Was I Right to Quit my Toxic Job?
Not every job is the best job for you!
When I was obtaining my MBA last year, I had a challenging time finding an entry-level corporate job that aligned with my skills and personality. It has been hard to even get past the ATS screening. The frustration you feel when you get an automated rejection letter is one thing. But, when you are used to it, you become numb to the negative response. Imagine it is still June 2021, you have just graduated and are still jobless, remaining hopeful you will figure out what the next stage of your career will entail. Then, within the drop of a hat, you get a call from a cousin about a job opportunity working for a big-name wholesale lending firm. Woo! You just scored a career win!
My cousin helps me set up an interview with my recruiter. A friendly, kind-hearted spirit she was. Showing me around the work environment, explaining the company's why, and having this overall cheerful outlook about her. At first, it made me feel good about my chances there but, something felt off. For some reason, I was feeling like my sociable recruiter was not telling me the full story. Like there was a missing puzzle piece I needed to determine the full picture. I should have kept listening to my gut that day. Would have saved me some trouble. As wise people say, "When something is too good to be true, then it probably is."
What went south to rubbish
Despite my uneasy feelings, being in a unique environment and having a new experience made me feel like it was the start of a career in the financial services industry. Underwriting mortgages can be boring and standard routine but, being a part of a client's journey by helping them become homeowners should be a job to take part in. In the first week of training, the leaders tell you that is what it is all about. They get you to buy into the culture due to the reality of them finding success within the company. However, I learned quickly things were not as they seemed.
The first week of training was great and standard. After that, the atmosphere progressively became unpredictable and stressful. First, I started to notice how disorganized the training was. Paid training is all said and good but the preparation was not sufficient enough to keep underwriters effective in their work. Every day, a new rule from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac was added to the industry, and my company had no contingency plan to keep up. A 10-week to efficiently perform a job that takes months to get perfect was impossible. Someone once asked in training if the class can translate things slower and our trainers would say, "Well, this is how things are done on the floor, you get used to it." That was the first red flag.
The next red tape came from a lack of proper health protocols. What I did not know at first was during August 2020, the company was in the hot seat for not placing proper protocols to keep employees safe, and because of it, resulted in a COVID-19 breakout from the site. The local county government was forcing the firm to go remote. By June 2021, the boss wanted everyone to come back to the office. Remote work was non-negotiable in his eyes. From that point on, COVID-19 was treated as nonexistent. This was the rule: "If you're vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask. If you are unvaccinated, it is recommended you wear a mask." That was it. There was no health monitoring, no required proof of vaccinations, nothing useful. In my training building, including me, I can count on two hands how many people were actually taking the virus seriously. At that point, I knew the job was not for me. But what else occurred on my last week there, confirmed my decision to leave was solid.
The Last Straw
The icing on the cake was listening to the CEO completely disregard the concerns from what he likes to don as "his family." This man was standing on the podium and completely shut down our concerns. When increasing wages were brought up, he said, "Even with our increasing production numbers and increasing market share, it cannot be done at this time." Health-and-safety protocols were mentioned. His response: "Well we strongly care about the health and safety of our family but there are currently no recent changes to the policies relating to COVID-19." Option to work remotely? "In order to make the employees a family here, we must be close. I do not see how remote work will achieve that." After that meeting, I could not wait to leave.
Was it right?
These past two years have shown employers and employees alike the benefits of a remote-friendly organization. My job as an underwriter was fully capable of being 100% remote. However, after witnessing the egotistical convictions of the CEO during the meeting, I decided that it was the final act I could tolerate. A boss's leadership and vision can make or break the company. Sitting there at the orientation, listening to this man speak and be more concerned with the financial and production performances than our wellbeing. My uneasy feelings got confirmation. So, I did what I had to: QUIT! On August 27, 2021, I turned in my badge and drove home.
I will put it out there right now and say that yes, I am still looking for a job. But I will also say that I was 100% right in quitting this job after two months. Between the 'smoke and mirrors' politics, extremely low pay, and lack of proper health safety protocols, I knew that my choice is the right one. I might sound crazy, but I stay stuck in the interviewing process and find better opportunities than to work for a company that does not consider the needs of the employees. I am stubborn with my well-being, as I should be. Why? Because what good is living life if all you do is work at a company that will take years off your life due to the fact that their personality SUCKS?
Balancing My Next Steps
That two-month experience made me reflect a great deal. The first thing I understood is to never accept just any job. Remember and respect your value, because only you will care about it. The next learned lesson is that sometimes in order to get to the next level, you have to go through the mud. For me, my next level in life is about bettering my financial wealth and gaining experience to become more marketable in the job search. Now, I could have gone through the mud for a few more months until I found something better. If I stayed, I would have more experience now if I am honest. However, I still stick by my decision with no regrets. Because I want to work within an environment that is as close to my balance as possible.
My professional balance simply refers to not compromising my integrity while I am making money. I know now more than ever that I can manage to work for someone else but, if they express an opinion or behavior that causes unfair tension and animosity within their organization's work culture, I refuse to support them and will drop them like a bad habit. I am okay with being back on the job hunt and putting my well-being first. Money is important but, so is establishing boundaries and knowing your limits. Find your worth. Find your balance.