I have now officially been in full-time employment for 12 months, after making the shift from full-time university student to full-time employee. I’ll be honest, I was very pleased to see the last of the assignments, all-nighters and the politics of uni. But for what lay ahead of me, I was totally unprepared.
I was a student for five and a half years. After finishing school, I moved away from home to study and long story short, I lasted a year and a half and decided it wasn’t for me. However, after travelling Europe and working in a café for six months I decided (rather reluctantly) that I should probably come back to New Zealand and get that VERY expensive piece of paper.
Another four years passed and I had finally “made it”. Those were the hardest years of my life to date, with countless ups and downs; I lost my Grandma, went through a few relationships, wrote a dissertation, made amazing friends, and survived the stress of countless group assignments and re-drawing of floor plans… oh and met my future husband.
But what I was about to start, I was ill-prepared for. Making the move from student life, where you basically have free reign to do what you want, when you want, to the daily grind is no easy feat and something I think a lot of people underestimate.
I am speaking from experience and I also have a lot of friends who would say the same. It’s not feeling out of your depth, or that you don’t have the skills and knowledge to do your job, it’s simply just the change in lifestyle and the shift in pace, mixed with the need to be super organised.
Considering all of this, I have written a short list of things to know about your first year of work life after university.
You are now officially adulting: The main difference here is about responsibility. There are no more ‘I’m a student’ excuses. Even if you lived away from home while you were studying, you are now not only responsible for yourself, but you will also have more responsibility when it comes to work.
Say goodbye to the student budget: The feeling of getting your first full-time employment pay check, is [oh] so great. Having the stability of regular pay checks coupled with less feelings of buyers guilt after opting for extra avocado on your burrito at Zambrero, is something we should all be very excited about.
However, now that the bank balance has (slightly) increased (after paying for rent, food, that dress that you “really needed”), there is a certain level of responsibility of saving for adult things like… houses.
Better dig out your passport: With that constant pay check you can now afford to do things like travel. All those places you have been wanting to go are now only a few months worth of work away, or so you think. The down side of being able to afford to travel, is that you only have four weeks holiday per year and actually can’t travel as much as you would like.
Weekends are much needed: If you were anything like me at uni, you never actually had a full weekend. It was either working at a part-time job or getting last minute study/ assignments done. But let me tell you, when working full-time you need those two weekend days… actually three would be better. I vote for three.
Friend time: Unless you live or work together, it is inevitable that once you are working full-time you wont be seeing your friends as much as you did at university. At university you got to spend time ‘studying’ together and there was the freedom to go to classes whenever you felt like it, in favour of catching up with your bestie. Working full time and managing catch-ups takes a while to master, which also leads to my point below.
Little Miss (or Mr) Sleepy: Your bed is always calling and unlike when you were at university, the mid-week sleep in is dead. You will be exhausted when you first start working full-time. It’s an exhausting time, learning A LOT of new things. It takes time to find the stamina for being at work (in my case, mostly at a desk) for 8 hours a day. However, I can say that, after a while you will get used to this and wont feel like you are hitting a brick wall every five minutes (well, mostly).
The above points are just some of the things I have noticed working full-time and I would love to hear how others feel about this. I don’t feel like university prepares us for the real world and I hope this post sparks conversation. I know that admitting that you are finding the switch to working full-time difficult, is something that most people don’t want to talk about, particularly with their pairs. But I think we should talk about it and we should share our experiences with others.