Adjusting to Working Life After University

I graduated from university last summer and after a great few months of holidays, seeing friends and enjoying my free time, it was finally time to face the true adult life and get a job. (Although the whole ‘getting a job tips’ is a whole different matter!)

After many weeks of sending off CVs and cover letters and interviews, I finally got a 9-5 job at a law firm. I’m now 3 months in and there’s a few things I’ve learnt so far:

  • Get into a good routine of sleeping early

I knew a good sleeping routine was important anyway but I never really realised just how badly needed early nights and consistency really were until I completed my first week of work. It was hard forcing myself to go to bed early and get up early but man I needed it, because working 9-5 when you’re used to uni times, is very tiring. It’s not like you can wake up, feel a bit tired and decide to just stay in bed. You could skip lectures and catch up later but you can’t just skip work or rock up late because you don’t feel like going. After holidays and uni it can feel hard to sleep earlier but it so important otherwise you’ll find it very difficult to concentrate on your work all day and feel too tired to do anything in the evening.

  • Prepare your lunch the night before

Gonna throw it out there now, I hate cooking and any food preparation but it will definitely became a life saver to sort out food the day before. It saves you time in the morning, less chance of forgetting to make your lunch and more time in bed (yay!). Also, depending on where you’re living and working, being a working adult means thinking more about budgeting and saving money and you’ll soon realise how expensive it is to buy lunch every single day.

  • Lay your outfit out the night before

Similar to the food thing but is it just me but when you’re rushing around to get ready you can’t ever find anything to wear? And you can’t just pull on anything for work, especially if there’s a dress code. Laying your outfit out for the next morning, or even the week, makes your life so much easier.

  • Ask lots of questions

You might feel nervous or don’t want to look stupid when starting a job but they won’t expect you to know everything and they’ll expect you make mistakes. I was literally told when I started, now is the time to mistakes, as it’s the time you’re learning and finding your feet with all your tasks and it’s the time to clear up anything you don’t understand so you’ll be confident later on with all the tasks you do.

  • Speak to everyone

Chances are you’ll have to work with everyone in your team/office at some point so it’s good to at least try and get on friendly terms with everyone, as it makes for a better work environment and it’ll also establish who to go for help regarding different tasks. Also when you’re at work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, it’s good to at least have a friend or 2 to have a laugh with and make the day go a bit more quickly.

  • Be eager and enthusiastic

Hopefully you’re at your job because you want to be there but either way your employer and coworkers will obviously want to see you wanting to be there. It’s great to show enthusiasm for learning new things, it can maybe lead to good relationships and more opportunities and responsibilities.

  • Don’t expect to pick everything up straight away

One bad trait of mine is expecting to be good at everything straight away and being disappointed and stopping when I’m not. But I’m making an active effort to stop that mindset because your employers won’t expect you to be perfect at everything instantly and in your first few weeks, it’s the time you’re going to make mistakes. It’s a learning period and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if it takes you a little while to learn how to do a task/use software etc. Just keep at it, make notes and practice and eventually your work tasks will become second nature.

  • Learn to budget

Majority of jobs pay monthly and, as tempting as it is, you don’t want to spend your paychecks straight away and have no money left for the rest of the month. Once you’ve established how much you make each month, it’s best to work exactly how much you need to set aside for all of your bills and how much you need to spend on food shopping etc. I also opened both a savings account and a Help to Buy ISA as I want to start saving for a house as well as holidays and other treats. Once you’ve paid all your bills you can see how much you have left for the month and then you can set aside a certain amount each month into savings.

  • Make plans for evenings and weekends

I know after a day at work you’d like to do nothing but curl up in bed in your pjs, watching a TV show or film. I’m guilty of being that person but it’s important to still have a social life. It’s actually so beneficial to actively have plans as, not only does it give you something to look forward to to get you through work, it stops you feeling like all you do is work and sleep as it can become very monotous. You need plans to take you out of your usual routine.

Also in working life you need to see friends as much as you can as you don’t get to see them in lectures and any time of the day like you could when at uni. It makes you value the time in the evenings and at the weekends that you can see them and your family.

Overall, starting full time work for the first time is a very daunting experience, especially after being in the university bubble for a few years. However, you get used to it after a few weeks and you get to learn new things, meet new people and usually get a lot of support as you learn the job.

How did you find starting full time work? What are your top tips?

Alice xxx