This post is part of a series of “Lives of New Professionals” guest posts for Progressions.
Congratulations, you’ve made it! You have your degree in hand, took a bunch of pictures of yourself and your friends in funny hats and you’re off to the real world.
I can hear the screeching halt you just came to all the way from here. Yes, it’s time for the real world. You know, that place you’ve been told about all your life.
“Oh, well, when you’re in the real world you’ll understand.”
“You make a good point, but unfortunately that’s just not how things work in the real world.”
“In the real world, you have to make some really hard decisions.”
And I hate to break it to you, but they were right. The real world is hard. But the hardest part about the real world is a lot like the hardest part of any piece of writing; the beginning.
It’s a hard transition, to go from student to professional. It can be one of the most disruptive transitions you will ever make. It’s a shift in worldview from what you’ve known your entire life. You will now have different priorities, needs and wants.
No longer will you think in semesters, or be identified by where you take classes. You’ll think in quarters and calendar years. You’ll be defined by who you are, what you can do and what you have to offer the world.
On the bright side, no more finals, no more exams, no more all nighters (well, hopefully).
Yes, there are the obvious struggles. The early alarm clock going off, the hefty rent check you will inevitably be writing every month, the longer work days, and more.
It takes work to adjust, but it does happen. Sure, you might not get to go to Florida for spring break next year, but you can now vacation at random times of the year (as long as you don’t have an event coming up) to save money.
You can live anywhere you want, and do any kind of work you want. There is no longer a predetermined path of general education credit hours that you must adhere to. Oh, so you like working with the media? Great, there are jobs in the public relations industry for that. Love technology or sports or entertainment? Awesome, there are many firms specializing in what you are passionate about, and they are looking for you.
Although the real world can seem to be a new, scary place, it doesn’t have to be. There is no rubric by which to grade your life. And you’re not alone. There are many new graduates out there asking the same questions. Connect with them and learn together. Embrace your newfound freedom and stretch your legs. Try new things, personally and professionally. Enjoy the feeling of independence that comes from being a self-supporting adult with responsibilities. No really, enjoy it!
Also: never stop learning. Sure, you may no longer attend classes every day, but your job and your life is a learning opportunity. Your office is now your classroom, and it is full of people who what to help you succeed and learn. Use them as a resource. Read. Volunteer. Be involved in your local PRSA Chapter. If you stop learning, you may find yourself left behind.
What are you looking forward to most after graduating?
Julia Prior is an account coordinator at Brooks & Associates Public Relations. She is an alumna of the University of Dayton PRSSA Chapter. Connect with her on Twitter @julia_prior.