This post has been inspired by one of Liz’s ever interesting questions and one of Andressa’s posts, along with the comments it sparked (Romanian only, sorry). That’s the inspiration, the reasons are several: first, because I used to be an inexperienced student that worked for extremely low salaries for about a year, because I know how it’s like to agree to go through an “unpaid trial period’, which is completely illegal, because later on I saw what subjectivity means, how the income is not everything one should care when choosing a job over another, a company over another, a line of business over another.

Relationships, personal or business, are almost always very tricky. There are some who will try to take advantage of circumstances, lack of information and experience, or of constraints to have all the benefits while leaving all responsibility to the other party involved. And yes, the more inexperienced ones of us are more likely to fall in such traps. Therefore, I have a few things to pass on, take it as advice, as tips, as what I’ve learn after being in that position. Most of them are work related, but can be sucessfuly taken into consideration when analyzing other types of relationships.

First, you have to be positive and optimistic. Never try to find a job, make a friend or start a love relationship thinking you are not worth it, it’s out of your league, that will never happen to you. You’ll just end up depressed, you’ll stop trusting yourself and become your worst enemy.

Be realistic. Optimism should never lead to overrating your skills, your knowledge or your limits. Thinking you can learn something is one thing, believing you know it all is another. Thinking you can go on for months working all night, going to school in the morning and sleeping up to 5 hours during the day is crazy! I did that for about 5 months, I would have carried on for longer (thank God for other things going wrong at the time) and it I still have some sleep pattern issues to deal with.

Learn everything about your rights and responsibilities. No one is ever doing you a personal favor when hiring you. They might prefer you for personal reasons. But the actual hiring is based on that person’s belief you are able to complete the tasks they want to assign to you. So allowing them not to pay you during your “three weeks trial” is not ok. Also, thinking you can just stay there in the office and do nothing is not going to work out either.

Also, companies are required to offer you training (paid by the company) or allow you to train yourself during 2 weeks of paid leave of absence. Yes, dear students, if you want to take your exams (which means educate and train yourself) and the company has not offered any training in the past year, you are entitled to being paid during those to weeks you spend running from one exam room to another.

When your current job turns out to be too stressful, to far from what was promised, when it makes you feel abused and overworked and it is completely opposed to your values and standards, first make sure it’s not just an idea of yours. In most cases, it isn’t. Then decide if what they pay you is enough to compensate. Again, in most cases, it’s not. If you put a price tag on relaxation hours, psychologists, stress related illnesses and allergies, and all the time you waste recovering after a day in the office instead of living, you’ll also see you come in short.

Start looking for a different position! See what others see in you: your abilities, your experience, your value. Don’t go back to the negative attitude thinking you will never find a better job. Ask around, send some CVs, go to a bunch of interviews. Say you don’t get called for a second interview. Don’t panic, don’t decide not to try again. Finding a job takes time.

Maybe your line of business allows you to find people who’d rather pay for your advice and only for part of your time. See if you can find 4 or 5 such companies or individuals. Maybe starting your own company is the solution. Sounds hard? Did you ever try to find out what is actually needed? Why not try it now?

None of the above options is good for you? You should try to find out why. Maybe the you should change fields, learn some new skills, do some more reading or take some classes. There are always options.

Life, as you all know, is short. There are always problems. To quote a “Friends” character: “Welcome to the real world! It sucks! You’re gonna love it!”. Given these two characteristics, making unneeded compromises and settling for less that what would make not necessarily happy, but at least comfortable, is not an option. In all relationships, your main asset is yourself. You should know what you’re worth to you and to others. When that part is figured out, you should know what you want and how to get it.

I am sure I am far from having exhausted all good advice applicable. So I ask you, my readers, to jump in with new thoughts and examples. In the end, we learn everyday!

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