What I’ve Learned In The “Real World” Almost A Year After Graduation

Time for a little bit of reflection.

I was taken back this week when I realized that March is halfway over, and we are going to soon be diving into April. That being said, it hit me that I’ve officially (almost) been out of university for a full year.

Seriously, that didn’t even make sense to me.  I remember this time, last year, time seemed to go in slow motion. I was counting down the days until I was finally free. Free from writing papers, free from getting graded, and free to work full time and actually grow my bank account.

So, almost a year later, what I learned? A lot, and I’m going to share it all with you:

Things Don’t Get Easier

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true! I remember briefly having these thoughts as I neared graduation.

I’m thankful that I had my career path, and the foundation for that career path, set in the beginning of my fourth year. Even so, moving from full-time student to full-time career woman was a big transition. University is hard, but even more so is dealing with clients and “real” consequences when something goes wrong. Being in a manager’s position, I’m the one taking the complaints and concerns, and I’m the one who has to set a clear path and direction.

Scary? Yes. But I’ve learned more in this past year than I ever thought possible, which I know is going to help me further and grow my career down the line. So, remember that when you’re put into difficult situations.

At Times, You Still Feel Unqualified

My path to my career has been extremely purposeful and direct. I’ve been writing professionally since I was thirteen. I knew writing and key messaging was my passion, so I picked a degree (communications) very relevant to that. Even though I honed in on my chosen industry and skills for four years, and obtained a degree that makes me qualified to work in said industry, I still get taken aback when clients ask for my professional opinion about things – seriously, it still hasn’t set in.

I wrote a recent article where I talk about “Imposter Syndrome,” and it’s a very real thing for people entering the workforce, and even people who have been in it for years! Lately, more than ever, I’ve grown to accept this feeling, and combat it. Thankfully I’ve started to come into my own and really be confident in my own skills, opinions and capabilities.

Which brings me to my next point…

“Fake It Until You Make It” Is The Way To Go

I remember being a kid and thinking “wow, people in their 20s are adults and have their shit together. They know what they’re doing.” 

Newsflash, literally no one knows what they are doing. There’s no magic fairy dust that envelopes you once you graduate, there’s no instant transformation that suddenly makes you a legit adult, armed with knowledge and previously unknown power.

Really, I’ve learned that it’s all about being confident in yourself and faking it until you make it. I’m always working on this. Everyone is.

You know what you’re talking about – you have the skills. You just got to work on the confidence that goes behind all of it. Sometimes I’m winging the hell out of something, and it turns out great and I’m just like “okay, that worked.” Sometimes I’m stressed out of my mind trying to find a solution to a problem I’ve never even heard before. But you just work through it. You put your best foot forward, and you figure it out.

You Never Stop Learning

Literally, never. And you shouldn’t! A degree is something fixed in the time that you decided to pursue it in. Things are always changing. Methods are always re-inventing themselves. You never learn the full extend of what you need to know just by completing a degree.

I’m in digital marketing, and my degree was in communications. I learned the majority of what I do on a daily basis by actually doing the job. Accept that, and stem roll forward ready to learn more every day.

Life Doesn’t Owe You Anything

This is something I’ve always believed, but has become even more real to me since I’ve graduated university. Many people think because they’ve worked hard and obtained a degree they “deserve” a good job, or better pay, etc. etc. but the truth is, life doesn’t owe you, or anyone else, anything at all just because you have a degree.

The true determination of your value is how hard you’re willing to work outside of the classroom. Maybe that’s doing some freelancing on the side while also doing your full-time gig to get your name out there. Maybe it’s doing some free work because you know the experience will benefit you just as much as money might. Start from the bottom if you must and work your way up. Be humble. Learn from people above you. Keep hustling!

Thanks for reading,

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