We’ve all met those people. They hate their jobs. They spend day-in and day-out complaining about strict bosses, non-communicative co-workers, office politics and bad corporate coffee. They find little satisfaction in their daily lives. Nothing at work has given them happiness in a very long time.

The concept of a 9-to-5 has always seemed like a large monster looming over my future as I was growing up. It was the idea that one day all of your time would be dedicated to your job and your whole day would be centered around when you work.  I was terrified of this idea. I didn’t understand how a person’s job could be such a large part of your life, and that you were supposed to enjoy it.

Having only just started my first internship, my opinion has drastically changed. In just a few weeks, I’ve discovered that a job can truly be enjoyable when you have the right environment. Here are my observations for what matters most in establishing a life-long, enjoyable career:

Corporate Culture

This is arguably the most important aspect of any career choice. Will your new work environment have a culture that matches your lifestyle and work-ethic? It is the idea that the people make the place. The organization has certain behaviors and symbols because of the people that form part of that organization. People play a large role in our productivity. If we do not feel accepted into a group, especially at work, our job satisfaction will dramatically decrease, alongside our productivity and output. To enjoy your job, it is essential to enjoy the company of the people you work for and alongside. You’ll never be friends with everybody, but the general cultural norms should suit your own values.

Personal Skills and Interests

The matter is rather simple: if you hate art, don’t become a painter; if you don’t enjoy talking about money, don’t work in a bank. From that perspective, it’s a wonder that we as humans often find ourselves in positions we hate and careers we despise. There are many things that influence our decisions: education, finances, location etc. but one of the most important parts of enjoying your job is being interested in it and being somewhat good at it. We won’t always be good at the things we enjoy, but then we should enjoy learning those skills and gaining more expertise. Imagine spending the rest of your life doomed to something you hate? Try to make your career decisions with your interests in mind. It might not always be possible when our situations demand that we consider other factors beyond interest, but that doesn’t mean interest shouldn’t form some, however minute, part of your decision.


Your job should do something for you, or for someone else. If you feel you’re only working so that your superiors might make money or gain acknowledgement, you’ll never enjoy what you do. Perhaps your purpose is in providing something for the community, or for your family, or launching an incredible new product, or receiving recognition for your work. Either way, it is important that you feel your job is benefiting you or your area in some way, otherwise the work will never seem worth it.

By Gabrielle Coetzee