I’m bored in my first job out of college — but everything except the work is great

A reader writes:

I am a recent college grad (May ’18) and I have been working at a company since July. The benefits here are great, the pay is good for the industry, I get three weeks off per year and can roll over even more than I can accrue in one year, my commute is less than 15 minutes, and my coworkers are all very kind.

However, the work that I do is extremely tedious and boring. It’s extremely difficult for me to be productive at work – I just am not passionate about our product and marketing for it is boring. My boss praises my work and he seems impressed with what I’ve done in five months, but I find myself working for 2-3 hours a day and just sitting around for the other 6-7 hours I’m in the office. I’m also really not learning anything new, which is really what I wanted the most out of my first few jobs out of college.

I’m desperate for more interesting work (there is not much room for differentiation here – I was hired for one very specific duty, everything else is covered). But I’m hesitant because I feel like this working environment is not something that I could get just anywhere. How do you determine what’s more important — a job’s duties, or the benefits/commute/etc. that comes along with it? I know that I should stick to this job for at least a year, but my lack of interest in this work has been affecting my production as an employee and I almost feel bad about it.

Generally I’d tell people that deciding what’s more important to them — the actual work they’re doing or the benefits that come along with it — is an individual decision and either choice is legitimate as long as they’re clear about the trade-offs they’re making.

But early in your career, I feel pretty strongly that you should prioritize the work itself — because otherwise you can end up really limiting your later options. If you spend your first few years after graduation in a job where you can’t accomplish much and aren’t challenging yourself, you’re not setting yourself up well for getting a more interesting/fulfilling job later on.

Ask yourself this: When you imagine what you’ll list on your resume for this job after being there a couple of years, what do you picture listing? Will you have accomplishments that will position you well for the job you want next? And aside from what’s on your resume, are you getting the kind of experience and skills that will prepare you for whatever you’ll want to do after this?

Boring is one thing. Many jobs are boring, particularly the ones you can get right out of school with little experience. And if you were just complaining about being a little bored, I’d have something to say here about managing your expectations about the kind of work you’re going to be allowed to do right out of school. But this sounds like it goes way beyond being a little bored.

That said, it’s worth noting that you don’t always learn as much as you expect to in early jobs. Often much of what you learn in early jobs is about how offices work, rather than any more specific subject-area knowledge. It’s really, really different from school in that way. And it’s pretty normal to find yourself doing work that seems a lot less challenging than what you’re capable of — but it’s because it’s a necessary step of proving yourself before anyone will trust you with higher-level work. So that part might not be unusual on its own.

But a job where you’re sitting around for six to seven hours a day with nothing to do — and where you have one very narrow duty and no room to take on anything else — is highly unlikely to be positioning you well for an interesting job after this one. So that’s the part that would concern me the most.

Plus, I’m skeptical that it’ll be as hard as you think to find a similar set of benefits from somewhere else. For example, three weeks of time off is pretty normal, and it’s likely you’ll find that other places.

I’d start looking around at other options and see what’s out there. You don’t have to take a job just because it’s offered to you, so why not find out what your options are and whether you could get a job that you’d like more? That way you’ll have something concrete to compare to where you are now — but I definitely wouldn’t settle for staying there just because you like the benefits without getting other options in the mix to weigh it against.

{ 277 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I see a trend starting in the comments that I want to head off: If the OP hasn’t yet talked to her boss about how much free time she has and asked if there’s more she can work on, it’s definitely worth doing. But there really are jobs where what the OP described would be accurate. If that’s the case, it’s not going to be frustrating for her to read a bunch of comments telling her to ask her boss for more work, so I’m asking that we take her at her word on that and answer the question she’s actually asking. (But yes, OP, if you haven’t yet done that, you need to!)

    1. Bostonian*

      “Take her at her word”? I don’t see anywhere in the letter where OP undeniably says she’s talked to her boss or heard Boss say that there’s no other work for her to do.

      The closest thing I can see to addressing that is this: “there is not much room for differentiation here – I was hired for one very specific duty, everything else is covered”

      That statement very well could be an assumption she’s making, all the more likely since it’s her first job out of college and she might not be great at assessing that herself.

      I understand wanting to address the specific question that the OP asks, but there’s always more to a letter than 1 question, and without any definite indication that she has talked to her boss, it would be a huge oversight if nobody pointed it out.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To me, the heart of her question is about whether it’s better to stay at a boring job where she has nothing to do 6-7 hours a day or find more interesting work but give up the benefits of the boring job. It really is possible that asking her boss for more work isn’t going to fix this (or that she already has, or that it will get her a small amount of new work but not change the fundamental situation here), and she needs to know what to do if that’s the case.

        1. Dog Person*

          I worked at a CPA firm right out of college. I caught up the ten clients that I was responsible for and had little to do during the workday. I asked the CPA if there was anything else I can do. The CPA’s answer was nothing you know how to do. So you are right Allison, asking the boss may not fix the problem.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            I’m surprised at that. I’ve temped and when I was done with my work for the day, people found me other stuff to do – proofreading internal documents (also gave me info on the company and processes, although not any I could be personally responsible for), updating the filing (literally ensuring everything was in alphabetical order, and then looking to see which service users or clients hadn’t been contacted in a while and flagging them to whoever could do that), and so on.

            Boring yes, but not as boring as doing literally nothing. And as Alison said, it helps you learn how offices work – and get info on the company’s processes and structures. There’s usually *something* that needs doing, and hasn’t been touched in too long because it’s not a priority?

            (that said, I’d draw the line at cleaning. I’m able to do desk work but not physical labour)

            1. Emilia Bedelia*

              But this also takes work to find these kinds of little tasks. Thinking up some random low priority job and explaining how to do it takes time. A manager who is used to working with more senior/self directed employees just might not have a good list of projects suitable for an entry level person handy, and it’s easier to say “Just sit tight, I’m too busy with my own work”.

              I was in a similar situation for the first few months at my first job out of college- my (relatively new to managing) boss didn’t know what to do with me, because she’d never had a truly entry level employee who couldn’t just run with vague instructions, or find something for themselves to do. I had to officially volunteer myself to work with another group for a little while until my projects got to a point where my day was filled. I can totally believe that the OP only has 2-3 hours of work, and has to figure out how to fill the rest of their day.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t find it surprising. I’ve been the person who asked for more work and was told there was literally nothing for me to do. Sometimes there really aren’t more tasks for someone of your training level.

            3. Working Mom Having It All*

              I think this might be more likely to work for a temp than for an entry level staffer who isn’t there in a general company admin type of role. I’m the admin for the business and legal affairs team at a small subsidiary of a huge multinational. If the accounts receivable department in the Miami office could use a file clerk, there’s not a lot I can do to help that. Even if there’s general scutwork available here at my location, there’s someone else whose job that stuff is, and it’s important for me to make clear that I don’t report to the office manager.

              Sometimes I will do those types of tasks if they fall into my path (stock the copier with paper, open the next box of k-cups in the break room, etc) but by and large it’s not a great look to be wandering the halls asking people on other teams if there’s any side work you can take care of for them.

            4. Merci Dee*

              At my first job out of college, I worked for a small accounting firm (approximately 15 people). I didn’t have a lot of work to do for the first few weeks, because we were in the lull between the end of tax season and the beginning of audit season. I asked if there were things I could help with, even if it were admin stuff, and the partners emphatically shut that down. They told me that my hourly billable wage was too high to be assigned to work on admin duties, and that any time I spent on formatting reports, copying tax returns, etc. would substantially drive up the costs to the clients. So even though the couple of ladies who worked in admin had more than enough work for me to help with, I still had to sit around and try to find dry auditing manuals from the library to read because my billing time was too costly.

          2. jb*

            As a CPA, I am very surprised that there wasn’t even any busy work for you to do. There’s always something, even if it’s reading prior year workpapers and rolling forward interim stuff.

            1. Dog Person*

              I typed the letter that went with the client’s payroll for the next couple of months. I was told not to do that since it was not billable time. I could not prepare things in advance. The office could not figure out how I caught everyone up.

          3. Sk*

            Yep I’ve had this experience as well in a client driven industry. I’ve had bosses just say “Well enjoy it whie it’s slow.”

            One job in the newspaper industry, the bosses would just take us to museums or to see a movie. I saw the movie 300 again with my staff. They were just like “Well when the newspaper ad industry picks back up, we’ll be busy…

          4. TardyTardis*

            I remembered one time I asked for more to do, so I was sent upstairs to rearrange a bunch of files, which turned out to be a lot more physically demanding than I expected (was in my late 50’s when this happened). So I joked about my new secret name being ‘Dances With Ibuprofen’ and when the project was finished, they found something more appropriate. (then I went back to accounts payable, and never worried about too little to do again).

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I’m a little concerned that, with only a couple of months of professional experience, the OP may not have a great read on what constitutes a bad-for-her job (boring, not gaining the experience she wants or needs, etc.) and what is normal for early-career jobs.

          The pink flag for me about this potential mismatch in understanding is her concern that she’s not learning as much as she’d hoped; as you said, first jobs often (usually?) don’t offer a lot of opportunities for the kind of learning that a lot of us are primed to expect or hope for.

          (Your lesson about learning about how offices work has been incredibly valuable to me, even a couple of decades into my career — that’s how I think about my current workplace, which is much larger and more political than my previous employers. I have SO MUCH to learn about how to navigate this environment, even though I’m an expert in my field.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, that’s exactly the point I would normally be making in response to a letter like this (and have in the past, I think)! What’s different to me about this one is just how extreme it is — having nothing to do for 6-7 hours is so extreme that I don’t think this job is going to help in any way other than having something for that time period on her resume, and it risks hurting her by having no real accomplishments to point to when she wants to move on (and also by getting her into bad habits about time management since she has so much free time).

        3. Lauren19*

          Asking might not help, but TELLING the boss what you’re doing may be different. I’ve seen one of the fastest ways to get ahead is to figure out what’s NOT getting done, and then doing it. OP can spend some time assessing what the organization could benefit from, what skills they want to use, and put together a plan to do it. Normally I’d say to just get started, but this early in your career it’s better to run it by the boss first. Sometimes there may be no additional work because the boss isn’t creative, not because there’s not more that can be done.

    2. Madeleine Matilda*

      A little further down the comments, the OP states that she has talked with her boss and he doesn’t have any additional work for her and that it is currently the slow season in her office.

    3. Someone Else*

      Can you supply a few examples of jobs where what OP described would be accurate? I’m asking genuinely because I have reached the point in my career where I’d definitely rather be bored by the work, but in a good culture with good benefits, than the other way round, and other than knowing these things must exist I’ve been having problems figuring out what they are.

      1. IndoorCat*

        I can think of a few.

        1.CPA when it’s not tax season.

        2. Marketing arm of a company selling certain products that have seasonal campaigns but not every season. My first job out of college was in the marketing department at an asset tracking company. We sold our asset tracking and security systems to big campuses like hospitals. For whatever reason, I had a ton of content to write and emails to send for four months, then we had to literally stop marketing for a while because we couldn’t take on more clients until we were able to handle and maintain the equipment with the clients we had. I had to reply to client emails, which really only took maybe two hours a day.

        3. Some jobs in EMT centers, depending on the city / county. Not a lot of emergencies lately, not a lot of paperwork, not a lot else you’re qualified to do if you’re the paperwork person.

        4. Similarly, some jobs in local public health departments are like this. Actually, a lot of state-level government jobs seem to be like this. Good benefits, a lot of down time. I know someone who works in a printing office for the state of Ohio, as a consulting copy editor and designer helping other departments do things– like print pamphlets for the state parks, or safety codes / regulation manuals. She has to be in the office regular hours , and some days she has a full day, but others she maybe only spends three – four hours working on designs or consulting.

        State-level government jobs can be hard to get, though. I’ve applied for several over the years and never got so much as an interview.

      2. nnn*

        I’ve also seen this in some university staff jobs. In some parts of the university, there are incredibly busy times of year (e.g. September) and slower times (e.g. summer). If an aspect of your job is simply staffing the office because someone has to be in the office, there can be a lot of downtime.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Me too! Especially with rollover.

      My first few jobs were part time, so when I finally landed a fulltime gig I didn’t realize just how valuable vacation time is.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My last company offered 18 days to start, but no rollover. It can happen.

      My current job I got 15 (plus sick time and personal days) but I did negotiate into that based on my last job; standard is 10.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        well, in the UK, 3 weeks off wouldn’t be normal either… it would likely be illegal as 20 days (so 4 weeks if you’re working weekdays) is the minimum required by law.

        1. UK*

          5.6 weeks is the legal minimum. But yes to the general idea.

          I suppose Alison means in a US context three weeks can be normal too.

      2. Gerald*

        Or anywhere other than the US. I started with 4 weeks which is quite unusual as more often it’s 3 weeks, and sick leave is another 3 weeks (paid). Both roll over, although there is a cap on the vacation.

    3. Cait*

      Agreed! Especially for a new hire. It took me YEARS in my last large, national company (also a role in marketing that sounded very similar to this OP) to get to three weeks vacation. New hires didn’t get more than a few days of vacation (if at all, I think it was adjusted for the calendar year, by the start date).

    4. Anon For Always*

      Aside from one job, every job I’ve ever worked at had at least 3 weeks off. Some more, but only one had less, and I was there less than a year. I do think it’s probably industry dependent though. It would be unheard of in my industry to have anything less than 3 weeks.

      1. OP*

        Yes, this is correct. We actually get 3 weeks of PTO which includes any/all personal days and sick days. They changed it from 2 weeks of vacation and 1 week of sick time shortly before I got my position.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yep. According to BLS, the average is 10 days paid vacation and 6 days paid sick in the first year. That works out to about 3 weeks total.

    5. Juliecatharine*

      Thank you! I’m 18 years into my career, at an excellent company with great benefits (overall) and 20 days of PTO including sick days. Three weeks vacation with rollover fresh out of school is NOT something you’ll find most places in the US. Excuse me while I go cry into my coffee and try not to be overly envious of my European colleagues.

        1. CRM*

          Yeah, I had a similar experience at my first job. Our PTO plan was awesome: 3 weeks of vacation with rollover, one week of sick leave, plus holidays and a week of paid leave over Christmas. However in exchange for that the pay was very low, even for an already low-paying industry. It was worth it for a while, but eventually I left because I needed to make some more money.

    6. AliceW*

      Interesting. Almost every professional job I’ve ever worked gave entry level workers 3 weeks vacation and 3-5 sick days and 3 floating holidays, so three weeks paid time off seems totally normal.

    7. Justin*

      I guess I’ve been lucky, both of my more professional jobs, 15 was the minimum for vaca (20 at the other job, 15 here), plus here there are 4 floating holidays that don’t roll over, so that’s 19. Some absurd number of sick days.

      But it’s a large public sector employer.

      When I worked for several years for penny-pinching employers (in the private sector, but I know it’s hardly specific to each sector), no sick time, no days off, not paid for holidays, etc, the things you’re mentioning.

    8. Database Developer Dude*

      I get 14 hours per month, or 168 hours per year. That’s 21 8-hour days, which is just about an entire month if you don’t include Saturdays and Sundays and time it right. I can also roll over quite a bit of it.

      What metro area do you call home, Elizabeth? I can see if Booz Allen Hamilton has something for whatever it is you do…..

    9. Dust Bunny*

      I get 240 hours of vacation and ??? hours of sick time (I’m at 400+ right now). The vacation stops accruing once it tops out, but starts again as soon as I use some, and it all rolls over. But I work for a health institution so, yeah, we’d better get good sick time.

    10. Madeleine Matilda*

      In Fed government jobs you begin with 13 days of annual leave, 13 days of sick leave, plus 10 federal holidays. After three years you go up to 19 days of annual leave. After 15 years you go up to 26 days of annual leave. Sick leave can be carried over for an entire career and annual leave of up to 240 hours per year can be carried over.

      1. Ciscononymous*

        State government employee here. Our setup is similar. Starting 15 days vaca, 15 sick, 12 paid holidays (13, if we get Black Friday, and we almost always do). After 10 years, goes up to 18 days of each, then 21 after 15 years. Caps are the same as fed.

    11. Emily K*

      It’s not universal or anything, but it’s still within the part of the bell curve I’d call “normal.” I’d say 2 weeks is the most common for a salaried/exempt professional role, with 3 weeks being a bit more generous but still in the normal range. 4-5 weeks is very generous and rare for junior/entry level, but more normal for senior/executive roles, and 6+ weeks is rare even for senior.

    12. H.C.*

      My most recent ExJob offered 2 weeks vacation (+ 2 weeks sick & 3 personal days) to start but ramps up to 4 weeks of vacation after 4 years, with up to 12 weeks cap for accrual.

      CurrentJob offers 6 weeks of PTO (sick, personal & vacation lumped). Both are in California, so yeah… not really eyeing out-of-state moves anytime soon.

    13. CAcats*

      I have 31 days of PTO, one floater holiday and a few holidays (like Christmas) off. I work in a private company about 500 people in insurance.

    14. CandyCorn*

      Three weeks is pretty stingy. Even right out of college I got more than that! Time off is such an important benefit.

    15. Lynn Marie*

      Three weeks off plus holidays may be normal in some white collar offices in some states these days but it’s unheard of for most jobs in my state.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I’m in a big California city and for the first two years, my IT company gives us 10 days PTO – which includes sick time. And they think they’re so generous for giving us more than the three days mandated by law. I love my coworkers and my work, but man.

        Now that I’ve been here longer than that I get 15 days per year, but that still includes sick time and it’s accrued, not a lump sum at the beginning of the year. Fortunately my particular boss is pretty flexible with this, but most aren’t.

    16. Someone Else*

      It’s ambiguous to me from the letter if she means 3 weeks vacation (which I agree is a higher than normal starting point for most jobs in the US) or if that includes paid holidays and/or sick time, in which case it’s pretty much baseline/ on the low side.
      The rollover policy sounds golden though.

    17. Anony*


      I know plenty of unemployed grads that would take your spot in a heartbeat and not take it for granted.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She’s not taking it for granted. She’s saying she appreciates lots of things about the job, but the work is a problem. People are allowed to have work concerns and shouldn’t be accused of not appreciating what they have simply because they’re employed.

    18. Rhoda Morgenstern*

      I work in book publishing in the US and standard to start is 2 weeks vacation plus the entire industry closes the week between Christmas and New Year’s. So it’s the equivalent of 3 weeks’ vacation, but you can’t choose when you take the third week.

    19. LGC*

      People wonder why I stay at my job, even though it’s a non-profit that pays…less than what I’m worth.

      I then pull out that I get 28 days’ worth of PTO per year (and can carry over 5), plus 12 paid holidays (including Election Day). I’ve been there for a little under 10 years, and they did restructure the PTO plan to be less lavish for newer employees.

    20. ZB*

      I knew I was lucky but reading these comments make me realize how lucky… first job out of college and I have 20 days vacation (very limited rollover for preventing burnout) + 15 days sick + the time between Christmas and New Years is wfh/only do what you absolutely need to. I only make $30k and work lots of overtime (exempt) though.

    21. restingbutchface*

      Hmm, lot of judgemental comments for the OP here – slightly unfair as it’s her first job.

      OP, don’t settle for being bored 6-7 hours a day. I have ADHD so it’s a little different but that would be torture for me. You know that feeling of flow, when you’re working on something and everything else fades away; all your concentration and interest is on what’s in front of you and it seems somehow easy and stretching all at the same time? Then you look up and wow, it’s the end of the day already but you did good work today and that feels great. You’re tired but happy and want to play with your puzzle some more tomorrow.

      That won’t be every day at a job but it should be some days.

      Don’t settle now. Push yourself into finding a way you can get that flow because to me, that’s the best feeling in the world.

    22. Marvelousmith*

      Millennial here, and at my workplace, new hires (and by that I mean up til your fourth year) get 5. That’s sick and vacation days.

      I genuinely had no idea that 3 weeks is normal. I worry our generation is just going to get used to being treated poorly at work.

  2. Kramerica Industries*

    In my “boring” job, instead of focusing on the tasks, I focused on building up my soft skills, like relationship building and presentations. Soft skills are always necessary anywhere you go and it’s a great chance to build on those if you’re not finding your actual work fulfilling. This also helped me eliminate the guilt of not being engaged with my job because I was still learning something and trying to improve myself.

    1. Admin of Sys*

      This! Also, you can build up skills in work related concepts. Take free classes in excel, or programming, or project management. Watch youtube videos about how to make powerpoint slides that don’t suck. Figure out what it is that you want to do, and assuming it can appear to be work related at all, teach yourself those things in your down time.
      Mind you, this is assuming that there honestly isn’t anything else work related to do. I find in a lot of early jobs, folks haven’t quite figured out the ‘find busy work’ or the ‘find information’ parts of their job. I know you said you find the product and marketing kind of boring, but maybe there’s interesting market research to look at? or graphics design work, or add design, assuming that’s something you want to get more information about.

      1. Salamander*

        So much this. If you have free time to explore work-related things to study at your leisure, this is a huge win. OP, it sounds as if you have this freedom, and I would use it!

        Check with your local library – many offer free access to the Lynda catalog. If learning a language might be relevant to your job, many public libraries offer free access to Mango Languages.

      1. EmersonThoreau*

        Also, if you have any interest or aptitude at it, learn to code. Knowing how to do basic tasks in Python or R is really desirable.
        I had a similar experience in my current job, but after a year here realized that I had come in at a busy time (June-October – where no one had the spare time to train me) which was immediately followed by our November-December slower season, where there was actually just not as much to do. After this year’s full cycle I am not appreciating the slower period and catching up on all the things I didn’t have time to do. In a lot of spaces where there isn’t apparent seasonality, there still may be some.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      Yes, this. I’ve also learned new programs during my down time that I’d been thinking about trying. It can be overwhelming to have so much down time, but filling it with interesting new things to learn really makes it a valuable experience.

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      Yes! Very often new possibilities open up when you change your mindset. One of my most boring, tedious, very full of free time where I had to wait until a job was sent along to me- was actually a great job. I constantly looked for things to learn, spent some of my free time simply observing, and sometimes I came up with ways to make things work better. My boss was on the gruff and grumpy side, so I also did a little diplomacy to smooth customer relations whenever I could. Good skills no matter where you go. Even though the job was the height of what I call “monkey work” that anyone could do, I was actually missed when I left and I took an excellent reference with me. I could have just mindlessly done the work and chafed at how boring it was and how much time I had to fill between assignments, and sometimes I did, but overall it was a great learning opportunity because I made it so. I still use the knowledge and skills I developed there.

  3. jb*

    Without knowing the details of the letter, I am skeptical that there’s really nothing anyone else needs help with, and that the OP’s boss wouldn’t appreciate them raising their hand and saying “I am completing all my assigned work in less than a full day, are there any other projects/trainings I can take on?”

    It’s worth making that case to your boss and seeing what they say, if only because it would make you look good to a normal boss even if they have to tell you “no, there’s nothing.” So it will tell you a lot about what your company is like, and if they do give you nothing and you then leave, it will reflect well on you.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Also have a direct conversation about growth potential. See if your boss literally says that there’s nowhere you can go from your current position and no opportunity to move up in six months (I have been told this before – it made it really easy to give notice a few months later, and everybody understood).

    2. OP*

      Thanks for pointing this out – I didn’t get a chance to clarify in the original message, but it’s a pretty slow season as of right now and when I have asked my boss for more work, he doesn’t seem to have any for me to do. There’s a few budget constraints that I’m not fully aware of and I think that limits him when it comes to giving me more work to do that involves marketing spend. I started in the middle of the busy season, and now that I’m fully settled in, it’s our slow season which probably doesn’t help much. We also have a lot of people on staff with specific jobs and my boss doesn’t oversee them, so it’s hard for him to potentially give me their work without stepping on toes. Perhaps I can speak to some of those people individually and ask if they need help with anything, though.

      1. Lurker*

        I came here to make a similar comment. In all of my positions, after I’ve been in my role for a while and know enough about pain points and budget, I’ve been able to identify, and take on work, that was outside of my original job description and that was really interesting and challenging! I wouldn’t write this off yet! I’d encourage you to get to know your colleagues and the work that is done outside of your group and try to work with your boss to identify work that is yourjobadjacent. Become a student of your organization and really exciting things that are interesting to you can come your way!

      2. Works in IT*

        It being a slow season is definitely a contributing factor. In my job, we are intentionally not given very much in the way of day to day assignments, because we are expected to handle every single EMERGENCY HIGH PRIORITY assignment as they come in. Some days, even weeks around the holidays, this leads to sitting around waiting for work to do. Other days it leads to all of us going home early on Friday because we ran out of hours. When I have nothing else to do I follow our manager around on walk throughs and learn the intricate art of teaching people to notice people who are intentionally being unobtrusive.

        1. Ella Vader*

          “learn the intricate art of teaching people to notice people who are intentionally being unobtrusive.”


          1. Works in IT*

            Security stuff. We basically just take our badges off and wander around pretending to be visitors and see how long it takes to get caught… or not… and if we don’t get caught we have to teach the people who didn’t catch us how to pay attention. Without turning them into ragey angry people.

      3. Anon For Always*

        If there is no other work that can be drummed up, do you think your boss would be open to sending you to some training, or allowing you time to get more involved in a professional association for your industry? That would be a great way to network, and usually they have workshops or other professional development activities that might help you stay challenged in the short-term while you look.

        A great commute, nice people, and good benefits are wonderful. However, as this is your first job, I suspect you won’t be able to determine how critical those things are to you until you’ve worked in a place that has more challenging work and development opportunities. I know I didn’t figure out what was important to me until I had worked for a few different places.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I was wondering this too. Or even do some online professional development courses. If you started as they were going into the slow season, it’s possible that once things pick up, you can learn a lot.

      4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        If you have a strong slow-busy cycle, the slow season is a great time to do job shadowing, extra professional training, and other things that will build you up going forward. Don’t ask your boss about taking over someone’s work — instead, ask if you job shadow, meaning sit with them and observe what they do, what their process is, and so forth.

      5. Llama Lawyer*

        The budget constraints could actually be beneficial to you. Find a way to save the company money. Identify something that the company is spending money on (such as sending a project to an outside vendor) that you could do. You are a fixed cost- your cost is your cost. You have the time and ability to pick up other work, without increasing the company’s costs, and potentially saving them money in the budget.

        1. OP*

          I love this idea! I actually have identified a few options for us to increase our earnings through a couple different avenues. Unfortunately, they’ve all been shot down without very much discussion. I’m not high enough up to see all of the current spending options, though, so I’m not really able to see where we might be spending too much.

          1. Emily K*

            Don’t let that discourage you, OP. It’s not too surprising that with just under 6 months and an incomplete view of the business you might end up making suggestions that management knows aren’t really workable, but the longer you’re there and the more skills you build, the better your insights will become. Even if there’s no budget for professional development, there are a lot of free mailing lists and webinars for marketers, and if you immerse yourself in that knowledge and pay attention to what’s going on around you, you might soon spot an opportunity that your boss will let you run with.

            Just be sure to pace your suggestions so you are bringing more on the order of just one or two well-formed ideas a month instead of peppering your boss with half-ideas and in-the-moment reactions on an ongoing basis. And like you have here, acknowledge that you know you may not have all the information, but present your idea anyway with a 2-3 good supporting points showing you’ve considered all the relevant factors – who it would create work for, how much time that work would take, what you think the benefits would be, etc.

            And definitely don’t feel bad about job-searching in the meantime, too. As Alison said, this is your prime time to be developing yourself and the right job can make a big difference. Good luck!

      6. jb*

        As other people have said: Prepare for busy season by finding ways to cross-train in various tasks.

        My core point is that, for a good employer, “My employee who does good work has free time and is asking for more responsibility” is a good problem to have, even if they can’t give you anything more to do. You want to find out if you have a good employer, and you want to give them a good problem.

        Have your boss’s responses been more like “No, go back to your desk and stop bothering me” or “I’m sorry, I got nothing right now, thanks for raising your hand”? If it’s the former, that’s valuable information and you may want to start looking for other jobs, If it’s the latter, then come up with a few proposals that won’t cost the company money and go back to them.

        1. OP*

          My boss is definitely receptive to me asking for more. I just don’t think there’s anything to do. (He actually also seems to be doing random stuff during the workday as well – like picking flowers, sending memes around the office, or cooking for the department. So, I don’t think he has a full workday either.)

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Hmm, that would actually concern me, if I got the sense that my whole department had literally nothing to do. Unless it’s the bosses’ personal company I’d worry about getting laid off. Most businesses aren’t going to retain multiple staffmembers for only seasonal / interim work because at some point it makes more financial sense to contract. If it were me, I might subtly ask around if this is typical downtime for this time of year and how long it’s likely to last. Hearing that your boss is also screwing around all day would definitely tip me over into the “maybe job search” category.

            1. DKMA*

              Or just the “huh, my office has pretty extreme seasonal ups and downs” category. One other thing you can do is ask if you can go back through archives and review all sorts of past work. You likely only saw a slice of what gets done on your groups projects, so if you reviewed past work you could learn from that and also learn the sorts of skills to make you more useful next busy season.

              If you boss seems only moderately busy you could gently ask him to forward you old emails that have examples of backs and forths with clients and the final deliverables from the past year for things he thought were particularly good/interesting/hard.

      7. Secretary*

        I have a job that’s boring 80% of the time too! What I’m accomplishing looks great on paper though and it fits in with my life beautifully.
        I’ve just been in great communication with my boss, and I find things to do that are helpful. If there’s literally. nothing. which is often… I talked with my boss about using free websites to do training on a topic that is conducive to my environment.
        I also like to make lists of housekeeping items to do when it’s slow.

      8. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        This might be a great chance to ask to shadow or learn from your other coworkers and, if you see someone doing something you think might be interesting, learn how you gain the skills/experience to get there in the next couple of years

      9. Blue*

        Assuming your boss is cool with it, I’d definitely talk to some other folks to learn more about what they do and whether they have anything you can help out with. In my last office, all the good entry-level people had the same problem as you – specialized position with little to do during slow periods. I started out in one of these positions and didn’t think I’d last more than a year because I was so bored.

        Anyway, I arranged working lunches with a few colleagues to get a better idea of who might need an occasional extra hand, and then I said yes to literally every opportunity offered, no matter how dull. Besides filling time, I got exposure to a miscellany of areas and developed a reputation among my coworkers for being reliable and doing good work. I became a go-to person whenever something needed to be done. At the time, I was mostly thinking of it as a way to kill time until I hit my one-year anniversary, but it actually resulted in a promotion to a far more interesting position. And for as long as I was in that role, I tried to pay it forward and would set aside any smaller, self-contained projects that didn’t require specialized knowledge for my entry-level colleagues.

    3. I’m actually a squid*

      My first job was about an hour of filing and seven of being a number on a bidding contract. My boss’s suggestion was to ask around and find work. Going door-to-door daily begging for tasks got old fast and didn’t get me any extra work. People in the department knew I was bored and kicked what they could to me but it was sporadic and nothing took longer than an hour to finish. I wound up reading a lot.

  4. RG2*

    It’s not clear to me OP’s boss knows they’re sitting around 6+ hours a day with nothing to do. There may be more interesting projects to take on around this role or in other parts of the company and I’d encourage the OP to try to feel that out first before looking outside the company. In my experience, part of learning things in your first job means you may not have a good sense of the full range of options for projects, etc, that you’d be interested in at your current job (e.g., may product marketing is boring, but you find existing customer engagement interesting? Or it turns out the business strategy team needs more help and you get to learn that? Or the design team needs help coordinating user testing? Who knows!). I’d try that first, before looking externally.

    1. OP*

      Good suggestion! I’ve been putting out small feelers in the past few weeks, with little to no opportunities. But, I also think that this might have to do with the budget being tight right now and it being our slower season. Hopefully in the start of the next year there might be a few more opportunities like this.

      1. RG2*

        Good luck! I had a hard time in a couple of my early jobs when I was bored, because I didn’t have the perspective to judge what my options were. Sometimes I thought there were options when there weren’t. Sometimes there were options I didn’t see until much later on. My best advice is to find someone with more experience in their career or at the company (doesn’t have to be your boss!) to give you advice on this. If you approach them in a way where they don’t feel like you’re asking them directly for work, just perspective, it may actually encourage them to help you find things, or keep you in mind as projects come up and the slow season ends.

        1. RG2*

          To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t leave, but you shouldn’t leave quickly and without carefully vetting your next opportunity (because you’ll probably need to stay there a little longer if you can) and those things take time. I’d definitely still put out feelers externally, and then you can make an informed decision when you have options (be that quickly, or further down the road). You’re in a position to be a little pickier, and I’d take advantage of that to find something you’re excited about.

  5. RecentGrad*

    Holy shit, I could have written this myself, down to the grad date and the feelings about the job. Really appreciated seeing this today as I debate how long I want to stay here versus my desire to be challenged (and in response to the above commentators, I have certainly asked everyone in the office for work so much it’s becoming irritating).

    1. Lil Fidget*

      There are some jobs where waiting around for work is part of the deal. I have had them. They’re not for everybody. It probably hurt my discipline in the long term because I developed bad time-wasting habits. But I’m a “work to live” person and I was happy to be getting a good steady paycheck for a year while I focused on other life priorities. Up to the individual.

    2. Bigintodogs*

      Same! Some people find it hard to believe that employees do everything they can and still have little work to do. I’m in almost the same exact situation and I’ve run out of options at this company, so I’m looking for a new job.

    3. Sad Grad*

      I feel this too, and I graduated two years ago. It’s so frustrating, especially to see the constant responses of “just ask for more to do” when there really isn’t anything else we can do. Worse is when you do get more to do, but all that’s needed is filing or scanning documents or some other menial task.

      The real problem, and I agree with Allison here, is not just being bored for the majority of the workday. It’s that when your job involves browsing the internet all day, reading, and answering a few emails, it gets harder and harder to move up to a better job- people want to hire applicants with progressive job responsibility. Some days I feel like a full time intern.

  6. Just Employed Here*

    I wonder if the OP has explained to the boss that they have time over to learn/do new things. Sure, the actual job is very limited and everything else is covered, but there are always things that *don’t* get done.

    Sometimes bosses are hesitant to give those projects to new staff because it would mean they need a lot of supervision. But it’s definitely worth asking.

  7. TootsNYC*

    If there really isn’t all that much, can you learn what other people are doing in their jobs? Ask if they need help, and then steer the conversation into *why* they do what they’re doing, what’s most important, what their immediate goal is, what is the tricky part that only seems easy because they learned it? What’s the biggest mistake they’ve seen someone make in that task / job?

    1. TootsNYC*

      maybe not so much ask if they need help, but ask them about their jobs, their tasks, etc.
      Pick their brains.

      1. Ms. Meow*

        Along this same line, are there any other recent-ish grads who you work with? I’m thinking coworkers who graduated in 2015-2017 who you can chat with about their experience with the first few months/years on the job. They can give you a feel for how the work might evolve as you gain more experience and continue to perform well.

        1. OP*

          Unfortunately, I’m the youngest person in the office (of about 100+ people) by about 6-7 years. Everyone in my department is at least 9+ years older than me (most being about 20/30 years). I think that might be a reason why I have so few tasks, as I also just got fully adjusted to full-time work and the new office, etc.

          1. Master Bean Counter*

            Use this to your advantage! Ask people for mini mentoring sessions or to just be able to sit in and observe their jobs. Get as much exposure to all sides of the company that you are in. This will help steer you in the direction you want to go in the future. It will also give you ideas on what skills to learn. People love to talk about themselves and what they do.
            The biggest benefit to all of this is that by taking interest in others, you’ll be in their mind if they get busy and need a little extra help.

    2. TootsNYC*

      and of course, dig into the why’s of the job you’ve got.

      (but yeah, look around–you don’t have to take a job. It’s not good to feel trapped, and even if you decide to not change jobs, you’ll be doing it because you chose, not because you feel trapped)

  8. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    One good thing I noticed here is that you’re getting praise from your boss on your early work. That’s awesome! Do you have the ability or opportunity to talk to him about what more you could be taking on? I’m a couple years into my job and honestly the first few months were brutal, because not only did I not have experience to know what more I was supposed to be doing, but the people around me didn’t realize just how much free time I had. Asking my boss (and other higher-ups) about what more I could do was the tipping point of me taking on more work and seeing how my early work fit into the bigger picture of our company.

  9. AnaEatsEverything*

    My read of the letter was that OP is working 2-3 hours and then sitting around for 6-7 because they’re not feeling productive, not because there isn’t more to do. Did anyone else get that read?

    If so, that’s an entirely different problem to address, and I wonder if it would change the advice. I’d be alarmed if my new hire, a recent college grad, was only spending a couple of hours a day doing the job, even if I otherwise praised her work.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a very possible reading too, especially given she says she’s finding it “extremely difficult to be productive.” That’s usually, though not always, a comment about the speaker’s own drive levels, not about externals.

      I think the advice to look around would still hold in that case, because that’s a sign of a really bad fit, but I might do a medical check to make sure everything was okay there, too.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I will say that I developed bad habits around this age (still struggling with it, too) of finishing my work pretty quickly, to my bosses apparent satisfaction, and then wasting time watching the clock the rest of the day. I wish I’d taken on stretch assignments or something so that I would have had more to show for my years of experience now. I never wanted to ask for more work because I usually got a bunch of meaningless busywork dumped on me when I did, but there was probably a better way to navigate this than what I did. Still, nothing compares to a job where they need you desperately from day one and you don’t have to keep asking and twiddling your thumbs.

    2. OP*

      For clarification, every once in a while I am sitting around not being super productive when there is a task at hand. But, those tasks tend to be extremely tedious (renaming 400+ youtube videos at once, for example) and it’s difficult to do that without the occasional break. However, that’s not the norm and I usually have most of my work completed before it’s needed or expected.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Not to be the bearer of bad news, but even the most interesting-on-paper jobs have their tedious days. (I’m QAing a webpage right now, so I’m right there with you.)

        If you *could* do something interesting, what would it be? Articulating the type of work that you would find interesting might be a good starting point. You might not be able to integrate it into your job but you could certainly investigate the theory and read up on best practices.

      2. AnaEatsEverything*

        Thanks OP! That is helpful context and in that case, I think Allison’s advice is spot-on. I have a generally interesting job with a period of 3-5 hours of extremely dull work every week. For what it’s worth, I have thoroughly enjoyed plugging in my headphones and listening to podcasts, showtunes, or YouTube videos during the more brainless parts of my job. If you aren’t already doing something similar, maybe that can help you stay sane while you figure out your next career move. Good luck!

      3. fposte*

        Thanks for clarifying. Nobody will object to you taking breaks between naming YouTube videos! It just wasn’t clear if you were running out of road or running out of gas; sounds like it’s running out of road.

      4. Mike C.*

        You need to start looking into software tools to automate this sort of thing. grep could have taken care of that in a few minutes, for example.

          1. Baby Fishmouth*

            I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend time figuring out a good way to automate a process than complete tedious menial tasks for hours on end, even if I didn’t have much else to do. There’s value in being the person who can figure out better ways to do something.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Yes, I did a little bit of that with sales expense reports before they were delivered to the Great Satan Concur–but it was automate or die in that case.

            1. Techworker*

              grep will not get you that far into the task of renaming YouTube videos (slightly bizarre suggestion :p) but I agree automating might be good. I’d say in general this kind of thing actually won’t decrease the time the first time (you’ve got to work out how to do it, test that it actually works, etc, before actually doing it) – but the advantage is that even if it takes the same amount of time (or longer in this case!) you’re learning something and it’s not mind-numbingly dull.

      5. Just Employed Here*

        Being super productive does involve taking breaks, though. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that taking breaks is slacking off.

        Try the pomodoro method, or listening to something interesting as suggested above (assuming headphones are OK at your office).

    3. Baby Fishmouth*

      No, I think they are working 2-3 hours productively, and then find there’s nothing else to do so has to sit around for 6-7 hrs a day.

  10. Labradoodle Daddy*

    As a 27 year old who is already completely screwed by their choices because they didn’t care about the work: care about the work.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Aww, nobody’s completely screwed at 27. There is still so much time for you to find a career that works for you. I had friends go back to med school at 30! (!). People’s careers now are longer than they used to be.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I have no skills and am not pursuing the one field I have any experience in due to an abusive boss that blackballed me. I assure you, I’m screwed.

          1. clawback*

            way harsh dude, Labradoodle posted with advice and then someone commented on their situation and so they clarified, it all seemed OK to me

        1. animaniactoo*

          Skills are developable. You’re only screwed if you accept this as the status quo and don’t look around for what you CAN do in terms of working towards something else. Will you be in the same place as if you started out with that life path? No maybe not. But will you be in a better place than you are right this moment? If you’re smart and realistic about it – probably. How do you want to risk the next 50-60 years of your life? That’s a choice that’s up to you – but there is a choice here and it’s not nearly as bleak as you’re presenting. If you absolutely feel it is that bleak to the extent that you can’t even convince yourself to go look at what’s possible and realistic (with some, yes, hard work towards it), I would encourage you to check in with a therapist for a while to try and sort out what’s at the root of that – because it’s not a mentally healthy or common perspective. Just from the comments I’ve seen you leave here, I believe that you can get more out of life than what you’re putting forth, and I 100% believe you deserve to.

        2. Just Employed Here*

          But you still have plenty of time to develop skills. Sure, it won’t be as doable as if you were fresh out of college, but your not completely screwed.

        3. theletter*

          Take a look at your where your soft skills and some slightly more technical skills intersect. My career didn’t even get off the ground until I was 30.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah I had to ask myself, what did I *like* and what did the evidence indicate I might be good at? And TBH it was more soft-skills stuff than an specific job related talent like coding or art or something.

        4. Det. Charles Boyle*

          You can learn skills! It’s not too late. The brain is very plastic and people do have the ability to change and become interested in new things.

        5. TardyTardis*

          I had a similar problem in the writing field; some publishing worlds are smaller than others. And yet there is life after such things. But at 27, you have time to get over that. Some bosses end up being blown out of the water, too (which, bad me, I was delighted to see happen to a certain person).

          I do know it’s horrible now, though.

  11. Lil Fidget*

    I’m actually a little surprised about the suggestion here! If they only started in July I would probably encourage a new grad who doesn’t hate their job and is happy with their pay and benefits to at least finish a year, if only for their resume.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In most situations, I would have! But having nothing to do for 6-7 hours is so extreme that I don’t think this job is going to help in any way other than having something for that time period on her resume. If she leaves now, it’s not going to be a big deal that she had one short-term job right after graduating (as long as she stays in the next one for a couple of years).

      1. OP*

        I definitely am nervous about looking as if I bounce around a lot, but I do have one internship lasting a year on my resume and another internship lasting 19 months on my resume, so I am leaning towards potentially leaving before the one year mark, but I’m not trying to rush the process as I do know the value of staying for as long as possible.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        That’s so interesting… it doesn’t seem that extreme to me (which might reflect too much dysfunction in my professional life!).

        In the first few months of any job — and especially for an entry-level staffer who’s navigating the basics about how to appropriately push for what she needs — lots of employers err on the side of offering too little work, rather than overloading new staff. It sucks, but — to me — it’s pretty normal, especially combined with the fact that it’s apparently it’s the quiet season (which implies a busy season to come).

        I also have experience with employees who feel like they don’t have enough to do and drag out their work in order to fill days that would otherwise be empty… but if they were performing at a higher level, there is more/more interesting/more time-consuming work that they could be given.

        So I think my general advice would be:

        1) Ride this out for at least a few more months (or whenever the “busy season” is).

        2) Be a star at the work you do. Do it quickly (definitely do not drag it out to take longer to fill your time — that starts to look like an ineffective worker that your boss won’t assign bigger/tougher/time-sensitive projects to, even if it’s a reasonable reaction to not having enough to do), do it excellently, look for opportunities to highlight your work appropriate to your boss and other highly valued employees.

        3) Get clear about what you want (more work? different kinds of projects? specific experiences? people you want to work with? etc.), and communicate that to your boss. Your tone here matters a lot. You should be aiming for a tone that is direct without being demanding. “I’ve been giving some thoughts to what skills I’d like to develop. I know that my role is primarily X, but if there’s an opportunity I’d like to learn how to Y; I think my experience with X and my skill in ABC could help make Y successful. If there’s an opening on the next Y project, I’d appreciate being considered.” (Killing it on X is going to be key here; that will buy you the trust you’ll need to make an ask like this.)

        4) And hey, sure, keep your eye out for something that’s a better fit. But if you take a new job you should plan on staying for at least three years, so you’ll want to make sure that it’s genuinely a strong fit that will get you the experience you want.

    2. fposte*

      You get some slack for bouncing early after a first mismatched college job, though. If the OP can find a job that’s a good enough fit to stay, it’s not likely to hurt her. (That being said, I’m with Ana above in being concerned that the OP may be saying that she bails on productivity rather than running out of work; that’s something you don’t want to replicate at a second job.)

      1. Amber T*

        Yep, lasted at my (horribly toxic) first job out of college for just six months. Next/current job asked about it, and while I don’t remember exactly what I said, it wasn’t a big concern for the hiring team.

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          I think if OP’s job was toxic, my advice would be to leave, and that you get some grace in your first job post-college, and that honestly resume gaps and short stints don’t matter as much as people insist that they do.

          But — and maybe this is coming from my perspective as someone who has a day job, and a creative career, and a family — honestly if everything is generally fine except that it’s boring, I would say to count your blessings that your only problem is boredom and to stick it out for a year. Maybe get a hobby that’s easy to do in workplace down time or work on some soft skills or personal development with the ample time that you’re lucky to have.

          There’s a strong chance that there will be a future toxic job OP will need to bounce out of, and leaving after 6-7 months because you were “bored” is exactly the kind of job hopping that hiring managers don’t want to see on your resume. Like… what are you going to say in your interview for your next job? If it’s “I wasn’t passionate enough about the product and my job was boring”, how do they know you won’t feel the same way about their product and this job?

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah I wouldn’t say stick it out for five years if it’s boring, and if it was toxic and miserable I’d say you don’t really HAVE to stick it out for one year – but if it’s just boring, I’d try to do one year personally.

    3. Natalie*

      It never hurts to look – after all, if the short time period on the resume is an issue, that will be reflected in a lack of callbacks. But to your point, this is a time to be pretty choosy about the next job and make sure you’re not just jumping to a position with the same problems. I’m actually in the same situation as the OP right now, and it is really boring (and remarkably depressing, I wasn’t expecting that) so it can be hard to be patient.

      1. OP*

        I’ve actually had to start going to therapy because of how it has been affecting my mental health! I was not expecting this change (also perhaps because of the huge life change from school to work), but it definitely has had an impact on me mentally. I definitely am normally a person who prides themselves on their accomplishments and duties, and I’m used to being a leader and busy with important and meaningful work. Right now, that isn’t the case (perhaps won’t be the case anywhere while I’m still entry level), but I can’t help but think it could be better in other places.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          It’s really smart that you’re talking to someone. It’s important to tease out what concerns are related to this job and which are about being in this time of life, making the transition out of school, changing your self-identity etc. They get jumbled together sometimes – someone on Captain Awkward referred to “the load bearing wall of anxiety” meaning, that’s the place where you put your bad feelings (your weight, your job, not having a boyfriend, your social life), and pretend that if it was gone, you’d feel better … but in reality if you did ever lose that weight or get that boyfriend or whatever, your anxieties would probably just shift to something else, because you didn’t address the root cause.

          I think about this a *lot.*

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          As an entry level person, no, you are not a leader. Doesn’t mean you never will be, just that you aren’t right now. Take that opportunity to really asses what a good leader does and does not do from your current position. The best leaders do not forget what it is like working the lowest position under them. Take stock of your own boss, think about their management style and how it impacts your job as it is *right now*. Observe your coworkers and become fully versed in office dynamics. What can you take away from this position that will help you in the future to attain your goals? I bet there’s plenty if you go looking in the right place.

          I would consider how you approach your work. “Important and meaningful” is an arbitrary standard and just about ANY job can be classified as such when looked at properly. Treat what you do as important and meaningful, because if it wasn’t the company would not be wasting a salary on you to do it. As someone who has done monkey work jobs well below my skill and education level, if you come to the table with a serious intent to do your job well, no matter how menial it might be, it gets noticed. I may only be sweeping the floor, for example, but I will do it thoroughly and reliably and without complaint. One boss even gave me a raise because he was so happy to have someone who didn’t bitch about the grunt work and actually finished it to a high standard. If it doesn’t get noticed, well, you have your answer right there about if it’s time to move on. But give it your best go first, take it seriously, and make them miss you when you leave.

        3. Natalie*

          That’s good. I’m more mid-career, I just happened to end up at a place that is deeply siloed and inefficient, so it can happen anywhere unfortunately. Given that you’re a new grad, though, I wouldn’t focus too much on jobs with leadership potential or very meaningful work, since that is going to be a lot harder to find. But, there’s still a huge difference between a normal entry level job and one where 50-75% of your time is… nothing.

          As people have mentioned elsewhere, additional education or committees and networking stuff could be a good filler here. To the extent that you can do these during some of those empty work hours, the better.

  12. TootsNYC*

    One other thing: Now, when your job is not so hard, is the time to invest in your OWN life, the life outside the office. Now’s the time to set up the patterns that mean you have interests and connections to people outside of work.

    One thing that’s different from school, I think, is that “school” is sort of everything all at once,; we socialize with fellow students,a nd even sometimes the clubs we join, we still think of as “school.” And so it seems there’s one thing going on.

    But “work” isn’t like that. We may socialize with fellow employees, but for most of us, it’s not all that strong. And there are no clubs or teams.

    1. OP*

      That’s definitely something that I’m having trouble adjusting to, as well. The fact that after 5pm I don’t have much to do, and my coworkers are in general much older than me and have kids/other responsibilities, so it keeps me from having relationships with them. I think, in the meantime I probably should try to find some other things to get involved in outside of work.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yes! This can be weird when you’re in an office with older workers. It’s easier not to notice when there are other people who might be going to happy hours or want to do an office kickball team or whatever, but the question of how you’re going to fill your new different schedule is something every adult has to manage for themselves. I take a gym class that starts at six most days, and by the time I get out of that, shower, make dinner, and get ready for tomorrow, I don’t have that weird feeling of having empty time on my hands.

      2. No Name Yet*

        Yes! And if you have energy at the end of the day to establish those patterns/relationships now, they may be easier to sustain in the future when work/life is busier.

      3. Holly*

        OP, have you considered getting involved in other professional groups? like if you’re in marketing, a young professionals marketing group that puts on events – those definitely exist. it’s a great networking opportunity if you want to end up moving somewhere a little busier, but also will fill your time with something you can put on your resume.

      4. Amber T*

        Yep, I was the youngest when I joined with not much in common with my coworkers (technically still don’t). It was told to me in my interview that “we’re not a group that gets together for happy hour or much outside of work.” Which was fine… but it’s hard as a new grad in a new place (or, if you’re like me, not too far away from your hometown but all your friends have left) to meet new people.

        Meetup was my savior. Found a local pub trivia group that met weekly, and while we mostly sucked at trivia, we had a great time, and that’s where a lot of my friends are from now.

        (Hanging out with coworkers on a regular basis is so foreign for me now that I find it almost weird that 99% of my boyfriend’s friends are coworkers – but that’s the nature of their company!)

      5. Nearly out the door*

        Are there any industry meet ups or anything of that ilk in your location? That’s a good way to build skills and networks as well as to socialise and meet new people.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Second this! One of our marketing people meets up with other area marketers about once a week. That could be a great way to benefit your company and yourself through networking.

      6. CAA*

        I do think it would help to have more activities outside the office. It’s especially difficult if you live alone or if the people you live with aren’t feeling very social after working all day at their jobs.

        One thing you could do is get involved with some networking opportunities that could lead to friendships as well as mentoring, and maybe even your next job. Look for something like a local chapter of your university’s alumni association; a professional society for your field; a users group for the software you use to do your job; a local young professionals group; etc. You can usually find these groups via Google or Meetup.com.

      7. Ella Vader*

        Oh, I remember being at that stage. That was part of why work felt unfulfilling, because I didn’t have enough else in my life to fulfill me. The older people at my workplace didn’t just have work projects that were paying off for them; they also had partners, children, houses, and community ties, and I’d just moved there and didn’t have any of those things. I started going to the local-chapter meetings of a professional association and helping out with their events. I also got involved with volunteer things slightly related to my work field (science fair judging for example), I joined the kinds of community equivalents of the things I’d done in university and also the things I’d always wished to have time for in university (a choir, a sports-coaching volunteer gig, etc)

  13. Autumnheart*

    I would suggest to OP that the first few years of joining the workforce full-time is to adjust to the rhythm of work vs. school. You’re a new grad. The work environment is consistent–there aren’t finals, there aren’t quizzes, you’re not changing your focus significantly after every quarter or semester. That’s part of the reason you feel sort of unchallenged–the work itself builds slowly.

    You’re in a stable situation with good benefits and pay, and coworkers who are a positive influence on the culture. This is a good base for stretching yourself a bit. You could broach the subject with your manager about how you’d be interested in learning more aspects of the business–the product, distribution, whatever it is. You don’t say what you want your career path to be (marketing? business? tech?) but if you have several hours of downtime per day, you can fill at least some of it with self-directed learning.

    You can also explore your benefits and see if there’s any tuition reimbursement. If you’re open to the idea of an advanced degree or a certificate, and you can use some of your work hours to your benefit, why not get some more education? Even a class or two will help you further your goals.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yes, I’ve had a lot of new grads at my office get the early-career equivalent of “burnout” around the time the semester would have been changing, or the end of the year when they were used to having a big shift. In the working world, the same old trudge often continues month after month, year after year (depending on the type of job). It’s a big adjustment and you have to make your own internal changes, because you’re not going home for the summer or starting all new classes with a new schedule in the Fall.

      1. Autumnheart*

        OP might be interested in my industry (retail). It has a defined schedule that’s tied to the calendar, there are multiple campaigns throughout the year, and then of course the extravaganza surrounding Black Friday. It’s not for everyone, since the work peaks during the holidays when it seems like everyone else has tons of time off, but it is definitely challenging and continually evolving.

      2. Existentialista*

        Oh, I can relate to this! I stayed in “school” until I was 29, getting post-grad degrees, and then worked in Academia for my early career, and
        I still haven’t adjusted to the endless routine of corporate work. I always feel the need for a longer break than I have at the start of the summer and at New Year’s. On the other hand, I always feel a sense of energy and new possibility every September, so there are pros and cons.

    2. OP*

      The transition from school to work has definitely been difficult in ways that I wasn’t aware of. I’ve worked full-time for a summer, and had internships during work, but I think having involvement in clubs/orgs and classes definitely kept me on my toes and I didn’t realize how big of an impact it really had on me until I didn’t have them anymore.

      1. Autumnheart*

        This might be a good time for you to check out local marketing organizations. Linkedin would be a good resource for this. It’d be a good opportunity for you to network and be engaged with the industry. Good resume fodder too.

        1. Holly*

          I just suggested this elsewhere in the thread! It would be a great use of extra time that can also beef up a resume and be great networking

      2. ContentWrangler*

        Does your work have any employee groups? It might be dependent on how big your company is, but my work has groups for employees themed around different areas, LGBT, Women, career growth, diversity. I volunteered to help out with these groups when I first started – it helped fill up my slower days and gave me the opportunity to network with people at my company in totally different departments. If your company doesn’t have any kind of groups like that, maybe you could use the extra time to pursue additional certification or classes? There can be some interesting free ones online.

        1. OP*

          Unfortunately, we don’t have anything like that here. It’s a very individualistic culture (only 2 people have signed up to attend our Holiday event, with over 100 employees). I definitely will look into additional certifications or classes, though!

      3. Amber T*

        I found when I was in school, you’re always going going going and there’s always something that needs to get done. School work and classes, internship/job, club activities, friends who are physically near by…

        Adjusting to one full time job when you’re done at a set time and don’t have to think about work until the next morning does take some getting used to. I remember thinking… am I missing something? Am I forgetting something? The urge to go go go is still there… but to what?

        Definitely look into outside activities, both work related (like the suggestions above) and, if you’re not already, personally.

  14. Mike C.*

    I think you should look into trying to automate the tasks on your job. The exercise will give you something to do, and when you’re successful it becomes a whole lot easier to move on to more challenging work.

    1. Amber T*

      As long as you don’t automate yourself out of a job… in which case, good for the company, bad for OP.

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s been my experience that when you start automating things, you get handed more complex projects to automate rather than just being kicked out the door. There’s almost always more that needs to be done than there is time or money to do it with.

        1. Lucille2*

          Agreed. OP will add tremendous value by automating time-consuming but important tasks. It will also showcase some technical skills that the organization may not realize they need. This has been my experience as well. Automating tasks that don’t require a person’s mental focus often allows bandwidth to take on more complex work.

        2. theletter*

          I’m literally in the “automating my job” process right now, and I spend most of my time managing and expanding the automation. It’s challenging and interesting, and I can accomplish a lot more than if I did the job the traditional way. I think it’s very true that in automating a job successfully, companies tend to value you that more in the long run, and if not, putting “automated job out of existence” is basically resume gold. The company becomes that much more efficient and productive and competitive! What manager wouldn’t want that?

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Not to mention, if you automate the boring drudgery parts of your job, you have more room for the better more interesting things.

            1. Mike C.*

              This is why I do it. “Here’s a bunch of stuff that is dumb and boring and prone to errors if I’m not paying close attention, so I’ll just make the computer do it instead and get some breakfast”.

          2. Lil Fidget*

            Plus, Op doesn’t even want to stay in this job anyway! They’re already looking around for the exit.

    2. OldJules*

      I’m with Mike C.

      When I work with fresh out of school people, I want them to use their fresh eyes and skills to figure out ways to do the same things better. I want the to innovate. I want them to come at me with a ‘here is this old dust thing, I know you are too busy to refresh it, can I do it?’ I love go getters. OTOH, my current fresh graduate, sits and waits for assignments. I asked for him to give me his procedures and he literally emailed me 2 docs. I asked for him to research training opportunities, he sent me a web page. This is a Master’s graduate. I at least expect a proposal paper. If all I wanted was a web page, I can Google as well as the next guy. Haha… He is so bright so I will spend more time coaching him. But he does take my requests literally. And I do regularly feel like slapping my forehead.

  15. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    OP, can you use the time wisely doing online training courses on Udemy or Coursera? Most of them are free, and you could learn soft or hard skills that will contribute to your current job and look good on your CV for the future.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    What’s boring about the job? Is it that you, at the bottom of the totem pole, have to do the most tedious work, but you’d like to do the work of someone higher on the ladder someday? Or is it that you find the FIELD boring?

    If the former, I’d say learn to be great at the boring work, and work to get yourself promoted to a role with more interesting work. If you don’t think you’d be happy with a more senior job in that company, though, now is the time to start thinking about what you WOULD like to do and how you might get there.

    1. OP*

      I think it’s a mix of both for me right now. Some of the work of more senior people is definitely more interesting, but I think the company and product just aren’t interesting to me. A lot of my coworkers are very passionate about our product, and I just don’t have that same enthusiasm. I think that’s holding me back from being as interested as I can be. However, some of the work is boring because it is super tedious just because I am the lowest on the totem pole.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I will second AdAgencyChick’s advice. I think a lot of jobs can be tedious, especially in the early stages, but you have to have ambitions to get through the tedium. That doesn’t mean you have to want to own the company, just that you see people working hard and getting promoted into more interesting jobs and that keeps you going through your day. But if you don’t have the enthusiasm where you see a bunch of people who do, then it’s time to look around.

      2. Lucille2*

        I understand the feeling when you’re not passionate about the product. A lot of us have been there. Alison’s advice is really great, it’s important to focus on the work over cushy benefits at early career stage. However, while you’re on the lookout for other opportunities, take advantage of what’s in front of you also. If there is more interesting work in your current job, what is needed to get you assigned to more challenging work? Focus on developing those skills and presenting yourself as a viable option. This is a good time for you to learn how to self-promote and learn the ways of moving within an organization. Even if the product itself does not excite you, there are likely skills to be gained that you can take with you on your career journey.

  17. jack*

    OP, I faced a similar issue when I first started with my company right out of school. However, I knew that my job at the time was temporary, and I’d be moved to a more fulfilling role within a year (and also get to move to another area which I wanted to do). If I hadn’t had that guarantee to hold on to, there’s no way I would’ve stayed at my entry-level position. My advice would be to definitely start putting out feelers fro more interesting work, and in the meantime try to strengthen other skills in your downtime (maybe some software you’re not familiar with, a new language, anything that interests you?).

  18. animaniactoo*

    OP, if you have that much free time on your hands, can you ask your boss about the possibility of shadowing people in other roles to learn more about what goes into the overall process and stuff like that? I would pitch it somewhere between desire to learn and as being able to help out if there’s ever a need, making sure there’s coverage if a particular employee is the only one who does (or knows how to do) X.

    My main concern here is that having 6-7 hours of time on your hands at a stretch on a regular basis can be really counterproductive to your work habits. I’m still struggling with pulling out of a slump and I didn’t manage one of our last slow periods well enough to keep me from developing bad habits that are still a fight I’m working on getting past.

    1. OP*

      I’m also worried about this becoming a pattern. I was very productive at both of my internships previous to this, and I don’t want to get into the habit of expecting my work to be done so easily and quickly. Thanks for the suggestions!

  19. Sleepytime Tea*

    I actually agree and disagree with Alison here. I had to manage the expectations of many recent grads about what entry level work looks like. It’s entry level. It’s frequently not exciting and the people who are more experienced are the ones getting the interesting projects. A lot of times you have to get really, really familiar with certain (boring) things before you are ready to move on to the more interesting work. I think before ditching out on this job so quickly the LW needs to get a pulse on whether or not the type of work they’re doing is actually normal for the type of entry level job they are qualified for. It would be terrible to leave a job that they are happy with when it comes to pay, benefits, work environment, etc. for another job without all those things and end up with the same type of work.

    Also, and this is something my mom taught me young that to this day I believe, “any job worth doing is worth doing well.” Be the best damn TPS report reviewer out there. Yeah, it’s boring. And we did tons of boring stuff in school with the goal of getting an awesome job where we get to do awesome, interesting things. But that just does not happen overnight. You will have tons of things that you have to do and you don’t get to just avoid doing it, nor do you have an excuse to not do your absolute best on it. Do your work to the absolute best of your ability. If you run out of work, start offering help to your coworkers. Ask to job shadow more senior people. Show initiative. Sitting at your desk quietly twiddling your thumbs isn’t do you or your employer any favors.

    Now if this job truly has a crazy narrow scope of work, and no one would ever let the LW job shadow them or help out with things or what have you, and the type of work is below the level of what is expected for entry level in the industry (or more narrow than what is normal), then yes, I think that job hunting might be in order. But I would also do it with a grain of salt and make sure in interviews to be asking a lot of questions about the type of work that the position entails.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      What about the hours though? Does it seem typical that an entry level job is out of work to do after only a few hours? And there’s nothing else they can do, even after asking for more work? I agree that many entry level jobs are a disappointing reality to recent grads who got to do a lot of critical thinking coursework, but it’s weird to me that there’s not at least four or five hours of work to do.

      1. Can't Think of a Name*

        I wonder if it’s also because OP might be an exceptionally fast worker, too. It could be that the work normally takes 4-5 hours, but because she’s very skilled or efficient or what have you, she’s getting it done much quicker. It also could be there IS more work, just not that she’s qualified to do (yet), and they want to get a better feel for her quality of work before they feel comfortable giving her that work. That was what happened to me in a similar job, at least.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          This can definitely happen, especially if the role used to be filled by someone who was on the slower end of typical. If it took Nancy a full day to turn around the timesheets or whatever, they think it’s a full day task, where as OP may be able to do the equivalent with a few clicks and be done in 20 minutes.

      2. Sleepytime Tea*

        I wrote this after reading the LW’s comments that they are in the slow season right now and they are in marketing and there are some budget constraints, which means no projects with marketing spend attached to them (so… a lot of projects would be on hold). I read that as this being something a little more temporary, since s/he also said that s/he was hired during the busy season but was still getting settled in, so I assume there’s a cycle taking place here and s/he implied work will pick up again at the beginning of the year. At which point it would maybe be a better time to evaluate the situation. If even during the busy season now that they are all settled into the position they still have that little work to do, that’s weird and definitely would be something worth getting out of since you’re not building any actual work experience.

        But I also think that if part of their concern is the type of work, it’s still valid to make sure when interviewing that they won’t be getting that same type of work again. Because sure, maybe they go someplace where there’s 8 hours of work each day, but it’s the same type of work (because maybe that’s what’s normal for an entry level position in the field) and then they are still unhappy.

        1. OP*

          I definitely think it is probably a mix of the two. At all of my past internships and currently, I get praised with how quickly I can finish work (and do it correctly). However, it definitely doesn’t help that it is currently the slow season and a lot of potential projects have been put on hold.

          1. Sleepytime Tea*

            I’ve been in your boat. I am fast and accurate, and so I’ve had jobs where the amount of work they’ve given me might have filled most people’s days, or at least close to it, but I just demolish it in a few hours and am left without much to do. And it’s not always easy to find people who WANT to keep working all day! You’re doing the right thing by asking for more work, but if you’re like me and others out there who are fast and want to stay productive, you may need to get creative about finding projects to work on or other things to do.

            So as an example, at my last job I automated a huge portion of my work to the point where I went from what normally took someone about 30 hours a week to getting it done in just a few hours. My boss had no idea what to give me and I hated being bored. I started asking if I could be a backup for other analysts, even if it was outside our team. Turns out there were quite a few analysts who didn’t have anyone trained as a backup for their work. They had to plan their vacations and things around when they had to run reports or things like that. So my manager reached out to some other managers and they were absolutely thrilled to have someone offering to be a backup. Those projects did not become mine, so there wasn’t issues of stepping on toes or moving work around departments or anything. I got trained by people doing different things on different teams that was super interesting. And it didn’t fill up all my time, sure. But I learned a lot about our business, I was able to provide something valuable, and it opened up a lot of doors as far as networking and just relationship building. Especially if everyone at your job has very specific assigned tasks and things are that compartmentalized, it might be worth finding out if there is a “backup” system in place. Maybe the person who posts things to your social media doesn’t have a backup to do that if they are out sick, and you could learn about that and be the person who handles it if they are out. I was a marketing analyst for awhile as well, so maybe there’s some reporting or things that takes place that you could get involved with.

            Unfortunately, you might not always have the opportunity to work on a product you are passionate about, although I would really encourage you to learn as much about the product as you can and try to find a way to be passionate about it. (I worked for a defibrillator company, and let me tell you, I have zero background in medical equipment, but I truly and all about that company and brand, and I became that way by learning as much about it as I could. How they implemented LEAN manufacturing principles was inspiring.) And if you really just can’t find that passion for the product, then you’ve got to find the passion for the work. Take the praise you get for how fast and accurate you are and be extremely proud of that and don’t lose it.

            There’s no harm in job hunting, but definitely make sure that you understand the job duties for positions you are considering. As an analyst I had recent grads that really thought they were going to be jumping into statistical modeling and things that just do not come with entry level jobs and they were extremely disappointed, even though I tried to make the job duties very clear to them in the interview process. In a lot of industries there is also a “pay your dues” attitude, which I don’t necessarily agree with, but to a certain extent it makes sense that the people without experience are doing the drudgery and people with proven results. But you’ll get there. And part of getting there will be getting exposure to different aspects of your career and learning what you enjoy doing.

            During the slow season I would definitely recommend job shadowing. People won’t be so busy that they will be annoyed by having to slow down their work to show someone new things and it won’t interrupt anything you’re doing either, obviously. While you’re in this early stage just learning about the career and what you like and don’t like, this can be extremely useful. Ask people to show you what they do, what they like best, what they like least, their biggest challenges, etc. If you do decide to job search, that is going to help you all the more by giving you insight into what types of job duties you are interested in and what to target.

            I also would be very wary of some of the commentor’s suggestions of going back to school right away. Take a break! But also, before investing time and money in another degree, make sure you know you’re doing what you want to be doing and that the degree you’re choosing to pursue will help you. It’s a multi-year investment and you’re just 4 months into your career. Especially for that type of commitment, give it a little more time.

            1. Calpurrnia*

              +1000 to all of this.

              Particularly the part about finding a way to be passionate about your work, which I am really feeling! I’m an analyst, currently working in the automotive industry… and let me tell you, OP, I just *do not* care about cars. They are a tool to get from point A to point B for me, and nothing more. I don’t care about dealerships, I don’t care about repair shops, I don’t care about registrations and inspections and all of that noise. But there is so much data about cars, and my job is to help business people and operations people at my company answer questions about cars based on that data. So I’ve been focusing on building up my technical skills by studying and developing my own streamlining tools for fetching data from our various sources, collating it, and extracting arbitrary bits of it – basically,ZSE becoming an expert on the data itself, what it looks like, where it’s found, how it’s accessed, and so on. This is great because it honestly does not require that i spend any time at all pondering whether the data is about cars or airplanes or sharknadoes. I use my knowledge to help my teammates (some of whom are really interested and invested in knowing a lot of things about cars!) access and use the data we have to figure out things about cars. I help translate car data into plots that illustrate their insights. And I do it all while continuing to not care at all about cars.

              In my previous job, I was support staff for a brand-new team that didn’t yet exist. We had a “standing up” period when there was almost nothing to do for weeks on end, everything ws on hold until xyz date when our budget line item went active or our primary staff completed their details and shifted to the team full-time. So I had, conservatively, 4 hours every day when I didn’t have specific tasking, there just weren’t enough things that needed doing yet. So I researched the bejesus out of the subject matter – I read through archives of past “incidents” to get a sense of what sorts of issues our team was being created to mitigate. I dug up ancient policy documents from 20 years ago that had been rewritten 5 times since, compared and noted the major changes in the policy, and built timelines correlating those changes with the significant events that precipitated them. I built binders of highlighted reports with tabs indicating important pieces of info, that I could flip open and quote passages from to resolve any confusion. I found policies from overseas organizations dealing with the same issues, studied them in detail, drew parallels between their structures and ours, and basically became a walking encyclopedia of best practices and domain knowledge. When I left that job (for the significant raise I’d been advocating for but not getting from the tightwads at corporate who had no idea what I did all day), every single person who’d worked with me talked about what a huge loss it was, how I knew more about that realm of our field than people who’d been working it for decades, how their projects would take five times as long because I couldn’t give them facts and quotes off the top of my head. All because I had some downtime and am very easily bored.

              The point of my stories is: this free time is a gift! Stop wasting it and start putting it to use making yourself a rockstar. Find a niche you can get your head into, and deep dive. Spend those 6 hours of wasted time every day becoming a freaking ninja PhD expert in whatever aspect of the work you want to learn about. Do what you have to do for 2 hours a day, and become the best thing they never knew they needed with the other 6. I’d bet money you won’t still be bored. :)

              1. Calpurrnia*

                Sorry, I have no idea how “basically just” became “basically,ZSE” in my phone’s brain. Oh well.

      3. Someone Else*

        I think it depends. I’ve been a person in an entry level job, with peers given the exact same amount of work as me, and I’d finish in half the time as everyone else. So it might be there just isn’t enough work to do, which from OP’s comments sounds like is true, but it’s also possible OP is faster than normal. So maybe the company expects her to be taking 5-6 hours and she’s taking 2-3, but they’re OK with that because it’s the slow season anyway. It might mean their bar is wrong, but sometimes it is true that one person is just really fast.

    2. Not Today Satan*

      I agree with this. My first job out of college was essentially data entry. I’ve also had jobs later in my career where I only worked for half a day (because I was brought on for a specific project, or it was a slow period, or other reasons). People here seem to think that’s extreme, but in my experience it’s not. I would be very hesitant to leave an employer with a great culture and benefits because the work is boring, that early in my career.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah I think even with 7 hours unoccupied a day, personally I’d still stick it out for a year – but that’s probably because I was entering the work field during the recession when jobs were so scarce and precious, and if you were lucky enough to have one you held on to it with all you had. From what I hear the market is kinder on new grads today! If you can get a better one, why wouldn’t you.

  20. Facepalm*

    I have a similar situation in my own workday, but I actually really enjoy it. In my downtime I read books on Project Gutenberg, studied for a necessary professional certificate (and passed), recently began an online coding course, etc.

    I’m at a different point in my career and personal life (mortgage, kids) where stability is way more important to me, so your mileage may vary. But there may be ways to occupy yourself at work while still learning and developing professionally.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yep I was this for a number of years. I just wanted to get paid a reasonable amount, get my benefits, and get out of there on time. If my bosses were satisfied, I was satisfied. However I do understand that that’s not really the popular opinion on a workplace blog haha

      1. +1 Unpopular Opinion*

        I’ve come to realize this is me too. Especially after Old Job where I barely had time to go to the bathroom and was working 9-10 hour days regularly and sometimes on the weekend too.

    2. EH*

      I think this approach works regardless of where you’re at career/life-wise. As long as you’re pretty self-directed, you can do all kinds of things in those empty hours.

      OP, this is a huge opportunity to do professional development (which includes a lot of personal development as well). Lynda.com has a bunch of courses for all kinds of software and career goals, and anything that’s even tangentially related to your field is fair game.

      I’ve had jobs where sitting around with nothing to do was a pretty normal part of the day for weeks at a time. Things I’ve done to fill that time:
      – Read the journal for my professional organization
      – Take Lynda.com courses
      – Work on the super boring background “it would be nice to…” kinds of projects (currently, I’m documenting every field on every screen of our software, for example. At a previous job, I worked on a massive administrators guide for the software I was documenting, blending all the existing doc into one big tome and writing up things to fill the blanks. I won an award for that puppy, and it looked great on my personal review for that year)
      – Taught myself web design using free online materials
      – Redesigned the company’s documentation templates (teaching myself a shitton about the word processing software we used along the way)

      Definitely talk to your manager and be 100% up front about how much downtime you have. Ask if there are boring, low priority things you could take off coworkers’ plates. In my experience, there’s always always always low-priority shit to do. Your coworkers will be glad to not have it hanging over their heads, and you’ll have something to do that earns you goodwill with coworkers.

      Finally, if you’re finding yourself at loose ends in the evening, take a look at meetup.com and any local university extension courses offered in your area. Or heck, take up a martial art! I used to train 2-3 nights a week when I was doing Aikido.

      1. Calpurrnia*

        Documentation projects are so great when you’re a total newbie still trying to learn your way around, because you know exactly how not-common-sense or vague everything is (unlike someone who’s been there a while and knows what things mean and how to use them), you probably have copious notes to yourself on what things are where and which login you use to access which system and what the buttons do, and you have a lot of free time when you don’t have a whole lot of tasks yet.

        Look at the training docs they gave you and identify some shortfalls, then start wireframing how you’d like to correct them. Tackling a documentation project is a great way to fill your day! And there is always a need for it; no company anywhere has ever had the documentation trifecta – full coverage, detailed/thorough, and current. At most, any given organization only achieves two of the three, and a lot of them even less than that! :D

  21. The Original K.*

    Are there any professional development opportunities you can look into, either inside or outside your company? Maybe some organizations related to the kind of work you do (e.g. PRSA for public relations folks)? Taking advantage of those is a good way to develop skills and build connections, especially as you’re starting out.

  22. Good Millennial*

    3 weeks off, an under-15 minute commute, plus a salary above industry norms?! I graduated from undergrad 6 years ago, have since acquired a master’s degree, am working in marketing like the OP, and WISH I had all those benefits. Granted, I love the majority of my coworkers and have plenty of interesting work to do on a given day, but the OP’s deal still sounds like something worth sticking out for a year or even two.

    1. Lucy*

      Being bored isn’t a tangible thing like pay or commute so it’s easy to underestimate its effect, but it really does suck. It saps your motivation and the longer you feel bored the harder it is to find interesting ways to fill the time.

      1. Bigintodogs*

        Exactly. And if LW stays a year or two and then moves on, they might have a hard time talking about their work in interviews. You don’t want it to be apparent you did very little for a year plus. I’m in a very similar situation to LW right now, made worse because I work remote and am the only person in the country on my team. The longer you stay, the more difficult it gets to talk about the 1-2 hours of work you did every day.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Also thinking long term, you don’t want to get the golden handcuffs this early in your career and just stay for the benefits – those early years you can hopefully make a lot more money with every jump, especially if your skills are growing and you’re excellent. Don’t stall out in your first job.

      3. Alianora*

        Yup. I’m in a similar situation to OP and I’m spending more and more time on AAM because of it. I still get my work done well ahead of time, but I can feel my problem-solving skills and motivation stagnating.

        I actually just got a job offer from a different, more engaging/busier job that I applied to before accepting my current tone, and I think I’m going to take it. Mostly because I can feel my standards for good work getting lower and I don’t want my career to develop this way.

      4. ThankYouRoman*

        It can also lead to personal issues. My depression soars when I’m bored constantly. Too much time inside my head. I don’t need that for any price!

  23. Juliecatharine*

    OP, does your company offer tuition reimbursement? If so, now would be an excellent time to take advantage of the light workload and start on an MBA or other advanced degree. Even if they don’t offer reimbursement, you have a lot of free mental bandwidth you could put to good use while not walking away from a decent entry level position with friendly coworkers and good pay/benefits.

    1. fposte*

      Though check out the terms on those–it could tie you to the job for a duration even after completing the degree, and that’s rough for a job you already are chafing at.

      1. Autumnheart*

        That’s true, but it might also open OP to promotions at the company, especially if OP can use real-world work examples on which to base her coursework.

        1. fposte*

          Maybe, but they’re not going to promote her for the mere fact of embarking on a degree, so we’re still basically talking another 3 years at a job the OP doesn’t want to do now.

      2. Anon From Here*

        Yes, I’ve more quid pro quo arrangements than “take all the classes you want, we’ll pay for ’em, no strings attached” arrangements, myself. As an example, currently I’m doing a distance-learning certification program that I’m paying for out of pocket because I don’t see myself staying at my current gig past the expiration of my current contract.

  24. mcf*

    It’s so, so easy to stay in a boring job with nothing to do just because the benefits are good. Alison’s right—start looking. You won’t regret it. I stayed in such a job and I think it’s held me back. You really do need to seek out challenges if you want to advance professionally.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Did you stay there for more than a year? I stayed at one for a year before I started looking, and I don’t think it really dragged me down but experiences can vary.

      1. mcf*

        Ha, I stayed for five years! Until I got laid off, womp womp. Seriously, that whole experience was basically a case study in What Not to Do when you’re entering the professional workforce.

        I think looking for more challenging work elsewhere is important not just for the work itself, but for proving to yourself that you take your own time and capabilities seriously. OP, take the reins of your career now. You’ll thank yourself later.

  25. Spelled With a C*

    I don’t know how but I’ve found myself in three such jobs. And I have asked for extra work and the fact is that there just isn’t any to go around. I thought that I had eliminated this problem in my current position by being very upfront that I have been bored in jobs before and I really didn’t like it, but it’s seems to be par for the course in this position. Many people have suggested asking for extra or just “showing gumption” by taking stuff on but the fact is that it really annoys management (at least in my experience). I’ve so far made it known that I am available for projects and back-up and all I can do is hope it picks up throughout the year.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I think it’s more characteristic of certain fields than others. If you’re in a billable-hours type field maybe you’re not twiddling your thumbs waiting for lunch all morning, but all my white collar office jobs had elements of this. It reminds me of that book “B*llshit Jobs” that came out recently, which was suggesting that lots of jobs are kind of made up for the egos of the higher-ups.

  26. Can't Think of a Name*

    I was in a similar situation as OP when I first started my current job (started in the beginning of slow period, often had 6 hours of free time a day and little other work to take on). It’s certainly worth exploring what’s available and talking to your boss, but sticking it out for the full year might reap unexpected rewards! I spent a looong time being bored at my easy job and frustrated there wasn’t more for me to do. But because I had built a solid groundwork of reliable work, when an opportunity DID arise, my boss had me take over the project, and since then my responsibilities have grown enormously. I’ve been able to learn a lot of new skills and get some great experience for my resume.

    This isn’t to say this will necessarily happen for you, OP, but 4 months isn’t very long! It’s very possible something could come up down the line for you, especially since you say your boss praises your work right now. And if you start putting the idea in their head that you’d like more work, when the opportunity comes, you’ll be one of the first they think of.

    But as others and Alison have mentioned, you still gain a lot of important soft skills, even if the work itself isn’t great. While you have the time, invest in some online courses or teaching yourself a skill you’d like that could help your career. Also, since you mentioned budget constraints, maybe brainstorm some ideas to help your organization that would be low/no-cost, if possible. Good luck!

    1. OP*

      Thanks for the suggestions! I know there are a few potential projects on the horizon, but neither my boss nor I really have power in the assigning of them, and they still haven’t really announced the scope of them. Nonetheless, I’ve definitely shown interest as much as I can, so hopefully a few will come my way!

  27. beth*

    This seems like the ideal situation for a slow job hunt to me, OP. Your work is boring for you, but you have stable employment with a steady paycheck. That gives you both the drive to start hunting for something better (whether that means a new field, or a busier role in the same field) and the leeway to hold out for something that’s actually an improvement instead of feeling like you need to take the first thing that comes along.

    I know you said you want to wait until you’ve been there a year, and that’s not generally a bad instinct. But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule, either. It can’t hurt to keep an eye on what’s out there, do some informational interviews, send in applications for openings that look like they’d be a particularly good fit, etc. Not to mention, feeling like you’re doing something about it can go a long way towards making a frustrating situation bearable.

    1. OP*

      Thanks! I think I will start putting some feelers out after the new year. It definitely isn’t helping that I’ve felt that I’m trapped here for the next few months, when I see that there are other opportunities out there right now.

  28. gecko*

    First: you have a job now, which means you now have the luxury of being able to make real decisions on a job search, unlike when you were graduated just needed to get something–anything.

    Second, you totally need a balance of work environment to work itself. Maybe usually you should care a little more about the environment than the work, but right now your balance is severely skewed.

    And finally–I wonder if, for the short time that you work at this job, this is a good opportunity to be ok not working on flashy products. You’ve said you don’t care about the product so you don’t care about marketing it. That’s totally legit, but it’s really really useful to be able to be able to find some shred of caring within yourself. There are not many flashy products, and more products that people care about because they need them.

    I’m usually not a huge reality TV person, but if you’ve seen the host of Dirty Jobs talk about why he likes doing the show, he talks a lot about how people do these nasty jobs and find a way to take pride/fulfillment in their work and the product of their work, even though it’s genuinely nasty and often not their first choice. That struck a chord in me as someone who writes software–there’s a lot of flashy work to do in software, but even more everyday humdrum work.

    I believe you 100% that your product and your work kinda sucks and I’m trying (hopefully succeeding) not to get sanctimonious here but I think it could be a helpful exercise as you try to get a new job with better work (NOT a replacement for that). Even if you can’t succeed that’s OK but I think it’s really really helpful to practice *looking* for fulfillment instead of just hoping it comes up in the way it came up while you were at school, if that makes sense. Good luck!!!

    1. OP*

      Thanks, this was helpful! And I actually do love Dirty Jobs. :) I’ll try to figure out some redeeming qualities and hopefully ignite even the smallest passion.

      1. gecko*

        Yeah I mean there’s no way around it if the work sucks BUT at least trying that may help you get through it :/

  29. Twenty Points for the Copier*

    I partially disagree because in my experience having 6-7 hours a day of sitting around (sometimes 7-8!!) with nothing to do was pretty much par for the course for my first 5-10 years in the working world. In some cases, it was partially caused by slow season, or by being hired for something that was really not a full time job, but part of it is that I am very, very fast at completing tasks (even after checking them over at least once). I did eventually get to a point where I generally have more than 8 hours of work to do each day (and the bulk of that work is interesting), but it took a long time.

    I also remember feeling very, very bored and unfulfilled in those early jobs. I do think part of it is the transition from being in college, having a lot going on, doing work that is more intellectual and self-directed in nature and then all of a sudden being stuck somewhere for 8-9 hours a day doing what feels like uninspiring busy work in comparison. By nature a lot of entry level work is just not that interesting. Plus, not having enough to do is in and of itself boring!

    If you’re getting consistent praise for the work that you’re doing, I wouldn’t worry too much that you’re being seen as inconsistent. But looking back there are things that I wish I would have done besides spending 6+ hours a day sitting around bored out of my mind browsing the internet:

    1) Talk to your boss. Ask him if he is willing to or would be OK with you talking to other people in the office or possibly the heads of other teams to find out if there are additional responsibilities you can take on. In one job it turned out there where people who could have used some help and meanwhile I was bored and sad that I was bored and I could have been helping with their workload – UGH, I wish I had done more exploration and found out I could have helped with that stuff.

    2) I am not in the “you need a new job” boat especially if you have been doing well and are building work accomplishments with the things that do end up on your plate. BUT I wish the me of my 20’s had been a little more willing to look around and see what else might be out there. So do that. You don’t need to leave, but knowing that it’s an option (and reading the tips about being picky and interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you) will help you feel empowered and maybe there’ll be a better fit somewhere else.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for this response! I definitely will make a point to see if other coworker’s workloads are the same as mine or if they are struggling with their workload. Though they all have different job duties than I do, perhaps I can help in some way and gain even more experience.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      It does seem to vary by field, I’ve found, and by size of org – I’d say smaller orgs are less likely to have this problem in general (although they can have a lot of other problems lol). If longer slack times are a reality in OP’s field – some industries are really feast or famine – and OP particularly hates having time on their hands, that’s good information to know as they start thinking about their next move. You could course-correct into a specific part of the field where work flow is more consistent or even where there’s just more volume.

  30. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    OP, I don’t know enough about the situation to say whether you should stay or go. But I will caution you that it’s very easy to fall into the habit of 2-3 hours of productive work and 6-7 hours of procrastinating, and that habit can follow you even after you’ve landed a job with work that is interesting and challenging. I was in the same situation in my first post-college job – basic tasks, limited scope, and I was (am?) a particularly fast worker, but after a couple of years I switched fields to one where there are always be projects I can work on. My current field is almost entirely self-directed, so I know what can/should be done at any given moment. But, I developed the bad habit of screwing around all day, so unless a deadline is approaching, I just… don’t. I hate myself for this trait and I know it’s going to come back to bite me one of these days, so I really encourage you not to fall into this same trap.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Oh lord how did I creep in here and post this without remembering. The worst part is that my bosses seem to think I’m okay at my job, but I feel like a fraud. And I know it’s eventually going to cost me big time.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Seriously!! I think it has to do with being a “good student” in school – where I didn’t have to learn to work hard, but to figure out how to do just enough to get an A. I *know* I’m not working up to my potential and that I’m wasting waaaaay too much time during the work day, but my output is good and my manager has no constructive feedback for me. Every night when I leave work I tell myself tomorrow will be different and I’ll actually get stuff done, but come the next morning it’ll be 10am before I even open my work documents :(

        1. Reba*

          Y’all I relate to this!!! Some days I do get a lot of work done or get into a state of flow, then it’s five and I realize I haven’t internetted all day, and it feels great! Other days… not so much.

          I’m going to try reinstating a discipline that helped me when I was writing my dissertation (i.e., totally self-directed time, long amorphous work product). Morning pages: First thing in the morning, just do some work for 30 minutes without stopping. It doesn’t have to be good work–or often in my case work that I would even use in the end–it just gets you going in the right mindset. I do the pomodoro’s quite a bit when I’m struggling to concentrate, and now I’m thinking about how to adapt the morning pages thing to the work I’m doing now.

          Let’s check in on this in an open thread sometime soon?

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Also the further I slip into bad habits, I find that I’m wasting time even when I *do* have something I should be doing, just because that’s my general practice when I’m at my desk. I also think I’m pushing those deadlines more and more, gulp.

  31. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’m midway through my career and have been at a new job for six months and just in the past month or so feel like they are utilizing my skills in productive ways. Basically, give them some time to see what you’re capable of, especially since you mentioned this is a slow period.

    Do you have any sense of when things might pick up again? If the new fiscal year starts in January, will that open up the budget and some projects? Is there a big event or something in the spring?

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      This is an excellent point.

      It took about six or seven months into my recent position, despite being almost two decades into my career.

      We’re still finding things for me to do. We meaning me, I’m over here snatching up duties to fill my time that nobody ever took control of for one reason or another. I’ve turned into the company Catch All and I’m down for it.

  32. CRM*

    OP might want to give it a few more months before deciding that the job is going nowhere. My first real job out of college started out very slow and didn’t pick up until after about a year in. I was hired as a data analyst, but for two whole months I worked only on one assignment that involved doing research online and entering the info into an Excel spreadsheet; It was something a computer-savvy 14 year old probably could have managed. At the time I thought I was going nowhere, but once I reflected back on that first year I realized that I was learning new skills- it just wasn’t happening at the rigorous pace that I was used to in school. I also learned a lot of important things about workplace culture and norms during that time.

    Once I was fully trained on the systems and gained a reputation for good work (I kicked butt with that Excel project), I started to be assigned more complex analytical projects with higher stakes. My job became far more interesting- and stressful- after that.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely have to stay aware to see if there’s any potential in the future. I can’t imagine realistically that I would move anywhere until after the end of the year, so hopefully in the next few months I can get some more projects that make me want to stay!

  33. Hiring Mgr*

    One thing to keep in mind OP is that three weeks vacation (including sick, etc..) isn’t THAT unusually great… I get there are other good things that you mentioned, but I wouldn’t put off looking around because you think you won’t find anything better. (and if OP’s perception of vaca time might be a little off, so might her ideas on pay, benefits, etc..)

  34. mf*

    Do you have any senior coworkers who might be willing to bring you in and train you on projects they’re working on?
    Are there other parts of the business you might be interested? If so, you could try seeking out (with your boss’s permission) experienced people on other teams who could use your help. Are there any “volunteer opportunities” at your workplace? Any committees or ERGs you can join?

    Agree that you probably have to job hunt but it makes sense to exhaust all your options at your current job while doing so.

  35. jcarnall*

    I second advice about doing online courses. But don’t just do the courses – write them up.

    In my first job, I was in a similar situation – over the course of a week, I’d have a few hours of busy time and more hours of essentially unproductive time, and there was nothing I could do to change this.

    What I did was a lot of online courses, and I wrote a report on them – I was terrified my manager was going to turn round at some point and demand to know what I had been doing all day. So I wrote a brief report on each course I did or on any systematic reading I was doing on work-related topics.

    No one ever asked me how I was filling those additional hours, but I did have a systematic report of how I’d spent my time at the end of the year when I moved on.

  36. ThankYouRoman*

    Ah first jobs. My first job was an accounting assistant. It was all filing and data entry, mind numbing to most.

    I think part of it is trying to get your boss and coworkers to involve you in other projects if possible. I got all my tasks done fast since I am able to focus on mundane tasks best when it’s all in and out as soon as possible. It’s the side projects I actually learned my now marketable skills in.

  37. Another Option*

    Is there a way that OP can “stretch” his/her duties so they fill up more time in the day? Taking into account that nobody else needs help on another project etc.

  38. Liet-Kinda*

    I would personally caution OP against this line of thinking, separate and apart from whether there’s enough to do in the position:

    “It’s extremely difficult for me to be productive at work – I just am not passionate about our product and marketing for it is boring.”

    It’s really easy to slip into the mindset that passion and committed buy-in to the organization’s larger mission and product is critical for productivity and enjoyment, particularly for younger workers who spent the first few years of their independent adult life largely free to pursue things that they are passionate about and committed to. I personally think it’s a real trap. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you may not find your employer’s product and mission terribly compelling. And whether you do or not, you can still find satisfaction and engagement in a job well done, a solution well chosen, a problem well solved.

    Note that this doesn’t address the question of whether this job is worth moving on from, because I think it is. But OP’s next job might be at another employer whose product is boring. That needn’t be an impediment.

  39. DirectorOfSomething*

    OP I feel your pain. I have been in a pretty boring job for over a year now and I think Alison’s advice is spot on. About 6 months ago, I began to consider what I would be adding to my resume related to this job and quickly realized….not much. Since then, I have tried to expand my scope to include projects/activities that could be added to my resume in preparation for the next move, because let’s face it, I can’t stay in this cushy job forever! I will go insane.

    What worked for me was a multi-pronged approach and maybe this might help you:
    1. Talk to your manager and ask for a project that you can sink your teeth into. Maybe something he/she thinks would be a nice to have? Explain you want a month+ long project that you can really own. If nothing else, maybe there’s a way to do some community building in your organization. Then you can add to your resume that you brought together a previously silo-ed team to work together more collaboratively.
    2. Begin working on your resume and work you network
    3. See if there are classes or certifications you might be able to pursue on company time. As a manager, I would definitely support someone taking a class on company time during the slow season if I think it will add to their expertise in our business area.

    Basically see if there are creative ways to add to your resume while in this boring job while simultaneously prepping for the next move. Good luck!

  40. Birch*

    My first reaction is to say be grateful it isn’t the other way around–the work itself being great, but poisoned by everything else. IMO that’s a much more difficult situation, especially early in your career. Even if the work itself is terribly boring, that frees up a lot of brainpower and motivation to really plan out your next step to find work that’s more interesting to you.

    The bigger problem seems to be that there’s not enough work–sitting around doing nothing for 2/3 of your time is not reasonable! My advice would be to continuously bring up your lack of work to your boss in a cheerful way, asking if there are other projects you could help out with or if they have some pointers for finding professional development workshops. If boss keeps putting you off, you really have to bluntly point out that you regularly have nothing to do and that’s weird and unreasonable in a workplace. Something like “Hi boss, I have regularly completed my tasks in a third of the time I have and I’ve tried to find other projects and development, but you’ve told me a few times that there is no more work for me to do. I wanted to get on the same page with you about how you expect me to spend my time here.”

    1. Lil Fidget*

      It’s true that realistically this is a pretty good problem to have. Great pay but little/boring work is fixable and unlikely to follow you around forever. (It’s still a good question though, OP).

  41. Phoenix Programmer*

    This could have been me my first few years out of college. Honestly I still have the running out of work problem from tine to time. In my case it’s because I am an extremely efficient worker.

    Before jumping ship I agree with other commenters that you should dig around and find out if this is par for the course in your industry. Also since you mentioned this being a slow season – I would hold out for at least one more busy season to see of you find the engagement better. Famine flood jobs are a thing. Marketing strikes me as easily a fine flood type role with annual budgets set the way they so often are.

    In the meantime – ask your boss about being loaned to other departments. It’s a great way to get a variety of company knowledge and industry experience. It’s win win win for you your boss and your company.

    1. Kes*

      I have to agree on waiting to see how the busy season goes, especially if the industry tends to be more seasonal in general – other jobs might have the same issues in terms of workload and less great conditions to boot, and it’s possible that after getting through a busy season, you’ll be glad of the slow season. However, it might be worth looking around a bit to get a sense of what else is out there and what conditions might be like elsewhere.

      For now I would focus on learning, as others have suggested, either in terms of helping with other roles/projects if possible, or by doing a course or other studies that could help you build relevant skills and knowledge.

      Also, if you’re not focused on staying in the same type of role, but like the company, it might be worth looking around at what other roles exist there that you might be interested in moving towards or that might be coming open in the near future.

  42. Anon From Here*

    Currently at a short-term gig where I can go all day without a single task coming across my desk. Our internet is limited, so I can’t watch TV (and I’m in an open cube farm, anyway). By the end of the day I feel surprisingly burnt out and exhausted, just from the boredom — I can spin through mainstream, “acceptable” news sites and blogs only so often during the day. I’m trying really, really hard to appreciate my situation so that I don’t go completely bananas before my contract runs out.

    So: I’m taking a certificate course that gives me a little bit of study work I can accomplish at my desk. I’m taking heart in the way my paychecks are stacking up in my bank account, allowing me some great flexibility in what I’m planning for Mr. Anon From Here and myself in 2019. And I’m genuinely learning some interesting stuff about this industry (essentially, industrial project management), which was never anywhere near my first choice for where I’d like to work when I grow up.

    I’m probably twice OP’s age, but at this point I really do like thinking of work in terms of trading discrete chunks of my time for money that will allow me to do what I want to do. At my most bored, I sit and visualize dollar bills flying into a bank vault. Outside of OP’s boredom, I think it sounds like a pretty sweet gig and could result in a nice chunk of change saved up for a rainy day, or an extended break between the end of this job and the start of the next.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Good point about that weird physical exhaustion / brain fuzziness that comes from doing nothing all day. It’s a bad feeling. Also I worry that this is what it feels like to get stupider Flowers for Algernon style.

  43. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

    I had this same issue when I graduated from college. My first job was very simple admin type work and I would frequently go 75% of my day with nothing to do and no other projects available to me. I decided to go to grad school and get my masters in the evenings, and I was able (with the blessing of my manager) to do homework and write papers during my downtime. It was a win win.

    You don’t have to go to grad school, but maybe you can use that downtime for some independent training or learning courses.

  44. Amy*

    OP may have just left college but that doesn’t preclude taking continuing ed classes. This sounds like the kind of job that would help pay the tuition, too. I started two certificates during a long lay-off and once rehired, was swamped with work and school work. I would have killed for 5 hours during prime brain hours!

  45. LurkieLoo*

    One thing to keep in mind, too, is that this time of year, everything seems to be in slow motion. That doesn’t help with the lack of interest in the product/services offered by your company, but it might help to keep things in perspective.

    Even though you were hired for one very specific duty, I think that (like others have pointed out) if you are able to learn more about other aspects of the business, that might help with the boredom and tediousness. It may also position you to either move into other teams/positions as things open up OR give you a dabbling of experience you can build from in your next job.

  46. casino*

    OP, I know this isn’t the best because I have had to do it, but if you have any access to an online learning portal, why not take a course through that? I took a really informative Excel class through Lynda. Even though I don’t use Excel a TON, it helped me when I set up a huge budget tracking spreadsheet, and I’m miles ahead of most of my coworkers with it. Play around with the Office suite and get to know what you don’t know. Hell, some colleges offer free online courses (notably MIT), see if one is compatible with your work setup (if you have to listen to a lot of stuff, say, maybe you can’t do it at the office, but who knows).

    Beyond that, honestly? In the slow season, I read ebooks in my browser. Ken Follett books saved me last year when things were at a crawl. A lot of libraries will have free ebooks through overdrive or hoopla. I also take a late break which cuts up my day in a way that makes me more productive (lunch hour at noon? hard no to 4 more hours in the office, stuck). Maybe you can get out and go to the gym on break, whatever. If you really feel like you have to start looking and can’t last out [insert whatever time period at this you think is non-detrimental to your resume], then of course, disregard, but I have used these as coping mechanisms in the past.

  47. Anon for this*

    I’m experiencing similar in my workplace, even though I’m not right out of college. I’m currently job hunting. The only thing I will miss when I leave is the social aspect of my job. I love my coworkers and we hang out a lot. I’m not sure how much of that will stay when I leave, and if I will have the same chemistry with coworkers in future jobs.

  48. Working Mom Having It All*

    OP, I’m in your same situation, and I love it.

    I have a relatively narrowly focused job with a low to moderate workload on a product that I have no interest in, for a great company that provides great benefits. I came to this job after about a decade in an extremely demanding field.

    Here’s why I like it (a lot of this doesn’t apply to you, but it might give you some insight):

    – This job isn’t my whole life, so it’s nice to be able to “work to live” rather than being expected to throw every ounce of my energy into work. Then again, I’m in my 30s and not as ambitious as you are. I also did the Super Stressful High Powered thing. I’m completely fine not being a leader and staying in my weird little lane forever assuming my job isn’t made redundant and I can find more work elsewhere if I need to.

    – I have a young child and also am a writer on the side. Having a job where most of my ongoing tasks can be accomplished in a few hours a day is really the only thing that keeps me sane. I’m passionate about other stuff in my life, so working for a company that makes something I don’t care about isn’t a problem for me.

    – Honestly, while the “slow period” state of affairs is being able to finish my work easily in a few hours, this leaves tons of room for times when things are not slow. I know that when things get busy, I’m not going to be here into the night or letting my ongoing tasks fall by the wayside in order to keep up.

    – Similarly, finishing my work easily with time to spare means that, if a request comes in from my boss or another team, I can usually focus on it right away and turn it around quickly. This makes me look good to my boss and with the company as a whole. I’m known as a team player and someone who can handle urgent tasks easily.

    – Not being in the weeds all the time means that I can keep up with ongoing tasks so that, if I get busy and need to ignore them for a few days, that’s fine. This also contributes to my reputation for good, speedy work. Additionally, if I call in sick or go on vacation, I usually don’t come back to an impossible backlog of work. I have the bandwidth to either be proactive beforehand or manage my time to handle the overflow. Today is our last full day of work before Thanksgiving, and I’ll have time this afternoon to check in on a few projects and make sure nothing is going to go haywire before next Monday. Which means that when everyone else is all “omg I need a vacation from my vacation amirite” I’ll be organized and prepared for the week ahead.

    – Having plenty of time to complete my work, whether we’re slow or busy, also eliminates a lot of stress from my life. I’m never anxious that I forgot to do something or that I won’t be able to meet deadlines. This is the first job I’ve ever had where I didn’t feel burnt out after six months, because I actually have time to easily accomplish everything on my plate.

    – I came to this company around 9 months ago, and the lighter workload has meant that I have ample time to get up to speed with how things are done here, what all our products are, and who our main vendors are, as well as to have a good relationship with our various external contacts. I’m pretty much never scrambling on how to start a complex task or who to approach about something.

    – I use some of my downtime to make sure my life is running smoothly outside of work. I’m getting some long overdue dental work done, my financial house is in order, and I can now be that person who remembers birthdays and calls their parents.

    – As someone well into my career, I know this easy pace may not last forever. I know what to do with downtime and how to prepare for the moment when it disappears.

    This might be something that comes from spending the early part of my career in a more demanding area, but honestly, enjoy your sane and healthy work environment while you can.

    1. Anon for this*

      A lot of what you’re describing definitely sounds like something that is beneficial for older people with families…not for someone in their early twenties trying to establish themselves. You already had your chance to develop your skills and expand your portfolio and chose to step back. However, LW risks stagnating (provided they’re interested in growing in their career.)

  49. NoSweat BobaFett*

    I too am a recent grad (Aug. 2018), and I haven’t secured a full-time job yet, but situations like this are something I try to scope out in interviews. In college, I worked part-time jobs that would take me 1 hr to do but I needed to be clocked in for 4 hours, so I would either try to go really slow, ask for more things to do (which seemed to annoy some employers) or, more times than not, my boss would see that I had finished my work and tell me to go do homework, take a nap, or relax (on campus, work study job with very chill bosses).

    I know when I finally do secure full-time employment I am going to have to find ways to fill my time and I definitely don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing when my boss comes around. They might realize that maybe a part-time worker could do my job and cut my hours or hire part-time! If I was in your shoes I would probably spend the remaining hours trying to strenghten my skills by taking online certification courses on skills relevant to my career and to the job I’m doing and perhaps learning additional skills from coworkers.

    Good luck OP! P.S. great job securing employment soon after graduation.

  50. Lynn Whitehat*

    I had a job like this when I first graduated college. They are out there, you skeptics! For people who are asking incredulously how this situation arises, in my particular case it was a perfect storm of these things:

    1) This was a job at an Impossibly Big Megacorp, if you catch my drift. People senior to me had learned that the fastest way to get on a layoff list was to be between projects. Yet there was not *all* that much to do, so people were extremely territorial about their work. So no asking other people for work to do. They saw having a long list of tasks to be done as a shield against pink slips.
    2) This was a time of shrinking demand for the stuff my particular group produced. Even less work to go around.
    3) I am a naturally fast worker. I just am. I walk fast, I read fast, I just get stuff done fast. Often I couldn’t tell you what I’m doing differently than other people.

    And then I was stuck for years because of a major economic downturn. Out of about 50 people in my church’s young adult group, I was the only one who had a job in their actual field. Home Depot opened a store in my city, and had to call out the police in riot gear to deal with the mobs desperate for work at a hardware store. So looking for a job was pretty much futile. If things are not that bad in your town, I would say wait until you’ve been in the job a year, to see if the pace picks up. Maybe this is the slow season, or someone needs to set aside some time of their own to figure out how to ramp you up. But then get out, because you learn bad habits and it just sucks being so incredibly bored.

    If you can’t get out, here are some things I did to pass the time:
    1) I got a master’s degree on my employer’s dime
    2) I went to the gym a lot and got in really good shape
    3) I joined a Toastmaster’s group
    4) I did a whack load of canvassing for my church’s pledge drive

    If for some reason you end up stuck, don’t waste the time! There are lots of ways to improve yourself and help your community. But if you’re not stuck and it’s not better by the one-year mark, get out.

  51. jk*

    Ah op. This is your first job out of school. They can be pretty boring! As you grow as a person and develop your skillset your days will become more diverse and demanding. Look for opportunities to take on interesting and complex projects at the company if you can. That’s how I filled the void at boring jobs in the past! I took on the projects no one else wanted to do! I also spent some time developing skills and teaching myself new programs.

    Try and reach 1 year of employment with the company and look for something else. Use the time between then and now to further boost your resume/CV. Document your achievements in a little notebook and try and see if you can quantify those things. E.g. “helped increase sales by XX%.”

  52. OldJules*

    I’m not a fan of telling anyone to stick around. But before you jump, figure out what you care about and what gives you satisfaction. You need to know the you before you look outside. Even in my late 30s I’ve had moment of uncertainty of what next. Take your time to figure it out. What are you passionate about? What keeps things exciting for you? What can you do again and again from dawn to dusk. It’s the question I asked myself before deciding on a degree, and many years later, it’s still a question I asked before I move on from my previous position. How does this new job fit with everything else in my life?

  53. Pear*

    I’m pulling for you, OP. I hope you find the best job you ever had.

    Mostly, I hope your experience doesn’t mirror mine.

    My first job out of college was 15 minutes from where I was living. I had three weeks of vacation and fully paid medical/vision/dental. My boss was amazing. My team was incredible. We were all around the same age. It was a little publishing job – and I spent hours staring off into space. We would get an assignment – all of us – and we’d sit around and contribute to the work. In the times when we didn’t have an assignment, I did a lot of reading up on the industry, on how to to be a better writer, on what was going on in the industry I really wanted to be in.

    But it wasn’t in my career field. I wasn’t learning anything I thought I would use in the rest of my career. I wasn’t very good with team collaboration – writing by committee. So I found another job – one in the field where I wanted to be working – a much more individual and less collaborative environment.

    Sure, the commute went from 15 minutes to a hour. Sure, I only had a week’s vacation after a year. Sure, I had to contribute to my health insurance. Sure, all my co-workers were older, more seasoned, and made more money than I did. It was in my industry! The one I studied for in college!

    And I was NEVER bored. I never even had a minute that I wasn’t doing at least 3 very important, very strategic things.

    They laid me off after a year (gave the position to someone younger and cheaper). And the next job after that lasted 18 months (new management wanted new faces). And the next one 5 months, 29 days (going to get health benefits after 6 months). And then I was out of work for two years – I sent out over a thousand resumes, did the networking, attended professional development courses, temped. Finally, I went to work in customer service for a long time – the company merged with another and we were invited to stay on – at a 50 percent reduction in pay and benefits. Now, I work a small job with no health benefits, no 401k. But I get a week’s PTO. That’s vacation and P(aid) T(ime) O(ff). Use it or lose it.

    And I actually got my commute down to less than a hour. Due to Alison’s negotiating tips, I am actually making slightly more than I made in my first job. I went from fully paid medical to eventually having to pay 60 percent of the premium out of pocket, with a $6000 deductible, if I had stayed in the customer service job.

    This job I have now is very close to my house. I have no health benefits and my co-workers are…well…best we don’t talk about them too much. I’m lucky that the work is interesting. There’s not enough people and too much of it, but hey, I’m not bored.

    I went back to interview at my first employer during my two year stint in unemployment. The lady who interviewed me – once a peer and now the head of the publishing division – remembered I left to find my passion elsewhere. “Obviously, that worked out really good for you, didn’t it?”

    I managed to get all the way home – 15 minutes – and then sat in the car and sobbed.

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