How To Navigate Starting Work After University
Life after university..
Perhaps naively of me, during my university days, my expectations of post-university working life turned out to be wildly different from the reality. Dreams of strutting around in high flying work gear with an air of 'I've made it' were replaced with awkward cold calls and tight deadlines. It can sometimes feel like you're between a rock and hard place managing expectations and delivering a good service.
This might sound daunting if you're just about to embark on your career journey, but fear not, it's not all doom and gloom. Like all big changes in life, things do get easier and more manageable with time. I love my job now, but it came with a transition from student life. So, to help you navigate this transition, I’ve noted a few things you might experience:
1) Spare time becomes something of a commodity
Starting a full-time job can make you feel as though all the spare time you had, for yourself and your friends, has disappeared. Planning ahead to allow time to still have fun with friends, family or partners is really important if you want to keep a balance between work and personal life. What helped me, was booking holidays or weekend breaks in advance, as it gave me blocks of time dedicated to relax and have fun.
2) Going to the gym needs to be scheduled in to your lifestyle
Gone are the days where I had plenty of free time to swan in and out of the gym whenever I liked. Now I have to plan in my gym routines around my working day - this means hitting the gym before work or signing up to an evening class. Whilst this required commitment, I do feel much better when I workout, as it energises me for the day ahead. My advice would be, start gently and over time you'll learn to love what you get back from working out. Some weeks run away with you though, so don't beat yourself up if you can't get to the gym all the time.
3) You learn to handle difficult situations
Be it a client or a colleague, you will inevitably face some difficult situations at work. Over time you learn to be less emotional and more pragmatic.
It's best to be upfront and honest if you've made a mistake - everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of and more often than not, the situation isn't as bad as you think. Hopefully, in years to come, when you are in a position of authority, you will remember how it feels to be a newbie and treat them with empathy and respect. In the words of some random quote I read – “it's just a bad day, not a bad life”. Always worth reminding yourself of this when you’re having a stressful day (and they will come, believe me).
4) Tea and coffee become a necessity to get through the day
Enough said. It happens to the best of us. Good office tea and coffee making skills never go a miss. People really do love a cuppa.
5) Sometimes it may feel like you don't know where you're headed, but that's okay, it's not a race
The most daunting thing for me when I started my career journey, was thinking 'where is all this taking me?'. My advice would be to keep going when you're feeling uncertain about where your career is going - remember it's early days and you don't have to have all the answers now. You will find your way over time and you'll begin to discover what you like, what you don't like, the type of people you can work with and the ones you can't.
6) Just because you may not be happy at one company, it doesn't mean you're not suited to the role or career path
Companies that operate in the same industry can operate completely differently, from both a structural and cultural perspective. If you have a not so good experience at one company, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same at a different company. For example, you may be working for a small entrepreneurial company, but prefer the culture and environment of larger organisation, where there is more structure - or vise versa! My advice would be to not give up on a career path, simply because you've had one bad experience. Keep going and you'll find the right company for you.
7) If you work hard and have your head switched on you won't be at the bottom forever
We all have to start somewhere. If that means you're making teas and doing the work no one else wants to do for the first few months, so be it. I suggest you make the best damn cup of tea and perform the mundane tasks to the best of your ability. It can be tough when you go from studying a complex and interesting topic at university, to starting in an entry-level role, but there is a lot to learn and hard work will pay off. You'll be on to more interesting and varied work before you know it.
Jumpsuit - ASOS (similar)
Hat - ASOS (similar)
Glasses - Rayban
Belt - Farfetched
Thanks for reading!