The following is a guest post about a negative job experience by CT. CT is a personal finance blogger over debtpayer.com and recently sold his prior website, Broke Professionals, where he and his wife still contribute as staff writers.
I was fresh out of law school and new to my first full-time job. Like I tend to do with everything, I went into it full-tilt. I was enthusiastic. I was excited. I was….not realizing that I was quite possibly acting like a huge jerk.
Job Experience – My Enthusiasm
The bosses probably mistook my enthusiasm as being too aggressive. The support staff tolerated me with a “he’ll slow down eventually” attitude. I soon began formulating a “brilliant” idea that almost ruined my career.
During that period in time I was working 9 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week. Those are crazy hours, even for an attorney.
Due to this, I started running out of work to do, which made me sort of upset. I began requesting more work. My need for more to do was insatiable.
One day while on the job I overheard one of the other employees say: “What does he think – they’ll make him partner in three months or something?”
It was around this period in time that I did the most bone-headed thing of all: I started telling the partners all of my “brilliant” ideas.
I pitched a blog for the firm and the partners were not impressed. In hindsight, I now realize that when you’re new to a place you’re supposed to assimilate and humbly go about the tasks assigned. Instead, I was coming off like a rebel-rouser at best and a know-it-all egomaniac at worst. I looked like I was someone who from day one was immediately questioning the firm’s culture.
That’s when I had my ultimate foot-in-mouth “brilliant” idea.
Job Experience – My Big Idea
You see, I had previously (while in law school) worked in another area of the law. I had a very solid working knowledge of that area of the law, as it is one of the less complex areas of law. (Insert lawyer joke here.)
So, I pitched to one of my partners about me “heading up” this area of law to expand the firm’s practice into it. I had asked around throughout my network and I already had a few attorneys who would refer if my partners gave me the go ahead.
The next day the partners asked to take me out to lunch the following afternoon to discuss my idea.
That night I drew up a twenty plus part business plan. I outlined the pro’s of expanding into this new second area of the law and how I thought it gelled well with our firm’s primary area of practice.
I spent hour after hour drafting and revising “my vision” for the firm. It must be admitted, my dream has always been to own/run my own law firm. My own business of any sort really.
I think I was acting the way I was not because I am really a jerk (at least I hope not), but because I was genuinely excited by the idea. I thought it would be good for the firm, and yes, I must disclose, I thought it would be the next best thing to actually owning my own law firm, which I was not and still am not anywhere close to being able to successfully pull off.
I woke up early the day of the partner’s meeting and dressed even sharper than the day I interviewed with them.
We drove separately, and when I got to lunch they were already sitting down. I was flushed and nervous but ready to give my “presentation.”
Instead I received a big surprise.
Job Experience – Bad Idea?
The eldest partner spoke.
We think it’s very entrepreneurial of you to come to us with this idea, particularly so early in your career. But the thing is, we have been running this firm for decades. We have a good thing going here. Now, we appreciate your enthusiasm, but you have to focus on following our directions. We hired you because we already have enough work to do, and we wanted someone to do the tasks we assign to them. We weren’t looking for anything more and we’re not ready to change anything right now.
It was said as kindly as possible, but the words still pierced through me, particularly because I knew I had so miscalculated my place. I had overstepped my boundaries to a nearly ridiculous degree.
I was devastated at first. In hindsight I’m just glad they didn’t fire me entirely. I can now admit that their putting the brakes on me was the best thing, both for me and the firm. They mistook my enthusiasm as a challenge to the office culture. With some maturity and more time in a full-time position, I can now totally see why they would think that.
Job Experience – Lesson Learned
Now, I know better. Like the frog sitting in a slowly boiling pot of water, people are often way more susceptible to gradual change. Sometimes it’s not your job to push change at all.
How about you? Have you ever suffered negative consequences on the account of being overly ambitious or sharing your “brilliant” idea too soon? How would you react to this story if you were the boss?
I look forward to reading your responses.
CT is an attorney by day who blogs about personal finance at Debtpayer.com, where he addresses being in his twenties with nearly half a million dollars in student loan and mortgage debt to try and climb out of. With his wife, he is the former owner/creator of the personal finance blog Broke Professionals. CT is now focusing on his freelance business, FreelancePF.
Crystal’s Comments: I don’t think enthusiasm or ambition is a bad thing. I think the only lesson I would learn from this is that the particular firm I was working for doesn’t like change. It is definitely their loss. Some companies would LOVE someone with enough energy to run a whole new branch for them!
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!