Bristol,  Graphic Design

What a way to make a living

Since leaving university, which was oh.my.lord, nearly 10 years ago, I’ve worked at some great places and some not-so-great places. The first batch were my ‘I’m saving up to go travelling’ funding jobs, before moving onto jobs more related to my degree.

I enjoyed those initial post grad years, meeting people at work who were still at Uni and pretending I too, was still a student. Eventually I accepted the fact that my saving for travelling wasn’t going well (probably due to the fact I was living the life of a student and was hopeless at saving money) and started looking for a job that I studied for. It wasn’t until I got my first job in Bristol, as a Web Producer, that I felt I’d finally made into the real world of work. I spent the next three and half years working my way up to a Front End Developer role and learning so much from the team I was in, it was a wonderful introduction to my career and I was excited about where it would take me.

Unfortunately when I moved on from this role to specialise in the development of emails at another company, I couldn’t quite believe how good I’d had it at my last job. During my first week I’d spent evenings under the duvet, crying about the terrible mistake I’d made, I wrote for and against lists, comparing my last job to the current one and contacting the recruitment company, telling them I’d been miss-sold the role. They were obviously keen for me to stay on and convinced me that they’d placed other applicants there and they were getting on really well. I was only a week in, so I decided to toughen up and give it at least a month. Those months eventually turned into two years – two whole years of hating my job, having it make me unhappy before eventually getting up the courage to leave without having a job to go to.

The relief I felt was incredible and the satisfaction of knowing I’d removed myself from such a toxic environment was all I needed to begin to feel myself again. I’m very lucky in that I had a partner who could support me both emotionally and financially, allowing me to make such a decision. Not everyone is that lucky so I thought I’d share what I’d learnt from this experience and help those who are perhaps in a similar situation. Our careers take up a big proportion of our lives so it’s important to make sure to ask these questions before accepting an offer.

Will I be valued?

What is the company culture like?

Will I be challenged?

Have the opportunity to learn new things?

Do I have a manager that supports me?

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to work somewhere that truly values their staff until I started working at my current job.

Following the bad work experiences, I’ve tried to make use of the initial interviews as a chance to not only get over why I’d be a good fit but work out if the company is right for me. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting along with the people interviewing you – quite important when you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them.

My current employee is a small yet perfectly formed, albeit growing company, where for the most part everyone seems more like friends than co-workers. There is a plethora amount of benefits including Christmas shut down, day off for your birthday, Christmas/Summer parties, team outings, cycle to work scheme, and a great location.

Overall the company culture is bang on. The atmosphere is positive, and everyone works hard for our clients as a team, there is no pushing the workload onto other departments when deadlines get shorter or they’re feeling the pressure. Also, no name-blaming. That’s a refreshing one for me.

There is a hierarchy, of course, but you barely notice it. As long as work is getting done, everyone is super laid-back. Managers also take the time out to make sure you’re happy, enjoying your role and being challenged. Roles can often be mis-sold, and they can take an unexpected turn that you either relish, and think ‘Hang on a minute, I didn’t expect this, but I love it’ (obviously the preferred outcome) or you can become disheartened because you don’t like where things are going.

The teams here are big on innovating too, learning all there is to know and being experts in our field. You are offered plenty of guidance whilst learning too, especially when you’re a newbie. There’s plenty to take on-board, which takes a bit of patience, but they encourage people to get fully stuck in once they’re more settled.

These days you may struggle to come across a company that isn’t offering flexi-time, so it doesn’t feel like a huge surprise when it’s on offer. A big benefit that gives you the opportunity to work hours that suit your work-life balance. I can now get into work early and leave in time to beat the queues to my favourite burger restaurant. Win!

All of this amongst other things makes for a really great working environment. Ultimately if employees are happy and the company is rewarding them, you’ve found yourself a good ‘un.

I used to say I had big regrets about my last job but sometimes you need those bad experiences to know when something good comes along.

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