Transitioning to the Work-Life as a Recent Grad
It’s almost been three months since I’ve started working full-time after graduating this past December. It’s truly been a whirlwind of confusion, excitement, frustration, doubts, and nostalgia that has swirled in my head as I’ve settled down into the dreaded, monotone 9–5 life. To be fully honest, at first it was a lot of fear, anxiety, and whole lot of doubts over whether I’d made the right choice of pursuing a job right now. It certainly didn’t help that we’re currently in a global pandemic and forced to work from home, while my apartment-mates shotgun their way through what should have been my last semester of college. Throughout these three months I’ve slowly become acclimated to this structure by changing some of my day to day habits and adapting to this scary yet exciting new phase of life. With this article I wanted to share some of the tips that got me through this transition and are continuing to help me as I try to navigate my way through the next big steps of life.
Catch Your Breath
Everything happens so fast. One second you’re getting your diploma, the next second you’re getting onboarded onto your new team. In moments like this nostalgia will often leave you craving for the simpler days of undergrad. Change is scary and intimidating at first. Especially as we grow older and take on more responsibility this fear of change worsens. We can’t expect our parents to save our ass and we can’t justify mistakes by saying “I was young”. The dreaded feeling of growing up gets heavier as you start thinking of retirement plans, long-term savings and many more aspects of life that were definitely taken for granted in our younger days. All these thoughts will circle in your head and it can be extremely overwhelming as the realities of adulthood hit you. It’s so important to take a step back and let yourself process the change that happens. Even if in the moment the change seems like the end of the world and you’re plagued with doubt after doubt, it is crucial to remember not all change is bad. Change is one of the few constants of life and it can be difficult to adapt at first, but as you naturally get acclimated you start to reap the benefits and see the pros of this next phase. Something that really helped me in specific was thinking back to my hesitance and fear before coming to college. This might not be common to everyone, but I was super afraid of meeting new people and scared that I wouldn’t be able to form lasting bonds or succeed in my undergraduate career. Gradually over time these fears alleviated as I came to love my time at college and came to cherish every success and failure I had. There’s no set timeline on when you will start seeing the pros of this new phase but remind yourself that everything seems scary at first. It’s natural and you’re not alone, with time you will adjust and the responsibilities will not seem so overwhelming.
Get Ready to Change Your Schedule
While you may come to love this next phase of life eventually, there’s a lot of initial growing pains and adjustments that you have to make to maximize your experience. As an undergraduate I used to stay up all night with friends, put off work till I had to do it, and in general have a flexible schedule that enabled me to socialize and party as much as I wanted. With more responsibility there were definitely sacrifices I had to make, to make sure I could succeed in my new job. I’m not saying I eliminated my social life, rather I had to structure and plan my days in accordance with work. Establishing a healthy work-life balance is essential and it took months of trial and error to figure out what would help me optimize my efforts at work while I could also catch a breather and spend quality time with friends/family. As a new grad it’s so easy to get lost in the grind and dive super deep into work while compromising your mental health and social/personal life. The first few weeks I was so pressed on impressing my manager and co-workers that I drove myself to the ground and barely interacted with anyone. It was truly a new and weird phase for me because I was generally known as the active, always available one in the friend group. Gradually I learned to adjust my sleep schedule, understand how to better carve out time for myself and my social life while still performing at work. The expectations to be a high-performer can be super stressful as a new grad and you might throw yourself right into work, but definitely take a step back to make sure you’re not compromising other aspects of your life entirely and find the balance that makes the best of both worlds.
This Job is Not Your Last
I’ve truly enjoyed my work and co-workers so far, but this might not be true for everyone. I’ve had plenty of friends and family who have been dejected with their first job because they do not like the culture, the team they’re in, or the company in general. While this can be disheartening at first, remind yourself that people always change jobs. Once your in the work-force and start getting experience and building a network you truly start empowering yourself with the ability to look elsewhere for opportunities in the future. While this process may vary in different fields, try to be as patient as possible and retain your diligence because it is very easy to get apathetic in a role you don’t like. Even in the case that you like your current position always think of the future and the big picture. One of the largest keys to making this jump successfully is thinking about the long-term prospects. In college there’s a deadline we can look forward to from small tasks to graduation. There’s no clear end in sight with any one job so you need to map out your future plans and growth potential as well as you can.
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If you feel like you’re panicking and struggling to make this transition, I promise you that you’re not alone. College is an experience that can never be replicated and I will always love and cherish the times of unlimited freedom and exploration that it provided. Every phase in life brings on new challenges and change. I know I’ve said the word a thousand times by now, but it’s crucial to understand that this is a constant we need to deal with in life. It seems so scary at first, but if we continue to live in that fear we can never move forward and experience the wonderful possibilities and dreams that lie in the next steps of your life. I hope this article was just a nice quick read for anyone trying to find someone they can relate to on this matter. If you ever need someone to talk to about this and feel overly intimidated or stressed or even just want to share feedback/thoughts, feel free to reach out to me!