“I can’t wait until I have a real job and settle into an easy 9-5!” I exclaimed after pulling my 4th waitressing double that week. “I just want weekends off and holidays off and a comfy salary. Is that too much to ask!?”.
Isn’t that the dream for all college students? To begin their career, work their way up the ladder, become successful, save up for a house, and pay off their student loans. That was certainly my dream.
Even in college, I never knew how to really answer the question, “What do you want to do with your degree when you graduate?” (Ugh not wait tables anymore).
I never really put that much thought into what my plan was after I left school. I figured I’d take the first decent job I was offered and start my career.
The only thing I was sure about was that I wanted a regular 9-5 job.
So when I graduated college with my shiny new bachelor’s degree in Communications, I was ready to get out there and begin my career. After 6-months, I landed my first gig and began my trek into adulthood.
After a year of doing receptionist work, I realized that the path I chose wasn’t making me happy. It certainly wasn’t putting my degree to good use or making me feel fulfilled .
I started questioning if I had made the right choice jumping into my career right after college. I found myself speculating things I hadn’t considered before beginning my career.
5 Things I Wish I Did Before Starting My First Job
1. I wish I had explored my interests
While I was in school, I did three things; work, homework, and socialize with my friends. Those were my priorities. At the time, I was too caught up in my social life and the madness of trying to balance full time work and school to explore my interests.
After college, I was so fixed on finding a 9-5 office job that I didn’t stop to think about what kind of career would keep me interested and engaged.
I wish I took the time to explore internships and put serious thought into where I would evolve and grow the most. At the time my only concern was who will hire me and pay the most money.
Before you start your career your core focus shouldn’t be money, it should be exploring what excites and motivates you.
2. I wish I moved back home sooner
When I went away to college I moved out of my mom’s house and into an apartment. I loved the freedom, I relished the responsibility, I could do whatever I wanted
Apartment life was the best, and I vowed never to go back home.
But, as life goes, bills eventually pile up. You work more, but seem to have less money. Your savings account looks like a sentiment of the Great Depression.
The freedom and joy that you initially feel from living on your own turns into stress about paying bills.
While I absolutely loved having an apartment, it restricted me to always making money-conscious choices. I couldn’t travel, I couldn’t go out and do fun things with my friends. I had to strictly budget my food, and clothes, and gas, and everything in between.
After college, you have this amazing opportunity to explore life and do things that make you happy, but money restrictions can really put a damper on that. Living at home can relieve money pressure and allow you to have a healthy savings account for when you do decide to leave home.
3. I wish I took the time to travel
There is no better time to see the world than right after college. Having the opportunity to travel full-time and not worry about work seems like an unrealistic dream for some people.
Take it from Alex Jimenez, this lifestyle is possible and so worth it.
In a interview with Alex she described her travel experience as, “magical, much of it serendipitous.” Explaining that her, “mind was blown away by everything I experienced during that time. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to see the world and I’m also grateful about the results from my decision to take that leap of faith.”
As impossible as it might seem, don’t count out traveling after graduating because you don’t think you have the money or time. It is possible and something I wish I had considered doing.
4. I wish I had put serious thought into my goals
In college, the farthest ahead I thought about any goal was finishing my next class.
5-year plans were like, “whoa, that’s so far off I have so much time to think about that.” But 5 years shows up on your doorstep like an old homeless dog, and you’re like, “Okay, I didn’t think this one through, what am I doing with my life!”
Around this time in our life, we tend to have more ideas rather than actual goals. Without any solid plans, not only will you accomplish nothing, but you won’t end up doing things out of convenience or desperation. (Like taking the first crappy receptionist job offered to you)
Goals and plans give you stadards. They give you something to work towards
Set motivating goals will allow you to push past any feelings of uncertainty or doubt and focus on the bigger picture.
5. I wish I had taken more risks
The time between leaving college and getting a job in the real world is that sweet spot to get risky.
You likely don’t have a family or a mortgage. Maybe you’re single and don’t have any serious commitments. Your college loans are differed for 6-more months, why not shoot your shot?
Now’s the time to try your hand at entrepreneurship, or invest in a fresh opportunity. You have fewer obstacles in your way and fewer things holding you back, why not indulge in a little risk?
Nina Kathryn puts it perfectly in her blog post 3 Steps to Embrace Taking Risks —
“[Risks] are an essential part of the human experience and though, by nature, I am change-resistant, I truly believe in nothing ventured, nothing gained. When you learn to lean into the risk and the mindset blocks that come along with it, your perspective shifts.”
I wish I had put more thought into the different, crazy, but potentially life-changing options that I could have explored. I wish I had leaned into the risk and took a chance.
Now tell me…
What stage of your life are you in?
What are some bits of advice you can share? Are there things you wish you did before jumping into the workforce?
Do you wish you chased a passion or a dream?
Tell me all about it in the comments below!