There are a couple of jobs that just aren’t worth the risk when it comes to the goal of a successful career in the long run. Sure you can gain experience and you really need the money, but being associated with the wrong people can set you down the wrong path from the start. Having been at a company with a less-than-reputable reputation means that more respectable companies are likely to look the other way when you come knocking.
Let’s see, who can I use as an example of an institution which is famous for corruption, malpractice and fraud? So say you find your first job. The pay is good. It’s close to home and the people seem really nice. The only problem is that you’ll be working for a corrupt company. This might not be the best place to start your career.
Perhaps other employers wrongly assume that every employee of the corrupt company is corrupt and they refuse to employ you. Maybe there is a long list of qualified applicants and you just happen to be the one with a bad reference in your past. In extreme cases this can be detrimental to your career. So keep your eyes open for a more respectable opportunity.
You learn a lot of things at your first job. It’s the first rung on the ladder of your career, but it doesn’t do much good climbing if your ladder is up against the wrong wall. Some company cultures can be horrible and you need to become a bit savage yourself to survive in an environment like that. Instead of leaving your first job with the tools to carve out your career, such as experience working in a team or dealing with regular office conflict and relationships, you may end up leaving only with weapons of career destruction. They say that the five people you spend the most of your time with shape your life, so be careful who you choose to share an office with.
Another aspect of a company that can we widely known and deeply problematic is social stigma. Especially in South Africa, you may hear of companies that have broken away from their previous business because of ‘hiring practises’ related to BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) incentives. Do you want to be known as a racist, because this is how you get branded as a racist. Stay away from companies that seem to have a big negative agenda attached to their hiring practices. It will ruin your career if you are seen as intolerable towards minorities and women in the workplace.
I’m not saying that it would be impossible to start a good career with one of these types of employers, but why take the risk? Keep your nose and your history clean and your career is sure to prosper.