Transitioning from pulling procrastination caused all-nighters and skipping college the next day to dragging my sleep-deprived self to work, paying attention, and being accountable is equal parts exciting, stressful, and rewarding.
As I sat in college for the last time, I reminisced about the accomplishments, friendships, and all that 2 years of post-graduation gave me. But I also found myself worrying.
They say college is the best phase of your life. But what’s next? How do I choose to spend my days now? How do I adult? I was about to dive headfirst into the unknown, bracing myself with just a degree, high expectations, and wishful thinking.
The weeks and months leading up to a first job can be chaotic and stressful. Trying to keep up with the wrath of competition while also juggling the ordeal of job hunting, interviewing and the reality of having to find your own way in this competitive world is no small endeavor.
So when I received my first job offer in a field of my choice, I was grateful (and relieved) to have the privilege of finally calling myself a full time professional.
As I approach the 1 year mark of my journey in the world of employment, I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on what the last few months have taught me.
By this I mean, do you dream about working at a big, well-known, corporate firm with hundreds of people, or do you prefer working in close quarters with a smaller team of people who are damn good at what they do?
For me, it was the latter (and not just because of the unlimited free food and ultra-comfortable workspace). I can’t speak about the big agency experience yet, but working for a startup has given me the opportunity to wear all sorts of different hats on a day to day basis and has given me the chance to closely observe and learn from the best.
Your 20s are lonelier than you think
Our concept of it is glamourized in culture, presented as the best years of our lives. As you binge-watch an entire season of Money Heist on Netflix, you begin to wonder - Is every person my age at an amazing party right now that I don’t know about? They’re not.
The world teaches us that our 20’s are our throwaway years. The decade you should make the most of- do what young, wild, and free people do, resist planting roots because there is still so much out there to see, feel, and experience.
So if your 20’s are not as groovy as you think it should be, that’s not failure, that’s reality. If you’re looking at friends on Instagram who seem to be doing so much more, going out all the time, traveling the world and experiencing everything you wish you could...Maybe you aren’t falling behind. Maybe you’re doing something really, really right.
They should be the years you grow and develop the most and turn into the person you are comfortable being for the rest of your life.
Embrace the growing pains
On graduating from college, you might think you know everything, but you don’t.
Suddenly, everything that I’d learned in college just didn’t seem to be applicable in the real world. I was a blank slate waiting to be written on. I didn’t know what to expect but was looking forward to learning something new and making it mine.
There are going to be growing pains, so it’s better to believe that there will be a learning curve with everything you’re doing.
I’ve learned to avoid shying away from learning about things that initially seemed daunting in my head, like marketing a product from scratch and handling the reality of email automation, or learning how to write a blog like this one and turning it into Google-food for search engine optimization.
“I’m young, free, and can do whatever I want.” Even with this mindset and working 50 hours a week, I can’t seem to find the college version of myself that was able to function on three hours of sleep.
With having less time for yourself, it’s natural to turn selective on what and how you choose to spend the little time that you manage to find.
I’ve learned to prioritize the amount of hours I need to sleep in order to not be miserable the next day, to invest in people who bring out the best in me, and not feel guilty about my potential life change. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
Pop your bubble
For a very long time until now, I genuinely believed that hard work was all that mattered in a job. To a certain extent, it’s true. Most bosses will be perfectly pleased as long as you can get work done and do it well. However, in the long run, that only sustains your current position.
If you want to move forward - make connections, climb the executive ladder - people are the way to get there.
The last and most important thing I’ve learned as someone new to the world of employment is to enjoy the process. The real world isn’t so dreadful after all. It’s a time and a place for some self-reflection, prioritizing and learning all of the things that college can’t teach you.
The transition isn’t an easy one. There sure is going to be a lot of hard work, fewer days off, and indefinite responsibility, but when you take a step back and enjoy it, it’s going to be significantly easier.
One of the biggest misconceptions about entering the corporate world is that it marks the end of a journey when, in reality, it’s just the beginning.
Your first full-time job is meant to shape you as a person and a professional — it’ll challenge you to learn more about yourself, it’ll force you out of your comfort zone, and most importantly, it’ll help you decide where you want to go from there.