It’s pretty much the biggest question I’ve asked my self: is there such thing as a perfect job? But I guess the answer is similar to “Is there such a thing as a perfect partner?” For me, a perfect job would be 3 blocks from my house, not stressful, a great work culture, have a great or easy schedule, pay me a sh*t-ton of money or at least a livable amount and have cool colleagues who are also my best friend.
Is that really achievable?
Possibly… maybe for the top 1% of people. It also depends on how much schooling you put in. I always thought that a $100k college price-tag only made sense for people who were going to make $250K and up, like doctors and elite lawyers. My sister is an MD and only works 32 hours a week and pretty much has it easy in that regard. I would hope that if you spent a hefty amount on college, you could at least get it back in a cushy job.
I spent much of my early 20s searching aimlessly for it. My first job after college was as a purchaser for this really sketchy beauty/perfume/wholesale goods distributor. I made $2000 a month, not much to work with but I got by. What I really wanted was experience and a way to figure out my true interest. As you might have guessed, it was NOT my perfect job.
It was a COMPLETE shit show of a job. Basically, just a rich middle eastern guy opening up his shop in NYC with no idea on how to run a business in America. There was no training, compensation was shit, and the job just didn’t make sense. AT ALL. At 22 years old I was supposed to call big brand companies and convince them to sell their products to us as a brick and mortar store (which we were not) then we would resell the products wholesale to other countries. At the times, I wasn’t sure if I was doing something illegal, after all we were lying to these companies saying we were selling in the US when we weren’t.
But I did learn a lot of lessons about work culture and what to expect in a job:
Some jobs are bullshit. Like, where no one knows what they’re doing or how they’ll accomplish company goals and employees are just scrapping along. This was that bullshit job.
Not all companies are well managed or care for their employees. I had absolutely no benefits or much time off. There was no goals or standards set. It was just,”do this,” “do that,” “get this done.”
Bad jobs are just so much better when you’re working with a friend. After a while the work culture just got too stressful and I brought in my friend to work with me. It was fun, even if the job wasn’t perfect.
I ended up getting my real estate license shortly after. I realized that the employment aspect of having to work for someone else, for example being told what to do and not having control over the ideas or the direction of the company, really got under my skin.
I ended up working as a junior real estate agent after that.
But this job ended up having another set of problems. I was essentially an entrepreneur as a real estate salesperson but I had no idea how to get clients or close them or even how to manage my day since it was unstructured. Because I was unexperienced, I had to take an apprenticeship as a junior agent under a more experienced agent. This was a great stepping stone but I basically worked for free for a few months. The commission structure was predatory and I was making a slice out of a slice of someone’s pie.
Here I learned:
-When it comes to money, people are sharks, they are relentless, they will throw you under the bus, and do whatever it takes to save a few dollars. It amazed me that these clients who made a six figure income and more could be so stingy with their time and money. I could literally lose a deal (my little commission) over a $100 misunderstanding.
-That finding a mentor is hard. As a junior agent, my mentor was only concerned about making money for himself, not necessarily about helping me grow professionally.
-That being self employed makes you a slave to the clients who can demand you provide your services to them at odd hours, reduce your rate and determine your schedule. I was showing apartments in the evening after their work hours and on weekends. I had to move my schedule around constantly. Clients would try to pit agents against each other over fee costs. Long-term it kind of sucked.
After that I became pregnant and needed to take some time off. That’s a whole different story, but after giving birth I had to quickly get back to work in order to avoid financial ruin.
This next job was a godsend. It was near perfect. It paid well (more than it should). It was a luxury experience, the office was beautiful and had water, candies, snacks and coffee for us. My colleagues were great and promoted a positive work culture. I was just the receptionist but the job was easy, pleasant and without major responsibilities. My favorite job ever! And my colleagues were awesome, we really were able to work well together and build a long term friendship. Life was good. But this was a contract position so it was a project that had an end date.
Here I learned:
That good jobs where you are happy and not being preyed on exist.
That the job landscape can change. When the contract ended, I was out of a job and had to figure out “what’s next.” And to be honest, I never found such a high paying job with low stress again after that. It was a unicorn.
After, I decided to be a real estate agent again. But on my own, without a mentor and without being someone’s junior agent. I ended up joining a brokerage I liked and starting my business. I was successful at the end of 2 years with referral business and finally knowing how to be my own boss.
But then my husband lost his job and another more stable employment opportunity came up.
But in those 2 years working for myself and building a business, I learned:
-Working for yourself is awesome if you’re successful but it still has its financial challenges. Money would be tight one month and flow the next. It was so inconsistent and hard to budget. There were no benefits like PTO or even insurance. I was 100% on my own for those things. Clients were still shitty at times and there was no recourse for when I was treated badly.
-Your job doesn’t always flow with your life. In the end, I had to walk away from opportunities because after my husband lost his job I needed to take something more stable with benefits. Because of life changes I had to cut my potential. Who knows, I might have been the next millionaire broker, but I never got the chance.
Finally, I settled to where I am now, a corporate company. 10 years in the professional workforce, I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that the perfect job doesn’t exist, not for me and probably not for anyone. Right now, I’ve been going through some problems of not liking my coworkers, toxic corporate culture, dealing with an unfair sales environment (most of them are), and a terrible long commute.
And yet, 10 years ago this would have been my dream job. I’m paid a livable wage, an array of benefits at low cost, a job that’s somewhat “luxury” with the kind of clientele I service and steady hours. And yet I’m still not 100% happy.
Now I’ve learned to work with what you’ve got but, at the same time, aspire for something more. The truth is if I settled on my job and that bad work culture, I would have been stuck at that sketchy office as a purchaser.
So I take it for what it is. I’m finally somewhere I can stay for a while, and though it’s not the perfect job, it’s the perfect job for right now.
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