Four years of college have gone by all too fast, and suddenly you find yourself in a graduation gown, smiling for the camera while you're mentally freaking out about adulthood. If university has permanently crushed a part of your naïve, endlessly optimistic soul like it does most of ours, you probably have had a fair amount of disillusionment about the real world already. But as you take yet another step forward by starting your first full – time job, a whole new slew of changes await.
Most of your time won't be your own.
On paper, working 5 days a week doesn't sound so bad. You used to spend most weekdays at classes anyway, didn't you? But unlike with classes, you don't get a break from work every hour or so. You cannot bunk work if you feel like it, and you won't be surrounded by friends all the time.
The friends you still have will likely also have jobs, and your social life will happen within limited time windows. It'll be harder, although not impossible, to find a suitable time to meet your old friends.
Weekends will become more precious than ever before, and so will sleep. Impromptu trips may not happen as often simply because you're too tired. You'll also need to plan ahead for longer trips. You will have more money than you had as a student, but you cannot travel endlessly because you get a limited number of leaves per year.
You'll finally come to appreciate the concept of work-life balance. Even if your job involves staring at a monitor and not moving much, you'll find yourself exhausted more often than not. Taking care of your health and your life outside work will be a challenge, given that you will have the energy and time to do this on practically two days a week.
You will have to adapt to heterogeneity
In university, you had the choice to socialize selectively. At work, this will not remain an option. If your company has a well-defined culture, you and your colleagues may share similar work philosophies. But despite that, you will be working with people from diverse backgrounds. You'll be maintaining relationships and making deals with clients who may have completely different organisational goals and values. You can no longer choose to ignore certain people and remain in a homogenous circle.
You'll experience diversity the most when working in teams. Each person you work with will contribute in different capacities. Some of the people on your team will be less skilled, some more so. As you understand the work better, you'll also learn how each person's role matters in completing it.
Life will contain a lot more of uncertainty, but it'll be okay.
From school to university, you've always had a structure that provides you with a social network and some certainty about where you're going next. In your career, you'll find this structure largely absent. There will be no fixed syllabus to study from, and no examination to take you through to the next logical step.
At work, the first few months will feel a little confusing. You'll quickly learn that your university education doesn't apply directly to situations at work. Industry knowledge can be best learnt on the job. There also won't be explicit guidelines on how to deal with each challenge you face. You'll have to use your common sense and judgment, and make choices with an unavoidable degree of uncertainty. Gradually, you will learn to accept it.
The tasks you'll be assigned towards the start of a job will be relatively easy, some so much so that they might not meet your expectations. Even though some of it seems like unimportant work, be patient and remember that your responsibilities will increase gradually.
Expenses will rise. You will not drown in money as you once believed.
Analysing income and other factors, researchers have concluded that millennials are the most educated and the most disproportionately underpaid generation in recent history. Indeed, what a wonderful time for us to be alive.
If you've always dreamed of getting that coveted MNC job and riding off into the sunset with heaps of cash, you'll get a reality check at your job. A lot of people settle for mid-range salaries, because it's not as easy as it sounds to make it to six figures at the get go. If you do end up at a higher paid job, you will also have to put in gruelling hours and sacrifice work-life balance.
Regardless of how much you get paid, you will now have to update your wardrobe to make it more office appropriate. You won't have time to come back home for meals, so food expenses will also rise. If you need to move for your job, there will be rent, bills, and other unforeseen costs to pay. You'll have to spend a lot and saving will be tricky.
Despite rising costs, your pay check will give you some financial freedom. Things that you didn't have money for before – like moving out and going on that nice, long trip – will become real prospects. As long as you spend smartly and have a savings strategy, that is a big positive for you.
You have been an adult for a while now, even though you didn't feel like one. A full – time job means letting go of denial, and finally levelling up to a real adult. You will be able to handle most of the changes as long as you keep an open mind and try learning something from each experience.
Tasmiah is a senior at IBA, DU.