“I just can’t wait until I graduate and get the heck outta here!” was my life motto for the last five years. Yah, not always having homework in the evenings, cramming for exams minutes before showtime, and having to pay for my 8 am lecture that put me to sleep was nice. BUT, being fully responsible for the success of my projects and doing whatever it takes to make sure expectations and goals are being met – even if that means sacrificing weekends, was a little shocking.
Don’t get me wrong being an adult and working at a job that’s rewarding and allows the freedom to do what I love is something I am extremely thankful for.
But, but, but no more summer break?
This is when reality kicked in.
Once moving to Austin I took off about a month. During that time I was applying for various position titles like Content Marketer, Sales Assistant, Marketing Assistant, and considering other avenues of business. I couldn’t wait to start work. To be able to put my energy towards something that had an impact in the business world was motivating and I couldn’t wait to begin.
I beat myself down every day while being unemployed – sitting there wondering what I would with my day to stay productive, other than cleaning the bathroom or living room for the hundredth time. It was funny, one of the girls I have looked up to in the business world kept telling me to take this time and relax, try new things, and experience Austin to its full extent. Yet.. there I was, sitting stressing about the unplanned future ahead.
Then I landed a job doing what I loved.
Then I fully became an adult having to uphold not only my job but my living situation, and making arrangements for future plans like investing for a house or retirement.
Then it all set it – I was starting my life across the country away from my long-time friends and family without a solid direction of what the heck I wanted to do.
My life here in Austin has been a dream thus far, even though, just like every other growth experience, it has had its challenges. Sometimes I wish I would have been more present in my past as well as now. Taking in every challenge and celebrating every achievement means more than anything.
With that being said, I want to reflect on what I’ve learned from being fresh out of college starting my “adult” life.
1. Growing up is fun, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Being fully independent, starting your life in a new city (at least in my case), and landing that dream job are all “pinch me” moments, but there are hard times just like every other thing in life. There are always going to be setbacks and you won’t know everything. Learn from your mistakes, soak in every experience like a sponge, and be present in the moment – your future self will regret it if you don’t.
2. This just isn’t the place to say what you are thinking.
For some reason I had it stuck in my head to be honest no matter what my thought process was. This worked with friends and family around me, I mean, communication is key right? Why no speak up when I wanted to get something off my chest.
This doesn’t fly when you are sitting in a meeting or having a conversation with your boss. Especially when you are new, you need to sit back, learn the lingo and context people around you are communicating in, and put your thoughts in when it is right to do so.
3. You don’t always get to do what you want when you want.
With how connected we are with technology, it amazes me how many times I want to pick up my phone throughout the day. Yet this isn’t something you get to do nor anything else when you are at work. During class lectures, I could sit there online shopping and still ace the exam, but in the workplace, you quite honestly don’t even have time to think about such things.
If you have a big project due tomorrow, but it’s 5 o’clock, that sucks. Put your big kid pants on and get what you need to get done. Think about it – you are working to support your lifestyle, not the other way around.
4. Do your best at everything you do.
There is no lie when it comes to comparison in the workplace. There are always those that go above and beyond, and others that are just getting by. To land that raise or achieve what you are wanting to achieve in your career, you aren’t going to earn it by doing the bare minimum.
Starting the first couple weeks of my post-grad job, I knew I was lagging compare to others – obviously, this is normal at the beginning stages of your career. I have done everything I can possibly do at this moment to achieve more than I am told to. From buying business books at the store to asking for feedback every step of the way – no matter what I will have my failures and I will have my wins. It is about doing things to the best of my ability and bringing my best tomorrow every day walking into the office.
5. Be available even when you aren’t mentally available.
A salaried job doesn’t mean 40 hours a week, it may mean more, or even way more depending on the week. Even when you aren’t fully mentally there yourself, you need to be there when things don’t go as planned or simply when things just didn’t get completed. You are the owner of your work, and when “work” doesn’t flow, neither does your team, and you can easily be the one to blame.
Keep in mind my recent post 3 Tips For Maintaining a Work-Life Balance. You need to be there, but you also need to be present in other parts of your life.
6. Celebrate, but not TOO hard (just yet).
I remember getting my offer letter – I was more than happy to know I would soon be starting out my regular ol’ vanilla business lifestyle I’ve been waiting to fulfill for YEARS. This is definitely something to celebrate, which I absolutely did, but know due to the normal salary lag of a company, you won’t get paid for a little while.
Don’t go on a shopping spree or blow every penny you have left on a nice dinner or party. In my case, I didn’t get paid for almost a month – make sure to budget for this.
7. Get your sleep, seriously (especially starting out).
There is nothing like trying to stare at a computer screen with burning eyes from running off a couple hours of sleep – trust me. Not to mention the first month or so of your job, as you are ramping up, exhaustion really hits you like a train.
Getting enough sleep every night helps repair your body, in other words, aiding in the optimization of your tomorrow’s performance. I will track my sleep using the Whoop activity tracker to get a better depiction of how much sleep I should be getting each night.
8. Weekends sometimes just aren’t long enough.
Friday’s are a nice relaxing night, Saturday’s are for catching up or spending time with friends or family, and Sunday’s are for the preparation of Monday – and yet it all goes by in the snap of your fingers. Prioritizing your time on the weekends to spend with loved ones, relaxing and preparing is difficult to achieve. Understand the value of your time since you don’t get a three-month-long vacation anymore – like when you were in college.
9. Create a budget, and always keep the future in mind.
While attending class, I worked as a barista earning tips, was a Marketing Intern, and attended college full time. Funds came pretty easy, to be honest. I always had cash on me, was able to put money into savings every month, and paid my bills comfortably. Given, I was working around 40-70 hour weeks between the two jobs and my hard work resulted in this financial freedom.
Now earning salary I am able to create a strict budget because I know how much will be coming in every month. On top of that, if I were to ever to stray outside of my budget or let debt get ahold of me, I won’t be able to pay it off as easily. Creating a plan and sticking to it is easier said than done, but it will REALLY pay off in the long run when it comes to making big purchases.
10. You may end up missing school things – like reading books.
Ever since starting a regular 8-5, I miss doing “normal” school things like reading. After graduation, I kept my Wall Street Journal subscription and have been blowing through books faster than I can say my own name. This was always something I never thought I would have an interest in again. Yet, here I am, in book worm formation.
Take in these trying times in school – you may end up missing it.
11. More importantly – take charge.
Knowing I am the one that got myself here, I am the one supporting my dreams and goals, and I am the one that has the ability to take the reigns of my life makes me prouder than I have ever been.
I want to grow, – which means (sometimes) going through difficult times.
I want to learn, – which means getting over my “know it all” attitude every once in a while.
and I want to make my future self proud – which means pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
For all those fresh out college grads and those that can relate to this growing time in life, this one is for you – cheers!
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