the worst jobs ever

I’ve had a bit of extra time to think this week- being down with the lurgy and all- and I decided if there was ever a time to tell the world about the worst jobs I’ve ever had, then this is it. Reading someone’s tweet about how hard it is to get a job made the alarm bells ring and got me round to mentally writing this post. So when searching for that job, whether it’s your first after uni or another one to climb that elusive ladder, I hope you have better luck than I ever did.
 I’ve had a lot of jobs, so when I say Worst Jobs, I’m not talking about the time I worked at O’Neill selling wetsuits to customers. In the dead of winter. In Central London. I’m talking about the stuff that the Daily Mail would have a field day with. Let’s rewind to 2005…
Worst Job No. 3
 
Ahh, the lovely summer of 2005. This summer, a few months after graduating from Uni with my media degree, I was working part time at Urban Outfitters and in a moment of panic, thinking I was getting stuck in a work rut, I placed an ad on Gumtree declaring myself a keen and clever graduate just wanting the chance to get her foot through the door. I didn’t really think it would work. Oh except it did.
 Someone answered my ad, a corporate media production company, and they invited me over for a chat and to maybe get some work experience with them. They were even a short walk from my flat in Kilburn. It all seemed peachy keen! The person I chatted with seemed down to earth and like a nice guy. I could work around my hours at UO and do a few hours at this agency. For the next few weeks my routine would be 9am-3pm at the agency and then I would run off to start the shift of my actual paid job at Urban from 4-10pm. Yep, those were some ‘awesome’ hours!
 Eventually I decided to quit my retail job.  Only because I felt working at the agency was at least a step in the right direction. By then I was able to claim some sort of payment with them every time I either covered Reception or helped some Freelancers out with Photoshop etc And that’s where it went wrong!
 One week I covered Reception, I ran errands, I helped out on a ton of projects- I was a demon. Cheerfully I submitted an invoice for £300. It had been a busy week and I felt proud of myself. BUT the guy who hired me was away on leave and I was left to deal with a miserable little man in his place. He was not happy with my invoice, in fact he was incredulous that I managed to reach that fine lump sum of £300! He agreed to pay it, but after that I was on his firing line…for instance:
 I wore a knee length pencil skirt one day and he pointed at it in disgust and said “what is that” as if I was wearing a Jodie Marsh style ensemble. He stuck me on Reception so often I couldn’t help on projects. I never got the teas and coffees quick enough for him. And the final straw…they brought in another ‘work experience’ person. With learning difficulties.
 So while I was lumped at Reception, guess who got sent on trips to Amsterdam. The new guy. Who got to sit downstairs in the Technical department, while I was stuck upstairs fetching tea? The new guy.
 I really did feel like I was being punished. I was also royally fed up with the slimy prick and one day when making the Post Office run…I just never went back.
Worst Job No. 2
Keeping it within 2005, I temped at a Solicitor’s office with my best friend. She warned me he was an absolute bastard, but the money was good. So for 6 weeks, the pair of us endured his shouting tantrums and his sexual innuendos- he would often refer to his third leg, I kid you not- the guy was a Grade A nutjob.
 To this day, walking past that street in Paddington gives us both the heebie jeebies.
 Lesson learnt- no amount of money is worth it!
Worst Job No.1
 
What could possibly top sexual harassment and bullying?
 Well, humiliation.
 I can deal with bullies, I can deal with divas. But being humiliated is one hell of a confidence knocker.
 I once got the chance to freelance at a startup company in Soho, run by two young guys who seemed pretty nice at first. They hired me because “we think you’d bring a new dynamic to the team
My job was to put together a DVD game quiz and so for the first couple of weeks I put together some questions, made a few licence queries etc. They also hired another guy alongside me, who was super arrogant and condescending. I could list all the cock ups he made, whereas I got stuck in and did the work I was meant to do. I was Rory Gilmore style engrossed in my project.
 My ideas for projects were batted away as being ‘too London’ and my chatter about the previous night’s episode of Ugly Betty were met with the sound of crickets. But I kept it up. This is why they wanted me, right?
 Then one morning, as I sat at my laptop, the guy who hired me called me over to the table next to  mine- as if a couple of feet away would be more private- I should have realised when Arrogant Guy cleared his throat and went off for a coffee that something was up. I gathered up all my notes and was about to launch into an update…when he said “We’ve decided not to ask you to stay…you just don’t fit into the dynamic of our office”
 
 I felt my face go hot, I could hear my heart thudding, and the tears threatening to fall. I stuttered an optimistic “sure! that’s ok!” for some bizarre reason as if it was all hunky dory. I handed over my keys, gathered up my handbag and walked out. The other two men in the office hung their heads down suddenly focused on their desks.
 It took me a long time to get my confidence back. I had nothing but glowing references from  previous employers. I just couldn’t work out what I had done wrong. Luckily, I got a job with an amazing bunch of people and over time I slowly felt better.
 I once walked past one of them in Soho, and purposefully made eye contact. He gave me a bright Hello and I carried on walking, ignoring the douche. I’ve googled the company to see what they’re up to. And, it appears their startup never…started up.
Karma, baby.
Have you got any horror stories? Share them!

Author: Angela Shek

just a clueless mama in East London

10 thoughts on “the worst jobs ever”

  1. Sounds like you worked with some right douchebags!! – My worst job whilst at uni was at a 'sports promotions' company. The add seemed pretty suspect when it said “no experience required” and “travellers welcome” but I went to the interview. I should have been alarmed by the state of the office and the basic setup but I was young, naive and just wanted a job. Basically it was a door to door sales position flogging raffle tickets/merchandise for local sports teams for an umbrella company called “Cobra”. If that wasnt enough to be frazzled, at the end of the day if you beat your own sales quota the team would stand in a circle and clap while you ran around and high-fived everyone…needless to say I quit after one week…yeeeeessshhhh

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  2. **essay approaching**The conditions for a young graduate – or even when you've been working for several years and are supposedly 'established' as I am – totally vary from place to place. I've had some terrible experiences alongside some brilliant ones. The truth is – especially in the entertainment and media industries – there is no HR structure whatsoever (and if it exists, it's a joke). It infuriates me when I read headlines that young people don't know what they're doing in the office, because in my experience the only people who don't know how to behave in an office are the bitchy, entitled older employees, who seem to think their tenure is equivocal to what rules they can bend. I read a lot of articles constantly berating graduates about getting fired etc, but with the way current government legislation is, there is absolutely no protection for anyone when you've first started a job. Therefore companies exploit young people and their naivety terribly. Graduate schemes, free internships… etc etc – adding more and more and more hoops for you to jump through to 'prove' yourself to an (often tiny) company. And for what? A free gym membership and a LinkedIn recommendation? Do one, thank you very much.Not that having a job isn't important – of course it is – but I would advise anyone to know their boundaries and also know when not to take any shit. I'm completely self-funded in London and I've certainly had bumps along the way – even maniacal colleagues whose faces still haunt my nightmares (!) – but I've stayed afloat because I've tried not to worry about it and determinedly told myself that I wasn't going to let other people's personal problems dictate my career or tell me I wasn't talented. My advice to anyone in an awful job – or who has just been fired – is to take a moment and then get back to fighting the good fight, and force yourself to feel confident. Always be professional to the letter, gracious, kind and humble. (Ironically, you can do all of these things and still fall foul – sometimes it actually incites them!) Pride yourself on being kickass and awesome and the rest will eventually follow. *rant over*Loved this post Angela, you're so funny xxxWolfMoonSister

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  3. I meant to add to this – it does get better – four or five years is often the 'experience tipping point' – and then people begin to respect you & what you do. Keep on truckin', grad-land coz you rock xx

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  4. we have a Grad Scheme at work and I'm so surprised every year at how confident and mature they all are! totally agree with you about the experience tipping point. At the time I was just so worried about getting enough relevant work experience and put so much pressure on myself to be in a good 'media' job that I went along with every crazy job that came my way. A Scherzinger style, no no no baby no!

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  5. Even though this was titled “worst jobs” it was still fun to read! I'm only 17 and a busy girl with school and sports so I don't have any worst job experiences yet, but I'm sure I will as the time comes, even though I hope I don't!

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  6. During my gap year I worked in telemarketing for a hotel chain privilege card. Pretty dull stuff until some guy on the other end threatened me with a bomb. Turns out the telemarketer last year made some unrealistic promises on hotel privileges which somehow became my problem.. Also being told 'no' then hung-up on over and over for several weeks takes a toll on your general well-being. On the plus-side, it made me become a better and more patient person when telemarketers ring. I say 'No Thank You' then hang up.

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