Everyone has had a bad job experience—perhaps your boss was incompetent, your daily assignments were beyond boring, or you didn’t feel comfortable in the environment.
In searching for an internship or new job, you don’t always know what you’re walking into. And, unfortunately, some of those new career opportunities don’t turn out to be as great as you’d hoped.
Overcome that experience and move on to bigger and better things by doing the following:
Don’t dwell on the negative aspects. Although the job or internship might have been downright awful, constantly talking badly about your former employer and complaining about the experience doesn’t do either party any good. In fact, it might make you look bad to future employers or burn bridges at the offending organization. You may still need to use the former employer as a reference—so avoid burning bridges, no matter how terrible the situation.
Think about what the experience taught you. You’ve likely learned some very valuable lessons from your bad experience. These lessons can help you determine your ideal future career path. For example:
- Supervisor preferences – what did you dislike about your supervisor at past experiences? What did you like? What will you look for in future bosses?
- Environment needs – was the culture of the organization right for you? If it wasn’t, what made you uncomfortable?
- Your passion/interests – look back at the assignments and tasks you had at the bad experience. What didn’t you enjoy about those tasks? What type of project was the most interesting to you? Where do your passions lie?
Prevent it from happening again. A bad past experience can give you a clear idea of the position you desire for the future. You’ll now know exactly what to look for in your ideal environment (and the red flags of a bad workplace). Carefully check out new opportunities before applying by reading through company and employee information.
If you make it to the interview round, ask key questions to determine if it’s the right fit for you. After all, an interview isn’t just about the employer! The employer indirectly benefits if you decide it’s not right for you before accepting the position—they can find someone who is a better fit and will stick around longer than you may have.
Did you have a bad internship or job experience at some point in your career? What did you gain out of the situation?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.