Whether you are just starting college, getting close to graduation, or a recent graduate, there are some things you should know about this so-called “real world”. Many people will tell you that your college years are the best years of your life. For some people, this may be true, but to be honest it is just a very distinct phase in your life. Personally, when I was in college, all I wanted to do was get out. But then once the novelty of my last free summer wore off, I just wanted back inside. In truth, there are both pros and cons to having a full-time “grown-up” job. Either way you want to look at it, you can’t stay a student forever.
Pro: Depending on what kind of work you are doing, generally your weekends are finally what they were intended to be. A time to rest, catch up on some household chores, and best of all…have fun! There is no longer that nagging sensation that you should be doing homework or the guilt that comes with procrastination. When I first graduated, I spend most of my weekends hiking, shopping, and decorating.
Con: You no longer have extended vacations three times a year. In spite of the wonder of free weekends, there is a downside. The days of month long winter vacations, three month long summer vacations, and Spring Break are long gone. Now you are subject to whatever system is in place for vacation time. When you are first-starting out, it is unlikely that you will have any. That means your winter holiday celebration turns into a three day weekend, rushing to visit family and then rushing to come back.
Pro: You earn a decent wage! No longer do you have to live tiny pay-check to tiny pay-check. Or, in some people’s case, credit card bill to credit card bill while racking up student loans. You can actually afford things like new shoes when your old ones wear out, as opposed to duck taping them together. Don’t get me wrong, you might not be making a huge salary when you graduate, but at least you will probably be making enough to not feel guilty about treating yourself every now and then.
Con: Your amount of bills rise. Suddenly you are expected to own professional clothing and a reliable car to get you to and from work. In addition, bills that perhaps your parents were willing to cover during your college years, are suddenly now your responsibility. This means health insurance, car insurance, cell phone bill, cable, etc.
Pro: Being an adult means people take you seriously. There is not anyone micro-managing your every move. When you say you are sick, people believe you. When you want to use your vacation time, no one questions it. If you are five minutes late, people assume that you have a good excuse.
Con: People expect you to act like an adult. This means that you really do have to have a legitimate reason to miss work. You can’t take extra vacation time. People rely on you to get things done on time. Sometimes this might mean working weekends or late nights. And finally, you cannot do things other than work, at work (candycrush, facebook, etc.).
Overall, being an adult can be pretty awesome. But there are some adjustments that you have to make when transitioning out of college. Not being able to be with your family over winter holidays can be a real bummer. But your boss is not like a professor. If you miss work, you could be fired for breaking your contract and consequently face unemployment. Thus, it is best to start thinking about how you can prepare for these reality checks as soon as possible.