The Highs and Lows of Stepping-Stone Jobs

It’s easy to fall into complacency while working various small jobs throughout college. We go from one to another, often without thinking much of them or of their affect on us. However, perhaps we should be approaching these opportunities differently? As Simone suggests, there could be more to be sought and gained from stepping-stone jobs.  

Through the Motions

Unless you’re a billionaire or extraordinarily privileged, like most of the twenty-something’s in society, at some point you’ll eventually work a wide range of stepping stone jobs. My experience working these jobs has been overall bittersweet and challenging. While it’s been great having a chance to be employed and make an okay living, most of the time I’ve found myself, as well as many other twenty-something’s, to be overworked, underpaid, and sometimes frustrated, all the while facing the reality of juggling a job and responsibilities; in order to survive one must work, right?

I’ve worked at jobs that I strongly disliked. The feelings of dread that poured over me as I pulled into work each day were overwhelming. Each time I’d arrived for my shift, I felt that I was wasting my time and dying inside. My inner voice was crying, “we’ve got to get out of here.”

Growing Pains

I went through a period where I couldn’t afford to stay in school, and took some time off to work as a child care provider. The job offered decent hours, weekends and holidays off; it was okay pay for a part-time position. I was initially sold on it, but eventually grew weary of doing something that I wasn’t passionate about. I was stuck. Along with this weariness came misery, complaining, and frustration that led me to a consultation with God. I told Him, “I don’t like this. I’m miserable and unhappy. Please help.” In hindsight my mindset could’ve been better, but I couldn’t ignore the triggers guiding my inner-self towards doing something better with my time.

God was trying to show and tell me in so many ways that while childcare was a temporary provision, it wasn’t a place for me to get comfortable. One of the biggest problems was that I didn’t have the adequate amount of faith to just walk away from a job I didn’t like and work through my feelings of complacency. Some concerned family members and friends encouraged me to look for employment elsewhere and to pray about it. I did those things and for a long time, it looked like nothing was going to happen.

Eventually, I was threatened with being released from my position, and after serving suspensions at the hands of supervisors (it’s likely God put things like this in motion because of the prayer request I sent up), I realized I was being forced out of a place I’d outgrown. While there was a sense of frustration and pressure, I was ultimately led into figuring out a way to get back into school and move forward to better opportunities. I was reminded of what was truly important and what ought to have priority, and was able to grasp a new perspective and approach on jobs, pursuing goals, and staying clear of complacency. I definitely grew and learned a lot that I’ll never forget.

Having undergone this experience, I want to provide others with some helpful pointers for stepping-stone jobs:

1. Do Not Get Comfortable
I believe that every job has an expiration date. How you choose to let it expire is your choice.

2. School Comes First
One of the reasons I paused with college was because of a lack of money. There were others ways I could’ve received assistance but I didn’t do the research until I got fed up with how things were going. As a student, working a part-time job shouldn’t go before your academics. I understand trying to have a balance between the11 two but prioritizing well is key.

3. Have a (Good) Exit Strategy
Another reason I was beginning to dislike working as a child care provider was because I felt stuck at a place I no longer wanted to be. Trying to function in a difficult work environment became overwhelming. I looked for another job but only when things got really bad. Had I looked sooner, I could’ve avoided unnecessary stress. Being employed is important so I suggest having another job lined up before leaving, which can make for a better transition.

Remember, with stepping stone jobs you’re just passing through. Make the money, get in, get out, finish school, pursue a trade or an internship, and keep it moving. A part-time job is temporary and its purpose is just a small pit stop on the way to your dream career. It will require much time, patience, and sacrifice, but you will get there. I encourage any and all twenty-something’s to set goals and chase dreams.

Simone Heard is a Staff Writer for the Daily Runner.