It wasn’t the end of the world.

It certainly felt like it might be though. The months before my eventual escape were filled with self-doubt, stress eating, short tempers and the certainty there must be something better.

No, I’m not talking about a bad relationship … well, actually I am, but not one with another person. My life-changing (at least for the moment) break-up came last week after a two-and-a-half year relationship with my job.

It wasn’t always so hard to be happy with a job. My first summer job in high school was with the short-lived Tyler Wildcatters, a minor league baseball team.

That first summer was magical. Minimum wage went really far before I started driving or discovered Starbucks. The independence of having a “real job” was only slightly marred by the reality of the actual work involved. I spent hours on my feet and came home at night smelling like stale popcorn and I loved every minute of it.

That first job spoiled me. Sure the pay was low and the hours left something to be desired, but it was interesting and fun and there was always something fresh about it. It never bored me. From then on, I couldn’t stand to entertain the thought of applying for any job that didn’t excite me or teach me something new.

Since the Wildcatters, I worked as an archery, riflery and climbing instructor (not all at the same time, that would be dangerous), bookkeeper and office manager, research assistant, party planner and event manager.

Finally I discovered graphic design and have actually stuck with it for about five years now. It doesn’t involve popcorn and sticky soda, but seeing my hard work become a printed product can almost compete with the huge crowds of people and loud games that gave my Wildcatters job such a spark.

I am by no means an expert on employment but in my professional journey I’ve picked up a few tidbits that may come in handy.

the basics

Chaotic workday schedules and less-than-ideal wages are common in entry level positions and at first may seem like temporary inconveniences that will disappear with experience and seniority.

However, not all jobs have room for advancement, raises or flextime so don’t count on those schedules changing or those tiny paychecks growing anytime soon. Sometimes the job just is what it is.

-benefits

Don’t underestimate the frills and freebies. Company health insurance, tuition reimbursement, paid vacations and holidays and even free gym memberships can beef up a meager salary.

So if that dream job comes with a wimpy pricetag, don’t cross it off the list without getting all the details.

-job description

Make sure to get a good idea of your job description before your first day on the job. How are the responsibilities divided among the staff? What is a typical day like?

Be careful about accepting a job for which you are overqualified because you might be expected to perform outside your job description without any additional compensation .

-evaluate the surroundings

Work surroundings can have a huge effect on your morale as an employee.

If you look around the office and can’t picture yourself working there happily for a long time, you might want to keep looking.

When your potential future boss interviews you, make sure to interview him or her back to get a clear picture of the job.

Make sure your boss knows more than you do. If not, you may find yourself exasperated when you’re doing that job too.

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