it was one I really needed to think about because it was a big decision.

I did the following to help me make this tough decision:

  • Told my boss that I was feeling unfulfilled and that I wanted additional work (to no avail) 
  • Got a good night’s sleep (to be in the right headspace)
  • Made a pros and cons list (Pros of quitting: 20 / Cons: 3)
  • Discussed my situation with my best friend/coworker (insider perspective) 
  • Talked to my management professor (outside perspective) 
  • Mulled it over for seven days (to be sure) 

In the end, I quit. I did everything I could to try to rectify how I felt about my job, but it was not enough. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take some time off from working to focus on my studies. I quit my job half way through Winter quarter, and, as a result, I finished the quarter with a high GPA. 

I do not regret my decision to leave my first “real” job. I often miss my coworkers, or the industry and company specific jokes. But I do not miss coming home at the end of a long day of work, still worrying about all the things I have to do. Before I put my two-weeks’ notice in, I told my management professor, who I was not particularly close with, about my situation and asked for her opinion. She gave me the best piece of advice I have ever gotten: 

“nothing is ever more important than your mental health.” 

It was a big decision, but at least I know I made the right one for me.

A few tips, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation:

  1. Do not wait till it’s too late. If you are unhappy in a job, leave. Do not just wait around, hoping something else will come along 
  2. Talk to your boss first. Tell them you want more out of your work, and see if there is anything they can do to help you
  3. Leave on good terms. Just because a job was not good for you at a certain point in your life, does not mean you can never go back. Even if you do not go back, you want your boss to have nice things to say about you when they get called for recommendations. And always give at least a two-week notice
  4. Have a new job lined up.If you know you are going to leave a company, apply for new jobs first. That way you do not have to worry about what you are going to do in the future