I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to write this post. I want to share one of my past experiences with other job seekers looking to break into the PR/media world. Or any job world for that matter.
I am generally an upbeat person, which works well because everyone says to focus on the positive and forget the negative. But I don’t think that’s always the case. If this post can help just one person, then it’s doing more good than harm.
In November 2011, I left a position at a company I loved. However, I recently transitioned into a non-communications based role and I missed the writing, talking and, well, communicating! So when an opportunity came along at the Columbus-based emerging food brand advertising/PR agency, RMD Advertising, I jumped.
During the interview it seemed like a great place to work (friendly interviewers, a dog in the office, couches to work on, music blasting) and I didn’t see any red flags. However, a quick Google search would have helped raise some for me (Glassdoor.com reviews, two blog posts [one and two] from former employees.) The negative reviews must have been brought to their attention, with a recent influx of positive reviews. It’s easy to see the glaring differences between the two. Nobody speaks negatively of a company just for the fun of it.
Below, I will describe what I encountered there. Every day was a struggle, everyone was talked about behind their back and nobody was treated with any ounce of respect. It was unethical, immoral and awful behavior that no one should ever have to deal with.
- Lunch break? Think again. You ate at your desk (if at all) while working.
- The expected hours were Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 7:15 p.m. You were then to go home and get online. And work over the weekend.
- Interns were not there to learn- they were there to clean the kitchen and office mess, and it was normal to hear “I want (fill in food/coffee choice). Intern, go get it for me.” They were talked down to constantly by owners and employees alike.
- You were required to listen to religious and motivational speakers on your iPod on the way to and from work, in addition to going into the office early on Fridays and listening as a group.
- The owners constantly berated and put down the people who worked for them. It was normal to hear crude jokes, screaming, swearing and yelling multiple times a day.
Here are a few specific events that opened my eyes, and ultimately led me to quit:
- One of the owners was late for a media segment I secured for him, after he spent the day before reminding me over and over not to be late. I spent 45 minutes calling him with no answer, and he arrived 50 minutes later. His wife (the other owner) blamed it on me.
- We were told to “watch” as one of the owners embarrassed and berated an intern in front of the group. After the intern left the office, the owner smiled at us and said, “That’s how it’s done.”
- I watched a co-worker break down in a meeting after we were yelled at for not attending a 5K run that the owners decided the company would participate in (not sponsor, not for one of our clients.) Through tears, a co-worker explained she had family obligations that weekend. The owner gave her a dirty look, told her to “stop being a baby” and said “bring your family with you next time.”
- They unfairly docked my paycheck during the holidays, claiming I was new so they didn’t pay out for holiday time-off. I was (a) on salary and (b) had worked through every holiday anyway. After I let them know I was quitting, the owner then told me I would be paid for that time. A huge red flag.
- I received a call from my mom one morning on my way to work, letting me know my uncle had unexpectedly passed away. When I built up enough courage to ask my boss for two days of unpaid time off to attend the calling hours and funeral, the owner lectured me on professionalism. I had to beg them for unpaid time off.
- On a related note, that same day one of my co-workers, when referencing the situation, told me to “suck it up.” This still makes me sick to my stomach.
I can’t believe it took me 3 months to say “enough is enough!” I resigned in January 2012, with no job offer or at that point solid prospect. It was the smartest decision I have ever made. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t thank my husband enough for supporting me in that decision.
Nobody is going to look up to you for sticking out this type of job. And nobody will want to hire you for having these people as “business contacts.” If you find yourself in that situation, get out while you can and never look back. It’s just not worth it.
Special note: I’d also like to thank my old employer, who provided me with a contracted position on an interim basis after I quit until I found something permanent. Which I did! And it’s amazing.