I graduated in finance and information systems five years ago. I remember my last exam and that feeling of fear that started to take over me slowly. “What happens now? I need to adult?” – it was scary.
That’s when my job hunt began. I had no real experience, just a lot of ambition – I wanted to become the She-Wolf Of René Lévesque (female alternative of Wolf of Wall Street in case you didn’t get it).
I applied to every single financial firm I could possibly find on the Internet. As a result, I got three interviews and one of the companies liked me enough to offer me a full time position as a junior financial advisor. It was a private investment firm with a gorgeous office in the heart of Old Montreal.
My boss was a middle aged single man. He interviewed me on my knowledge of finance terms, capital markets and other things I learned at McGill University. Let’s call him Mr. Smith. He pointed out how I needed a lot of mentoring and coaching because of my lack of experience, but he appreciated my motivation and hunger for success.
Mr. Smith showed me around and offered the most gorgeous office space they had. The view was spectacular. That was my first red flag. Why would a junior financial advisor get a sick office space? I didn’t want to question it though… I was way too busy living the dream and being convinced the corporate world was my bitch at this point.
I couldn’t wait to start my business journey. The drive home from the interview felt like I was flying, not just driving. I was already day dreaming about my future condo decor and travel destinations.
My first week at the office was great, except that most of it consisted of my boss “mentoring” me. It wasn’t really alarming at that point because every new employee goes through a training period, right? My only concern was that we spent very little time talking about actual business.
Mr. Smith asked me questions about my family, friends and personal life. He showed particular interest in my love life. I was dating a man at the time and Mr. Smith wanted to know everything about him. He justified his odd curiosity by saying that he wanted to establish a “family” environment between us rather than a strict business atmosphere. Basically, he wanted me to feel part of the family since I was new. I actually liked that mentality, so I rolled with it. Mr. Smith’s questions were quite innocent in the beginning, so it didn’t worry me so much.
A month into my “training”, I was still spending most of my time inside Mr. Smith’s office. I would literally have about two hours each day to get actual work done. I remember asking my girlfriends if this was normal and they were like, “Irina, you’re getting paid to do nothing all day, just enjoy it.” Right, right…
Our conversations got more intense as time progressed. Mr. Smith focused on my love life. He would often tell me how I needed to break up with my boyfriend because he was no good for me. He would also ask provocative questions about my sexual experiences. Yeah, he’s a really weird guy now that I think about it…
I remember sneaking into my office every morning and praying that he would actually let me work that day, when all of a sudden I would hear a knock on my door and the dreaded, “I need you at my office in ten minutes, thanks!” Every. Single. Day. Fuck! Let me live!
I started to hate going into work. Things were becoming super sketchy and I wasn’t getting anything done. Zero productivity. Other people at the office were giving me weird looks and I was starting to realize that, perhaps, this dream career of mine was not as great as I thought it was going to be.
I still remember our last “meeting” with Mr. Smith. He asked me to come into his office and sit in his chair. He then came behind me, squeezed my shoulders and whispered in my ear: “I want you to feel what it’s like to be the boss of this company. Ask the secretary to bring you a cup of coffee right now. I also need you to smoke a cigar with me.” That’s when I thought, “Ok, I’m out of here.” The physical contact was too much to handle. So I politely told him that I was going to be right back.
I rushed into my office, grabbed my shit and stormed out. I was actually running to my car thinking, “Fuck this shit!” I never returned to pick up my last paycheque either. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to see Mr. Smith again. Quite traumatizing, yes.
My friends told me I should make a complaint to Commission des Normes Du Travail and I called them and they opened a case, but never called me back. I didn’t really want to waste my time with it, to be honest. So I sort of let it go. I haven’t heard from Mr. Smith again either.
I found another job in the same industry afterwards and my new boss was a sweetheart, so there’s still hope. Don’t get discouraged, but do keep your eyes open – there are a lot of creeps out there.