I’m going to bet all my money that your commencement speakers delivered a message with strong emphasis on following your dreams, working hard, and being successful. While their words of encouragements are inspiring enough, in the end they still feel like kind of “too common” and something that was said in that room and stayed in that room. Looking back, I wish someone told me what was the real life out there for a fresh millennial who just got out of school and basically have zero experience in life.
As a 22 year old kid who’s been into 2 jobs in just a matter of 8 months in the work force, here are the raw, honest, and real-time insights I observe and you can learn from me as well:
- Forget about college.
Everything you strongly uphold and believe in college doesn’t apply in the working environment. You’re not the boss of your life and you can’t always do whatever you want – there are company policies and procedures you have to adhere strictly although your soul tells you otherwise. Unless you want to keep looking for a new job every 3 months then by all means go ahead and keep following what you “believe” is best for you.
- Not a class you can skip anytime you feel like skipping.
If your co-workers can’t rely on your punctuality, don’t expect them to rely on you on something else. This might sound a bit harsh but remember that the company is paying you the moment the office timing starts. Also, I learned in a hard way that one absent, even though unpaid, can risk your existence in the company. Regardless of how unsympathetic or cool the company is, just make it to point of having zero absent and zero late until you become a regular employee.
- Really fucking harsh reality.
There will be moments when you wish you could go back to the good ‘ole days of collecting money from your parents, sit on classes, then party with friends afterwards. This is why it’s vital to keep your college life buried somewhere because life, as it fucking turns out, isn’t as laid back as it was when our biggest problem was passing that class. There are so many additional elements that will surprisingly knock you out along the way as you journey on if you’re like me who’s been pretty much pampered my whole life.
I wish someone told me that it’s possible to travel 3 1/2 hours a day to work, deal with unreliable people who both expect and exhaust you like a human machine, go back home to cook your meal the next day, have only 1 hour free time for yourself because you need to sleep at 9 pm to gather some energy to face the people you hate dearly the next day, do your laundry on the weekend, and maybe see the beach if you’re not yet broke, then repeat the same horrible pattern until you get worn out and tell yourself you’ve had enough.
- Budgeting is not cute.
If your both parents are rich and your major problem is how to make it to work a minute before you’re supposed to clock in then kindly skip this part. But if you’re like most of us who’s financially independent either by choice or unfortunate circumstances then hello there (*high five).
In as much as you’d like to earn almost the same salary as the managing director, it is always impossible to demand a salary that can buy you more than toilet papers and laundry detergents if you have, I hate to repeat it, zero working experience. As expected, your salary goes way below your expectation because this is reality — your teachers lied to you about happy endings and fairytales. But since all your friends have jobs and you don’t want to feel like you’re behind, you sign that crappy offer letter anyway.
Then here comes the daunting responsibility of allocating your money for rent, transportation, electric bills that shock you to death, basic food (by basic I mean just enough for survival), groceries, and if you’re lucky enough you might still have few pennies left but of course it’s going to be a tag-of-war over the decision of should you rather save it or buy a new clothes for work. Overall, budgeting will not only give you headache but also will make you want to slit your throat due to the fact that you earn so little when you just had your college degree – right, just had.
- No one’s going to respect you the way you think you deserve.
Okay first of all, let me just make it clear that it’s a case to case basis and it still differs depending on the working environment that you end up. Some companies highly value Millennials in workplace and regard them as their prospective highly classified asset – just like the company that I’m in right now.
But it’s not always the same story for all. I personally believe that there are still a lot of companies run by Gen-X that don’t take Millennials at workplace seriously. Due to your lack of exposure to “real life”, which is yeah true, you’re immediately on the bottom of the pack. You’re expected to shut up and do what you’ve been told regardless of how brilliant your ideas might seem. No one’s going to respect you because you are a Millennial and this is a one big flaw in their system that will backfire and haunt them down in the future.
- Young but not really that young, you know.
So you just got of school and you have one hundred million other things you want to do now that you have a complete and total freedom! Except that you are wrong. Don’t fall into this trap of mindset.
If you truly want to explore or pursue your passion or try doing things you wish you did before, the perfect way to do them is to skip a year after graduating and don’t look for a job yet. This is very healthy especially for those who can afford. Go ahead and figure out what you really want to do 50 years from now. You can explain to your future employer that you took a gap year to reflect and trust me they will respect you on that decision, probably even risk a chance on you.
Because once you enter the workforce it won’t stop. It will drag your life along with it. It’s possible to pause and reflect but it’s always different when you do it before having a job rather than after resigning for a job.
Sure you are allowed to make mistakes and dumb decisions for most part. But it will always be heartbreaking when you get to a realization that you wasted so many precious time and chances. So dig deep down and listen to your gut. Don’t settle for what you think is “good for the moment.” Always think about strategic long term. Because even though you only live once, it sucks when you end up with those moments when “you wish someone told you this.”