When Africans migrate to America, some are more likely than others to find a job right away and start their American Dream. For others, it may take a little longer than anticipated. For those eager individuals full of plans and promises to families and friends who have to wait to fulfill their dreams, the wait can often plunge them into despair.
After experiencing challenges that come to a person not born in America getting a job for the first time, that first job can feel like a divine opportunity. This creates an immediate feeling of loyalty to the company or business owner. He often sees that first employer as the only one who could recognize his desperate need for work, who helped him through the language barriers and took a risk to offer him financial security when most others wouldn’t.
These understandable and noble attachments form around the first job and the fear of not getting another opportunity like it reinforce an immigrant’s loyalty to his employer and make it difficult to leave when a better opportunity presents itself. To leave for greener pastures is felt to be synonymous with ingratitude.
What I have just explained is something I have experienced myself. It took me about two years to get my first job in America, so don’t feel bad for me. I had people who helped me through, which gave me enough time to learn and understand the value of money in America.
When I finally got my first job as a customer service representative at a gas station, the best part was the grandiose title. The job itself was simply pumping gas and selling merchandise at a gas station. Nevertheless, I had a difficult time thinking of leaving the company that first employed me. I had become too attached and kept asking myself what would the company do without me? As time went by, the manager who hired me was fired, and yet life went on smoothly without him.
To finally leave I had to convince myself that there are always people looking for jobs. Every day somebody turns 18, making him or her eligible to apply for the job. Those who leave their current positions soon have enough skills to move up, and so the chain goes. It was only then that I understood that I should worry less about who would replace me because a company can always find a replacement. That would also have been the case if they had fired me for not meeting their expectations, as they did for the shift leads and manager.
So, if you find an opportunity that will broaden your knowledge and skills, and offers better financial compensation, find the strength to humbly move forward, and walk away.
It isn’t a bad thing to be emotionally attached to your job, but if you are struggling to pay the bills, prevented from learning new skills, and don’t find much satisfaction in the job, it’s time to leave. Remember that even trees have to shed their leaves in the fall to grow new ones in spring.
If you believe the time has come for you to shed your leaves and grow new ones, do it before you spend too much of your life regretting it. A lot goes on, a lot of struggle, between fall and spring, so don’t expect your new opportunity to be a completely painless transition.
While you’re planning to leave your job, always make sure you secure the next opportunity before you let go of the one at hand because the American labor market is no joke!