Uni’s pretty great, isn’t it? Less than half your time is spent in lectures; you get given free money (ok, you have to pay it back, but to an eighteen year-old, it feels a lot like free money); you get drinks deals, students nights, and special offers in shops; you have a hundred and one ways to meet people. They say those days are the best of your life; they say the friends you make there last the longest.
It is an enormous shock when you leave.
I loved my time at university, but I was in no way prepared for the real world by the time I finished. It’s so hard to find a job in this economic climate, and when you do…
- Nine-to-five is a long time. I’d never worked for that long before starting my first job. You do get a lunch break, but the rest of the time you are expected to be usefully inputting into the company. And a lot of places have even longer office hours; expect to find a lot of 8:30am-6pm jobs.
- The term times of life are longer that for students. Say goodbye to your three month summer holidays and having plenty of time to enjoy your Christmas chocolates: you only get a few weeks of holiday time each year, and a lot of those can be frittered away on making weekends longer and having time to go shopping, because…
- Shops open and close at really inconvenient times. When are you supposed to go to the bank? The doctors? The supermarket? I can only imagine how hard it was before decent Saturday opening hours. If you have too late a lie-in, you may miss your opportunity for another week.
- TGIF has a whole new meaning. Previously, Friday was just a night to party when no one had lectures the next morning. While working, on Friday evenings I often skipped the bar and went straight home to crash asleep.
- Even though you’re getting paid, you may actually be worse off. You are now getting taxed: national insurance, income and council. You have to pay off your loan. You may have to move to a more expensive part of the country to find work. The costs are much higher post-uni, so your increased income may not go as far as you think.
I don’t mean to put you off the “real world”. I merely want to educate you so that when you leave, you don’t suffer as much culture shock as me. There are a lot of really great things about venturing out into the world of employment: the increased feeling of self sufficiency, and the feeling that you’re really contributing something to the world, being the top two for me. You’re building your future, and, with career progression, chances are it won’t be too long until you have sufficient disposable income to put your student days to shame.
Welcome to the real world. It’s certainly no picnic: it’s tough, but I think you’re going to love it.