By Amanda Carey
(A couple of close friends and me after graduation)
The best 4 (or 5) years of your life quickly come to an end when you hear that timeless graduation hymn and receive that (fake) diploma that will shortly be replaced by the real one, also doubling as your golden ticket to the real world. College is over. “Real life” is beginning. The phrase you have been hearing and warned about since grade school. Although the transition filled me with excitement and fear, I have learned valuable lessons shortly after taking a leap into this next chapter in life, and here are just 6 of them.
- Clients Don’t Text
You may have mastered every emoji listed on your phone to go with the ironic slang you learned in high school, but those skills will not translate into your working life. Your communication skills, however, will translate into things such as reaching out using social media, comprehending complex computer software, conquering a high-tech app, and even writing this blog! I have come to understand that not everyone knows what ROTFL means (“Rolling on the floor laughing” for those of you that don’t.) Talking to clients on the phone and through email has helped my language become more professional. Leaving the jargon to your personal Twitter updates is a must.
- Your Co-Workers Are Not Your Sorority Sisters/Fraternity Brothers
That Economics paper you have due at 9:00am that you haven’t finished? In college, you could easily find a sister/brother studying economics to help you tidy up the paper. While your co-workers may be experts in their field, you cannot rely on them to constantly push you to finish a project. You will not be coddled when a client needs that project yesterday.
- Your First “Real” Job May Not Harmonize with Your Degree
It is most likely that your first job out of college will not directly relate to your field of study. For example, as someone with a Hospitality Management degree, the last place I thought I would hold a professional position is in association management. It was crucial that I kept my mind open to the career field I was stepping into even though my bachelor’s degree did not directly apply. I’ve learned to utilize resources such as the Tallahassee Society for Association Executives, can connect and educate myself on a variety of association management outlets while growing professionally and building a network.
- Financial Independence
Along with a real salary come real expenses. No matter how nice a new influx of funds is, you will quickly understand what your parents were trying to teach you those 4 years about using money wisely. Now that you are in full control of your finances, those nightly bar and daily dining-out habits have to be kicked to the curb. Managing your personal finances, although a rather small scale, can translate into the financial responsibilities that a business or association management company has to deal with on a larger scale. With more money comes more responsibility.
- Time Management
In college you were able to skip classes on occasion to go golfing or lounge by the pool. Now you have to clock in by 8am sharp, handle clients and be focused and professional. There is no real stop to a real work day.
- Responsibility (Obviously)
College was all about hitting the minimum standard (have you ever heard that saying “C’s get degrees”?). In the work world, if you go above and beyond, you will be amazed what opportunities can arise. Wasted time won’t get you anywhere. Plenty of 24-year-olds are viewed in an office setting as being too young to have any understanding of real responsibility. Yet others are rising stars that are on the fast track to management positions. The difference? Initiative.