I think a lot of us are now in that awkward stage where we’ve finished with exams and university and we need to find a job. Some people don’t want to work right away and aren’t ready to give up their summer just yet. I, however, am the complete opposite. I quit my part-time retail job almost three weeks ago now and knew that I definitely wanted to be employed before the summer. I had been applying for graduate jobs since the end of last year and hadn’t been very successful. I applied mainly for graduate jobs in publishing/editing but it’s a very elitist sector as I’ve said on this blog before. If you don’t have at least a years’ experience, they’re not interested. Never mind the fact that I’ve been studying for the past three years and the two years before that and the five years before that…
I was lucky enough to land myself a job as a consultant, with a top London estate agent. I started last week and can honestly say that I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to work with such a welcoming and friendly team. I always felt like I had to work in publishing because I studied creative writing. But if you know me, you’ll know that all I do in my free time is watch property programmes like Escape to the Country, Homes Under the Hammer, Grand Designs and Coast vs Country. If I’m not doing that, then I’m building houses on The Sims. I always thought of this as an enjoyable pastime and never really considered a career in property. But the opportunity came up and the whole way through the interviewing process, it really did feel like the right job for me.
I think this is something that some of us ignore. It’s really easy to want to take the first job you get offered. Thinking of all those sales jobs the graduate recruitment companies offer you? The ones where they advertise things like “Want to earn 30k in your first year?” “Want to progress to management in 2-3 years?”. That may well be the right avenue for you, but if it isn’t, then there’s nothing wrong with taking a little more time to wait for the right opportunity. Obviously not too long though, as you don’t want to unemployed forever! Another thing to think about is exams. I did have to take a legal exam in my first week, during training, which I was required to pass and there are plenty of other jobs that require you to take exams too. So that’s just something to think about as well.
During my first week of work, I’ve learned so many things and I wanted this post to be a sort of quick guide to transitioning between studying and full-time work. So below, I’ve listed some of the main things I’ve learned so far.
Buy smart clothes.
It’s all well and good getting a full time job, but then you realise you have to work five days a week and you only have one smart outfit… That’s a problem. Get the basics sorted first of all – a shirt, a skirt/trousers and a blazer. I hate wearing trousers (at the minute) and I prefer to just wear dresses that I can slip in and out of. ASOS do some nice basic work wear but Mango have some very flattering workwear pieces you might want to invest in too. They do cost about £30 a dress, sometimes more, but you’re going to be wearing these pieces on a weekly basis so I really would suggest forking out that little bit extra for something that is going to last.
Time is so precious!
I love reality television and going shopping and staying up late playing The Sims. But now, that just really isn’t feasible. It’s back to having a bedtime routine and sticking to it, because otherwise I won’t be able to do my job properly. I can’t afford to be tired when I’m at work – it makes the day go so much slower and it’s just not enjoyable at all. Also working all week means that when the weekend comes, you don’t want to do anything crazy – you just want to relax.
Meal prepping is going to be your best friend.
I never imagined how exhausting it would be to come home and cook a meal for yourself. I don’t get meals cooked for me at home, I do all of that myself. So pre-chopping vegetables and having quick and easy meals to prepare is an essential. It’s too easy to grab a ready meal or a frozen pizza, but these are just foods that are going to make you feel lazy and lack energy. I’ve been trying to prepare things like pesto pasta and pies that I can cook in batches and just put in the oven when I’m ready. Even something like a big salad is a great idea, where you can just throw lots of bits together quickly.
Bring lunch into work!
We have a canteen at work and I work in quite a large business park that has a lot of restaurants on it. On Friday I found a really nice restaurant that was serving chicken katsu curry which is one of my favourite dishes. I bought that and a bottle of water and it came to £6 which at the time I thought was pretty good. However, £6 on lunch plus £7 on travel expenses amounts to £11 a day, which is £55 a week, which is £220 a month on travel and lunch! That is actually ridiculous and I’m so glad I’m writing this post so that I can constantly remind myself of how much more cost effective it’s going to be for me to bring my lunch into work.
Don’t skip breakfast.
It feels fine in the morning when you’ve just stepped out of the shower and you realise you’ve got about fifteen minutes left before you leave for work. You’re not that hungry yet are you? But then you’re on the tube with all the commuters and actually, you are hungry. You’re also quite sleepy and you realise you’ve got about four or maybe even five hours before you’ll get to go for lunch. Thinking about buying something before you go into work? No. Think of the money and just make time for breakfast. It will give you that boost of energy you need in the morning and it will keep you going until lunchtime!
Think about the time you’re travelling
It might take you half an hour on the tube when there’s no traffic on the roads. But if you’re travelling at the busiest times of day, then you need to allow that little bit of extra time so that you can afford to get caught in traffic without frantically checking your watch. Once you’re sat on the bus with only twenty minutes to get to work, but you’ve still got half an hour to get to your destination, there’s no way around that. You will be ten minutes late. So just leave ten minutes earlier and make your morning commute that little bit less stressful than it probably already is.
If you have to wear heels, then bring comfortable shoes in your bag!
I always used to see women in smart skirts and dresses, wearing gym or running trainers on their feet in the mornings and evenings. I’ll admit that it did always look sort of silly to me. But now, that’s exactly what I do. I wear trainers to work and then put my heels on. It’s just not practical to walk around in my heels all day. They’re not uncomfortable exactly, they just aren’t as comfortable as my trainers would be.
If I pick up any more tips throughout my months of working at my new job, then I’ll make sure I put them down here. For now, that’s all the knowledge I have to give and I really hope you enjoyed it!