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Bored and Unstimulated at Work? Here’s a Solution

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Daily Grind

You’re sitting in your cubicle, bored out of your mind. As usual.

You wonder whether you could ever feel satisfied and challenged at work. You wonder whether it’s normal to feel this restless.

I mean, your job sounds good on paper (no one knows that the coordinator in your title just refers liaising with your boss). Heck, you applied because the description sounded pretty awesome (tracking media mentions means mastering Google tools, right?!).

But then after just a few months — or even a couple of weeks — you realized this isn’t a dream job (turns out playing around on Google all day, every day gets boring). Now you’re contemplating what comes next.

News flash: Your inner entrepreneur needs some love.

It’s not a secret that Generation Y is a highly entrepreneurial generation. We’re fulfilled when we get to take ownership and build things. We have great ideas and we want to contribute. Waiting is tough. We want to dive in and make our mark today.

So what’s the solution? Jump ship and start your own business? No. That would be hasty and could create more problems than it solves.

Just because you’re entrepreneurial, doesn’t mean you should be an entrepreneur. But it might.
So take a plunge and move on, but focus on finding a job that requires you to be entrepreneurial rather than diving head first into full-fledged entrepreneurship.

Large Company vs. Small Operation

That means working at a company where you aren’t closely managed (read: you have to be a self-stater), and you’re given a lot of responsibility from day one. You can’t rely on job descriptions to guide you to these positions. You’ll have to do some real research and investigation. Lots of places say they want entrepreneurial employees, but a lot of companies aren’t set up to allow employees to be entrepreneurial.

Small businesses or start-ups tend to be goldmines for real entrepreneurial positions, but there are some major companies that offer these opportunities too. Often with a smaller operation, you’ll be thrown into your responsibilities without a ton of formal training. If you work with a large business, it’s likely that a company-sponsored training will be offered at some point.

There are pros and cons to both, but either option will give you the benefit of being entrepreneurial without the risks inherent in starting your own business.

New, Unfamiliar Terrain

Now if this post is resonating, you should also consider seeking an entrepreneurial job that’s a little outside your comfort zone. Maybe you’re in marketing, but the job that is going to give you a lot of accountability is actually in sales.

Go for it. If you really think entrepreneurship might be the route for you, you need to get comfortable wearing many different hats. Even if venturing along an entrepreneurial path ends up pointing you in a different direction all together, taking a job that forces you to learn other skills is never a bad thing.

Also, a truly entrepreneurial position won’t be defined too clearly and/or allows a lot of room for growth and flexibility within your role. So you can bring your strengths and learn new skills.

Maybe that’s just what you need.

Full disclosure: Brazen Careerist is working with State Farm Insurance to help find smart and savvy young professionals for new agent positions. Talk with the State Farm team about running your own branch office. Register for the online open house.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.theunlost.com Therese

    Jaclyn… great post! “Working at a company where you aren’t closely managed (read: you have to be a self-starter), and you’re given a lot of responsibility from day one”… that is exactly the sort of job that I’d like to find.

    You’re also right about how completely jumping ship is not always a good idea.

    Turns out there’s a happy medium in between complete boredom and going at it on your own.

    Thanks for this!

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Therese, glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck with your job search and let us know how Brazen can help you out. Nothing like taking charge of career and diving into responsibility.

  • http://www.resumayday.com ResuMAYDAY

    I love this message because it’s not ‘all or nothing’, which is what I see in many pro-entrepreneur articles. I always knew I was meant to be a business owner, so I took jobs that helped me develop a discipline to work on my own and provide self-structure. Those were mostly commission-based sales jobs that were 100% pass or fail, solely based on my efforts. 10 years ago I was ready to turn in my notice and the very next day, ResuMAYDAY was born – with NO PLAN B. Back then I might not have been so sure, but now I have the confidence to say that being an entrepreneur is my retirement plan. I’m Gen X and the advice that I would offer to Gen Ys in this situation is to find a job that allows you to learn from your bosses and peers how to be your best in business. I’ve met too many people (from all generations) who started on their own before they were ready and weren’t disciplined enough to provide their own self-structure. That means they are back in a job search with an employment gap and low self-confidence – not the best scenario for success. Being on your own takes a heck of a lot more than just passion and know-how. It’s about waking up every day willing to succeed or fail on your own two feet, and then doing the same again tomorrow.

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Thank for weighing in – it’s really interesting to hear about your path! Testing things is out is very important, but ultimately I don’t think you can really know if you can do it until you try. You can position yourself to succeed and determine whether you want to take the plunge and try, but ultimately, the only way to know if you have the disciplined needed to run your own business is dive in and see if you can do it.

  • http://workingforwonka.com Kathy Ver Eecke

    Hey Jaclyn:

    You’re right on with this message. I’ve spent my career in startups, and I think there’s no better place to a). learn a business b). get to work above your skill level, and most importantly c). find out what you really enjoy doing. When you have to work in all areas of the business (and with most startups you do have to contribute everywhere), you find out quickly what you like doing and what you hate. You may be surprise what area of business actually stimulates you.

    I’ve just launched a free eBook with tips on getting a job with a startup, keeping that job and know if you need to leave that job. If your readers find post is resonating with them, they might find the tips useful as you make your career change! (it’s on my site workingforwonka.com – which is all about surviving a startup).

    Great post Jaclyn

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Thanks so much Kathy! Your eBook looks like a terrific resource. I’ve worked at a few different organizations and certainly done the most on-the-job professional growth at small businesses and start-ups. It definitely is a good way to quickly learn about where you fit at work.

  • Emma Burnett

    Love the article. I feel this way, and I’ve only been at my job for a month. I think another thing about our generation is that we’re impatient. What, I’m not saving the world already? I quit. I’m not actually going to quit, but that’s what’s running through my mind. I like the idea of working for a start-up, but where would someone with my skill set look to find available positions? How do you know that a company is a startup? I’m a recent social science grad with experience in political campaigning (summer internship) and nonprofit management.

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Glad you enjoyed the article, Emma. You need to network and meet other people in start-ups. By talking to others, you can think about what companies you might want to work for and learn how to find those jobs. Then you can also focus on building the skills you’ll need at your current job or by doing some stuff on the side.

  • Anonymous

    So true!! I think this is really common for recent grads — in college there are all these goals, deadlines, etc. that force you to challenge yourself. Once you’re in the work force, you have to be proactive and seek these opportunities out, otherwise it’s really easy to get complacent.

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      You nailed it! You really have to be proactive.

  • http://twitter.com/amandaabella Amanda Abella

    I’ve worked in both small businesses and largecompanies and I will take the small business approach any day. My experience with a large company was that I was just at the bottom of the totem pole. With small business there’s more to learn, more hands on experience, and more room to grow. I’ve even applied much of what I learn on the job to my own entrepreneurial endeavors.

  • http://twitter.com/ElisabethGorra Elisabeth Gorra

    Wow, Jaclyn, get out of my brain! Your words certainly resonate, not only with me and almost everyone else that has responded, but with a LOT of others. I want to tweet the bejeesus out of this article and possibly send it certified mail to my grandparents (who just don’t get it).

    The only thing I really this needs to be added is that people just need to be careful in their search. Not all small companies are not created equal and not all small tech companies are startups. Working for a small company that is NOT owed/operated by millennials can have the opposite effect than the one intended in the job change.

    There can be a very strong feeling of territoriality, some paternalism, and a lack of flexibility in a post with a small company that is run by older generations. It is easier for them to monitor your day-to-day activities and be less willing to allow you the creative freedom you desire.

    This is more a word of caution than an outright declaration, but having worked for these kinds of companies but also knowing a great deal about the start-up community in my city, I see what a night-and-day contrast the company cultures propose.

    Again, Jaclyn, terrific insights. It’s such a relief to know that I’m not the only one that thinks this way.

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Whoa! Thanks for all the praise, I feel unworthy :) Good point — not all small companies are created equal. I’m not sure it’s always a generational thing, though. Sounds like you might be heading into (or in a transition?), good luck!!

  • http://twitter.com/chillempress chillempress

    I couldn’t agree more… a job needs to have prongs of challenges to stick your teeth into, otherwise, it can get boring if you’re a smart creative type. You’ll always see me opting for jobs with entrepreneurial opportunities and at smaller companies where I can take on more responsibility. Learning on the job is always a way to keep it interesting. Sometimes taking a job at a different type of company, such as, I worked in music for years and years and switched gears and got into technology. It was fun applying what I know from entertainment to tech, and learning about tech on the job. Great post, I’m reposting on our twitter feed @jpatrickjobs

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. It’s great to hear you’ve switched fields. Not only does it keep things interesting as you point out, but I bet your coworkers appreciated your different background and the insights you could apply.

  • http://www.citycv.co.uk Richard

    I guess it depends on the company doesn’t it? I’ve worked for large companies in a small team with a great manager and felt empowered and like I’m making a difference. Similarly I’ve also worked for small companies where I’ve been pigeon holed and felt undervalued and disenchanted.

    • http://www.jaclynschiff.com Jaclyn Schiff

      Definitely true. In general, it seems small companies allow you to take on more, but there are certainly exceptions.

  • Efua

    Great article! I’m just curious about the growth available in other areas of work besides business. I’m working toward a science major, yet I don’t want to feel trapped in only one area of expertise. I want to hone all my skills from painting, writing, and DNA sampling. If there are places out there providing diversity in various skill choices I would like to know about them. For as this generation has realized being one thing has become old and outdated, we are now multi-dimensional beings with careers to match. Let us grow.

  • Priansu

    You’re sitting in your cubicle, bored out of your mind. As usual. You wonder whether you could ever feel satisfied and challenged at work. You wonder whether it’s normal to feel this restless.

    I mean, your job sounds good on paper (no one knows that the coordinator in your title just refers liaising with your boss). Heck, you applied because the description sounded pretty awesome (tracking media mentions means mastering Google tools, right?!).

    But then after just a few months or even a couple of weeks you realized this isn’t a dream job (turns out playing around on Google all day, every day gets boring). Now you’re contemplating what comes next.

    News flash: Your inner entrepreneur needs some love.

    We’re fulfilled when we get to take ownership and build things. We have great ideas and we want to contribute. We want to dive in and make our mark today.

    So what’s the solution? Jump ship and start your own business? No. That would be hasty and could create more problems than it solves.

    Just because you’re entrepreneurial, doesn’t mean you should be an entrepreneur. But it might.

    So take a plunge and move on, but focus on finding a job that requires you to be entrepreneurial rather than diving head first into full-fledged entrepreneurship.

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  • http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com Greg

    Great advice. I’d also recommend starting your own business on the side–that way, you still have the income and benefits of your day job while you learn the ropes of running your own business. At the very least, you can earn extra cash, and at best, you can turn your business into a full-time endeavor.

    That’s what I did when I started my business in 2007 (while working full-time and with 2 kids), and I QUADRUPLED my former salary–and have more flexibility.

    Consulting is a great business to start–either as a side business or with the intent of building it into your full-time endeavor–because a consulting business has:
    –>low start-up costs,
    –>flexible hours,
    –>a high hourly pay rate, and
    –>you likely already have the expertise to get started.

    On my blog (http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com), I talk about how to start & run a successful consulting business on the cheap.