A young graduate stands in front of his future, the towering home of all his future scientific endeavours. He could almost feel his eyes sparkling as he imagined the things he might do. Maybe his thoughts are unrealistic, but honestly, he has so much potential, anything is possible.
A few months later Peter arrived home late in the evening. He lay his briefcase and coat on his sofa and collapsed heavily into the seat. He was so tired, in every kind of way. His eyes were sore and heavy, his body ached, he felt slow. Peter rubbed his eyes harshly and looked at his watch. In only a few hours, his stay would restart, and he would be at the lab, his mind racing as the responsibilities overwhelmed him.
Peter was tired of his passion for science. He was tired of his job, and he no longer wanted to wake up in the morning, because the only thing he could see was mountainous amounts of work. Work that he was barely being compensated for. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he actually went out and had fun, money was too tight for that.
A few more months later Peter walked out of work slowly, feeling lightheaded. They had just let him go. The doorway of possibilities this job had opened slammed shut. His future, that was once certain, now seemed empty. All that work, effort, and the pain was for nothing.
I’m sorry that the little story above was depressing, but that is the reality of so many young workers, in many industries. Companies welcome them with open arms, promising prosperous futures and amazing opportunities. And the passionate graduates, who long to jump into the scientific field, to add something meaningful, accept the offers. They diligently and painstakingly work, but they are not looked after, and they get next to nothing. And sadly, they are then thrown away. This is a scheme that many companies do. Catching young workers at a low price, every year, reaping the rewards of their intellectual labour. But there are ways to help yourself.
- Realise your worth- I know that’s easy to say and hard to do. You need to be your own cheerleader and bodyguard, and not let yourself be walked over. Work out how much income you deserve and get it. Work out how much rest you need and deserve and take it. And if you feel like a job doesn’t realize how lucky they are to have you, then ditch them.
- Research companies before you accept work there. Get reviews from previous employees and learn about how they treat their staff.
- Understand that your feelings are valid. Do not brush yourself off or think that this phase in your life is necessary. Listen to your gut.
- Set boundaries and be firm about them with yourself and your boss.
- Document all the work that you do, and how much income you get. And if you feel that it is necessary, involve HR. It is a true tragedy when a young person loses their passion for science. So please, if you need to, make sure you are caring for your happiness, because that should be one of your main priorities.