Bad Girl's Guide

Monday, January 05, 2009

Working at an Unprofessional Job

Dear Vixen,

I could use a little workplace advice. I am currently one of 8 counselors working in a university admissions office. Out of the 8 of us, me and two others are the only returning staff members (the other 5 are brand new). Out of the three of us that are returning I am the only "regular" counselor....the others are senior counselor and transfer counselor respectively. Hence, they do not sit in the same office/cubicles as me and the newbies.

My problem is that the newbies all happen to be no older than the age of 23 with 1 year or less work experience. 80% of them were student workers just last year and now they have been more or less "given" the same position it has taken me 6 years to work my way up to (I'm almost 29, and have worked at the university for 5 years). The current director of our office is closer to my age (she's 30), and did the hiring and told me in a meeting that "it's natural that you pick people you know to be on your team" "just like back in the day as a child playing kickball"... to me that's bs since none of these folks have a clue about the working world and are often times giving incorrect information, haven't been properly trained, constantly talk about other staff members, have inappropriate conversations with students workers (whom are their friends thier age pretty much), take advantage of the job and think it's a joke, yet we all make the same salary. (we work for the state) They'll also do little stuff like all get together and go to lunch and leave me in the office alone or they'll call each other and look out for each other and not bother with me. I almost feel as if I'm "too professional" for them because I'm about my business and I'm working on moving on and up and away from them. Plus, I've made it a point not to do too much personal socializing with co-workers/superiors because things get toxic.

The other problem I have is one of the new girls hired or excuse me "given the position" is one that I had to cut off my toxic friendship with about 6-7 months ago, and she is still best buddies with the director whom happens to have a 23 year old husband and hangs around young folks at young places. She doesn't appear to have many friends or a life outside of the 3 women she hangs around and the young counselors whom everyday she invites to lunch and doesn't bother to ask me. She and I used to be cool... I thought that she was professional enough to want to converse with me but I guess not. She tries to put on a front as if she's trying to be "everybody's friend" which is unprofessional of a married woman of 30 with a master's degree and a director's position. Her and this one girl hang out everyday outside of work, at work, and at lunch and have conversations about people which is why I don't bother with them. It was a disaster when I tried hanging with them in the past and my boyfriend and his friend got all twisted up in the mix with this youngin.

Anyways, what is the best way to deal with an environment in which you're the only one about the business? How should I deal with my director and her click whom I've deleted from my list of friends? What's the best way to handle the young counselors all banding together without me? I hate to seem like an antisocial bitch but I feel like I need to do what I need to do to look out for me. Plus I think it's rather silly to forgo hanging out at grown places and doing things with older people (30 plus) to hang out with 23 year olds who can't even get into the same clubs, nor have the same experiences as you. Therefore my boyfriend and I do our own thing.
What do you think?...

Seriously? Your job doesn't suck as much as it could. Granted your coworkers are truly unprofessional---but at least you have A JOB! With all the people getting fired these days, one should be grateful for that.

However, I've worked with crappy coworkers before and I know firsthand that even if the job pays well and is decent, the office environment can pretty much be destroyed with such crappy coworkers. I think you have some kind of resentment towards the Newbies and they have picked up on it and hence excluded you on purpose. You could have approached each of them and given them the value of your experience by teaching them what needs to be done, especially since they are all new. "Now that you work here permanently, this is how we do things." If you want to bring things to a professional level, you will have to work at training them properly.

As for hanging out with them after hours, I wouldn't even bother. Keep your professional and personal life separate. Mixing the two is just courting with drama. Don't get me wrong, I hang out with a few of my coworkers on occasion, but they aren't my BFFs. It's okay to do something with coworkers once in a while, but it's essential to have a social circle that exists outside of work. You already spend 40hrs during the week with them...and they aren't good company, so what makes you think that spending your weekends with them will suddenly make them better friends? Nope, just keep doing you.

Personally, I would start looking for another job or get a transfer to another department. They are too clique-ish, unprofessional and unmotivated. It sounds like they, including your boss are treating this job like a sorority and are just sitting back getting paychecks for all the work you do. Life is too short to be miserable, and we spend 60% of our lives at work (some more).

Get your ducks in a row. Go online and apply for a Master's program yourself, try University of Phoenix or the school you work at. Take advantage of the employee discount/tuition reimbursement and align your present to your future goals. You'll be so busy looking out for your future, doing schoolwork, and balancing your life that you won't have the energy to play into their little office games.

If you are that qualified, update your resume and start looking for something else. Don't quit or mention quitting until you get a solid job offer from a new university. There are lots of schools out there, and with your experience, you might be able to apply to your boss' position. Then you can set the tone of the office and be the one that sets the rules. If this work environment is untenable, uncomfortable and too unprofessional for you~ find another one that fits you better. Don't waste your time worrying about how to act around these girls, it's just wasted energy. Instead, use your brainpower to get you to where you want to be, at the top!

Good luck.


Posted by Vixen @ 10:08 AM :: 0 trainees letting it rip!

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