4 Reasons to Stay in a Bad IT Job
There's no such thing as a perfect job. All jobs come with challenges, but usually, those challenges can be managed easily enough. And then there are those other jobs. The ones that become the stuff of urban legend, that evolve into cautionary tales, and become fuel for old-timers' stories that always seem to start with, "When I was your age, I had to work with floppy disks and our servers were bigger than most cars today!"
But sometimes, you just have to stick it out in a bad IT job. Here are a few reasons to suck it up, put on your big boy/girl pants, and learn to persevere.
1. Get a Reality Check
This is the part of the post where we sit you down for a little chat. "You see, son/daughter, we've noticed your attitude has been changing. You haven't been very easy to get along with lately, and your mother and I are getting tired of it."
Seriously though, some IT folks have a certain disdain for, well, people. More specifically, their end users. If that elicited an annoyed grunt or sigh of disdain, then you probably need to pay attention. From one IT pro to another, you just have to get over it. Your job is to help these people. Yes, they drive us nuts. Yes, they open tickets because "Facebook is down," or "I poured a latte on my laptop," or "My hard drive won't unboot."
You say "but their job is to use their computers everyday, can't they figure out basic troubleshooting?" No, that's your job. If you drive everyday, can you identify every problem with your car? No, you're not a mechanic, and they aren't sysadmins. Their job is to do their job, your job is to help them when they can't do their job, so don't be this guy with your words or demeanor.
Don't job hop, thinking that the grass will be greener on the other side. If you're annoyed at people in your current job, you're probably going to be annoyed at people anywhere. Maybe it's your management because they won't let you replace old hardware or they drag out pointless projects. At a new job, something will eventually frustrate you even more and the common denominator is you.
If this sounds painfully familiar, you might just have to suck it up. Your job might not be quite as bad as you think it is. Try an attitude adjustment before you ditch what might be a decent job.
2. The Usual Collateral Damage
Okay, now that everyone's feelings are hurt, let's address the obvious things about leaving a job, assuming you don't have another one lined up.
The day has come, you're fed up and can't take it anymore. You march into your boss' office, announce your immediate departure, and head out. Halfway home though, you have an alarming realization: you have no job, no income, no insurance, no good answer to why you left your last job, a nice employment gap to put on your resume, and you left a trail of burnt bridges.
Leaving a job without another lined up is foolish, no matter how much of a nightmare your job is. So, don't do anything rash. Keep your head down and get through another day until you can work your IT magic and land another opportunity before you run screaming from your current role.
3. You're Not Ready to Move Up
Most freshly-minted IT pros start in help desk and find no shortage of things there to gripe about. Yes, it sucks. It will suck anywhere. One can only take so much fixing printers or advising to reboot and try again. If you're frustrated, then leaving for a new help desk job somewhere else after six months because you aren't happy is not an improvement (see our discussion about greener grass above). Do you want really want to make a lateral move? No, you want to move up.
But you need more experience, which means sticking it out where you are and learning about everything in your environment from every admin who will talk to you. Ask management if they'll pay for classes, certifications, or a CBT Nuggets subscription. Get your CompTIA A+ and Network+. Find the niche that you want to grow into and take responsibility for growing your career.
Maybe your job, management, company culture, and benefits are all great! It's just that you spent all your time learning about networking, building a home lab, getting your CCNA, but you're still stuck daily imaging laptops or running cable. All the better reason to stay put! A great employer is worth the time to and energy to pay your dues. Talk to management and set expectations and goals for what you want to learn and where you want to be.
4. Learning Perseverance and Resilience
Go read Theodore Roosevelt's speech The Man in the Arena. We'll wait.
There's real value in learning how to persevere and build resilience. No job is perfect, just like no IT pro is perfect (shocking, we know). But learning to cope with little annoyances (or big ones) makes you better, and not just as an IT pro, but as a human being too. If this IT gig was easy, everyone would do it. So, go ahead. Strive valiantly. Spend yourself in a worthy cause. Earn your triumph of high achievement as you dare greatly.
Maybe it's too easy today to job hop. Maybe you have the skills to land your choice of jobs. But maybe it's worth sticking it out for all the reasons above. Maybe becoming resilient will benefit you more in the long term than looking for the perfect job. Maybe grit and striving hard are worth answering your millionth help desk call because you realize that you have a plan to work toward something better in your career and sitting tight will serve you better than bailing out.
Hold fast fellow admin, it's hellish today, but it will all pay off tomorrow!
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