When I started working full-time last September, all I had in my mind is that I “wasn’t an intern anymore”, which I thought would mean I could take any mental pressures out of my role; I felt that, essentially, it would be a lot easier than my internship. Little did I know there would be a ton of other different (and unexpected) hurdles waiting for me in the office. I think, for me, adjusting to working full-time in the corporate world wasn’t easy (especially working in such a high-intensity job), but along the way I’ve learned a lot and I actually developed a lot as well, and this is all directly due to my job. With exams soon out of a way – I know many of you will soon be going into your own full-time grad jobs. So, don’t be like me and come with assumptions already made – keep your mind open and if anything, be ready to walk away from the first few months as a different person. To help you out and give you a heads up – I’ve listed the five things I think you’ll need to adjust to when you start working full time.
1. Working With Other People
What I realised when I started work is that I actually wasn’t as great at working with people as I had portrayed in my interviews. Of course in the past I’d worked in groups numerous times – but working in teams in uni/school is very different than working in a team at work. For example, when I got involved in teams at uni, although I was always there to lend a helping hand, I would typically just focus on my role and doing my role well. In group tasks, I’d be one of three people: I’d either focus on what I was doing (given the team was functioning well), and if the team wasn’t functioning well I’d either take charge, or say f*ck it and watch everything go to sh*t. It didn’t matter too much as none of these things were that important – one group task at school/uni wasn’t going to determine my grade, and essentially most of school/uni is about working independently (at least for what I studied). Work is very different – you can’t just focus on what you’re doing, of course that’s important, but you also need to be as aware as possible about what’s going on from top to bottom in your team, because now this is your team. Sometimes I’ll get calls asking about something which I have had minimal involvement in but have seeing floating around in emails – if I didn’t proactively check and process these emails when they’re getting sent around, I could end up looking like a real fool. At work, you can’t just decide one day that you’re stressed and say ‘you know what? F*ck this’ and sit back and let everything burn, because now it does affect you and if you’re not careful that attitude will get you cut. You really have to learn to understand and adapt to other people’s working styles; and all learn, given these facts, how you can best support each other.
2. Learning How to Utilise Your Weekends
I really like to sleep and chill – if I’m honest, those are two of my favourite things to do. This is how I tried to spend my weekends when I first started working, but slowly, I realised that my weekdays were way too busy and essentially my life became nothing but purely working and sleeping. This is what made me realise that in order for me to feel fulfilled – I couldn’t spend my weekend sleeping. These days on the weekend I still lie in (and by lie in I mean wake up around 10am), but I make sure that I am as productive as I can be throughout. I typically like to go to the gym at least once or twice on the weekend, I spend a lot of my weekend blogging, planning blogs, answering e-mails, shooting,etc – and essentially I just leverage on whatever weekend time I have to make my weekdays as smooth as they can be when it comes to pursuing other ventures. This life isn’t too foreign to me, as one thing about me is that I’ve always had a ‘side hustle’ outside of whatever my focus was. For example, in school I made websites, by my mid-teens I was selling designs and codes, and all the while I was constantly finding new things to fill up my spare time. This means that essentially I’ve always had to make time to service my passions, and hence makes things a lot easier to do now that I work full-time.
3. Figuring Out How to Manage Your Money
I’ve pretty much lived my life as a broke student. In school it doesn’t matter too much – but from the time you start uni, and find yourself reliant on three student finance checks a year… things start to get pretty rough. In my case, I lived in central London – perhaps one of the most expensive places in the world. In my first year I lived in university accommodation which had a London price discount – but after I moved out of halls, things became a lot tougher. I would frequently find myself sweating just looking at my bank account, and also often find myself a regular customer at the National Bank of Mum and Dad. But of course – once you start work, things change. Before I started work, I was advised by many elders to just spend – use my money (I’d earned from a 9 week internship) for making great memories because I would likely not get as much time and freedom for doing the same again. So, during my final year of uni, I jetted to Rome, Portugal, Miami and Malta and by the time I started working full time, was absolutely drowning in my overdraft. Once you start work – it’s time to get serious. You’re pretty much building for the rest of your life. Now it’s time to learn how to manage your pay such that you’re making smart long term decisions. This means saving (I personally save for a mortgage (or two or three one day IJN), and also as a buffer in case sh*t hits the fan), still spending on experiences (since I’ve started working I’ve been to Chamonix, Budapest and will soon go to Amsterdam and Barcelona. And I may have splurged on a few designer items here and there because sometimes treat yo’self), and – since I live out – I’ve had to finance that also. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to managing your money in the correct way such that you make things easier for yourself later than the line – and it’s something I spend quite a lot of time pondering over. If you want to hear a little bit more about how I manage money (and also how you can make your own money off of your passions), I’ll be speaking at the Purpose Meets Class luncheon on April 29th, sharing any little nuggets of wisdom I may have. Click on the link to grab your tickets.
4. Becoming a Better Business Woman/Man
As I’ve said – I’ve always had my own side hustle growing up. As such, entrepreneurship has always been something I’ve been quite passionate about. The typically view is that if you get a job in the corporate world – you’re essentially selling your soul and are truly not fit to be an entrepreneur in any way shape or form. But, I’d have to disagree. Actually – my job has helped me in becoming a better business womam. For one, my job is client facing – we spend tons of time pitching for business – and this applies directly to this blog and building my own brand as essentially – I’m pitching myself. Secondly, my job has made me a more efficient worker; meeting deadlines whilst you’re receiving e-mails every minute with new work coming your way isn’t easy – you learn to work smart, you learn to work fast and more importantly you learn to put your all into producing good output; these skills have also aided my blog. Finally, working full time has made me more organised – being a blogger whilst working a full-time job in investment banking simply isn’t easy to do, but I do it. Actually, since I’ve started working full-time, I’ve become 10x more organised with Skylish than I ever was before.
5. Being at the Bottom of the Hierarchy
The way things have gone, up until work – the only people we’ve ever really had to answer to are our parents. Sure, we’ve had teachers, and we’ve had lecturers – but as mentioned above, before you start work you essentially live life solo (for e.g. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years self-teaching myself full-on modules). Really, you don’t answer to many people, if anyone at all. Work is very different – when you first start, you’ll likely have to adjust to being one of the youngest in the firm, you’ll probably have to adjust to knowing one of the least in the firm, and most importantly – you’ll most definitely have to answer to someone (if not a handful people). Going from a life where you can essentially do what you want and it doesn’t matter as long as you get your good grades, to a life where you simply can’t do whatever you want because you don’t even know what you’re doing in the first place, takes… some adjustment. In fact, we even have interns coming this summer and learning that I’ll be in charge of delegating work also feels weird in itself after 6 months+ and counting of being on the other end. Essentially, these little things teach you discipline and also a lot of respect, and are all a part of life.