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Here’s What Getting a Job After University Is Really Like

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after a year of dabbling in the working world, it’s that adulting is hard.

There’s no point sugar coating it. After three, if not more, years of crawling from your bed in the afternoon and staggering off to a lecture, the working world is a monumental challenge.

University, for me anyway, was about mastering the art of just keeping it together enough not to fail. That’s not to say that I didn’t try hard; I did. But, like many students, I did my best to walk the line between giving my all and also not having to expend too much energy.

When it came to the working world, I quickly realised that this could no longer be the way of things. At every stage of post-graduation life, your best is required. It’s no longer a case of just keeping your head above water; you actually need to swim now.

From completing a soul-crushing amount of online applications, tailoring your CV tailored to various different job specifications, and learning how to not let rejection ruin your life, working adult life requires everything you’ve got. And that’s before you’ve even got a job.

Graduate working life is different for everyone, but here are few things you can expect to experience after landing your first graduate job.

1. Going through a post-hiring crisis.

It might be straight away, or it might be a little further down the line, but at some point after being told you have a job now, you’re going to think: “Have I made the right choice?” This is perfectly normal. There’s a lot of pressure on graduates to not only find a job, but to find the right job. Signing that first contract is a big deal. It’s all celebrations until you suddenly realise you have more responsibility than you probably feel ready for and no easy way out. Most of the time, you’ll find that these doubts are just a simple case of nerves. However, it’s best to find a solution sooner rather than later, just in case. And remember, if you’re really not feeling it, you are allowed to change your mind. Just give yourself the time to discover whether the company you’re going to put an intense amount of time, effort and dedication into can offer you the career you want. not just a job to pay the bills.

2. And struggling to adapt to your workplace.

It won’t take you long to discover whether the company you’re working for is relaxed or more corporate. Either way, your days of working from your bed with last night’s pizza next to you are probably over. You’ll already have got the hint about how things role in your new company during the interview process, but that doesn’t mean it won’t take you a while to adapt once you’re there. If the office is open plan, it’s likely you’ll be able to get to know your colleagues much more easily and develop mutual quirks that make work more bearable. If your work space is sectioned off, it might take more of an effort to build friendships with your colleagues. On the plus side, you’ll also have no prying eyes to watch how you kill your boredom when it happens (which it will, no matter how much you love your job).

3. Realising how expensive life is.

Oh, hello paycheque! How can I spend you this time? New work clothes? Gym membership maybe? Buying into specialist foods because you now earn more than minimum wage and everyone around you has already bought into fancy teas, diets or discovered the wonders of veganism? Sure, why not? At the end of the day though, the majority of your salary will probably be spent on rent. Or food, even if you’re still living with your parents – they’re not going to baby you forever, and you have the little luxury of buying food you actually want to eat (even though you’ll probably miss your parent’s home cooked meals after all the junk you ate at uni). You’re also liable to pay board now that you earn a wage, plus money toward bills, but, it’s cheaper than trying to get on the housing market if you’re only earning around £20,000.

4. And that surpassing the £21,000 threshold isn’t as fun as you thought.

Though it may sound appealing to gain an annual salary of over £21k, it’s important to keep in my mind that, you will be paying back your student loan from this point. The threshold to pay changes based on what you earn. The more you earn, the more you’ll pay back, but, unless you earn over £30,000 in your first job, you’ll barely notice these payments going out. Having said that, with tax, National Insurance, your student loan repayments, and your occasionally ludicrous spending habits, well, you’ll notice.

5. Belatedly realising how good you had it as a student.

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Working adult life is great. You have money now, real independence, and proof that you can make it in the world. But, for all the good things, you’ll still miss your student days a hell of a lot. You’ll miss the freedom, the friends, and, of course, the holidays. There’ll be a time during your first graduate job when student life starts calling to you again, and that’s perfectly OK. It doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for graduate life, and it definitely doesn’t mean graduate life will never be able to compare.

6. It’s not about where you’re going, it’s about how you get there.

It doesn’t feel like it, but there really is no pressure in realising what you want to do with your life. The likelihood is you’ll end up following paths you never expected to follow, or didn’t even realise existed. Your first job, especially if it has nothing to do with your degree, will give you perspective on what you want from an employer, colleagues, and how big of an impact you want to have. As long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing and can see a future, you’re going the right way.

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