A Year in the Real World: Six New Grads Weigh In on Life After College

In June 2013, Simply Hired brought on a team of new college grads. Most of them started a few weeks after their college graduation. This June, we checked in with them to see what they’ve learned in the past year, how they’ve changed, and what advice they have for others who are just starting out. 

Here’s what they said:

Adapting to life on the job

  • “In school it’s more sporadic, you go class for a few hours, have homework on these days. Now free time is more limited. I’m going to work at the same time everyday, eating at the same time, going to the gym at the same time. It’s a lot more structured.” – Arianna
  • “The best part is no homework! On Sundays I don’t think about that I have to go to the library for five hours. I can do whatever I want with that day.” – Dylan
  • “Figuring out what to do socially was a change. In school there was always homework to think about. Now I go to the gym after work or go to happy hour with my friends.” – Joy
  • “The hardest thing to adapt to was working for eight hours. In the beginning, my brain would start to melt at about 3:00. But now I can work all day and be productive. When things come up, I can now work long hours. I’ve done a few 12-13 hour days no problem.” – Justin
  • “It’s tough to work on 4 hours of sleep a night. It’s one thing to go to class. It’s another to work for 8 hours.” – Dylan
  • “I feel like college was this incredible experience and I learned so much about so many things, and then once I left, I felt like I didn’t know anything. I don’t think anyone prepares you for life after college in the way my friends and I experienced it. No one tells you how hard the first year is. You’re learning how to live life on your own, how to be in a big girl job, pay your rent, manage your time, manage your money, make your own decisions, but kind of still listen to your parents, and also you have to answer to your boss. No one really tells you, you just have to figure it out as time goes by.” – Arianna
  • “College was a breeze compared to being an adult. The real world is humbling. Working has helped me become a better human. I realized I can help people in a greater way than I thought, and I might be able help people in ways I don’t even know yet.” – Andre

The power of sticking with it

  • “The commute was really hard to adapt to. The first few months were tough. Every day I came in frustrated, but eventually learned to enjoy it instead of fight it.” – Dylan
  • “You can’t just not show up when you don’t feel like it. I’ve learned that doing things I didn’t want to do makes me more disciplined. You can show up every day and get better at it. It surprised me that I could enjoy doing this and be good at it.” – Andre
  • “Patience is a necessary quality to have. In sales, you have to contact people several times, and you wonder why they don’t get back to you. Patience is also really important when going through organizational changes, when everything is not clearly defined.” – Joy
  • “When I started out, I didn’t know it was normal to feel as lost as I did. I felt like maybe I had lucked into a job I didn’t deserve, because everyone sounded so smart and knew all these technologies I’d never heard of. My manager eventually told me that every engineering job is like that for the first few months. Now I’m leading projects and now helping make high-level architectural decisions with senior engineers.” – Justin
  • “It was surprising to see the people on our team that left. It seems better to stick with something you don’t like until you find something you really want to do, than to go from something you don’t like to something you don’t like.” – Dylan
  • “Don’t give up at the first sign of your life not being in this perfect box. Just because you’re struggling, you can’t quit in the first months. When summer’s over you’re still working…when the holidays roll around, you’re still working. You can’t take all that time off. You have to power through it. It’s so fulfilling when you get through that first work struggle. It takes a lot of initiative to talk to your boss when you’re struggling, but they can help you. Don’t give up and just try to get another job.” – Arianna

Advice for new grads in their first jobs

  • “If you’re too scared to do what you want to do, you can still fail at what you don’t want to do. So you should really think about what you want.” – Dylan
  • “Keep a business journal. Business is done through personal connections. I make notes about who I meet, where I met them, and the context. Then months later I can go back and make connections.” – Dillon
  • Open a savings account immediately, set an auto deposit, and don’t look at it. Pretty soon I’ll have enough to travel.” – Dylan
  • “In school there is not much regret about decisions. The decisions you make now impact you far more personally than the decisions you make in school.” – Dillon

Advice to new grads looking for a job

  • “Networking with alumni is really important. Everyone is so connected. Have informational interviews, and learn as much as you can. Dive in and talk to people.” – Arianna
  • “Make sure you know what the job entails. Ask about responsibilities, room for growth, what other team people are doing, where they’ve ended up after one year.” – Joy
  • “If you make that decision to commute more than an hour each way, make sure you really want to do that thing.” – Dillon
  • “Be picky with the job you takedon’t settle. If you have a little bit of time, take it. Wait for what you want, don’t take a job just to take a job.” – Dylan
  • “Think critically and comprehensively about places you’re looking at, utilize every source you can. Use Yahoo! Finance, LinkedIn, research everything surrounding the company. A few of the companies I applied to had bad things happen. I’m lucky that I ended up at good company. Research will make you content with where you end up.” – Dillon
  • “Be aggressive about your future. Use LinkedIn. Reach out to people, send messages, say you’re interested. Have your parents pay for LinkedIn Premium. Get involved with your community. Every little bit counts.” – Andre
  • “The company isn’t just interviewing you, you are interviewing the company. I have some friends hate who their jobs. Make sure to know as much you can about the culture, think about whether you would really enjoy it.” – Justin

Join us in congratulating Joy, Arianna, Dillon, Justin, Dylan, and Andre on their first year of employment after college. We wish them all the best for the future!