• Erika Dowell

No, I don’t think you should work at that company...

You see, when I worked for that company, I was taken advantage of. I was a naive 20-something year old and thought I would be there for the better part of my career until I started my company. I wanted to work hard, make a name for myself, and have fun doing it. The company itself, isn’t bad. It’s kind of innovative, and it grew somewhat quickly. You’ll be part of that growth, which is exciting. But, you won’t really work on anything new or innovative itself. The product is innovative, but it’s just iterations now. It won’t push you outside any boundaries that being a fresh graduate wouldn’t already be pushed to. Any (corporate) job you could find right now would challenge you just as much (and would probably pay you for your time and equally). You may, however, be faced with some challenges. Some challenges will be fun, teach you a bit. Some won’t be fun; I’m not talking the not fun someone needs to do it anyways jobs, I’m talking the bad there’s no work life balance and you’re always stressed jobs. Sometimes you might face blame for something that is out of your control. Sometimes you might face working 40 hours a week, plus on call for 128. You’ll mention this, but it’s pushed aside. You won’t make much fuss, because it’s your first real job and you don’t know right and wrong. As you can likely imagine, this can create a high stress, often artificially inflated, environment. This environment will lead you to make bad judgement calls; at work and at home. Either at the office or at a party. Almost always, as at this company, all your coworkers are your friends. The bad judgement, I would have hoped, could have been countered by someone used to that stress; someone in a position to not start it in the first place. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Of course, I have responsibility in this, but they should have had the sense to not start it in the first place. Shortly after, you’ll feel immense guilt and no one to turn to. You’ll start to cut ties with some of your closest friends. You’ll become withdrawn, some might say confrontational, because someone you trusted to help guide you, didn’t. Instead, they took advantage of a weakness and used it against you. You’ll start to feel frustrated as if he’s giving you tasks to test you, a test you will most certainly fail. You’ll push back on them (after all, you only have so many hours), and be told you’re not a team player. You’ll try to ask for help, explain how you feel, ask to not be managed by him anymore, but it’s all pushed aside. Through all of that, on top of the stress, you’ll lose your friend and ally at work. You both won’t quite know what happened, but there’s no fixing it now. For the next 8 or 9 months, you’ll cry on the way home almost everyday. You might cry at the smallest things. I didn’t understand at the time, but it’s because of the stress, professionally, personally, financially, that you’re under. It’s scary. I’m sorry to say, but in five short months, you’ll be let go. You’ll be waiting for it to happen, but still be rightfully upset. You haven’t been treated fairly in (at least) a year, so it’s okay to manage your expectations and not expect much here. In the exit, you’ll be told you’re not a fit with the company. I understand this stings, you’ve poured a lot into it in the last few years. But, as you walk away, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief and work to rebuild yourself. Every so often you will feel triggered, you will be frustrated that you feel a certain way. You will almost certainly feel judged, or maybe that someone is speaking about you. What matters most is that you are not in the wrong. You are different now; stronger, better, and more experienced to handle bad situations. I’ll understand that you won’t want to mix alcohol with work; you’ll strive to create professional boundaries, careful to not say anything that could be twisted. You will always leave the door open, the blind on the window up, and never be the last to leave. It’s okay. No. I don’t recommend this company. I think there are better ways to learn the hard lessons, and certainly some not by trial by fire. You might try it for a year, but then trust your instincts, they are correct. Sincerely, Older me

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