Wendy’s, Subway, Target, K-Mart. While these all sound like some of our favorite stores to hit up for cheap goodness, some people feel a little differently after landing a job at one of these minimum wage places. Whether we flipped burgers or put in 30-hour weeks at an internship for no pay, we’ve all had (or will have) an awful job experience that didn’t seem worth all the effort. But when should you up and quit, or when should you stick it out and pay your dues?
Hold on to some joy
You can have a rough day at work every once in a while, but when your job starts taking a toll on your everyday happiness, looks like the time has come to find somewhere new to get that paycheck. Whether your job makes you depressed or your depression interferes with putting a smile on for customers, you should take a step back and evaluate how much you actually need extra cash. According to Mental Health America, “often times a depressed employee will not seek treatment because they fear the affect it will have on their job.” Eventually you’ll start wasting your time coming up with excuses instead of heading to work to make that dough. That’s when you know you should head out the door. “I worked at Wendy’s and a local pizza place in my hometown,” University of Illinois-Chicago senior John Guistat said. “I’d say that I decided to quit when I was trying to come up with the most creative excuses for not going to work.”
Money shouldn’t be the only perk
In the summer, there are plenty of low-level jobs that we take just to see a paycheck at the end of the week (or two). But why show up to work every day just for the cash when you could like folding towels at Target more than cooking fries at Zaxby’s? “I worked at a job for three years that gave me a lot of anxiety, but I needed the money so I didn’t quit,” University of Wisconsin-Green Bay sophomore Taylor Ponczoch said. “The job obviously wasn’t right for me and I regret being unhappy for so long, but I felt stuck there because the owners of the restaurant were family friends.”
In the world of minimum-wage pay, you can always explore more job options. Maybe you’ve found you hate being stuck indoors all day taking fast food orders and want to get some exercise by applying for a lifeguard position. Don’t settle for the first store that has a “we’re hiring” sign on the door. Minimum-wage work doesn’t have to equal hell. At the end of the day, it all comes back to your happiness; sometimes you just gotta quit.
If you can’t find a single ounce of fun in your job, you could probably better spend those life-sucking hours elsewhere. Maybe you can embrace your inner nerd and tutor someone in your favorite subject. Or you can try increasing your mindfulness, which basically means paying a whole lot of attention to every little thing that you do. Psychologists believe in this concept as a way to improve your mood in general. Notice how happy you make a customer after you make their food, or start a silent sales competition with a coworker. Real talk: it can actually help you appreciate your job and elevate your mood so that your interactions with others make working more fulfilling.
If you just need a resume booster, consider volunteer positions as well. Often these look just as good on college applications and resumes, if not better, and the experiences you gain could change your life. As long as you put in your hard work and take care of yourself and your health, you can stay happy and still come home with a big fat paycheck (enough to cover every inch of your dorm with Ryan Gosling posters).