Earlier this year, I landed my dream job. It was a job I’ve wanted since high school and I couldn’t believe they even hired me. But I forgot to wear my rose-tinted glasses on my first day because my dream job turned into a nightmare.

I tried to see the brighter side of things but when our next project included working beyond work hours without compensation, I wrote my resignation letter. I only stayed at my dream job for three weeks because going home beyond midnight was unhealthy. Luckily, I got back on my feet.

Although, things haven’t been the same since that experience. It felt like life slapped me in the face after giving me, on what could’ve been, a blessing.

So, here are the three lessons I learned from my 3-week dream job.

Everything On Paper Matters

This should be a no brainer but I quickly assumed I will be signing a contract on my first day. I already signed the job offer so the next logical step must be my contract detailing the terms and conditions of my employment.

And it never came. It was my second job so I thought nothing of it and it was a normal delay. But when I started going home between 10 pm to midnight for three straight days, my friends and family grew concerned.

I was working beyond the mandated eight hours of work. They probed me about my contract and if I signed my soul to work late hours. What were the terms written in my contract? Was I was at least being compensated for working late hours? I was too ashamed to answer many of their questions.

person holding pencil near laptop computer

It was a little hard to explain. Because I signed documents agreeing to no overtime compensation. This is where I learned I shouldn’t be signing everything given to me without little thought. Now, I am particularly aware this was my fault. I should have properly assessed what I was signing and asked for my contract first.

Then I found out the contract delay was normal —for the company. I was not the only one with no contract yet. My co-workers who were there for more than 3 months haven’t signed an actual contract either.

Know My Rights and the Labor Law

Because my first week was questionable, a friend decided to help me out. She sent me a PDF document of our country’s labor laws and what it had to say about overtime pay. So, she was subtly telling me my dream company wasn’t following the law and that I should run.

ART. 87. Overtime work. – Work may be performed beyond eight (8) hours a day provided that the employee is paid for the overtime work, an additional compensation equivalent to their regular wage plus at least twenty-five percent (25%) thereof.

My friend wanted to make sure I was aware of my rights as an employee. I was entitled to be paid for my extra hours especially when I’ve worked longer than 10 hours. And signing a document that waived my rights to be properly compensated should have been a major red flag.

people doing office works
Now, I asked our HR about the overtime but she reassured me the compensation was the extra hours can be used for the offset. Our labor law also had something to say about using offset for overtime. It is not proper to claim the overtime work can be used to offset under times or leaves.

So yes, without my friends and family intervening I wouldn’t have noticed my rights were being violated. It was the dream job but my rights should never be compromised.

Run the Moment You See Red Flags

gray computer monitor

My first week was pretty much something you wouldn’t expect from a corporate company. Although HR said they were considered a small company, there were a lot of questionable things during my first week.

I wasn’t given a desk yet during my first week. I was either working in the same tiny cubicle as my supervisor, at the pantry or next to the printer which everyone uses. Sometimes they’d let me work in an empty cubicle if the person there was absent or out on official business. But that should’ve been red flag number one.

The next few red flags were my non-existent contract, almost everyone started three or four months ago, and no overtime pay. My pride and shame told me to at least stay a few more months but I knew I had to leave. I had the privilege to leave a company hellbent on exploiting their employees just to cut costs.

How I Feel Now

I understand there would be challenges in a dream job like adapting to a new stressful environment –not unpaid compensation without a contract.

It was a position I always wanted, the company I loved since high school, and it turned into my biggest regret. However, it did make me contemplate my career and what I want to do with it. At my next job, I had fun creating concepts and brainstorming creative ideas. It was draining but worth the amazing pitch moments.

silver iMac with keyboard and trackpad inside room

At the moment, I am trying to build my discipline and passion for writing. Mostly because I haven’t been following deadlines lately and I got lazy writing a verse or two.

After spending the last few months squeezing my brain out for an inkling of creativity to meet the demands of a job, I ran out of the passion which drove it in the first place. I want to find it again.

To My Fellow Young Job Hunters

Know your rights before signing anything. If you get the chance to land your dream job then congrats! I hope all goes well and it isn’t an unethical mess.

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