Did your bad job launch or stunt your career?

Here’s a topic almost all of us can relate to: bad jobs. Most of us at some point in our lives have had a bad job or two or three. Looking back on them we can laugh (usually) and figure out how it made us stronger in some strange way. Let me share with you some of my gems and how they helped me.

Picture this, I’m a naïve college student who wants a summer job in the legal field. This internship entails a lot of administrative work: filing, answering phones, reviewing cases, etc. The exciting part of the job was when my boss would take me to the county jail and hearings in court. However, this was also the downside of things.

So here I am 19 years old and heading to the local lock up. I would’ve gotten off easy with just catcalls. I’ll let your imagination wander here for a second. My first solo interview in the jail was with a middle aged man who was accused of raping a young woman. Awkward! Despite my fears, the conversation went really well.

The craziest part of this job was the sexual harassment claim that I should’ve filed against one of the attorneys in the office. He would call me daily on one of the four phone lines that I answered and proposition me. That was the easiest part to handle. He brought his “A” game when he saw me in person. One time I was filing in a lower file cabinet and I was on my knees. He told me what I could do while I was down there.

After my legal experiences I decided against law school. No the internship didn’t turn me off; the work did. This decision saved me from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a career I didn’t want. But it did help me become a stronger person; one who can stand up to “bad guys” in jail and to a disgusting attorney who preys on young women.

So I dabbled with a few things and spent a lot of my time as a nanny. This made the sexual harassment situation seem like a joke. Kids and their parents can be nightmares. Speaking of nightmares, there was this child that spent half of his time in the bathroom cleaning his genitals in the sink. At first I thought it was because this child was clean. My family and friends told me otherwise. Other kids tried to pull a fast one on me. They would try to sneak candy or go to friends’ houses without telling me. Classic kid stuff. The parents are worse than the kids though. My favorite story was this highly educated dad who constantly did stupid things with his babies. For instance, he put his 1 year olds to bed with their birthday balloons tied around their waists. He also let his infant son roll off his lap into a body of water. Who does that?

Dealing with difficult kids and adults has taught me how to have patience and handle challenging situations. I discovered that if I could love children that weren’t even mine, I would cherish my own children and make a pretty good mother. I’m also one hell of a multi-tasker!

I have to say, these are mostly good stories. But there were a few doozies. Like the dirty office I worked in with mostly men who had horrible bathroom hygiene. Seriously, how do you get feces on the back of the toilet? Or the fact that my second child puked on me multiple times a day for almost a year due to her acid reflux. But all of these wild, dirty and painstaking jobs got me to where I am today. I found my career path in human resources and motherhood. I’m a hardworking, detail oriented, organized and determined person. I have a wonderful husband and two amazing children that I spend most of my time with enjoying life. I take pride in all that I do and am quite a perfectionist. Now, my family would tell you this is also what’s so annoying about me, but it’s brought me great success in life.

How have your past job experiences shaped your career?