“I’m not sure if anyone has ever told you this, but your career can break your heart too.
As I think back to the day I graduated college, I remember how exciting that day was. All my family traveled to see me walk across the stage smiling from ear to ear. I wore the brightest hot pink stilettos I could find so that my family would know it was me when I walked to my seat. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. As I walked across the stage, the Chancellor stopped me. My heart sank thinking he was about to tell me I didn’t actually graduate. I’ll never forget what he said. He leaned into me and said ‘you have the best shoes here,’ we both laughed and I knew it would always be one of the happiest moments of my life. I was a college graduate, there was nothing standing in my way and I was going to be so happy because I knew what I was going to do for a career. Two months later I began my career, I was so excited, so giddy, so ecstatic. I just couldn’t contain myself. I actually found a job in my degree field, and I couldn’t wait to get through training and be on my own. Five months later I was accepted and started grad school. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to grad school and working full time at a career I loved. I even graduated from grad school a semester early and had a Master’s degree! I still to this day cannot believe I have a freaking Master’s degree. I was so unbelievably proud of myself, I did it!
I was excelling at my career. I attended every training I could sign up for, I volunteered for every certification I could get, and I went on three conferences in a year. I loved my job, my coworkers, my career, and I could not believe how I happy I was. After 4.5 years I transferred to a different unit in my department, a unit I knew I always wanted to be a part of since I started. Everything was going great and I was so happy, until I wasn’t.
I had been in my new unit for almost a year and a half when I noticed a strong shift in management and how new hires were being trained. The upper management team became individuals who were young and very eager to move up, to the point where everyone below them became just a number. I felt like every morning was a cattle call and that employees were no longer trusted. We were only numbers to management. I started to notice when we would hire 10 people, only 2 or 3 would actually make it through training without quitting. The department I worked in had just over 350 employees. Over the course of the last 2 to 3 years, veteran employees and veteran management were forced to retire or they were placed somewhere within the department where they would be miserable and eventually quit. This career that I loved for so many years, had taken a turn for the worse. Supervisors no longer cared about the morale of their units, and upper management certainly made it clear employee happiness was not their responsibility. More work was pushed on to us, making it impossible to get everything completed. And when a mistake was made due to having so much work, people were getting written up or fired. The job that I was so happy to go to every morning, that I didn’t even want to leave at the close of business, suddenly sent me into a depression and caused me to have such bad anxiety that I could not even get out of bed in the morning. We were all walking on eggshells, we were all miserable. I started seeing a therapist because I loved the job, but the upper management I was working for made life at work a living hell. The department made it impossible to file grievances, and most who did file grievances had it completely back fire on them. The department quickly got rid of the human resources department, and instructed us to direct any grievance or concerns to our Assistant Director, who had no experience in human resources or employee relations.
The day I turned in my two weeks’ notice, I didn’t have any job prospects, I didn’t have a plan, I just knew that if I stayed that place would suck the life out of me. If I would have stayed, I would have ended up being miserable and gone down the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety. I hated leaving my coworkers, they were my second family. I cried as I packed up my desk, but my supervisor didn’t even say two words to me. She just handed me my last two employee evaluations and walked out of my office. Her actions that day made me realize I was making the best decision of my career and for myself.
A few months later I started a new job with a smaller department doing the same work. I love my job again, I love my supervisor, I love my work again. The commute is longer, but coming to work every day and knowing that you’re not just a number, that upper management cares about you, makes the longer commute worth it. Honestly, I would drive a million miles if it meant going to a job that actually valued their employees. I still miss my old coworkers and the big city I used to work in, but nothing is worth sacrificing your mental health. An employer should value their employees. Of course you will never be able to make everyone happy, but, if anyone who is in upper management thinks that the morale of your department is not your responsibility, NEWS FLASH, it starts from the top. People don’t leave jobs, they leave toxic work environments. There are still jobs out there that care about their employees and show employee appreciation. Don’t get sucked into a negative work environment, go somewhere that appreciates you and all you have to offer.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cortney McBride. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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