Guest post: From student to 9-5 worker

My Cubicle @ Work

Image by Vincent Ma via Flickr

When I graduated last fall I was one of the very few from my class to get a job straight out of college. And while I was thankful — the money in my pockets made me grin — I wasn’t truly “happy.” I was tired all the time. I missed my friends and family that I was forced to leave behind. And that 9 to 5 schedule? Yeah— it got real monotonous real quick.

Let me be the first to say that the transition from college student to the working life can be difficult. But it’s different for everyone. While some can adapt more quickly, others linger in that weird limbo stage of being a half-grown up, half-student. But there are some ways to make the transition a little easier. Below are some points recent grads need to watch out for and some ways to deal if you’re caught between both the student and professional world.

Rigid Schedule
In college most students tailor their class schedules to meet their own personal needs. (Ed – I missed out on this, and resent it! Damn you AUT and your inflexible Communications courses.) You’re not a morning person? No problem. You can simply take a class in the afternoon. You like to have lots of breaks to take naps? No problem. You can spread your classes sporadically throughout the day. The point is, students are used to doing things on their own time and to their own liking. Once you enter the professional world however, this changes. You will have a strict schedule of how long your lunch break is and when you need to arrive to work. And don’t think that if you arrive to work just a few minutes late that your boss will let it slide like your professor—you could be “written up” for your infraction. Too many and you can get fired.

Get Some Sleep
So why were you late in the first place? Did you stay up till 4am drinking beers with your buddies or lose track of time tuning-in on the Family Guy marathon? In college you may have been able to stay awake till all odd hours of the night and stagger into class in your pajamas the next morning, but you can’t do this in the professional world. You need to be able to present yourself in a professional manner everyday and must come to work energised and clear-headed so that you can focus and do what your bosses are paying you to do—your job.

How are you going to successfully accomplish your tasks at hand if you’re falling asleep at your desk? Do your best to get the standard 6 to 8 hours of sleep. It might be difficult at first but try to make set a sleep schedule. For example, you go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7am everyday. If you are a heavy sleeper, by all means set more than one alarm to get yourself going in the morning. But chances are if you stick with your schedule your body will build an eternal alarm clock and you will start waking up on time on your own.

Eat Right
Even if you do get an adequate amount of sleep, sometimes your body can get tired because you are dehydrated or you are not nourishing your body with the proper nutrients and vitamins. With that said, you collegiate diet of Ramen Noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese needs to go. If you don’t have time to cook, try to make smart food choices when going out to eat, loading up on energising fruits and veggies such as apples, pears and dark leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach. Avoid dehydrating drinks such as soda and alcohol and consume more water.

Make New Friends
Part of the reason the transition is so hard is because you miss your college friends. While this can make things difficult you can always make new friends. A good place to start is at the workplace. Your coworkers are the ones who will not only make coming to work every day more pleasant but will give you praise for your achievements and promotions and will encourage you to stay strong if times get rough.

Have Fun
Remember that just because you may feel like you’re a 40-year-old because your new schedule forces you to go to bed by midnight that doesn’t mean that you are. You’re young and it’s important that you still find time to have fun. There is no rule that says you can’t continue to do the things you found enjoyable in college such as dancing, drinking or playing video games till 5 a.m. Just try to save these activities for the weekend so that it does not interfere with work.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes about top online colleges.

2 thoughts on “Guest post: From student to 9-5 worker

  • Reply danablair November 8, 2010 at 08:02

    great advice! I too got a job right out of college. Now, at age 27, I am used to working a 9-5, but I have friends that are still in limbo. It definitely creates a gap.

  • Reply LindyMint November 9, 2010 at 08:35

    I’ve always thought college is kind of a piss-poor preparer for real life.

    You go from high school, where you have to get up early and stay in the same place all day, to college, where you really only have to show up to class for a few hours a day, then you can go home and take a nap.

    When I started working full time after college I went to the doctor for fatigue. He basically said, “it’s called the real world girly.”

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