What I Learned from My Difficult Boss

difficult boss

Photo Credit: Christina Morillo/Pexels

When I accepted my first internship position at a New York City beauty agency, I would never have thought that, two weeks later, I would be fired. In many cases, this would be a monumentally bad experience, but for me, being fired from this agency was one of the best things that happened to me that summer.

What made me relieved to be fired wasn’t suddenly not having to face the long hours of unpaid work, the fact that no one in the office ever remembered my name, or that I spent most of my days organizing closets. Instead, it was having to no longer work for a difficult boss that made being fired liberating. The thought of never having to work with this boss again lifted the weight off my shoulders. Whether I was an intern or full-time employee, after working with this boss, I learned to pay close attention to how I was spoken to, treated, and respected in a workplace.

After working with this boss, I learned to pay close attention to how I was spoken to, treated, and respected in a workplace.

A good boss should be a guiding light for you. Especially as an intern, your boss should be someone who is willing to teach you how to make it in the industry you are working in, connect you with others, and give you constructive feedback on the work you are doing. If your boss is constantly putting you down on your performance instead of telling you what you did wrong and providing solutions to you, then this is likely a difficult boss. This was something I went through during my summer internship and it left a negative impact on my self-confidence. I would end each day feeling completely terrible about myself.

The 'Intern' Never Taken Seriously

You may hear the phrase "respect is earned” when it comes to working with your boss. In my opinion, respect should always be shown in the employer-employee relationship, no matter how many years you have on the job. One of the main reasons why my boss was difficult to work with was because I was seen as “just an intern” and was never valued as an actual employee. This made it challenging to feel wanted at the job, and I was never taken seriously when I expressed the desire to learn new things.

A job or internship is a big learning experience, and your boss should be helping you make the most out of your position, whether it’s letting you shadow them for the day, giving you challenging tasks, or taking time to teach you new skills. At my summer internship, my boss never asked once what my goals were, or what I wanted to get out of my experience working there. Instead, my boss would make me organize closets, clean way too many makeup brushes, and pick out hangers.

If your boss is constantly putting you down on your performance instead of telling you what you did wrong and providing solutions to you, then this is likely a difficult boss.

I was only at my internship for two weeks before my boss let me go because I used the wrong soap to clean the makeup brushes. I already felt like I spent too much time there feeling bad about myself, when I could have been getting a much more valuable experience at a place that valued me. I learned more about myself as a person and my self-worth that summer than I did learning about the industry, and that was even more rewarding. Now, as I am looking for jobs and constantly interviewing, the main thing I’ve learned is choosing a good boss is just as important as choosing a good job.


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