my new junior employee said he’s “disappointed” in his job

A reader writes:

I’m a new-ish manager of a small team within a small company (16 total people). I currently have two direct reports. One of them has been with the company longer than I have, and she is professional and a joy to work with. The other is a recent hire (he’s been here two months) who is right out of college. I’ll call him Jake.

In our most recent weekly one-on-one, Jake told me that he is “disappointed in the role” and that the work is “not as interesting as he hoped.” I can understand how someone could find much of the work tedious. There’s a significant amount of data entry in the position. But I never hid this. I was clear with every candidate I interviewed that there would be tedious tasks and screened for people who seemed able to figure out strategies for handling that tedium.

I’m wondering where to go from here. Jake was not able to give me any clear idea about what he wants the role to be instead, and even if he could, I hired him for the job he’s doing now.

Part of me also feels like he hasn’t given any of this a fair shake. He’s only been here two months! A lot of those tedious tasks will start taking up less and less of his time as he gets better at them so he can expand other parts of the role, and I have told him that this is what I expect.

And lastly, I’m not sure how much investment I want to put into someone who has expressed such disinterest so early. I have also had a couple of attitude problems that I have been addressing (Jake can come across as entitled and arrogant, which is not a good look for the most junior member of our staff), but those by themselves, I felt were very coachable.

Any advice on how to proceed with someone that is not interested in the job after only two months?

A new employee telling his manager he’s “disappointed in the role” is a pretty serious thing. Not serious like “he’s done something wrong,” but serious like “uh oh — let’s figure out if this is the right match or not, so that if it’s not we can each cut our losses and move on.”

I’d sit down with Jake and say something like this: “I wanted to talk more about how you’re feeling about the job. You mentioned you’re disappointed in the role and the work isn’t what you were hoping for. It’s definitely true that the work can be tedious. I tried to make sure you knew that during the hiring process, but I know things can be different once you get into the job and really see what it’s like. On one hand, tasks like X and Y will take up less time as you get better at them, and then there will be room to take on things like Z. But the reality of this role is that there’s a significant amount of data entry, and that will always probably be at least X% of your time. Knowing that, is this a role you want to stay in? If you don’t think it’s for you, I’d rather we figure that out now so you’re not feeling stuck in a job you’re unhappy with — and, to be transparent, because it doesn’t make sense for us to invest more time and training if it’s not a role you want to stay in.”

Be clear, too, about what it would mean if Jake decides that it’s not the role for him. You want him to feel comfortable being honest if that’s the case, and he’s more likely to be honest if he doesn’t think that’ll mean his paycheck stops that day. You could say, “If it’s just not for you, we could start looking for a replacement and give you some time to look around for another job too. We could agree on a timeline like four weeks, or less if you wanted it to be shorter.”

It might turn out that Jake grabs at that offer, and there’s your answer. But if he says no, he doesn’t want to leave, he’s just disappointed with how the job has turned out, then you can say, “Well, if you take some time to think it over and realize it’s not for you, that’s perfectly okay! Let me know if so. But if you want to stay, knowing this is the reality of the job, that’s great too.”

Your goals here are to encourage Jake to figure out sooner rather than later if he wants to stay in the job and to make it clear there’s a no-judgment path out if he doesn’t. And because this is someone who’s already shown some worrying signs about attitude separately from this, you’re also (hopefully) making clear that staying in the job but continuing to complain about it isn’t one of the options on the table.

All this said … I think you should be prepared for the possibility that Jake won’t work out, whether because he’s unhappy with the work or not sufficiently invested in doing it well or because the attitude stuff you’ve seen becomes more of a problem. I’m not predicting that will happen — Jake may just be inexperienced and still figuring things out, and it’s possible he’ll figure them out on your watch. If so, great! But I’d have in your head that this just might not be the right match for either of you, and that’s okay. Don’t contort yourself too far to try to salvage it if you’re already seeing signs that worry you.

{ 386 comments… read them below }

  1. Harriet*

    Ah! Of course he’s disappointed! Recent grads so often have really high hopes for their first big job. Please don’t fire him because he was honest about finding a tedious job tedious!

    1. Witchy Human*

      I wouldn’t fire him, but there’s honest and there’s negative. He showed poor judgment in calling the job tedious without any ideas for how to make changes or additions to what he does–if he’s actually interested in the industry, he should be looking for any opportunity to learn and observe outside his regular duties, and he should show some enthusiasm for the field and organization, even if not for his actual duties.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think this is like those interns who petitioned about the dress code.

        It’s a mismatch between the world of academics and being the child of a parent instead of a grownup in the world.

        I bet he doesn’t even think he’s supposed to not say those things out loud at work.

      2. GooseTracks*

        He also has significant attitude problems (entitlement and arrogance, from a fresh college grad 2 months into a job!) that may or may not improve. LW definitely shouldn’t bend over backwards to coach and support this guy if he doesn’t quickly show that he’s internalizing and acting on her feedback.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah. If he were eager to learn and get feedback, by all means coach away! But with attitude problems … give it a shot with one conversation but then I’d spend the energy somewhere else.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          Honestly I took the ops choice of words to describe the new employees “attitude” problems as a yellow flag.

          I’ve seen arrogant and entitled thrown around to describe fresh grads for utterly acceptable behaviors, or at least understandable mishaps for entry level (“can you believe the entitlement of her to ask for a day off already? I mean I approved her PTO request but she should know!) much more often then I’ve seen the new employee actually be problematic to the degree the language implies.

          I also think the ops comparison of Jake to a seasoned worker I problematic. Be employee will always look rough and unpolished compared to seasoned workers.

          Lastly I was surprised by the suggestion to leave it to Jake to “pick up on the hint that complaining is not ok” usually the direct approach is recommended and since this is a new employee I would think a direct chat is in line.

          1. quintk*

            The letter writer has since posted an update about this specific situation, but I did want to say I agree with you in general that you do have to cut hires who are new to the working world quite a bit of slack for not knowing working culture. You aren’t born knowing what is and isn’t an acceptable thing to say to your boss. Maybe because I work with engineers (where as a statement of fact, not of judgement, there’s a lot of not-quite-neurotypical communication) I’m extra sensitive to this. I try to communicate directly (no hints) and I try not to judge people for communicating directly to me. Also youth are always considered entitled and not sufficiently committed to their work; that’s one of those great human immutables; even the ancient Greeks complained about it.

            All that said, my environment is different. I work for a large matrix organization so re-assigning people internally is often an option when dealing with these problems, and open complaining to your people manager (as opposed to your project manager) is perfectly ok.

      3. Hi I'm the LW*

        He actually recently gave his notice. Without another role lined up. We negotiated him working part time for a bit while he job hunts. I’m not really thrilled about this because his attitude has been really poor, but my boss made him that offer when he gave his notice so there wasn’t much I could do about it after the fact. However, it does give me at least some support while I try to find a replacement.

        1. GooseTracks*

          Wow! Hopefully this will be a good lesson to Jake that the adult working world is not college. Quitting without another job lined up because the work was too tedious, when you’re a 21-year old in your first professional role? Oh man. I’d have more sympathy if he didn’t sound like an entitled tool.

          1. Psych0Metrics*

            Well, on the other side of this, I quit my first professional role without having another job lined up in part because the work was tedious (though there were a number of other organizational/culture issues as well) and it ended up being a great career move. But this was after 3 years, not 2 months.

            1. ChimericalOne*

              Yeah, but after 3 years, you’ve got something you can talk about in interviews that’s positive and shows good work ethic. After 2 months, you’ve got a horrible red flag that you’ll have to hide (or have to explain to someone in interviews).

              1. Psych0Metrics*

                This is definitely true, I was able to use my work experience as examples and have references from my previous employer. After 3 years, it’s a lot more reasonable to frame as a career shift. Jake should probably just leave this job off his resume going forward because it’s just going to raise a lot more questions than be helpful.

              2. Anonymous Poster*

                Many people spend more than two months searching for a job after college. He might be able to leave it off of his resume without any trouble.

                1. ChimericalOne*

                  Yeah, but we don’t know if he literally landed the job as he graduated or if he spent several months searching & then found it. (OP says he’s “right out of college,” but she may just mean “this is his first post-college job,” not “he had this job hooked up the day he graduated.”) If he had a search first & now is quitting without another job lined up, the gap he’ll have to explain will be “time spent searching for Job #1 + time spent in Job #1 + time searching for Job #2,” which could certainly add up.

                2. Important Moi*

                  Either way there is strong sentiment in this thread that a 21 year old who spent approximately 60 calendar days in a job be punished in perpetuity for saying he did not like a job. Any suggestion that this doesn’t guarantee to be a bad thing or a minor blip for Jake is being shot down.

            2. Anonymous Poster*

              I didn’t quit that first job, but I should have. I thought it would get better if I stayed and proved myself.

              It got worse.

              1. S*

                I don’t think anyone is saying to stick it out if it isn’t a good fit for him. But he should have something else lined up first.

                1. TechWorker*

                  In the nicest possible way it’s OP asking for advice here..? Like we don’t know anything about Jakes circumstances – maybe it’s totally the right thing for him to quit without something lined up.

          2. MicroManagered*

            This is one of those times I’m glad I dropped out of college, worked for a few years, and then went back. I didn’t really “enter the workforce” until I was like 30. By then I was so psyched to have weekends and holidays off, PTO, etc. that it never occurred to me to do something like this. Jake sounds like maybe he needed to spend a couple years counting change for gas…

            1. Cora*

              Yes, I often wish I had worked before graduate school. Would have given me a lot of useful information and I could have used the time to develop my maturity :)

          3. Nini*

            I’d be a little more fair to Jake. There’s no telling how the job was affecting him outside of work. Having your first job be disappointing can be really demoralizing and depressing, and I think it’s fair to decide to cut your losses and that your time is better spent focussing on a job hunt for something that’s a better fit. (I might be being more sympathetic because I had a similar experience, though there were management issues at my first job. 3 managers in 6 months!) It’d have been better if LW could have coached him out of the position, like suggested, but finishing off as part-time so LW has time to find a replacement seems like a decent ending as well.

            1. lemon*

              Yeah, I’m inclined to agree towards having a more compassionate attitude towards Jake.

              It’s hard, when you’re interviewing for your first role out of college, to have the self-awareness to know what kind of work you enjoy and what kind you don’t. The LW correctly tried to flag the work as tedious during the interview, but someone who hasn’t really worked before may not know how to interpret those clues or just may not realize that the *idea* of entering data into a spreadsheet all day long is far different than the *reality* of entering data into a spreadsheet all day long. When I was younger, I got a job doing outbound cold-calling for a government research center. The training was very upfront about what the work would entail (i.e. having people yell at you for calling them), and I thought, “I can handle this,” because I liked working with people. It only took two weeks on the job to realize that this work was very much Not For Me and I’d be miserable doing it long-term, so I quit.

              It’s better that he realize sooner, rather than later, that he is not well-suited to that kind of work, so he has the chance to find something that suits him better. Hopefully, though, he learns a lesson about making a more graceful exit by *not* telling his managers how disappointed he is.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                I mostly agree. I think Jake has a lot to learn about the idea that work doesn’t exist to fulfill and entertain and satisfy you; it exists to get the work done, and sometimes that work is tedious. He may have quite an awakening in future jobs about just how much fun work is, and how much you get to complain all day that work isn’t fun. You’re not entitled to have your job give you only the work you like. Work shouldn’t be horrible, and parts of it can be awesome, but … work is work, not a party. That’s why they have different names.

                But I don’t fault the kid, and especially not a young 20-something in his first job, for not knowing all of that ahead of time (…especially if he never worked during school, which is an argument for working during school…). You have to find it out sometime. I also think this is the point at which it is fine to leave to find a better fit if this specific job is making you miserable, and the problem is not work itself. Perhaps data entry really ISN’T for him (I HATED data entry), and he wants a more active job or one with less computer work or whatever. Jake is at the age where leaving a job at which you’ve had a short stint has very few consequences.

            2. Richard Hershberger*

              Yabbut… Quitting your first job due to the disappointment of discovering it has a lot of boring parts? What second job is he going to find that is an undiluted thrill ride? Grinding through the boring parts is what I call “being an adult.”

              1. Phoenix Programmer*

                Eh…. We really don’t have enough facts here to conclude one way or another the “why’s”.

                Maybe Jake felt misled.
                It seems Jake and OP did not click, and getting along with your first manager is super important.
                Maybe Jake realized this was not the role for him and was savvy enough to know that even 1yr at this role would not have helped his resume so cut his losses.

                – signed quit my first post college “real job” after a few months and 10 years later have no regrets.

              2. A*

                1) we don’t know all the circumstances and can’t speak to other factors, like how this was (or was not) impacting his life outside of work/mental state etc.
                2) maybe he doesn’t find anything ‘better’, that’s part of the learning experience

                Why are there so many comments that seem to forget that the vast majority of people go through some variation of this? I know I had one heck of a hard time – and while I chose to speak with a counselor instead of my boss – I also ended up leaving my first job our of college without something lined up for similar reasons. It is extremely difficult to avoid these kinds of reality checks (and the journey gone through to get to them) in this day and age of ‘if you do well in school the world is your oyster / you can be anything you want to be’.

          4. Bort*

            Employers who didn’t feel entitled to burn up their employees’ precious time would work on ways to reduce tedium instead of getting into a childish snit just because someone doesn’t like something no one would ever like.

            1. London Calling*

              The precious time that the employer is paying you for? I do data entry and a) I quite like it (good thing really because I’ve just spent the entire chuffing afternoon on it with more to come) b) I know some jobs have the boring but vital bits (and in finance data entry is vital) and c) I’m mature enough to know that some things you just have to roll with, like them or not. Work isn’t meant to be one long hoopla – some of it is bloody boring. That’s the price you pay for getting the experience to move onto the more interesting stuff. Just take a look at the queen’s face sometimes – even she isn’t 100% enthused 100% of the time.

              And as for childish snits – what’s more childish that complaining that your work isn’t being made interesting enough for you?

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Having a job essentially means you have sold some of your time to your employer. When they then ask you to spend the time you sold to them doing something you don’t enjoy, they aren’t “wasting your precious time.” They are using the time that you have sold to them in a manner that they feel is the most beneficial to the organization.

              And I get that people want to do the things they like, but every job has tasks that are boring. It’s not like the company is going to say “it turns out that compiling the XYZ report is super boring, so we’re just not going to do it anymore.” The boring work still has to get done.

              If you would like to sell your time to a company that will allot that time in a way you would find more enjoyable, you can do that. But it’s not reasonable to expect that employers will stop giving out boring assignments because they know staff don’t like to do them.

              1. TardyTardis*

                And I hope the professional who’s a joy to work with isn’t taken for granted because she shows no signs of moving.

            3. Bagpuss*

              How is it a ‘childish snit’ to expect an employee to do the work you pay them for?
              Especially where, as here, the employer has been clear and upfront about the nature of the work
              Most jobs have some elements which are necessary but tedious, and with the best will in the world you can’t eliminate everything which is tedious, (nor does everyone find find the same things tedious)

            4. Antilles*

              Except that many tasks are impossible to automate in any cost-effective way.
              Laboratory data entry sounds simple to automate, until you realize that every single laboratory on the planet provides their data in a slightly different PDF format. So it’s deceptively tricky to get something that works for everyone and very well might take longer than just manually typing the results into a summary table yourself. Oh, and even once you do get the data in your Data Summary Table, you still have the tedious manual task of having a person review it to make sure there’s no errors, because at the end of the day, you’re liable for your Data Summary Table and “oh, the computer bugged out” is not an acceptable excuse.
              Or as a more senior example, reviewing invoices. It’s tedious, it’s finicky, it takes time…but it’s also something that you can’t reasonably automate. It’s technically feasible to just have the invoice sent directly to accounting without the project manager being involved to review the invoice, but it’s way too risky to not have a set of knowledgeable human eyes review the invoice before accounting (who doesn’t know the project) writes a check.

            5. Gaia*

              Oh give me a break. It sounds like he found the data entry boring. Guess what? Data entry is critical work that needs to be done, needs to be done accurately, and is really boring sometimes. That isn’t burning time of employees, it is doing critical work that isn’t earth shakingly exciting.

              Some work is not exciting but is still necessary. The OP says they were up front about the realities of the work. We take them at their word here.

          5. A*

            What? That’s pretty harsh without knowing his circumstances or mental state. I quit my first job out of college – without another lined up, and as a financial orphan – because I needed to do what I needed to do to save my sanity and mental health. It’s not worth getting into why, because ultimately it doesn’t matter, what matters is I needed to get out no matter what the cost. Jake sounds pretty entitled, but we can’t begin to know if that is the full extent of it. Even if it is the full extent of it – he’s ignorant and inexperienced and in for a harsh reality check – that doesn’t equate to him being a tool.

            Please don’t be that person who pretend they never went through any of the same transitions/milestones/growing pains that all of us do. I know it’s hard to remember, but we all have our own variation.

          6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            My son did it at 22. I was terrified! “Oh no, who will hire you with a gap in your resume?” Turns out, a lot of people would, if they could afford him. Full story somewhere in this thread. I’m thankful to have had a group of friends at that time that talked to me, helped me calm down, and explained that this is something a lot of people have done at some point in their careers. I was losing my mind and thinking that my child was torpedoing his career. I was wrong. It is all very case-by-case.

        2. Ophelia*

          Wow, that certainly tracks with your impressions of him! I guess at least you have your answer, but jeesh. I hope he at least does his data entry correctly in those part time hours!

          1. Gaia*

            As a friendly data manager who relies heavily on accurate data entry I am begging, BEGGING the LW to have at least a quick partial audit of this work. All the alarm bells are ringing that he may be less than diligent if he is bored and wanted to quit but was talked into working at least PT.

        3. ShwaMan*

          It sounds like Jake overestimates his own abilities and value, and thought he could convince you to spend more time doing just the “fun” work.

          “Eric, work is work. You don’t show up late, you don’t make excuses, and you don’t not work. If it wasn’t work, they wouldn’t call it “work”. They’d call it “super-wonderful, crazy-fun time!” Or “Skippedydoo!”” — Red Forman

              1. Amy Sly*

                I phrase it as “if it was supposed to be fun, we’d pay to do it.”

                I have quit a job with no plan once — when I wanted to drink before I went to work. Every job has bad days when you need a drink to relax, but if I’m so stressed I’m drinking to get the courage to go in, it’s time to go.

                1. boop the first*

                  Ugghh
                  This story reminds me of that one job I had where after 2 years there, I would have to pause outside the building so I could have a sob first before going inside. I think that job just had really bad life timing or something.

                2. Door Guy*

                  I did once as well (as an adult, I did it once as a teen as well but at least then my only expense was putting gas in my car). My hours were slashed from ~35 to scheduled ~9 but only working about 6 due to scheduled as first to get sent home when rush died off. My wife worked there too and her hours were slashed down to 1 shift a week.

                  We both had to put our notice in as we ended up being unable to renew our lease and moved in with my parents in a town 1 hour away. Thankfully, my wife had been taking classes to get her CNA certifications and got a job within a week, but it took me 4 months of active searching before I found another job.

            1. Works in IT*

              Even if it’s fun, there will be boring tasks that still to get done! I make clothes in my free time for fun, and no matter how fun the other steps are, ironing fabric to get wrinkles out is boooooooring. The difference between work and play is that in play, you can choose to put the boring part off for another day, but in work, you really can’t do that.

              1. Amy Sly*

                I can’t remember what site I read this on, but it was a blog post about how “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!” One of the comments was “I have the coolest job in the world. I fly the International Space Station. There are still days when I don’t want to go work.”

                1. AKchic*

                  Yep. Even play can be work. I love my volunteer work because it literally IS playing. I get to pretend to be someone else entirely and dress up in a costume. However, there is behind-the-scenes work going on that nobody ever thinks about. Behind-the-scenes work that most actors try to skip out on (because we are our own tech crew, props crew, costumers, make-up artists, and well… everything). And there are still days I don’t want to do it. But we do, because the show must go on and we are a limited run (even if it is an annual event).

                2. AuroraLight37*

                  Personally, I have found that I don’t want to do the things I love professionally, because I would stop loving them. When I sew or bellydance as a hobby, then I get to decide what to do/wear/make/perform. Doing them for a living would suck the fun out for me.

                3. Richard Hershberger*

                  “Even play can be work.”

                  Yup. You know what professional baseball players look forward the first half of the season? The All-Star break.

                4. whingedrinking*

                  I love to cook. There are still days when I get home and ask my partner to make dinner for us, or suggest that we order a pizza, because sometimes I just don’t want to do it. And that’s without factoring in all the added unpleasantness of a job (repetition, time constraints, coworkers, customers, a boss, etc.).

                5. Antilles*

                  Alison addressed the “do what you love” advice a ways back, but it’s hugely problematic in a number of ways – it’s weirdly only offered to specific privileged classes, it ignores the fact that many passions aren’t really marketable, it assumes that you actually understand what you love and what doing it professional entails, and it ignores the fiscal reality that many people have financial incentives to work.

              2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                This. I like about 80% of my job. But the other 20% still has to get done even if I hate doing it.

              3. Door Guy*

                I enjoy woodworking as a hobby, but sanding is horrid, and you can’t space out or you’ll end up messing up the surface.

              4. MOAS*

                Sex….in all seriousness.. I mean yea the deed is fun but I’m sure there’s boring aspects to it. I wouldn’tw ant to do it day in day out all day long

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  So no porn star career for you, lol!

                  Seriously, I get exactly what you mean. Whenever you HAVE to do something, it suddenly becomes a lot less fun. When you not only HAVE to do it but do it according to someone else’s standards/rules/expectations (as is the case with most jobs), there goes some more of the fun. It’s just how life works, isn’t it?

              1. A*

                How is it not accurate, though? For the most part I think the comments should be more sympathetic to Jake – but I don’t disagree with this comment. It’s a lesson he needs to learn – which I wish everyone would recognize as something that does indeed require learning experiences to gain – but that doesn’t change the reality that he needs to learn it.

          1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

            +1000

            I mean he’s still “a kid” and figuring out stuff.

            He may have been a catfish in the small pond of college.

            He may have convinced his fellow students to do the majority of the tedious parts of any group work…maybe he thinks that transfers into the adult working world. Who knows?

            We all got smacked with the reality bat eventually…so willl he.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              This is why people need to have jobs before they graduate college. Some job, any job! By the time I graduated college and got my first post-college, job, all this stuff was obvious because I had been working since I was in my mid-teens. Nothing life-changing, but it taught me work norms before I started my career.

              1. Door Guy*

                Exactly. I’ve only got 3 employment gaps in my resume since I started working when I was 15 – 3 months in high school, freshman year of college, and the 4 months I wrote about in a separate comment on this page.

                You can definitely tell who is starting work for the first time and who worked before. Obviously it’s not universal as I’m sure there are well rounded/balanced recent grads who’ve never had a job, and there are for sure lousy workers who have had many jobs.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                Yep. For an entry-level job, given the choice between someone with average credentials and ANY job experience (and I love food service and retail work because, if you can deal with the general public, we will be a cakewalk) and above-average credentials and no job experience at all, I will nearly always take Candidate A because I never have to walk those folks through showing up on time, basic customer service, or that’s-not-my-job complaints.

                I am also very, very clear about what “entry-level job” means in our environment because I’d rather scare someone away at the interview than have someone quit two months in.

              3. CheeryO*

                Eh, I had two food service jobs and three internships by the time I got my first full-time job after college, and it was still a major culture shock. There’s always the sense that things will somehow be better when it’s a “real job.” I grew up without a lot of money, so I didn’t quit, but I might have if I had had a safety net. Some of us needs multiple whacks from the reality hammer.

                1. The Blue Marble*

                  I remember thinking how hard college was – until I graduated and had to work a full time job! And then take on a second job in order to make payments on my student loan. And I did work all through college – sometimes full time. My daughter just graduated college and has already been through three jobs because she is struggling to find a field of interest (degree in Bus Admin is generic enough to help). I do think it is hard to find that niche as a young adult. I hadn’t even graduated with my social work degree when I knew I hated it and had made a bad choice.

              4. TheCommenterFormrlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

                Yup. My first job was a FT gig at Lane Bryant at the mall when I was 15. I lied and told them I was 18 (you could do that back then) so I was able to work a whole bunch of hours even going to HS full time. I so knew about work expectations before I even finished freshman year of high school!

              5. A*

                Needs to be a part of a larger convo. I would have loved to take a 2-3 year gap year, but the scholarships & grants I won when I was 16 (I did early acceptance) would only accommodate a 1 year gap. Under no circumstances would I have been able to sacrifice that opportunity, nor would I have qualified for them if I had taken the gap prior to applying.

            2. Hi I'm the LW*

              I think that bit about a big fish at college is exactly right. My impression is he is used to being the smartest guy in the room (he is clearly very intelligent), so being the junior guy that has to update the database felt like a blow to the ego. And instead of using the opportunity to learn, he instead chose to lean into the disappointment. I hope wherever he ends up next, he’s able to approach things with more of an open mind.

              1. HoundMom*

                I wish the same for him, but it may take a while. I have worked with a few “Jakes” and they need to find out that at a few jobs A. every job has boring aspects and B. there are always people brighter or more advanced than you are. This is especially true when they are just starting out.

              2. Jennifer*

                That was exactly my impression from reading the letter. It’s not that he just isn’t a fit for the job. He thinks that tedious work is beneath him. This is a Jake problem. He is going to encounter this in any job he has at this point in his career unless he charms his way into a job he isn’t qualified for elsewhere or gets a friend or relative to call in a favor for him.

                1. Antilles*

                  Nah, he’s still encounter it even if he managed to jump his way into a mid-level job.
                  A mid-level staffer might not be doing data *entry*, but they’re likely going to be responsible for data *review* after it’s entered, which isn’t much different actually.

                2. Jennifer*

                  @Antilles He can still charm his way around doing the grunt work, or get out of doing it because he’s so and so’s son/brother/best friend. That’s what I’m getting at. This could be his first job where he wasn’t able to game the system in that way.

              3. TheCommenterFormrlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

                Even if he wasn’t the smartest guy in the room, he probably thinks he was. There was this guy in grad school…

              4. SS*

                Honestly, I can relate to Jake. College teaches you that you will be rewarded for being smart and working hard. Then you graduate, get a job and no one cares… you get shoved in some dead end feeling role that treats you like a glorified robot and there is no end in sight. Baby boomers talk about people paying their dues, but upward mobility has been substantially limited since their heyday. To Jake, it probably felt like he was sold a bill of goods because he had no clear opportunity to excel or advance… and management saw no value in developing him beyond a low level data entry role. Not that that perspective is accurate, but that’s how it felt right out of college.

          2. just trying to help*

            Most colleges and universities do not offer classes in humility, perspective, or gratitude in the workplace. Mostly, we adults learn this the hard way early in life and carry it with us, or the harder way, in adulthood, and it stings and results in black marks we HAVE to carry with us.
            Jake has some learning and maturing to do.

            1. A*

              This is so true, and worded better than anything I could come up with. It’s unfortunate, and annoying – but we all go through our own variation of it at some point. I wish we all had an easier time remembering that though.

        4. Witchy Human*

          I would try to pin your boss down on how long you’re willing to keep him employed part-time. Is it only until you find a full-time replacement?

          Job hunting can take a while, particularly if you’re looking for the entry-level-but-interesting unicorn that Jake probably is, but that isn’t your problem and you shouldn’t have to deal with him indefinitely.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. I would be clear with your boss that you need him gone when you onboard the new hire. Or sooner if he continues to be an attitude problem or if he isn’t getting the tedious work done. And since he is part time, I would be having him do only the tedious work since you sure don’t want to be doing it while he enjoys the good parts.

            1. Hi I'm the LW*

              Yeah, the interesting thing about him moving to part time with a tbd end date is that I really can only have him doing the data entry and other “tedious” tasks because the more interesting stuff that I was slowly bringing him into requires more training and ramp up. That’s not something I will invest in for someone that is going to leave in the near future.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                hahaha… the irony :)

                I think it’s going to be a good thing overall to find someone who is a better fit for the role.

          2. Washi*

            I’m confused about why he would want to be part-time. Quitting without something else lined up = I need to get out of here asap and I’m willing to go without a paycheck. Why is part time better than just quitting, if he hates the job that much?

            1. Zelda*

              I suspect that this is more naivete– surely the wonderful job that is 2% tedium and 98% Visionary Glory, which was promised to him as a graduate of College, will be available starting next week!

            2. A*

              He also hasn’t learned yet that going from FT to PT in one position almost always turns into the exact same workload, but the expectation it’ll be complete in less time. He’s doubled up on harsh life lessons heading his way fast!

          1. Artemesia*

            I had a boss that always promised impossible things to new hires and then those that actually managed them had to clean up the mess he invariably made of it. I often agreed that we should be able to move the moon for the new hire but I also knew what we could and could not get out of the organization and it made it disappointing for the person who didn’t get what they were promised as well as frustrating for those trying to deal with the fall out. Hope this boss doesn’t continue to be an anchor around your neck.

        5. Tib*

          We had a similar new hire experience with a recent grad, but ended up letting him go after he missed work for the 6th time in his first month. The negativity was palpable, and any feedback was treated as an argument. When he was let go, he let me know that we should have made it a better experience for him? Similarly, a tedious entry level position, but it really could have become something more if he had tried at all and not made it clear that we were below him. I was astounded at the level of entitlement.

        6. Mediamaven*

          I’m very interested to see what he’s doing in ten years. I’ve employed these types of people. They tend to have the same experience everywhere they go and never learn and never grow. I’m glad you have some support but I’m bummed this kid is leaving thinking he’s more valuable then he is.

          1. A*

            Really? The majority of those you’ve encountered prior to them actually having the experience to know what to expect – didn’t learn and grow from those life lessons? I find that hard to believe. The vast majority of individuals go through this in some variation, and I’d venture to guess that most come out the other side.

        7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yikes, just seeing this.

          If he’s only doing data entry, literally just go get a temp from an agency. That person may actually want the job and work out for everyone.

          I quit my first job without something lined up. Only because they were going bankrupt and bouncing checks. So I’m not one to say “Never quit without a job lined up” by any means…but yeah, I hope he finds the place he belongs in the world. That’s a rocky start for him in the working world.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yeah, I think I probably would have done the same thing in your shoes The Man. If there’s lots of problems bailing out before you get dragged into the problems is smart – but bailing on a job with nothing else just because you don’t like some of the more tedious parts of your job (that you have to learn and master to get the more interesting tasks), that seems a bit short-sighted.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Yeah, abusive work environments, unreasonable schedules [so you can’t have any time to look for another job], a business crumbling and putting all it’s failures on you kind of things, those are when you walk away into the sunset without knowing where exactly you’re going. There’s more reasons of course too.

              But “this job is boring, waaaaaaaaah.” Shuddup, do your job and go find another one in the process.

              1. Archaeopteryx*

                Yeah I will admit I held out way too long after college with unrealistic expectations trying to get a good, interesting job, before I finally had to take a job in retail to pay the rent. But what I didn’t then do was complain about how boring ringing up purchases is. I applied to be a cashier!

          2. Liz*

            I also quit my first job, after 6 months, with nothing lined up. I had accepted it sort of under false pretenses, and it turned out to be nothing more than basic clerical work. Not what i was looking for at all. They also kept me on as a temp, contingent on me not being available once I found another job. Which I want to say didn’t take long at all since this was 35 years ago and the job market was strong.

        8. Yvette*

          This has got to be the fastest update ever, thank you. I am sorry your boss under-minded (for lack of a better word) you by offering him part time rather than letting him go outright. As someone else pointed out, try to make sure this is not an open-ended situation. On the off chance that this job is as tedious and boring as he seems to think it is, maybe replacing him with two part timers (none of them him) with a job share situation might work to your advantage. I am sure there are plenty of smart, capable people with a good work ethic who for whatever reason can’t have a full time job and would love to have a decent part time position.
          Please let us know how this all works out.

        9. Mazzy*

          Wow, as we approach a recession and there’s already been layoffs starting. He could be unemployed for years if we have a bad recession. My my. Meanwhile I’ve interviewed many people who’d like that sort of routine job with data entry, but we want the opposite, people who master and automate away that work. This guy is going to look back in embarrassment at this.

          1. A*

            Or he’ll look back on it as a learning experience, as many of us do in regards to our first jobs out of school? Jeez.

        10. Sara without an H*

          Hi, HILW — Thanks for your prompt update. Suggestion: don’t let the bad attitude slide just because he’s now part time. He may be short-term, but that doesn’t absolve him from the obligation to be polite and professional to colleagues. You’ll be doing him a favor in the long run.

          Your boss is a soft touch. After Jake is gone, you may want to have a conversation with him.

        11. Adlib*

          What is it about bosses that give problem employees that finally quit a peace offering of either another role or part time? I’ve seen this in my experience too. Hope you find another candidate quickly, LW! (or that he finds something even faster.)

        12. Chatterby*

          You may want to stop hiring people with degrees to do tedious/ repetitive tasks, like data entry.
          It’s nearly guaranteed they won’t enjoy the work and will leave quickly for a better role.
          You’re also paying a premium for that degree, (or should be) and the role may not need it.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            From the updates, it sounds as if the data entry is mostly adding things to a database that all the employees use as part of their job (but I also may have misunderstood that). If that’s the case, and OP has to do some of that as well in their job, it could just be that Jake misunderstood the job or thought he could somehow skip parts of the job he didn’t like.

            I’ve worked with people that didn’t like the more rote parts of their job and tried to foist them off on co-workers. They generally had been the smarter kids in school who got to skip over the “rote practice” things in school (or convinced others to do it for them) so they never got to practice/learn the patience of yep, this is rote work but it builds the base for other thing you need later.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            My sense is that this is the boring part of an otherwise more interesting job, and so is dumped on the junior person. This is the way of the world. Grind through it and the day will come when it is dumped on some new guy and life will be good.

        13. Ofotherworlds*

          I’ve done this before because I’m mentally ill, and I have a fairly limited ability to bear with unpleasant situations. Much more limited than a neurotypical person. There are times that I have to get out of an environment NOW. Yes, that’s not good from a career point of view, which is why it’s a disability.

          1. Marion Q*

            I feel you, Ofotherworlds. I get a lot of flak from people in my life for quitting situations that for them are “suck, but bearable”. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told to “just suck it up, that’s life”. Problem is, with my anxiety and depression, most of the time the choice is between “quit and potentially burn bridges” or “stay but spend 90% of your time planning suicide because you can’t bear how horrible it is”.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I think this is a judgment thing, where he’s picturing “Gosh, good point, we should try to make your job have no tedious parts” and not expecting “So you’re planning to look elsewhere? We should work out the details on that.” With more experience, he’d have shown more judgment about raising it at all, or how to frame it if he did raise it.

        For OP–I’d give him a chance to be young and just not good at framing things yet. Not unlimited chances, but he’s 2 months into discovering that most jobs, including those you get right out of undergrad, contain tedious parts.

        1. Hi I'm the LW*

          Yeah, I wound up having a conversation that looked like “Hey, I heard what you said. The reality is that this is the job. That may change somewhat as you grow and learn at the company, but for now, the job I hired for is the job you’re doing. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, we need to have a different conversation about where to go from here.” He basically just nodded and didn’t say much. Then the following week, he gave his two weeks notice without another job lined up.

          So I guess that’s my answer.

            1. Heidi*

              Yeah. This sounds like it was unpleasant to go through, but I think it turned out for the best. Jake can find a job that is more aligned with his expectations, and OP can find someone to replace him that they like better.

            2. ChimericalOne*

              I don’t think this is necessarily going to turn out to be good for Jake — there aren’t a lot of entry-level positions where rote tasks aren’t a significant part of the job, and I suspect that it’s his expecations that are going to have to change, rather than his work — but I’m glad that OP now has a clear answer!

              1. AdAgencyChick*

                Fully agree.

                I had one of these a couple of years ago — he would complain about tedious tasks and ask why he couldn’t sit in on higher-level meetings. He didn’t like the answer that the key to the higher-level meetings was showing me that he could do the tedious shit not only well, but without complaining.

                1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

                  So many of these guys think they hung the moon and that they should be hired to the c-suite right out of undergrad.

                2. Liz*

                  This is exactly how i got hired on permanently at my last job. I’m a paralegal and took a temp job with a law firm, to “get my foot in the door” and some experience. there were a bunch of us and most of what we did was mind numbingly boring, redacting docs for discovery etc. But i did everything they gave me, either until it was done or they gave me something else to do.

                  and when a permanent position opened up, they offered it to me. Another temp was pissed she was “passed over” and tried to claim it was based on race. When it was actually that she wouldn’t finish stuff she was given, or would ask for something “more interesting” and so on. So it was my work ethic, and nothing more that got me the job.,

              2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                While it is true that a lot of entry level jobs have rote tasks as part of the position, what can be incredibly boring and tedious for one person another person might find enjoyable or not as boring and tedious.

                I had a job that required indexing and filing legal binders. While it was tedious and it sometimes got boring after doing it for hours on end, I enjoyed it for the most part. I was able to listen to music/podcasts while doing the work (normally we were not allowed to do that, but while working on this we could) and it also required reading about interesting cases the firm had handled in the past.

                So Jake might be able to find a job that better aligns with his values that he does not find an boring or tedious.

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  This is true. One of my early jobs was stocking shelves for a fabric & crafts store, and I heartily enjoyed it. If I’d been able to live on that kind of income, I’d have been tempted to just stay there. I was working before the store opened, so it was very quiet and peaceful, and my job was to make everything look very neat and tidy, which appealed to my personality. The things I was stocking were mostly pretty to look at and/or pleasant to touch — ribbons, beads, patterned paper, yarn, etc. It was great!

                  On the other hand, it was also 20 hours a week at minimum wage, aka starvation.

                2. Guacamole Bob*

                  Yeah, there are different kinds of entry-level tedium. Data entry all day is monotonous in a way that answering phones or sorting incoming mail might not be. Filing at least requires physically moving around, as does photocopying or preparing packages for shipping. Taking minutes in meetings requires being mentally engaged in the discussion and also lets you see more of the higher level work. Plenty of entry-level jobs have a bit of variety on the tedious tasks, more reason to stand up and walk around, or more interaction with other people.

                  I get where all the “Jake needs to suck it up and deal with the fact that entry level jobs are boring” responses are coming from, but I also think some people find data entry particularly soul-sucking. Others find it a good kind of tedious.

                  (The entitlement problems do make me think it’s not just a mismatch on the type of work, though.)

                3. Cora*

                  I worked at an ice cream store and I loved every second. I regret I couldn’t find a way to make ice cream my career.

                4. whingedrinking*

                  Very true. When I worked in retail, I really enjoyed receiving stock. My coworkers were happy to foist that off on me because it bored the pants off them. To each their own.

                5. Bagpuss*

                  Yes, not everyone finds the same things tedious . I had a similar conversation with my grandmother, years ago.
                  We were taking about housework rather than office work, – I actively dislike ironing, so I tend to avoid it, including taking care about what clothes I buy so I don’t have to iron . She enjoyed it, she said that she found it very satisfying because you get immediate, tangible and visible results , plus she liked the smell of freshly ironed linens – but I think the same principle applies to any kind of work.

                6. Falling Diphthong*

                  Re Bagpuss, I’ve heard this said re housecleaning vs childrearing–you start at one corner of the living room, and an hour later it’s clean. Whereas with raising kids you have to wait 20 years to see results.

                7. pamplemousse*

                  Yeah, I’m getting a bit of an impression from this thread that many people expect entry-level jobs to be boring and tedious and, welp, that’s just why they call it work, amirite? But there really are degrees here — I had an entry-level job that required some creativity, initiative, and skill, as did most of my friends in a variety of fields (and we graduated in 2009, which was pretty much peak “you should be glad just to have a job!”). Of course every minute of your job isn’t going to be a blast, but it’s really not crazy for Jake to decide that he wants something different and try to seek it out.

              3. Liane*

                And yes, sometimes the tedious parts DON’T go away from even 1 or 2 Steps Above entry jobs. I held a Chemistry Tech job for 5 or 6 years (second professional job) and it certainly had parts I hated because I found them both tedious and picky-picky beyond belief (looking at you, Total Organic Carbon analyzer, more high-strung than I, which is saying something).

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  Part of my job is achingly, eye-rollingly tedious – effectively involves looking closely for errors in documents that never contain errors. Approximately three times in my fifteen-year career has there actually been an error to find … but it needed a qualified and experienced person to identify the error, which is why it has to be a qualified and experienced person doing the very boring task.

                  Even when I was working in a big firm you’d need to be a partner to get off the rota completely, so it would look to an outsider as though someone on £80k (then $120k+) was “opening the mail”.

                2. whingedrinking*

                  @GeneralVonKlinkerhoffen – hoo boy, ask me about reading human rights decisions. Errors were rare but it was important to catch them. My boss asked me to do the French decisions as well as the English ones and I had to refuse, because while my French is quite good, it’s not “identify errors in legal jargon written by highly educated judges” good. For that you need a university-educated native speaker.

              4. Bee*

                Well, it depends. When I was fresh out of college and job-hunting (in 2011), I interviewed at a place that was very clear the job was mostly data entry. It was in the field I wanted, and I’d been doing data entry since I was 12, so I figured, hey, I can do this job in my sleep! When they rejected me, the interviewer was very clear that he thought I’d do a great job but I’d be bored with it within two months. It sucked at the time because I really needed a job – but one month later, I got a job that did have a lot of rote work but the *kind* of rote work varied from day to day, and it also offered opportunities for more creative work almost from the beginning. It turned into my career, and I wound up being very grateful for that interviewer who saw what I was unwilling to. So if Jake expects a job that’s never boring, that will be a problem, but it could just be that he’s looking at the opportunity cost of keeping a job that he finds mind-numbing.

            3. Koala dreams*

              Yeah, you (the LW) had the conversation and a clear answer the next week! Good work! I just hope you or your boss can agree to a timeline when the part-time job ends for this employee. Maybe you can suggest the four-week time-limit?

          1. De Minimis*

            You are better off, though I agree that it’s too bad your boss fixed it to where he’s still working part time for a while. I’m guessing you’re not going to get a whole lot out of him during his remaining time there.

          2. AdAgencyChick*

            Good for you! It sounds like you did everything right.

            Don’t let your boss allow this to drag out out of kindness to him — I bet it takes him longer to find another job than he thinks it will, so you don’t want to be stuck unable to hire a full-time replacement while he takes his sweet time.

          3. Close Bracket*

            “If that’s a deal-breaker for you, we need to have a different conversation about where to go from here.”

            That’s so very fixed mindset of you. I’m not surprised that he left. I’m in the same position, actually, being bored and having fixed mindset management, except that I have 10 years and two graduate degrees on Jake. I’m halfway out the door, too.

            Regarding the fair shake: You don’t get a say in how much “shake” Jake or anyone else gives. They get to decide how much of a chance to give you. Remember, you decided in the same time frame that Jake wasn’t working out.

            1. Amtelope*

              Some jobs are boring, but they’re still jobs that need to be done. I don’t see what’s wrong with saying “if you don’t want to do the job you were hired for, you should look for another job.”

            2. Fikly*

              How is it fixed mindset to hire someone to fill a need, and then need that person to fill that position if there are no other openings and that need still needs to be filled?

              1. Lance*

                This covers it. LW was up-front about what they were hiring Jake for; it’s very much not on the LW that this is happening.

            3. fposte*

              She’s got somebody unhappy with the job he’s tasked to do. She can’t fix his having to do work he doesn’t like that with a growth mindset. I feel like you want to blame the employer for a situation that’s frustrating but ultimately just one of those things–sometimes employees turn out not to be a good fit for a job and go elsewhere. It doesn’t automatically mean anybody’s doing something bad on either side.

            4. JeanB in NC*

              You are not in the same position as Jake. You have 10 years more experience. It’s not the same at all. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave, but Jake’s is a different story. And if you are hired to do data entry, do the data entry. It’s not a fixed mind set to need someone to do a specific thing.

            5. Botanist*

              That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
              The LW had a position they needed to fill with specific duties. Two mere months later the employee isn’t happy with the job- when they knew full well what it would involve. It’s the job that the LW needed to have done. What else do you want them to do?

            6. Yorick*

              They had this work that needed to be done, and hired Jake to do it. In 2 months, you can’t really significantly change the role to make it more interesting.

            7. hbc*

              Uh, declaring the part of the job that’s non-negotiable is not fixed-mindset, it’s clearly stating requirements.

              I mean, I’m all for shifting responsibilities around–I’ve had the “Let’s see if we can shuffle things around since you hate [X] and she hates [Y]” conversation many times, but you can’t be the janitor who doesn’t do toilets, the receptionist who doesn’t answer the phone, or the CEO who doesn’t meet with investors.

            8. Mother of Cats*

              Having two graduate degrees and 10 years of work experience doesn’t make anyone too good for data entry. It’s work that needs to be done.

              I work at a nonprofit that serves the long-term unemployed in the San Francisco Bay Area, and people with multiple degrees and decades of experience would love to get any type of work including data entry. Jake is very fortunate to have been offered part-time work, and I hope he doesn’t take it for granted. It’s so difficult to get a new job when you’re unemployed, and he could probably use the reference.

              1. London Calling*

                *Having two graduate degrees and 10 years of work experience doesn’t make anyone too good for data entry. It’s work that needs to be done*

                I have 40 years of work experience. I still do data entry because I am the accounts payable department and it’s part of my job and if I didn’t do it no-one would get paid and the place would shut down.

              2. TechWorker*

                I know that the job market is bad in places and that lots of people find it tough… but I don’t think that means that everyone should be grateful for any job they could possibly get. Sure it might come to a point where that *is* the case but we have absolutely no proof that it will be for this dude, so I don’t really get the comments implying he’s made a terrible terrible mistake

              3. emmelemm*

                If you don’t mind saying, what kind of support do you provide for the long-term unemployed? I’m just curious because my partner was unemployed for a very long time (years). He has now found a job, thankfully. But I’d be interested to know if there was anything more that we could have done.

              4. Gaia*

                As the friendly data manager, THANK YOU!

                I literally cannot do my job if data entry is not done (and done well – which means no it is often not entry level work). If I can’t do my job, the analysts cannot do their job and the data scientists cannot do their jobs.

                People are acting like data entry is some crap throw away thing that companies do just for kicks and giggles. It is not, I assure you.

          4. LawBee*

            I would call that a success, honestly! It’s like how a bad date is a successful date because it did what a date is intended to do – winnow out the people who aren’t suited to each other. You had the conversation, he took it to heart and decided that nope, this wasn’t actually the job for him.

            There’s a lot of Jake-judgment going on in the comments, but I honestly don’t see what he did that was so terrible. He got a job, he realized very soon in that he didn’t like the job, and he left the job. This is advice that we see on this blog a lot, and it holds even if you’re 21.

            1. fposte*

              He could have handled it better, which I think is probably the source of some of the Jake dislike. But ultimately I agree with you; he’ll find a job that fits him better or learn that he can’t (yet, anyway), and both he and the OP will be better off.

            2. Washi*

              Yeah, I kind of agree. He could have been more strategic about the way he brought up his dissatisfaction, but that’s not surprising, given that he’s right out of college.

              Either he doesn’t need the money, in which case there’s no reason why he shouldn’t quit without something else lined up, or he does and he’ll find something else, potentially just as boring, and have learned a valuable lesson about what “entry level” usually means.

            3. A*

              Agreed. I feel like a lot of comments here are overlooking the fact that nowadays most new graduates go through a similar reality check. Could he had handled it better? Absolutely. However we, as a society, do very little to prepare young adults for these kinds of things. We literally shove it down their throats that if they do well in school they can be whatever they want / world is their oyster – we shouldn’t be surprised that they might not handle it well when they discover that is actually not true.

        2. Ofotherworlds*

          I have no intention of armchair-diagnosing Jake, but I know that I’ve been a “Jake” in the past, and that was because of my mental health issues. So I have a great deal of sympathy for Jake and very limited sympathy for OP.

          FWIW, for me, 20 hours of work a week is usually manageable but 40 hours a week isn’t. He might blossom while working part time.

      5. Close Bracket*

        Dude, he’s fresh out of college! He doesn’t have the professional experience to know how to make changes or additions. Plus, he’s fresh out of college AND newly hired. If he came in with suggestions for making changes or additions, the letter would include a paragraph about him not knowing his place.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          That’s unfair to the LW. Based on their letter and updates, it appears LW was honest and ethical with the employee. I see no reason to presume LW would have ever said the employee “not knowing his place”>

          1. Important Moi*

            While not ideal phrasing, I do feel the letter writer would not have been pleased if Jake had offered suggestions about his job duties . Entry-level employees are rarely afforded the opportunity to define their job duties.

            1. Yorick*

              I think LW might have been ok if Jake had said something like, “I know I’m responsible for boring tasks X and Y, but I’m also really interested in interesting task Z. Is there any way I can start spending a few hours a week assisting Jane in her work on Z? I’m sure I can keep up on my progress with X and Y.” Instead, he complained that he finds X and Y tedious.

              1. fposte*

                Right, I think Witchy’s comment was about that kind of thing, not about negotiating job duties.

              2. Roverandom*

                It didn’t occur to me at 21 that I could ask to change my job duties, especially so boldly as “Is there any way I could learn task Z”. If everyone came into the working world with that level of awareness and professionalism, there would be a lot fewer letters on this site.

                1. Yorick*

                  Well, it occurred to Jake that he could tell the boss he doesn’t like his primary job duties, which must have been an indirect request to not do them anymore, so………

    2. Open Office Hell*

      Yeah srsly. Most entry level jobs are very tedious and often low paid, and you’re supposed to act grateful to be there even as you’re experiencing a huge culture shock – from an interesting, flexible college course load in college to sitting in a chair 8-9 hours a day keeping your mouth shut while working on a spreadsheet. I feel a lot of sympathy with Jake TBH, he admitted what we’re all feeling haha.

      That said, this is the job, and if he ever wants to advance he’s probably going to need to find a way to through it.

      1. Thatoneoverthere*

        I sort of agree. College paints this picture to new grads, that they are starting their dream. Their jobs will be amazing! The will make so much money! It will be fulfilling and never boring! Soon you’ll be a manager and it will be even more amazing! Sunshine! Rainbows! Puppies!

        I don’t think it gives new grads the sense that a lot of people take super entry level positions, that are often boring , momentous and come with low pay.

        1. boop the first*

          Ha! I did pastry arts in college, but for potential career reasons rather than passion. I didn’t bother continuing the career because I’d already worked in the restaurant industry for several years and realized that I was training for identical jobs for the same low pay, so I didn’t have the culture shock effect.

          I probably can’t say the same for my younger peers though!

          We trained in these beautiful kitchens with top of the line and well maintained equipment. Everything was safe and to code. We had access to any and as many tools as we needed. We had big windows overlooking a gorgeous city during sunrise. We had air conditioning. We could ask our personal buyer to order any special ingredient we wanted. We had freedom to experiment, and do a little f*cking around. We had laundry services, short days, time to clean properly. Yes, we had monthlong stretches of repetitive production time for practice, but the role for each team was rotated weekly between simple task > complex task> bake off > packaging

          After graduation and heading out into reality, the first thing to go is the windows. Every kitchen is a dank, noisy cave. There is no task rotation… if you are hired to deep fry things, you better love hot oil. You only get one or two clean shirts at the start of your job, and that’s it for the rest of your time there. There’s never enough clean cloths or tools. The tools you do have? They’re broken. You never get time to clean (skeleton crew), so the place reeks and there’s mouse shit on everything. There’s something extremely wrong with every piece of mechanical equipment: the fridge blows a fuse every few hours, the power cord on the mixer is just a bird’s nest of frayed threads, the vacuum shoots sparks when you turn it on, the stairs are rotting, the gas stove doesn’t have a pilot light so you have to stand back and throw a flaming napkin at it (honestly kind of fun tho? WHOOMP!). My boss tried to convince me to use a meat slicer after we lost the bolt that attached the safety guide… you know the piece that holds the roast against the blade??? No joke, he thought I’d be okay with pushing a slippery roast beef against a glorified circular saw until it was sliced down to nothing. Hell no. I had to Macgyver myself a new “bolt” so I could do my own job half-safely.

          I feel a bit horrified for people who had the expensive college experience first only to discover that this was their reward.

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        Let’s not forget being pushed into office politics to avoid becoming the office elf or default redshirt. That’s something college definitely doesn’t prepare you for.

      3. JM in England*

        Agreed too!

        The fresh-out-of-college me was just like Jake in some ways but with a few twists. Yes, the tedious bits hit me hard but, unlike Jake, I learned to suck them up and later learned that those new to the working world have to “pay their dues” by learning to cope with the tedium. Also, this first job of mine was landed after a year of hard searching and unemployment post graduation. Therefore, I had more incentive to stick at it and make things work; even if it was only to get my foot in the door and obtain a good reference for future jobs…

      4. Sunflower*

        Yes to this so much. College is really good at painting a picture of all of the possibilities but not a lot of the realities. Especially if you are a first generation college student and you/your parents have the mindset that a college degree will guarantee you a job of your dreams. I have yet to meet an entry level person who hasn’t made some sort of comment like Jakes(not usually to their boss though!). Of course it’s annoying when they complain- it’s because most of us still have to do at least some of the tasks that we did in entry level jobs.

        A job description, even an accurate one, rarely paints a good picture of what you’re actually doing day-to-day. I’m an event planner and I was hired to implement new processes which sounds exciting! On the surface, it seems as simple as ‘ok we’re doing this now!’ and poof! But this really means putting a bunch of information into a PowerPoint, defending my reasoning to people who don’t want to change and then needing to wait a year if not longer for a change to actually go through all the ladders.

    3. Heidi*

      I agree with this. If I had a job that was tedious and uninteresting, I would never have the courage to say it outright; I’d just suffer in silence and that’s not great either. It’s okay that he doesn’t love his tedious work as long as he does it well.

    4. A*

      Ya this was painful to read. I sympathize with the position the manager is in…. but also… I oh so feel for this guy. There are so many bold face lies we shove down kids throats nowadays, it almost seems unfair to be surprised that they believed them.

      This was a super harsh reality check when I went through it, I graduated top of my class in HS & college and was made to believe the world was my oyster. Sadly, when you graduate a financial orphan in a bottomed out economy, it turns out that is not the case. And then there’s a point where it actually kind of *is* too late, since not everyone is able to accept a decreased salary without becoming homeless. I’m at peace with my life now – but it took a solid nine years of bitter resentment. And to this day I wish I hadn’t tried so hard when I was younger. Turns out I actually could have partied a fair amount, not graduated top of my class, and ended up exactly where I did anyways!

      Poor Jake, it’s some rough times. Sadly the best route is to talk to a counselor, not his boss. Yikes.

      1. Open Office Hell*

        I agree it’s really a cultural issue – we tell bright-eyed kids that they need to kick butt in high school, ace the ACTs, get into a great college, work hard in challenging courses, take lots of (unpaid) internships and nail the resume/interview skills, only to place them in … entry level jobs that they could have handled in 8th grade. In many cases, they’re jobs that could be automated by better systems except nobody has bothered because you can just get cheap entry level people to do it manually. It’s unfair not to expect them to notice this or to realize they’ve been tricked.

        1. lemon*

          Yes!

          I think it’s also because the college degree is the new high school degree, so a generation or two ago, many of these entry-level jobs would go to folks without degrees. Then, it made sense to have folks straight out of high school do 2-4 years of pretty rote duties before giving them more interesting responsibilities, because those 2-4 years were roughly the equivalent of what you’d learn in college (both in terms of direct knowledge, soft skills, and general emotional maturity).

          But when you already have a bachelor’s degree, multiple internships, independent projects, and increasingly, even a master’s degree, it is understandably frustrating to be given the same rote duties that were previously given to folks with less experience in generations past.

    5. Parenthesis Dude*

      I don’t agree. If Jake majored in STEM, then a job where he is doing largely clerical work and updating databases manually would be bad news for his career. It could be that he thought that the job would have more technical assignments than it actually did, and so he decided to leave while the going was good. There’s a difference between having tedious tasks and realizing that you’ve accepted a job which won’t further your career.

  2. ABK*

    This sounds like Jake is adjusting to the reality of having a job and probably has unrealistic expectations of what an entry level job looks like. I think some of your discussion with Jake needs to include that he is very junior in the workforce so every job he has will likely have some tedious aspects to it.

    1. Just J.*

      Agree. And stress that he has to prove that he can be trusted to competently handle the tedious work (without complaining) before his options for non-tedious work grow.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Yeah, the reality is that interesting is something that happens when you have experience. It sounds like maybe he doesn’t realize that and it would be doing him a favor to point it out.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Interesting is something that happens when you have experience.

        Yup, the interesting assignments are based on showing you can deliver.

      2. Hi I'm the LW*

        Yes, a lot of the tedious work is more tedious because he’s still learning the nuances of our business. Some of the data entry that takes him 5 minutes per item to do, takes me 30 seconds because I’ve built that knowledge up over 4 years. I tried to point that out, but I think he is impatient for the “interesting stuff”. Of course, I also think that interesting stuff is almost never going to be all of your job. I still do tons of stuff that I find very very boring and tedious (reading vendor contracts being the big one… that is my least favorite task I do).

        1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

          We get new cooks who come into the kitchen dreaming of creating their own recipes. Instead, they spend 8 hours dicing vegetables. In very precise dices. For 8 hours. For several months.

          1. Amy Sly*

            One of my favorite customer stories from when I worked at the shoe store after graduating law school: Guy comes in for kitchen work shoes, and in the course of building rapport starts talking about how demeaning the work is. “I was a teacher and respected, and then I went to culinary school and they talk about how you’re going to be this great chef. And what’s the first job you get in a kitchen? Chopping vegetables for $8/hr!” Meanwhile, I’m kneeling on a concrete floor tying his shoelaces. I look up at him and quietly say, “Sir, I’m an attorney.”

            He shut up and bought the shoes.

                1. Liz T*

                  Why? The customer wasn’t not right. That’s a frustrating situation. Maybe Amy Sly was in a more frustrating situation, but I can still empathize with the customer.

                2. Amy Sly*

                  I’d have more sympathy if he hadn’t been part of the large number of customers who assumed that because I chose to work at the mall instead live at the homeless shelter when the bottom fell out of the legal job market in 2010, I therefore must be an uneducated moron. Teachers in particular were the worst; a few months later, I had a professor come in for sporty sandals for an expedition to Greece. I asked her what she was researching and was flatly told “Oh, you wouldn’t be interested.” After taking the excuse of grabbing her sandals to swallow my anger, I pointed out that I actually had a history degree with a minor in classical studies, so I was actually interested in Greek archaeology. Her facial expression flipped like a light switch when she decided I wasn’t a moron to be condescended to but an underemployed college graduate who deserved sympathy.

                  Yeah, it wasn’t the greatest situation for him, but he chose to start over in a new career and didn’t realize that it would mean starting at the bottom, and the bottom means prep work. Heck, at the same time, my husband with an electrical engineering degree was washing dishes to keep food on the table for us.

      1. Zip Silver*

        Hell, as you get more experience, expense reports get much worse. Not only do you have to submit yours, you have to review your subordinates :/

      2. Kramerica Industries*

        This. When I was new to the workforce and hating my tedious work, one thing that helped me was that my manager told me that literally everybody has parts of their job that they don’t like/can be boring, so I needed to learn how to deal with the boring.

        Or, ask Jake where he wants to go in the future or try to point out possible career paths and how his current tedious tasks could help build his knowledge and skills.

        1. The Original K.*

          literally everybody has parts of their job that they don’t like/can be boring, so I needed to learn how to deal with the boring.
          Yep. I have a family friend who is a neurologist of renown and seniority, and even he complains about some stuff he finds boring. Such is the way of the working world. I find that helpful to remember.

          1. Antilles*

            Same here – I’ve known a couple former NFL athletes. Fairly high-profile ones, names that many sports fans would recognize. You know what every single one of them has told me when the topic of their time in the NFL comes up in conversation?
            They miss the game, the camaraderie of the locker room, maybe the adoration and financial rewards…but not waking up at 5 am for workouts, not the hours of film sessions, not recovery from pain the next day, not the endless travel, not all the time spent away from the family.

        2. whingedrinking*

          Teaching – at any level – is like a Zen koan. Teach kindergarten – prep and assess. Teach high school – prep and assess. Teach graduate studies – prep and assess.

      3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        Yes. Sometimes I’d trade demo days (with several two or three hour meetings that make me look like a zombie) for entry level grunt work. My boss has entire weeks of those.

    3. KHB*

      That was my thought too. It would be doing him a disservice if you’re talking to him about transitioning him to a role somewhere else that might be a better fit, without mentioning that any entry-level job anywhere else is going to have some amount of tedium to it.

      1. Jaydee*

        One of the most important things I think I ever did was identify the types of tedium I enjoy/don’t hate versus those I really can’t stand. For example, I don’t like following specific, detailed processes over and over without variation. I kind of enjoy monotonous physical labor (stocking shelves, collating and binding a bunch of copies of a booklet, sorting files, washing dishes). I don’t love filling out forms or doing data entry, but I can do it in small doses.

        When I just think about types of jobs I’m interested in, the sky’s the limit! I love learning about new things. I like working with people, but I can also work well by myself. I’m interested in tons of things from science to law to public policy to philosophy. But thinking about the types of tedium each of these fields and jobs would involve has helped me find jobs I actually like and avoid jobs that I only theoretically think I would like.

        Hopefully, this is an opportunity for this young man to do likewise.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I think you can also point out that there are ways to make it a little more interesting by observing instead of focusing on doing.
      Now is when he gets the chance to learn from what other people do. At no risk to himself!

      To mentally do a job, or mentally decide what his own course of action would be if it were his task, then compare it with what the experienced people decide and do. And question himself, “Why did they do that instead?” or “I see I had a good instinct to think this would work, because that’s what Boss did, and it worked!”

      I learned how to edit by retyping other people’s edited manuscripts to clean them up for the typesetter (back in the day), and trying to decide why they’d changed something. I learned a TON by doing that.

      That’s what can make an entry-level job less boring.

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Anything I can divide up helps me. Fir example first do all the “X” (because I hate it most) then “Y” (less hate), then “Z” (even less hate), saving “A” for last as a “reward.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. tape deck*

        Yes! I realize now that the entry-level work I did observing others helped me immensely. I had a much better idea of what the finished product should look like, which was a huge leg up over my grad school classmates with less work experience.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Agreed. (Though I see LW posted above how it turned out.)

      I’ve worked with a lot of First Job kids who are still learning how work…works. And I’ve learned the best thing to do is be very frank with them about the realities of not only their job and duties, but how that fits in to the big picture of the department and their coworkers, the company, and their future workplaces when they finish school and get a job in their intended field.

      Sometimes that means telling them, “OK I understand you are frustrated with X, but typically you shouldn’t tell your boss you’re disappointed in your job! That makes it sound like you’re quitting.” and then talking with them to see if you can pinpoint the issue.

      This is all a lot of work and of course, it’s entirely optional to take on this level of mentoring. But I’ve found it to be a penny-wise/pound-foolish sort of payback down the line, and a good investment.

    6. T3k*

      Yep, I remember when this reality hit me during my second internship, watching as the one I was shadowing sat there working at a desk all day, nobody appeared to be having fun, and I might have had a small cry fest in my car shortly after that. Since then, I’ve accepted that jobs are just like that, though thankfully where I am now we do like to have fun and clown around some, even if we sit in front of computers all day.

    7. AnotherSarah*

      Agreed. I found my first jobs boring beyond belief–I was a great student and worked on interesting projects in college with real autonomy. It was hard to adjust–Jake seems to be externalizing this more than I ever did, which is an issue, but hopefully he’ll come to the same conclusion I did which was to just suck it up and try to find things to get over the tedium.

    1. Coffee Cup*

      As an adult, I know you are right, but deep in my heart I hate this so much. Imagine a world in which we were more honest about what we want to do and not want to do, and people helping each other with things they don’t want to do. There would be a significant reduction in paperwork.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Eh, I think we would discover that there is a whole lot of overlap in the work that people don’t want to do. “How can I get more rote data entry in my life?” or “How can I spend more time filling in expense reports?” are not things most people are asking.

        1. Kes*

          Agreed. I actually think we already are remarkably free in many ways – while I won’t deny there can be barriers, overall people in most western countries at least can technically pursue whatever roles interest them. The problem (or one of the problems anyway) is that there are far more people interested in being actors or writers, for example, than in doing data entry or retail (and of course, it’s also relative to the demand for these as well).
          Also, what people want to do and what they have the ability and skills to do don’t necessarily align

        2. Flower*

          at the same time, people have things they dislike to different extents. I don’t *like* data entry, but I honestly don’t mind it. There’s a clear endpoint and progress towards that end, you can usually listen to music or an audiobook or podcast to occupy part of your brain, etc.

          1. boop the first*

            I would personally love to try data entry! I just need a job that’s only a couple days per week, and I have such an “item organizer” and order kind of mindset. My favourite jobs are the ones that have a pile of tasks after which the day ends. Like restaurant prep… I just wish I could do it in a more “office” style environment, instead of the noisy, stinky, dangerous food industry where it’s either an overdressed sauna or an underdressed ice palace. Unfortunately, even data entry requires an office degree.

        3. Managing to get by*

          One of our recent hires was actually hired because in his interview he said he loves data entry, he finds it relaxing. He now volunteers to do the rote work for others on the team and they love him for it. He’s also quick at it.

          Unfortunately, he struggles with the more nuanced work and will likely stay at entry level longer than most new employees because of this.

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        But the paperwork has to be done. Just acknowledging that no one wants to do it doesn’t fix the requirement for documentation. I think that no matter what level you’re at, it’s going to involve some level of tedium, whether it’s entry-level data entry or executives writing a dozen annual reviews.

        OP was upfront about this job being a role with a lot of paperwork. I do think that it’s important to occasionally throw a fun project in so that the person has a way to break up their day, though.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          When I worked for the accounting firm, one of my tasks was to update the binders the Tax Department kept. Open the binder, pull out the old page 345, replace with new page 345, and so forth. I enjoyed doing it, because sometimes you just have to turn off your brain for a bit. Tax loved me because the person who had my job before let the envelopes of updates just pile up before getting around to doing them.

      3. LQ*

        Someone still has to wash the dishes and mop. And unless you’re going to magically enforce a perfect “no errors and no lies” rule a lot of the stuff that people don’t like to do has to do with compliance and the like.

        Plus, if you help me with something I don’t want to do, you’re just doing a thing you don’t want to do so now two of us have jobs we hate. Which, is how life is now. I incent you to do stuff I get bored by with money, you decide if the money is worth it or not. (Well my boss incents me…whatever…)

        Jake can decide the money isn’t worth the boredom.

      4. Engineer Girl*

        There’s a lot of tedium around most jobs and it’s unavoidable. Even our lives are filled with cooking, cleaning, financial management, etc. it’s how the world is. No amount of sharing gets rid of it.

        A lot of junior folks think (erroneously) that the senior people are dumping all the tedious work on them. There is partial truth to it – it is more financially efficient to have a lower paid worker do the housekeeping work and the higher paid worker do the creative work. That said, many junior people are seriously deluded in how much tedious work is part of a senior persons assignment. Yes, senior people have chunks of tedious work too.

        Doing the tedious work is adulting.

        1. LQ*

          When I was an individual contributor I got to build cool things and come up with ideas and then make them happen. Now that I’m a manager I mostly get to make other people’s cool ideas a little bit better (or more likely realistic and doable) and then write contracts and oversee other people doing the work. It absolutely feels at least as tedious. (And I’m theoretically in a very creative/strategy role, creative and strategy are BOTH in my job title and it’s still a lot of reading and writing contracts and processes and making sure people tediously do the things they said.)

        2. MissDisplaced*

          True! And I work in what many consider a creative and fun line of work. But even graphics and marketing has a lot of tedious tasks sometimes. And yes, often the interns or junior staff get that work.

      5. mf*

        I agree, Coffee Cup. I had some really, *really* boring and tedious jobs when I was working my way through college. Honestly, those jobs made me kind of depressed, and not being able to voice how I felt about it in a honest way made the feeling worse.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          I agree. I also hear so much negativity about young workers that I admire the ones who go after what they want or speak up in situations that aren’t working for them. I didn’t have the nerve to do that, at that age.

        2. Colette*

          You absolutely can voice how you feel about your job – but not at work, unless you understand and why the work is needed, have a plan to get it done in a different way, or it’s not actually the job you’ve been for.

          To me, this is a story of a new employee who didn’t want the job he was hired for.

      6. Librarian1*

        I mean, I like that idea, but yeah, there are definitely things that most people wouldn’t do if they didn’t have to and those things just would never get done.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          Agreed. Like holding up their end of the household chores, changing diapers, taking the car in to be serviced…I wonder if his attitude extends to that kind of thing?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Umm, I don’t know. I love housework and can easily spend all weekend doing stuff around the house, but do not love the rote, repatitive, mind-numbing work at all. I mean I still do it, because I do love the paycheck. But I don’t like it. I think the difference is, in one case, you are doing things for yourself that you yourself can see need doing. You have a kid that needs a diaper changed, it’s self-evident that it needs to be done. But in the workplace, a lot of what we do can end up being busywork, makework, work for work’s sake because the leadership needs to see everyone being busy; work on a project or a new initiative that makes no sense to anyone except the one person who came up with it, and will end up in a trash bin or canceled as soon as that person is fired or moves on to their next job. At least at my level of seniority, I have some control over what I do over the course of my work day and why. But as an entry level, so much of it is “here, dig a hole” – “why is there a hole? fill that hole” – “where’s the hole I told you to dig? dig the hole” – remember that it only took Cool Hand Luke a few hours to break down from doing this kind of work. Even though, if it was on his own property at his own house, he would’ve happily dug the holes everywhere if he saw that the holes were really needed.

      7. NW Mossy*

        Interestingly, the #1 factor I’ve seen that separates the very best First Job hires from the Jakes is bringing a sense of curiosity and engagement to the rote tasks. Someone who approaches them with the mindset that it’s worth doing well, even if it’s tedious or mundane, is worth their weight in gold.

      8. Observer*

        Not really.

        My father was an artist. He loved his work. But most of his life was spent on the kind of stuff that was NOT the stuff he REALLY liked. His income came from commercial art the was ok, but take it or leave it. Also, when you are in a job the reality is that no matter how good you are and no matter how much you try to reduce paperwork etc. this stuff still needs to be done. SOMEONE needs to track who did what, how many hours did people work, who ordered what, what orders were filled. And SOMEONE needs to sweep and file the paperwork and make sure the lights are on etc.

        Even in his “passion” work, there were things that needed to be done that were just straight up boring. And days where he needed all of his discipline to get started on specific tasks that needed to be done. You simply cannot get anything done without some boring and less than pleasant tasks done by SOMEONE.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Well, yes and no.

      I have been disappointed in every job I’ve ever had in my field (one in my home country and I’m on my 6th in my 22 years in the US). I just sucked it up, said to myself “it is what it is in the corporate work world and I have bills to pay”, and proceeded to sell my soul and pay my bills.

      My older son, who works in my field, also quickly became disappointed with his first job out of college. After one year at the (really high-paying, in an area with a crazy high COL but my son is frugal to an unbelievable point) job, he quit, with enough money in savings to last him a few years, and with several ideas for products he wanted to develop and sell himself. Product #1 did not sell. Halfway through developing product #2, he started getting calls from people who’d heard of him through his ex-coworkers from his first job. They wanted him to work on new companies and new products with them, and were willing to give him a really nice paycheck. (I mean really nice. The guy makes more than I ever will, and I make enough that I could support a family of three and pay for both kids’ state college educations with scholarships covering some, but not all of it.) Most importantly, he’s happy.

      So, being a cog in the corporate engine is not an inevitable part of being an adult. From observing my son though, escaping the rat race comes with a few conditions.

      – you have to be really really good at what you do
      – you have to love what you do (my son knew he wanted to be doing what he does now since he was in fourth grade)
      – you have to be able to make ends meet on very limited finances
      – you have to work A LOT more than you would at a 9-to-5 (in the almost a year combined that my son’s been living with me and working for/with someone else, I have never seen him take a day off. He says he doesn’t need any because he’d be doing the same thing he does now on his days off/for fun anyway. See above about loving what you do)
      – if we’re talking in the US, being able to be on your parents’ insurance, or being in good enough health that you can buy the cheapest plan and forget about it, certainly helps.

      I know I could not do this. I have no idea if Jake can. I’ve never met him. Just here to say that it is technically doable.

  3. AndersonDarling*

    Is it possible Jake’s disappointment is just disappointment in working in general? If he’s right out of school, he is still getting used to working a regular schedule and understanding that the working world isn’t as glamorous as TV makes it look.
    Honestly, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the statement at this point, especially if he was answering the question, “How do you feel about the role so far?” He was probably being innocently honest because he is still kind of young and hasn’t learned to consider who you are talking to and the ramifications of these kinds of statements. If his professor asked how a class was going, saying it’s a disappointment wouldn’t lead to discussions of termination, it would be understood that he is venting.

    1. Brogrammer*

      It’s possible, but it’s also genuinely possible that this kind of work is just not for him! My first job out of college turned out to be sales (it was not sold to me as such, while the LW here was very clear about what this job entailed, but that’s another story). It turns out I loathe sales with the fire of a thousand suns. They moved me over to tech support and even though the work was still entry-level, I found it interesting and ended up being really good at it. Six years later I’m the department manager at the same company.

    2. Thatoneoverthere*

      I was like this at that age. I was lucky in college I didn’t have to work a lot. I worked 10-15 hours a week, more in the summer. Going every day to a boring job, was a huge shift for me. It took me a long time to get used to. I remember feeling drained for weeks after I started.

    3. LawLady*

      Yeah, the point of every college assignment is improving students’ knowledge. The point of work assignments is to get the work done. It’s a giant shift to go from only doing things that are centered on you and your improvement to doing things just to get them done.

    4. Hi I'm the LW*

      Yeah, I think part of it is a disappointment in the realities of an entry level position. I hope when he does get that next job, he approaches it better though. As annoying as I’m finding him right now, I don’t want him to tank his early career right out of the gate.

    5. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

      $20 says that he wouldn’t hesitate to tell you he’s an adult and can do what he wants.

      Part of being an adult includes consequences for our actions without having our hands held.

      He’s disappointed? That’s life. He vented to his boss? Shouldn’t do that as a rule. Now he knows…

  4. Zip Silver*

    Unfortunately, it’s likely that Jake doesn’t realize that there’s several years of grunt work before getting the cool jobs. It’s a bit of an adjustment for somebody going from interesting senior level university work to a boring entry level job, but it happens to most people. I’d address it from that angle, that low level stuff is pretty standard for the average graduate.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Yes. I was one who didn’t really understand how things would work. I went from a tough workload at school to sitting at a desk where someone would bring me a work package, I’d build a simple computer model, run it, spec out some materials, repeat. It was something where it was easy to become proficient, but could take a career lifetime to be an SME. They didn’t need much of the hard stuff done, though, so you just plowed through the grunt work. Eventually, they did need me to take on more, but I did look for other jobs during that first year. 20 years later, I still work in the same general field, though I went a different direction and am not an SME in that thing. I’m at my second company, plenty of challenging work. Glad I didn’t bail out too soon.

    2. Pescadero*

      I’m definitely glad it usually doesn’t work that way in my field.

      I was doing the same work as 10 year experienced engineers, just at substantially lower volumes, as a summer intern.

  5. 123456789101112 do do do*

    Please keep in mind that new grads often make mistakes (in dressing, acting, and speaking) that are horrifying to them as they mature in the working world. I would link to one of the related threads, but there are SO MANY of them. Jake may have spoken too candidly, but he may also really really really want to keep (and need to keep!) his job. If you’re brave enough to have the honest conversation with him, you may be able to find a really good outcome for you both.

  6. Quill*

    When I was Jake’s age I didn’t want to do data entry, but now? Please, leave me alone with a spreadsheet and an audiobook. Please.

    1. De Minimis*

      I know! My first full-time job was 100% data entry, and I still consider that one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

    2. MonkeyPrincess*

      Right? I left a senior level position and immediately vowed that I’d never manage anyone again. Please give me some data entry, and I’ll just sit quietly over there in the corner for the rest of my working life.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Seriously, my favorite job ever was unloading the dish machine in the college dining hall: Repetitive, but solitary and too noisy for anyone to bother me.

    4. The Original K.*

      I did a temp gig that was all data entry at the end of one summer before going back to college, and it was so relaxing. Headphones and watching a stack of paper get smaller and smaller, and the knowledge that when it was done, it was DONE.

    5. Dana B.S.*

      I did that for 2 years early in my career. I listened to over a 100 books, over 200 podcast episodes, and a few dozen comedy specials, but I could actually feel myself deteriorating – my motivation to grow & develop, my strength to own up to mistakes, my ability to have professional conversations, etc. I know it’s technically where people are expected to start, but when it’s too easy, it really doesn’t do anything for the new grad depending on their goals.

      1. Chili*

        I also had that experience. I wouldn’t be where I am without having had that role, and I appreciate parts of it quite a bit. But spending so long doing something where I was actively checked out was not good for me as a person and I picked up some bad work habits that have been bitten me in the butt in more challenging roles. As much as I know doing something you don’t love is good training for life, that mentality also kept me from challenging myself to find something I do love. It’s definitely possible Jake is just out of touch with what’s normal in the professional world, but he may also just be very in touch with himself and his needs.

    6. Jamie*

      Swap audio book for podcast and I’m with you. I was thinking as I read this how much I miss data entry sometimes.

    7. Heidi*

      What’s funny is that you can in fact excel at something that is totally repetitive, like data entry, and there can be real satisfaction in doing it well.

      1. London Calling*

        I use it to de-stress. I wait until I have a pile of invoices then sit there and quietly input them, ignoring the rest of the department; making sure the invoice number is right, and the PO is right, and the tax is right…and getting a little glow at how the pile has gone down in size and the checker telling me there are no mistakes on the batch. It’s great.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Which is funny since I loved it at Jake’s age and now I want to punch myself in the head when I have to do scan jobs. I let them pile up and the good thing is that when I do get that hair up my butt to do it, I can turn on an audiobook and crush it. But yeah…I have to be in the mood, LOL. Ask me about how much it takes me to psych myself up to clean out the file cabinets for year end every year *vomits*

  7. De Minimis*

    This is mainly concerning only because it’s coupled with his other issues. If he were fine otherwise I’d just chalk it up as just the typical adjustment to the workplace, and his only mistake was being too candid about it. Many jobs do tend to be disappointing, especially early on.

  8. ASW*

    Even if I had already decided I was going to look for other jobs, I would never, ever, ever admit that I didn’t want to stay in the job. There is no way that I am taking a chance on losing a paycheck until I had something new lined up. As an employee, I couldn’t care less if the company is wasting money on training me in the meantime. Their savings won’t pay my bills or put food on my table. There is zero incentive for Jake to be honest in this situation. A four week timeline is not a guarantee that he will have found a new job by then.

    1. Beehoppy*

      Hard agree. Four weeks seems like a very short timeline within which to expect someone to find another job- I would be panicked that I wouldn’t find another job in the timeframe we had agreed on or that they would find my replacement before I found a new job. I am in a similar situation now and I know my boss will be upset that I wasn’t honest originally – it was the only safe move.

  9. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    OP, when you follow up, I think it’s important to understand what his goal was in telling you this. I’m thinking that he’s coming from school experiences, or even internship experiences where he was done with work, or even bored with work and instructors or supervisors let him skip the boring stuff and have a go at more interesting stuff.
    You need to help him understand that the data entry or whatever the tedium is not the equivalent of work sheets or board work or whatever in class assignment was given to 30 kids to help them reinforce the lesson. His work is not something he learns and then moves past. For example, here are 30 long division problems. Or copy these sentences and underline the subject.
    It is what he is going to be doing every day. He will get better at it. But he will still have to do it. Does he really understand that? Or does he think it’s training and once he hits some goal, like getting all the data correct, he can move on to better work?
    I think this is part of it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I know that my internship was full of more interesting things than my actual job. Because I wasn’t grunt labor, I was being taught, deliberately and generously.

      Once I got a job, lots of that interesting stuff went away.

      1. Quill*

        My internship was very interesting but the main thing I learned from it was that I did not want to dodge forklifts to pick up the mail.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I get jealous of our interns. They get access to the most interesting meetings, they get creative projects, and then they present a project at the end of their stay where everyone ooo’s and aaahh’s and talks about how fun it was to have the intern.

        1. De Minimis*

          I really felt this at one of my old jobs. They wanted to give interns a good experience so they went the extra mile to make sure they were put on projects and had plenty to do. Meanwhile I and a lot of the regular employees were struggling to find enough work to where they could justify keeping us on.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          With that framing, it makes sense why people are disappointed as new hires after internships. Our internships here are pretty nice, too. They do regular work, but they also get extra training, special outings, and they do a project that is presented to an executive committee at the end. 12 months later as a regular level 1 employee, you just do the work. In some places, though, I think you can still get more access to interesting stuff as a 1-2 year person than you can as a 5-10 year. People want to help young people starting out.

          1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

            On the other hand, we also have a cultural narrative that internships are the most miserable you’ll ever be, and you just have to suck it up so you can get a real job you love (like The Devil Wears Prada), which would only make that disillusionment worse. But maybe people in industries with cushy internships don’t have that kind of narrative, I don’t know.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I’m in engineering. Our internships are pretty great. They get paid, their housing is set up by the company and paid for. Plus happy hours, trips, etc. You can give them grunt work, but no one is mean to them.

        3. Qwerty*

          I worked at a place with this same problem. Companies have gotten into a competition over having the flashiest experience so the interns want to come back at full time employees after graduation. As a result, the most interesting work was given to the interns while the senior employees had to do the low-level work* that was usually covered by interns and new hires. Once the interns left we had to either throw out their work because it was so bad or contort ourselves to salvage what they started. Having inexperienced interns making major technical decisions for the company ended up driving away the senior employees and the company went under.

          *Said low level work was usually given to interns and new hires because it was a good spot to train on best practices. They could then teach the next year’s interns/new hires and earn leadership experience.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Actually, *Jake* needs to understand this. Internships aren’t like this because they’re essentially coursework and they *shouldn’t* be daily-grind grunt work. I have a job with a high level of tedious, repetitive work, which our interns don’t have to do (for nearly as long) because that is not the point of an internship.

      The OP told him when he applied but it sounds like it didn’t sink in. She can reiterate it, but she can’t control his expectations and level of denial.

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I had an internship where I got to accompany law partners to depositions and court appearances. That was cool. Once your past the internship, it was a world of documents, spreadsheets, and computers in a windowless office. Not cool at all.

      Welcome to reality.

  10. 2 Cents*

    I had a Jake for an intern. He was really obnoxious (once asked me to make him a coffee—and I was the only woman on the team *eye roll*) and thought everything but the utmost top tier work wasn’t worth his time and effort. Jake did not get hired at the end of his internship.

    1. Batgirl*

      I don’t know if Jake is THAT guy (I’ve certainly left a field where the grunt work was not only tedious but inefficient and unnecessary in a way that would drive me crazy doing it forever) but there certainly is a lingering breed of young man to be found who matches your description. The kind who expects general life tedium (kids, dishes, social calendar) to be taken care of by girlfriend/wife lady and the boring parts of work life (filing, spreadsheets, expenses) to be taken care of by a completely mythical secretary-lady/office fairy of the female variety while he goes for glory. He’s that same guy who thinks he’s going to benefit and draw worship and perks from sexism, rather than being horrified by tales of it. He’s getting a bit rarer, so yay?

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Rarer? I don’t know … there still seems to be a surplus of them and instead of aging out they are just being replaced by younger ones.

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Oh no send him to Starbucks (or wherever) to get coffees (individual orders) for the team.

  11. Alex*

    As a new-ish supervisor I wonder have you considered that it is okay for Jake to not love his job?

    There’s so many romantic stories about the perfect job and never having to work a day in your life. But they aren’t always realistic. If Jake finds a job, such as this one, that he is competent at, has good work-life balance and that provides for his needs, it is perfectly acceptable for him to grin and bear the tedium. Bringing up disappointment during a one-on-one doesn’t sound like a red flag. It would be different if he refused to do work because it is just so boring.

    You are responsible for managing him to get the job done, him being happy about it may be outside your control.

    1. Batgirl*

      Mmm. I agree. Something like “It’s okay for a job to be just a job. You don’t have to love it like it were a person or find special fulfilment in it, beyond being generally good at it and professional.” But that may be more of a friend thing to say.

    2. Asenath*

      Well, it seems like Jake is leaving so that’s one problem solved. But Jake – and many of the comments – point to a world quite unlike my experience. I grew up instilled with the idea that work generally had boring or difficult or unpleasant aspects – and if I wanted to have a decent chance of avoiding most of the boring/difficult/unpleasant work, I needed an education. Not that that was a guarantee! Even with an education, I had to be aware I’d be expected to Pay my Dues by working in more boring low-level jobs. And so on. I don’t recall my university ever implying that I’d get a dream job once I finished my degree. I don’t think they were big on job placement. I’ve had boring jobs and jobs that nearly drove me mad (literally) and jobs that I liked some aspects of a lot, but none of them were free from boring tasks and some of them I got through by reminding myself that this was a trade, so many hours of my time for so many dollars for something I needed or wanted. That someone would find an entry-level job boring enough to quit, I can well believe. That they would think boring work is unusual startles me a bit.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        We live in a world of instant gratification, and younger people who don’t know any different (and don’t have people in their lives to provide a reality check) will have a harder time adjusting to the real world. At my last job, I worked in IT support and we would hire first level help desk personnel. It amazed me the amount of people coming through that would have the same attitude as Jake. You’re not going to be promoted after a month – it doesn’t work that way.

        I was laid off in the early 2000s and at the time could make more money temping than collecting unemployment. So I worked several data entry jobs in that time and I took the same pride in those jobs as I did in my career positions. I never acted like they were beneath me.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, I’d only ever done grunt work during college so when I got my first full time job, I expected it to be like my other low-skill low wage jobs, not like sitting in philosophy class discussing Plato, and was pleasantly surprised how much responsibility I was given!

    3. Rugby*

      I think that bringing up the disappointment in a one-on-one actually is a red flag. Understanding what to say and how to say it is a really important interpersonal skill at work and it looks like Jake hasn’t developed that skill. It’s fine to be disappointed in a new job if it’s not what you expected, but it’s not a good idea to say that to your boss. Also, OP didn’t say anything that indicates that it’s not okay for Jake to not love his job. Most people don’t love their job and that’s totally fine, but again, you need to be careful in how you talk to your boss about it. Telling the OP that he is disappointed in the job sounds like he is blaming the OP for the job not being interesting enough. That is not a message that anyone should be conveying to their boss.

      1. Close Bracket*

        “it looks like Jake hasn’t developed that skill.”

        It’s his first job out of college. Of course he hasn’t developed a skill that comes with experience.

        “Telling the OP that he is disappointed in the job sounds like he is blaming the OP for the job not being interesting enough. ”

        That’s your perception of the comment. You have to be careful conflating your perception of comments with what is actually being conveyed, which is an interpersonal skill right there.

        1. Rugby*

          I don’t think his lack of interpersonal skills is entirely related to his inexperience or age. I’ve met and worked with plenty of young people who have strong interpersonal skills. How you talk to your boss isn’t *that* different from how you talk to a professor so I would expect a college grad to have a better grasp on how to respectfully talk to an authority figure than this guy does.

          Do you have a different perception of what he meant when he told OP that the job is not as interesting as he hoped? I didn’t see anywhere in the letter where Jake took any responsibility for misunderstanding the job or having unrealistic expectations which is why I interpreted it as putting the blame on OP.

          1. Close Bracket*

            You are moving the goal posts. We see nothing in the letter to say that Jake was disrespectful, and your objection starts with “bringing up disappointment in a one-on-one is actually a red flag.” Knowing when to bring up disappointment in a job and how to approach the conversation is a job specific skill that is not like talking to a professor about a class.

            Btw, I disagree with your assessment in the first place. I suppose in a command and control environment, such as is encouraged on this blog, there is no place for discussing disappointment in a job at all. In a more person-focused environment, where we care about why people come to work in the first place, those conversations are crucial, and one-on-ones are the best place to hold them.

            I don’t see anywhere in the letter where Jake blamed the OP for the job being boring. The letter uses non-blaming language: Jake is disappointed, and the work is not as interesting. These are statements about Jake and about the work, not about the OP. Assuming that Jake is blaming the OP is a perception on your part. Based on what you said just now about Jake didn’t take responsibility so you interpreted Jake as blaming the OP, it seems that you think blamed has to be laid somewhere. I would encourage you to drop this mindset.

    4. Barb*

      He doesn’t need to tell his boss about his disappointment, because his boss is not his friend or therapist. A boss’ job is to make sure the work gets done. If you excel at the work, your boss is hopefully in a position to help you further your career, and you will become able to get more advanced work done.

      He doesn’t have to love it, but he should be moderately pleasant and be able to filter his thoughts.

      1. TechWorker*

        This does… depend on the company. If someone at my company said they were disappointed and bored with the work, the first thing we’d do is try to move them teams to find a better fit, not to be like ‘I don’t care I’m not your therapist’.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      That sounds pretty close to Alison’s advice, to sit down with Jake and tell him that this is what he was hired for, and he should think about whether he wanted to keep doing it, or leave and look for a different job elsewhere. “Save the complaints about how boring this is, and that you want a different job, for when you’re not at work” isn’t telling the employee that he has to leave if he doesn’t love his job.

  12. Fikly*

    Given that you mention he seems entitled, I have to wonder if he’s telling you he’s disappointed in an effort to get you to change his job duties. Which…is completely unreasonable! You hired him to x, you told him what x was. If he doesn’t like x, he can either put up with it or leave, but it’s ridiculous to expect the job to magically change for his benefit.

  13. Important Moi*

    I get that we are supposed to give the OP benefit of the doubt that everything is exactly as they’ve laid it out. Having said that, after 2 months Jake has said things are not ideal and OP doesn’t know how much more investment she wishes to put into Jake. Why not just fire him? I wonder if OP is taking it a little too personal that Jake doesn’t love the job.

    1. Important Moi*

      OP has provided an update. Interesting. In the arc of Jake’s career, this job may not even be mentioned.

      I’ll just say that sometimes a person is not a match for a job, however they end up leaving. That person can go forward and do great things much to the consternation of the people who are left behind at that job. That bothers some people.

  14. Smithy*

    I think this advise is spot on – but also think that it’s a good moment for the OP to gut check the company’s holistic messaging about the job. If there are new hire platitudes about being in a small company is so great because there are opportunities for rapid growth – it may be worth confirming if that is true for this specific job.

    For new grads, the range of professional experiences among his peers can vary greatly. I worked at an ngo where it was not uncommon to see a new grad be hired as a front desk temp, in a few months be “promoted” to a department temp, few months after that hired full time and a 1.5 years after the initial temp hiring date get either a promotion (associate to senior associate) or a lateral move to a more “fun” department.

    All of this is in the space of fairly average new grad job stuff based on some luck plus good professional behaviors – but if you’re seeing yours peers doing that and you’re looking down the barrel at “this is all there is”, it doesn’t shock me.

    This may well just be bad fit and a new grad needing some more time to mature. I was certainly in that spot once upon a time ago – but I do think that phrases like “room for rapid growth” when talking to new grads may be unhelpful if whats needed is for someone to do a lot of data entry and preferably for two years plus.

    1. ChimericalOne*

      Well, OP says “I was clear with every candidate I interviewed that there would be tedious tasks and screened for people who seemed able to figure out strategies for handling that tedium.” If an interviewer specifically asks you about how you handle rote tasks and tells you that there’s a good amount of time spent doing rote tasks in a particular job, IMO expectations are being managed appropriately & it’s on Jake if he didn’t walk away with that understanding.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Chimerical,
        I agree that it sounds like OP did their best to be open and forthcoming about the duties involved in the job during interviews. It also from the updates sounds like at least some of the tasks that Jake was having issues with are things that would have gotten better as he was more skilled at the job. Sometimes the “rote tasks” are the critical base that the more interesting projects are built upon, and the boss needs to know you know how the base is built before moving you on to the more fun things that build on that base.
        It is possible this is just a mismatch for Jake, and that he will go on to a promising career doing other things elsewhere. But hopefully he also learns that every job has its boring or tedious parts – whether you’re the entry level person who is just learning or the CEO/owner who creates the job in the first place for “Jake.”

  15. the Viking Diva*

    I’m surprised by this phrasing, Alison: “you’re also (hopefully) making clear that staying in the job but continuing to complain about it isn’t one of the options on the table.” Usually you are keen on the importance of being explicit, since managers’ feedback is often not clear. I think I would make that expectation very clear about the future–not only the realities of the job but the expectation to not whine about it.

    Aside: I learned to hack some tedious parts of my job from Csikszentmihalyi’s work on “flow” . Getting in the zone or finding flow so that you lose yourself in the task occurs when there is the right balance of the skills you have and the challenge the job presents to you, so the level of challenge is just right to engage your skills and your mind at a high level. Anxiety arises when the challenge of the task overtops the person’s skills, and boredom arises when their skills exceed the challenge presented. So one way to re-balance is to find a way to make the task more challenging – I’m going to get it done in 10% less time, or with less than 4 errors I have to correct, or whatever is appropriate. Another hack is to reframe the task mentally so that you have a different attitude: his example – laundry is boring to do but I can think about it as caring for my loved ones with clean clothes for the week.

    1. ChimericalOne*

      I think that if a manager responds to your complaint as if it’s serious, you generally understand that your complaints won’t be treated as “just talk.” At that point, it comes off as condescending if your manager then makes that subtext explicit by saying, “Staying here and complaining isn’t an option.” (And from OP’s update, above, it seems like this was clear to Jake without further clarification.)

      If you have the conversation Alison suggests, and then your employee doesn’t seem to get it afterwards (continues complaining), then it’s time to make the implicit explicit.

  16. jnsunique*

    OP, I totally relate! The last 3 young men I hired for an entry-level engineering role had similar issues. Some of the work is repetitive, but they had grand ideas of what the job would be. Two of them told me that the job was either not interesting or not “real engineering”, and the other just totally slacked. Interestingly enough, I have not had this issue with young women. I don’t know if it is just chance or a gender thing.

    1. Lora*

      Yuuuuup. I don’t like to hire anyone who hasn’t worked in a job for the purposes of eating and sleeping indoors – if they’ve been so fortunate that they never had to bag groceries, flip burgers, etc and did nothing but school, how long will it take them to adjust to the notion of working for money?

      More amazing to me is when they decide to go into business for themselves because it’ll be more fun than this boring entry level job. Because running your own business isn’t a lot of P&L sheets, PowerPoint presentations for funders, market data compilation or, my personal most-hated activity, chasing down Accounts Receivable…

    2. portsmouthliz*

      Kinda surprised no one else has commented on this. This tracks with my experience for 15+ years in the non-profit field. While most interns/junior employees are disappointed about the many tedious aspects of their jobs, the ones who have brought a sense of entitlement about being “above” the work and slacked have overwhelmingly been men. The women seem more familiar with the concept of paying their dues.

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Oh definitely this.

        I just get accused (by women and males alike) of picking in males when I point it out.

        So I haven’t commented in it myself. Just been responding to others’ comments about it like I am here.

        But…it’s definitely a thing.

    3. Chili*

      I think this relates to the phenomenon we’ve seen with girls tending to do better in school than men. School grades, especially in the years before high school tend to reflect diligence and willingness to do things that are mildly unpleasant instead of more enjoyable things. Women and girls are rewarded for adherence to rules more than men and boys, so by early adulthood women tend to be more okay with “paying their dues.” Sometimes to our own detriment because the professional world doesn’t always reward diligently paying your dues the way we one may expect.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I feel like you just explained my life experience in a way I hadn’t previously considered…

        1. Chili*

          It’s one of those things that I learned about and then my mind was blown for several weeks while I pondered the impact this had (and continues to have) on my life.

    4. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Interesting.

      Someone with lots of experience managing lab techs at various companies told me that many companies simply won’t hire lab techs from one particular local university. The one I graduated from, albeit years ago.

      Reason: the grads all exhibit an entitled mentality. They won’t carry out assignments without a lot of ‘lip’ or whining about how they are ‘better than this!”. They just do not understand that lab techs carry out assignments; they don’t get to manage projects or plan what experiments they’d like to run. That’s the project manager’s job. Someday, yes, they will have the experience to become a project manager. But not 3 weeks out of college.

      Color me shocked.

  17. Person from the Resume*

    I don’t have high hopes for Jake working out. Taking the LW at her word that she was upfront about the tedious aspects and that Jake still have room to improve his speed at the tedious data entry and that Jake has acted entitled and arrogant, I think Jake is angling push the tedious work off on someone else less junior than him.

    I do think the LW should follow Alison’s advice though in particular to ask upfront Knowing that, is this a role you want to stay in? I’m betting he doesn’t want to leave the job and he’s just trying to remove to tedious less glamorous job from his plate while staying on.

    I know new college grads can be clueless, but I’m seeing manipulation or entitlement on his part since there’s no one else at the his same level or more junior to turn it over to. Tedious grunt work rolls downhill to the junior guy is a fact of life in general and not office work place specific.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Welp, I’m wrong, I least a little bit. I saw the update that he quit without another job lined up.

  18. Chili*

    I think there is a bit of disappointment for most new grads in their first post-college role. In college you get to tackle a lot of big ideas, have some freedom choosing what you’re focusing on, and can often have a life relatively free from busy work. Most entry-level jobs are not like that, so the transition can be really jarring.

    I think it’d be okay (if LW has the bandwidth and feels like Jake is worth it) to deploy a bit more hand-holding than if an experienced professional came to you saying they were dissatisfied with their role. I’d make sure to mention that most entry level jobs have some tedious aspects to them. I’d also make very clear that you can’t make adjustments to the role or create a new role for him at this point in time. I’d also make clear what career trajectory he could expect if he stays. Would he be in this role for a decade before he sees advancement? Do you think in two years, with great performance, he could be promoted into a more interesting role?

    It may be that Jake and this role truly are not a match and he’ll find something tremendous and never look back. Jake may also leave and realize later that it was a good gig and his expectations were too high too soon. As long as LW takes a little time to make sure Jake is aware of what’s going on, I think it’s fine to leave the ultimate choice up to him (unless his attitude continues to be bad, in which case you can just let him go).

  19. Third or Nothing!*

    Jake may be the kind of person who has a hard time with feeling like his brain isn’t engaged. I’ve found that listening to an interesting podcast or audio book while doing data entry helps me significantly. Actually this morning I’m tweaking my playlist for my first half marathon next Saturday while preparing my weekly report.

    If it makes sense for the kind of work he does, you might suggest that as a coping mechanism.

    1. Hi I'm the LW*

      He definitely is already listening to something! One other thing he had brought up was that he didn’t feel like he was included in collaborative project discussions, and I had to tell him that it was because he always wears headphones, and that gets interpreted as “busy focusing, do not disturb” in this office.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Both earbuds in is a pretty universal “do not disturb” in my experience. I’m a bit surprised he didn’t already know that, or maybe thought it didn’t apply here. I totally remember throwing on my old earbuds and listening to some classical music so I could focus on studying for my finance final.

        I’m starting to think there may have been a bit of cognitive disconnect. Like he totally overestimated his ability to handle mundane tasks or he thought for some reason that he’d outgrow them quickly. I know I’ve fallen victim to overly optimistic self assessments of whether I can do a thing.

  20. Amethystmoon*

    Some people don’t handle tedious work well. One thing that can help, if the workplace allows it, is allowing employees to use headphones so they can listen to music. That is, as long as the music isn’t distracting and causing them to make mistakes. I generally listen to instrumental music such as jazz or classical crossover in my job, which is essentially data entry all day long.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is why I was able to champion a big project that I did years ago as a temp. It was all pulling files, copying files, re-filing the files. No real brain work involved. So I listened to music or audio books, whatever I felt like. If someone had told me I couldn’t, that would have been my own personal hell.

      So I’m a huge fan of letting people find their groove and use headphones whenever it’s not a safety issue or disruptive to their other duties [like if you have to catch phones too, headphones aren’t great.]

  21. mf*

    If this is the first tedious job Jake has ever had, it could be that he didn’t have the self-knowledge to know he was a poor fit for this role while he was interviewing. A lot of jobs that people do during undergrad are not tedious–kind of the opposite. Work like waiting tables, bartending, working retail, babysitting can be very fast-paced and stressful.

  22. Jessica Fletcher*

    Ugh, I have this problem with my new coworker who’s been here a little over 2 months. She’s no longer announcing how boring our work is (after being told to stop), but she continues to come in late, miss meetings due to coming in late, always be late to meetings, and not pay attention in meetings. She’s actually escalated to bringing other reading material to meetings and obviously doing other stuff during the meeting.

    In the past 8 days, she has called off twice and one day came in 2 hours later than scheduled, with no explanation, and immediately got lunch (and was then late to meetings the rest of the day). So I’m hoping she’s interviewing somewhere else, because our manager seems pretty reluctant to fire her. It’s pretty exhausting.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Man, I’m so bored that I wish I had meetings bc that would mean I have something to listen to and engage with! Your new coworker needs to reframe her employment. :)

  23. RC Rascal*

    Once upon a time, I was Jake-like. When I took my first job I didn’t understand the job was entirely data entry and filing. They didn’t explain that in the interview and instead spent the time telling my how the company was growing quickly, there was opportunity galore, and they had a brand new beautiful office building. I was terrible at it. I am a terrible typist. I nearly flunked typing in high school. I left the job before 2 months because I hated it so much I didn’t want to go to bed at night, because I didn’t want to get up in the morning and go to work. While Jake’s attitude isn’t ideal, it may be a by-product of his unhappiness. My hunch is his ability and enjoyment of the actual duties are much different than reality, or what he anticipated.

  24. ArtK*

    Although Jake seems to have resolved the issue himself, I think that this would have been a good opportunity to talk to him about his expectations for the job. He’s fresh out of school and likely has some very unreasonable ones. Addressing those specifically would help. I know Alison suggested something indirect, as in “this is the reality of this role,” but I think that calling out the unreasonable expectations might aid someone like Jake in learning what that reality is. I’m just afraid that he’s going to take his expectations to the next company, and the company after that, before he learns.

  25. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I don’t even see a need to follow up with Jake about his disappointment or have a sit down about the job and the future. Be clear about what performance is expected and just let him work out his feelings on his own without getting involved. I don’t see a need to protect him from failure or feelings of boredom — both are important parts of maturing. If he decides to leave to see what else is out there, or if the OP decides he’s too much of a bother and fires him, either one will be a learning experience for him and better now than later in his career.

  26. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My first job was pulling reams worth of papers off a fax and processing everything from start to finish. Fresh out of high school of all places. It was tedious but I liked it. *shrug* So it’s all very personal in that regard. This guy has the right to be disappointed, he has the right to voice it and see if that’s going to change anything. I don’t fault him for that.

    I would have the discussion that Alison is talking about. I would be prepared for him to bounce but I would treat him like an adult who is at that crossroads we find ourselves at. The intersection of “do I go straight and continue this road or try this side street…” If he doesn’t work out, it’s going to be better for you [and the company] that you tried. You’ll feel better and in the end, that’s what counts.

    These people are going to come in and out of your employment over the years. If you treat them with consideration and still understand that you can’t always make someone happy or chain them to a job you thought they’d be good for, it’ll be easier in the long run. It’s the exhausting “people” part of management in the end.

    1. MsChaos*

      Sometimes the “tedious” work is satisfying in that you start with a mess and end with order. There’s a visible and positive result to your work. A little of that is nice to have in any job, in my opinion. Filing my IEP paperwork (I’m a teacher) and filling out my service tracking every week is kind of soothing from all the emotional and intellectual challenges of the week. It’s a visible reminder of all I got done.

      I think the problem comes when an employee comes into a job expecting to be a visible rock star from the get-go, when the real rock stars are the ones who are efficient at the more routine stuff, figure out ways to make it happen quicker and more accurately, and start out by making their team look good through their support.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is a perfect way to summarize why it’s so satisfying! I’m that person. I’m obsessed with organization. I kept all my grade school paperwork and filed it tediously in a cabinet my mom had given me since she was going to throw it out and I did the “I can haz it instead?”.

        Add on finding math problems satisfying because “there’s an answer and I will find the answer” mentality. Nobody was surprised when I ended up doing accounting, lol.

        I agree that if people have that idea that you have to be doing high profile work to be that standout rockstar employee, it’s a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Just showing up and being reliable and flexible has made me the career I have built.

      2. LawBee*

        “Sometimes the “tedious” work is satisfying in that you start with a mess and end with order. ”

        That is exactly how my mom explains why she enjoys handwashing a sink full of dishes. Visible results.

        Me, I say God invented dishwashers for a reason.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Ah yeah, my mom is a livelong housekeeper by trade, she loves it. It’s not tedious or boring to her, she gets satisfaction out of the whole thing.

          Meanwhile I’m over here like “I need to hire a housekeeper, I don’t do dishes until I’m out of forks…” [I have made it my mission to only have a limited silverware to force myself into timely dishes, lol].

          1. MsChaos*

            I used to love ironing my sheets, when I had a working iron. The sheets felt like silk as a result. They were the only thing I ironed outside of pieces for a sewing project. But alas, real life gets in the way… when I retire, the first thing I’m going to do is buy a new deluxe iron and ironing board and iron sheets for a week.

        2. Forrest Rhodes*

          Totally agree with your mom. I enjoy washing a pile of dishes—it’s one of the few areas of my life where I have tangible evidence that I’m successfully bringing order out of chaos.

      3. Librarian1*

        To most people it’s only satisfying if it’s just a small part of what they do though, which it sounds like is the case for you. I had previous job that was extremely tedious all the time and I hated it.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No, I specialized in project basis kind of copy/scan projects for awhile. It was constantly just keeping the rhythm going.

          Lots of people do transcription for full time jobs. That killed me on the inside just trying to do one small project for a friend awhile back. Talk about tedious.

          So it really just depends on the individual. Some really thrive on just plugging away, others like you need a variety. And both are okay!

          I knew someone who’s job for almost 20 years was to stand at a table and sand table tops all day long. Pick one up. Sand it. Put it on the finished pile. Pick the next one on. Sand it. Put it on the finished pile. The most exciting part was when the cart was full…and he got to push it to the painting room and grab a new cart…to start it all over again. He showed up every day and loved his job.

  27. Krakatoa*

    I’m wondering if this guy had any internships or work experiences to prepare him for the real world of working. My first job out of college was a shock to the system, just because it’s such a different lifestyle, and I had internships to show me what working in what was my selected field.

    But now, I love my career, and the company I work for. There are still days I hate my job and don’t want to be here. Hopefully he learns that all jobs have tedious parts that you have to get through to do rewarding things.

  28. Rainbow Roses*

    I love data entry, filing, and other work like that but I know that’s not for everybody. Better to learn early if he can stick to it and not waste everybody’s time. Although his next job may be the same unless he lucks out on an interesting job or he has special skills.
    New workers sometimes have to learn the hard way that work is not fun and exciting like TV or even the news. There’s always boring tasks no matter what your occupation.

  29. agnes*

    i hope people who have young children are reading this. Teaching children to tolerate boredom and delay gratification s one of the most valuable lessons you can give them as a parent. The earlier you start the better. Also, let help young people have realistic expectations of adulthood and the working world. I would much rather hire a college grad who has flipped some burgers or worked at a grocery store, than a similarly educated/trained person who has counted butterflies in Costa Rica for a summer. I’m sure the butterfly experience was much more fun for the young person but the real world experience is a lot better for me.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Say it louder for the people in the back! We live in a world of instant gratification and I see too many younger people who have zero idea how to entertain themselves beyond staring at their smart phone. You’re not going to get an entry level job out of college and be promoted to CEO in 3 months. It doesn’t work that way.

    2. Entry Level Marcus*

      I don’t think working service sector jobs inoculates people against this attitude. I have a recent-college grad friend who worked at a grocery store during college who nonetheless expected entry-level white collar work to be more exciting. Granted, he has the sense not to mention his disappointment to his boss and coworkers.

    3. Close Bracket*

      Counting butterflies in Costa Rica sounds awesome for about an hour. Then it sounds hot, humid, isolated, and really fucking tedious.

  30. Unpopular Opinion*

    I identified with Jake. Twenty-years ago, I graduated from one of the top five schools in the country, where I’d studied some really challenging and complex stuff. I felt ready to take on the world. My friends all got jobs that, obviously, involved some level of entry-level tedium, but where they were also being groomed from day one to take on some really cool stuff. I took a job at a small law firm where they explained a lot of the work would be tedious, but that I would be providing support on some very interesting stuff, would learn about the profession, have room to rise in the organization by getting a paralegal certificate, etc. What really happened was that I spend 8/hrs a day, 5 days a week making copies, typing notes from a dictaphone, doing intensive cleaning because they were too cheap to pay for actual janitorial staff, and sending bills. I got yelled at – legit yelled at – for sharpening a pencil incorrectly. It wasn’t just that it was tedious, it was that it was totally mind-numbing, but meanwhile they were all constantly patting themselves on the back for my “competitive salary” (it was below market), my “competitive PTO package” (I accrued one day a month, total, still the worst PTO package I’ve ever had by a long shot), treated me like complete crap, but were always bragging to clients where I went to school and billed out my time at $100 an/hour (20 years ago!) based on that.

    I lasted over a year before I finally couldn’t take it anymore and quit without anything lined up. I ended up getting contract work as a grant writer, and ultimately landed an entry-level gig at a K Street firm where, yeah, I was mostly doing data entry, but I ALSO got to do some badass stuff in the service of something I really believed in.

    I wish I had left after two months. I also never expressed my displeasure to anyone I was working with, which meant they were shocked when I left. It sounds like Jake feels like he’s a rockstar, but maybe he IS a rockstar, and that’s not what LW’s organization needs?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I think it’s always fair to say that some roles just aren’t for everyone. The role you had wasn’t for anyone because yuck and WTF at “sharpening a pencil incorrectly”, that’s some militant nastiness that you were dealing with. That’s like the tales of the sociopath bosses out there. Was your nickname Cinderella as well? That’s some wicked-stepmother level crazy!

      I have bounced from jobs quickly before because our expectations and standards didn’t mix and I was getting nothing but trouble out of it. In reality, it’s all about that delicate balance of power in the workforce. Yes, the boss holds the final say but reasonable decent places to work don’t rule with an iron fist and strip their employees of their dignity.

      Also it’s a huge red flag if a company toots their horn about their benefits package. Even if it’s actually good, you present it as “This is what we offer, we think it’s a good deal but understand that everyone has a different POV on what constitutes a good amount of PTO/Sick leave, etc.” By saying “We’re great. rah rah rah rah”, my mind goes to “What…are you hiding? Why are you hiding behind your Super! Special! Package!”Usually it’s a huge old pile of unreasonable expectations and bad attitudes, in my experience. Ick.

    2. Close Bracket*

      “where they were also being groomed from day one to take on some really cool stuff. ”

      Yes, this. I can see recent (within the last year or less) graduates at my current company getting all sorts of new job duties and experiences — duties that I am not getting despite being way better situated to take them on! I hope Jake finds a company that grooms their new, enthusiastic workers for cool stuff.

  31. Doug Judy*

    I had a job like this once, except it wasn’t entry level. It required 5-7 years experience and a bachelor’s degree. In the interview there was mention that there was data entry but they didn’t make it seem like that is all I would be doing. It was all I did. I was miserable from day two. Jake may be entitled and have unrealistic expectations of his first job, but this type of work also isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. It’s hard to be honest when a new job isn’t the right fit.

  32. lauren19*

    His parents must be having conversations with him as he must have expressed this to them. 21 is not too old for a heart to heart with his parents. It sounds to me that he is adjusting to the world of work and needs to help himself settle in. He knows what the alternative is. The alternative is a life on government money and that is not good. In time he will grow up and understand work is better for him financially. If he is unsatisfied with his work, he then must decide what he wants but even the good jobs have unglamorous side and give his present one 6-12 months before deciding if he wants to move on. its better to be in work than out of work.

  33. 1234*

    I wonder if Jake had any internships while he was in school. Mine consisted of going to FedEx, getting coffee for others, making copies, printing and assembling brochures, etc.

    OP – What was Jake’s response when you described the Tedious Tasks this position required at his interview?

  34. boop the first*

    I particularly like how the language is focused on just either continuing or ending the job, JUST IN CASE he knew what he was in for from the interview and thought he could manipulate the job into something else once he was “in”. I can totally see the appeal of negotiating rather than disappointing, but this prevents that.

    I echo the others is that I hope he doesn’t leave the job… someone’s gotta let him know that all jobs are mostly tedium, and every one of them becomes more efficient over time. No less boring, though, but it would suck if he quit the boring job with the coaching employers and room to grow, only to go into a different but equally boring job with abusive employers and a dead end.

    1. RC Rascal*

      He may be entirely unsuited for data entry. Maybe he didn’t know that about himself until he tried it. It might be best for him to go.

  35. LawBee*

    I’m Team Jake here, without being anti-OP. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, and just because someone is 21 doesn’t automatically mean that he’s entitled or being a brat. He didn’t like the job, and while talking about it wasn’t the most professional thing he could do, the end result is that he decided to leave a job (per the update) that wasn’t a good match for him. And OP had doubts about him anyway for other reasons, so – win/win, as far as I see it.

    And as for him dropping to PT without having something else lined up – ok, whatever? He’s 21, he presumably knows what he can afford to do, he doesn’t have to list this job on his resume at all, and if he doesn’t want to work at a job he doesn’t like, that’s his prerogative. He wasn’t great at it anyway so again – win/win.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Agreed. I’m team “Everyone should look out for themselves, nobody else is going to put them first.” in just about every instance in life.

      Why should he suffer just because “we’ve all suffered through jobs we hate! Welcome to the Real World, Jake!”

      Uh. Nah. I haven’t chosen to suffer when I had options not to. I advocate for people to lead their best lives, seriously.

      He gave notice. He was up front and honest. He’s doing things very maturely in that aspect. He didn’t ghost or make a scene exiting in a blaze of glory or something outrageous.

      It’s just not the right fit. It’s seriously so not personal.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Hear, hear.

        Why should he suffer just because “we’ve all suffered through jobs we hate! Welcome to the Real World, Jake!”

        On our first morning after arriving in the US as new immigrants, our (also an immigrant from our home country) landlady came by to meet us and her first words somehow were “Welcome to America. We had to eat a lot of crap here to get where we are, and you will too.” 22 years in and I’m still waiting for my serving of crap… Hope things work out for Jake. As I said higher up in this thread, suffering through a job you hate really is not a requirement.

      2. Close Bracket*

        “we’ve all suffered through jobs we hate!”

        At the risk of being reductive, there are two responses to having suffered through X, where in this case, X = “jobs we hate.” The first response is, “I suffered through it, so should everyone else.” The second response is, “I suffered through it, and people should not have to suffer through that.”

    2. Nini*

      Same here. The job wasn’t what he expected, and rather than stay at it and be unhappy, he decided to leave. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with doing it without another job lined up. It’s not ideal, but we don’t know his financial situation or if he’d already been job hunting. This way OP doesn’t have to fire him. Could he have worded his complaints about the position better? Sure. But it’s his first job. He’ll learn.

    3. littlelizard*

      I agree. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and different people find different things boring/frustrating/other things that add up to ‘disappointing’. And I know OP mentioned trying to warn about the tedium, but it’s entirely possible that there was some Expectation of something on either end that wasn’t quite met. It happens.

      (And personally, there are some kinds of tedium I’ve been okay with in service of one kind of project but not another. That happens too.)

    4. Princesa Zelda*

      +1. I wish I’d done something similar with a previous job. Not white-collar by any means, but serious organizational problems and work I hated made for a very miserable Princesa.

    5. Liz T*

      Beautifully put! I’m a bit surprised by the rush to judgment here, especially when we have so little info on why Jake quit or what his circumstances are.

    6. Ladybug*

      Agree with your sentiment that both Jake and OP have reasonable sides to their stories. I remember mourning deeply after both undergrad and grad school (with a working stint in between) about the realities of the working world. I grew up in an immigrant family that owned a restaurant, so I worked a lot in my youth, but that didn’t make the transition to the “real world” any easier. This may or may not apply to Jake but could be taken into consideration for anyone we come across in the same position – perhaps his disappointment or bad attitude is part of a mourning process with which he is struggling to come to terms.

  36. banzo_bean*

    It sounds like he has given his notice based on the comments. I would try to do an exit interview if possible. This would be a good opportunity to see what misperceptions he had about the role, and see what you can do to address them with future candidates. It sounds like you did a good job trying to warn him about this but it might be helpful all the same.

  37. Autumnheart*

    I had a job right after college that consisted of electronically mapping residential properties to their lots on a digitized county map. A van with cameras would drive around (like Google Earth, but this was before Google) and the people would make sure to get each address, and then I would watch the video, freeze the frame on the house, click it to attach a screenshot of the house to the property on the digital map, and then start the video again.

    So boring. So, so, so boring. I lasted less than a year, even though I understood that the job I was doing had value to the company.

    I’ve been in my career for over 20 years, but I can definitely say that there are boring aspects, and that even the interesting (to me) parts would be excruciating for someone who didn’t enjoy that work. In creative critiques, we can spend the entire hour discussing the precise pixel placement of a button on a screen–which can determine whether you make tens of millions of dollars or not, seriously! But it is a very dry discussion for sure, even when you’re engaged in the work. I love my job, but I still find myself tuning out and thinking about my grocery list despite the best of intentions. Even an awesome job will have its boring parts.

    1. Jennifer*

      Exactly. Even A-List actors making millions per year have boring elements to their job, like doing press and answering the same inane questions over and over again. That’s life no matter what your job is.

  38. Jh*

    Ah yes, reality!

    He is lucky to land a job after graduation. Many of us had to work a variety of non ideal roles for many years before we were happy in a sense, many of us are still looking for that.

    I think he is thinking out loud and you as his boss are there to coach him on the daily realities of the role, work-life, and the potential of his role.

    What helped me early on was knowing that every achievement and win would be great for my resume. Everything I learned could make me better at my current role or help me get promoted, or help my get a job elsewhere… Even apply for graduate school.

    He needs to think positively before it gets to him too much. This can happen when you get out of school. You’re feeling negative because your buddies have moved away and that phase of your life is over. You’re an adult now… More bills, student loans, etc.

    Anyway the post school funk is a real thing and can drive people to depression. It is concerning he feels this way. What makes him disappointed… What were his expectations? I’d ask him those things.

  39. no need to pile on jake*

    It IS concerning that Jake didn’t know that you can’t say this to a manager without either losing your job or having to leave it. That said, I’d remind people that there is a ton of bad management out there, particularly in the kinds of jobs you get before you graduate college, (and sometimes after), so I think some of the assumptions about Jake being entitled / never having had to work are a little presumptuous. I don’t think I EVER got negative feedback in a way where it felt like I was actually being told I needed to make changes, even on tasks I was bad at, until I’d been in my first-post college job for over two years, and I’d been working since I was 15. TBH I don’t know that I ever had a truly GOOD manager until my current job, and I’m in my mid-30s now.

    1. Susana*

      Agreed, but LW indicates Jake had a bad attitude anyway. Had he just been frustrated at how much boring work was involved, it might have been a teachable moment.And the fact that he gave notice already – well, sounds like it worked out for the best for both.

    2. Close Bracket*

      “It IS concerning that Jake didn’t know that you can’t say this to a manager without either losing your job or having to leave it.”

      When would Jake have learned how to express boredom and frustration with his job duties? This is his first job out of college.

      1. no need to pile on jake*

        I mean, you can’t tell your professors their classes are boring, in general. If you played any sports you certainly can’t tell your coach you don’t want to run laps or whatever other not-fun stuff they make you do. If you performed in band or chorus you very likely could not openly complain about the repertoire to the director. I don’t know, seems to me like it is very hard NOT to pick up the norm that you have to guard the truth sometimes?

        1. Observer*

          This is all true. Which is what makes this so odd. Combined with what the OP says about his attitude, it does sound like he’s got some growing up to do.

        2. Oh So Anon*

          …but there are tactful ways for adults to discuss frustration with their work duties with their managers.

        3. Close Bracket*

          And here is the fundamental difference in our perspectives:

          You believe that one can never express unhappiness with what one is presented with, and this is obvious from one’s experience as a student.

          I believe that one *can* express unhappiness with what one is presented with, and one’s experiences as a student do not prepare one for these conversations bc student and minor experiences are non-negotiable. The professional world is negotiable. Even things like community theater and sports teams are negotiable. Yes, if your community soccer coach runs terrible practices, you have a say. If you want to change your community theater’s repertoire, you have a say. If your job is boring af and there are other ways in which you want to grow, you get to express that.

          As a corollary, it appears that managers are not prepared for these conversations, either.

          1. no need to pile on jake*

            I don’t think we disagree as much as you think we do. In the interest of keeping the comment from going on forever, I omitted a caveat, which I would say goes something like, “Sometimes, if you are careful and tactful, you can say these things, but you need to be prepared for the possibility that they will not be taken well by the receiving party and that there could be consequences.” Which is true in all of the other situations I mentioned, even school.

  40. Susana*

    Huh. I’ve seen this before – most notably, a friend who was at a big consulting firm. A 26-year-old (making a really good salary for a 26-year old) started crying in the middle of a meeting. Friend gives her look, like – come see me afterward. She does, friend assumes she’ll need to give kind advice – that if you broke p with your boyfriend or had a fight with a friend or parent, keep it together in a meeting, go to bathroom if you really can’t deal. But it turns out 26-year-old was upset because the rather important project she was working on also required some tasks like faxing and FedExing. And she felt this was beneath her.
    Now, I am absolutely NOT going to make some sweeping comment about Millennials or whatever. They are tech-savvy, hard working and had to endure pressures people of my generation did not. But it does make me wonder how they are being prepared for the work world. Has no one told them that virtually ALL job have grunt work? And that when you’re entry-level or just a few years in, you’ll likely have a bigger share of grunt work. So maybe tis is an issue of universities, parents, recruiters, whatever – not making this clear

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oh stop.

      We haven’t had to endure anything other generations haven’t had to, I don’t know where you getting this idea that we’re some kind of grizzled veterans of life compared to others, acting like the entire Greatest Generation and Boomers are dead and gone. We’ve all dealt with ugly things and the pressure of life in general.

      In the end, lots of people come into the work force unprepared and they stay unprepared for it. I’ve known young and old to have the strangest breakdowns. I have had older people think that because I’m the younger one, that I’m automatically the assistant and should be bringing them coffee or some nonsense. And I’ve had people scared to talk to older people because “they won’t respect me and my authority!”

      This is a human’s are complex individuals thing and nothing to do with age, socioeconomic status or generation. People have unreasonable expectations and skewed standards. It’s because of their own personal POV and not a thing about anything else. Everyone in every generation has seen different things, gone through different paths to get where they are and so on.

      1. Liz T*

        I think you were interpreting harshness in Susana’s comment that wasn’t there. (I assume that by “we” you mean you’re a Millenial, right?) Susana was trying to fend off Millennial-bashing, and I took the “pressures people of generation didn’t have” statement to be just what you meant with “everyone in every generation has seen different things.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Clearly you’re the one who’s confused and not reading very well in this case.

          In one breath it starts with “I’m not making generalizations about an entire generation!”

          And then the next. Based solely on the fact she heard this story about one wayward weird 26 year old, she says “ But it does make me wonder how they are being prepared for the work world. Has no one told them that virtually ALL job have grunt work?

          My interpretation is just fine. There is bashing and sweeping generalizations right in the damn comment itself.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Has no one told them that virtually ALL jobs have grunt work?

      It’s possible they come from a privileged background where all the grunt work was done by hired help, or had parents who wanted them to “enjoy their childhood” and never gave them any chores. It’s easy to see that in such a situation, they would feel that menial tasks are beneath them.

      TL;DR: Give your kids chores.

      1. lemon*

        I think there are also people from more privileged backgrounds who grew up having every single moment of their free time scheduled with activities (karate, ballet class, volunteering, music lessons, etc), so they have a low tolerance for boredom and also aren’t very comfortable engaging in self-directed activity to overcome said boredom.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s most likely that they’re just unaware that when you’re an adult, you still have to take direction and do things you don’t want to.

        There’s a huge problem with those younger years, when kids internalize the hatred for being “told what to do” and doing “boring” things. Lots of kids who had a lot of chores also grow up with this kind of “Now that I’m an adult, I’m in charge!” idea that’s completely wrong. No, now instead of your parents telling you what to do, your boss gets to tell you what to do. Instead of being in charge of your TV time and your ability to go hangout with friends, your boss is in charge of if you have a job that will pay your bills or not.

  41. Hamburke*

    I feel for Jake – I remember my first job out of college! You go from high-thinking, fast-paced courses to…entry-level. in my case, I went from lead lab TA working/assisting in the lab 12-15 hours per week and taking 15 400-level credit hours (chemistry major, science communication minor) to washing glassware, receiving environmental samples from FedEx, taking inventory and compiling/routing completed reports. Basically, I went from being at the top of my analytical and writing skills to using none of that. I was bored and bc I was a gov contractor working onsite, there was little I could do to increase responsibility. I stayed home with my kids and then switched fields!

    1. Batgirl*

      I’ve heard university educators say a degree is not for getting a mere job, it’s for your enhancement as a person – but surely there’re better ways to blend or link the two. At this point degrees and jobs are way out of joint.

  42. Kid of Speed*

    What if the entitled, disinterested, critical employee is your new boss? Some years ago, my co-workers and I went through this unique situation. We were without a department head for some time, so we were eager to welcome this very promising, personable, young(ish) up-and-coming guy to the role. He wasn’t on the job much longer than a month before he started having outright tantrums and badmouthing the company, calling people in other departments and even the janitorial staff “idiots,” etc. (In hindsight, we should have been tipped off by the way he sat in his office on Day One and barely spoke to anyone; he seemed to be regretting taking the job already.) Dragging his personal problems into staff meetings, criticizing his own team members behind their backs, storming out of the office when he was disappointed with how something was going between our department and other departments. Mind you, this was all during the first three months. If a female boss had been acting this way, she would have been fired. He was very good at turning on the charm-and-deference routine when in the presence of his superiors, but once left alone, the mask would come off. Then he went through a phase where he would openly challenge and pick fights with other departments.

    My co-workers and I were so stunned by his behavior, it took us some time to believe what we were seeing, and then to furtively compare notes. I, personally, figured he was going through some sort of problems at home, but… then again… he was bringing it to the office (as a new manager! just weeks on the job!). Don’t people have, um, friends and confidantes for that sort of thing? Why dump it on your NEW team? I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t have any friends off the job…

    He has mellowed out somewhat since then, but I know that some people have never gotten over the terrible impression he made during his first few months, and I suspect one of our team actually found a new job because he couldn’t stand working with him.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Some people thrive on drama. They seemingly will die in a heap of utter despair if the boat isn’t rocking constantly and everyone is in danger of going overboard at any given minute. This guy sounds like he’s probably unhinged for whatever reason that may be and the slightest amount of “power” goes to his head. But he has opportunistic and survivalist instincts to keep him kissing the right backsides while he’s kicking down terrifically.

      You document and report him if you feel safe doing so. In places I’ve been, we don’t have a culture of fearing any given person, if there’s an issue, someone will complain to whomever is next in command.

      If it’s not a structure like that, sadly you walk away from the place because your sanity and mental health is important to preserve. This kind of person you describe is dangerous to your mental health in the short and long term.

      1. Kid of Speed*

        The strange thing is that he does not yell at or criticize US to our faces. He treats his own immediate team with basic civility (well, when he’s not hijacking departmental meetings with his own drama). I guess he knows well enough not to poop in his own nest… It’s everyone outside our department who’s the enemy, apparently. Not sure we can really report that to HR, though… it’s not against company policy to be a passive-aggressive drama queen.

  43. agoldenblackbird*

    “you’re also making clear that staying in the job but continuing to complain about it isn’t one of the options on the table.” THIS. I worked with a Jake. It was a call center; our work was often repetitive, customer service isn’t inherently terribly interesting or exciting, except for the times you’re getting yelled at. But the attitude of your co-workers can make a huge difference in whether you like or loathe coming to work, and Jake can continue to be disappointed that it’s not his dream job but if he decides to stay, he definitely needs to keep that opinion behind his teeth.

  44. CM*

    Can I just say how much I like this advice? It’s totally non-judgemental to Jake and allows for the possibility that a reasonable person has the right to feel disappointed or decide that a job’s not for them.

  45. No Name*

    I don’t think Jake did anything grievously wrong. He could have handled the conversation about being unhappy better but he is also fresh out of uni and doesn’t seem to understand workplace norms. The letter writer didn’t do anything wrong either. Data entry is a big part of the job and that isn’t going to change. The job was simply a poor fit for Jake. Honestly, when you are young, it is hard to know what you will enjoy. There is a lot of pressure as to what you “should” like. I thought I would love marketing and events. Turns out spreadsheets and numbers make me happy. It just took me a while to grow up and gain some real life experience to understand myself. Jake leaving is actually for the best because now he can find an opportunity that suits him better and LW can find a replacement who can thrive in the position.

  46. Lily in NYC*

    Huh. It was nice for Alison to take his disappointment seriously, but this sounds like so many recent grads we hire who do not understand the concept of paying their dues. Our job roles are made very clear during interviews, but some people seem to think they are going to come in and immediately wow us and get assigned to the big-name projects. Nope, you have to earn your way into those projects by being reliable and doing a good job on the grunt work you were hired for. My office has no patience for that attitude and just tells people who try to manipulate themselves out of the boring projects that they are free to find a more exciting job. And a few of them do! The rest of them either fizzle out or mature into role and get over themselves after a while.

  47. Database Developer Dude*

    It depends on what he was asked. If this is his first job, it would be a kindness to bring him up to speed on what is expected in the working world.

  48. CM*

    The comments here are so interesting — it seems like this one really got at the question of “why do we work” and “what should we expect from work?” Seems like people are divided into camps of “jobs are like this, you have to suck it up and pay your dues,” and “it’s OK to want something that you care about, maybe this will all work out for the best as he finds a job more suited to his interests.” I wonder which it will be — will Jake find his true calling in a totally different field, or will he find that his next job is also disappointing and realize that work isn’t always fun?

    I’ve experienced both in my career — I would guess that with a long enough career, most of us experience both. Some jobs genuinely aren’t a good fit (although announcing to your boss that the job is “disappointing” is not a good move) and some jobs, you have to get through the tedium to accomplish the good stuff.

  49. WeekendWarrior*

    Two months after I started my first full-time professional job, my boss pulled me in for a one on one and asked me “What don’t you like about the job?” She wouldn’t accept my answer of “I like most everything about this job, nothing’s bothering me too much.” She just kept badgering me for something negative about my experience, so I felt obligated to give her one: I had been working more on weekends than I was used to. Cue my boss launching into a lecture about how I couldn’t be upset about that, it was part of working life, blah blah– without even listening to the fact that I wasn’t upset about it, it was just the worst part of the job. It drastically changed my view of her– I felt manipulated into making myself look undedicated when I actually loved the job (and continue to hold it!)

    I’m on Derek’s side. I highly doubt he gave his answer unprompted. As the saying goes, ask stupid questions, get stupid answers.

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