Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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Quit early, and quit fast

January 6th, 2010 · 1 Comment

After I graduated from business school, I took a job at a medium sized Internet company in Southern California.

I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at that time. So, I packed my belongs and drove to the L.A. area. For some reasons, instead of finding an apartment, I chose to stay in a motel for a couple of weeks while I was looking for an apartment. I was the type of person who would plan ahead. But, somehow I didn’t feel right to commit to an apartment. Looking back, I think subconsciously, I had some doubts about the job I took.

Within two days, I started feeling that I joined the wrong company.

On day one, I was part of a product planning meeting that included both the product management and program management teams. These two groups used to be part of the same team. It’s incredible for me to watch them to fight about who owned what. It was a complete mess.

On day two, I was assigned to be the product manager for a new initiative that would improve the performance of an existing product by 2X. But, the problem was that it’s an impossible goal — it’s against the law of physics. It’s like asking me to increasing the speed of dial-up connection to the speed of broadband.

The funny thing was that everyone on the product management team and the software development team knew that it was an impossible goal. But, nobody was willing to challenge it because it was a directive from the CEO. He ran the company like a dictator. The CEO was a marketing guru, but didn’t have a technical background.

On the other hand, my direct manager was a great person. I joined the company largely because I wanted to work for him.

So, after two days, I pretty much knew that I didn’t like this company. But, I had never been a quitter. I didn’t want to quit a job after two days.

It’s my first job after getting my MBA. It would look really bad.

I didn’t want to let my managers and colleagues down — they interviewed me, appreciated me, and offered me the opportunity.

For a week, I was totally torn.

Everyday after work, I would grab some fast food, and then went back to my motel room and felt stressed out. I didn’t look for an apartment because I didn’t feel to commit to a permanent lease.

But, I only reserved a few days at the motel. So, for a stretch of 7 days, I switched motels/hotels three times. Let me put this way: I knew really well how to find cheap hotels/motels in the greater L.A. area. 🙂

One and half weeks into the job, I told myself that it was enough. I’m not a quitter, but I couldn’t see myself to continue any longer.

One day after lunch, I walked into my manager’s office, and told him that I decided to quit. I apologized, apologized, and apologized. I felt that I let him down.

He was very understanding. He told me: "Totally understand. Don’t feel bad — in a few years, this would be something we all laugh about. Not a big deal."

I left this company after exactly two weeks. I then took a very interesting job at a very good company. I learned a lot at this company. Things all worked out.

Six years later, looking back, I’m glad that I quit early, and quit fast. We’re all taught not to give up. But, there are times you know things are not working out. It’s time to go.  It’s time to change.

Tags: Frustration@Work

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