14 Things that happen when you get your first 9–5 graduate job

So, you’ve been working hard during your final year of uni. You’ve just about killed yourself getting all your assignments in on time. You’ve survived off naps and pot noodles for the last six months. But now you’re starting your first graduate job. The relief to finally be on that career ladder is immeasurable, but the thought of actually joining that 9–5 grind is pretty daunting.

1. You realise life just isn’t as fun when you have to go by someone else’s time.

Let’s face it, staying in bed until whenever you want is pretty appealing. Being able to never leave your bedroom and still get essays finished — ignoring the anxiety and stress that comes with uni deadlines — is ideal. It may not be healthy, but it becomes your life to sleep and work on your own terms. Then suddenly you have to be in work at 9am and can’t leave until 5pm. It’s not even like you can be ten minutes late because unlike your tutors, your boss actually WILL care if you’re not on time.

2. That freedom of doing the projects you choose to do suddenly vanishes.

We’ve all had to do modules we’ve hated, write essays we’ve loathed, and sit exams that had us sweating pools, but by third year, you generally get some freedom over what projects you want to do. Then you get to work. Sometimes you’re designated jobs you love, but when you’re given the most tedious, annoying and unwanted jobs, it’s almost like someone’s taken that freedom away.

3. Where have my lie-in and nap times gone?

There is a stereotype around students that all they do is sleep. There is in fact a reason for that, studying an under-grad or post-grad course pulls away every ounce of your energy and motivation. It makes you doubt yourself, it takes your anxiety up 12 notches, it can be so draining that without those lie-ins and naps, you’ll simply collapse. So, when these extra couple hours of sleep a day are gone, it’s a pretty big hit to the system. You basically feel like a walking zombie for the first three months.

4. The moment you realise you can actually spend your night chilling in front of the TV rather than writing essays until 3am.

It’s not all bad though. When you finish each shift, you don’t always know what to do with your day. You’re so used to being balls deep in work at 6:30pm that you’ve forgotten how to actually spend your evening chilling in front of the TV. It’s a refreshing change, and one you can truly appreciate when the routine starts to become normalised.

5. Actual designated eating times.

As well as evenings in front of the TV, there are specific times of the day when you are actually told to eat! Yes, you’re boss literally tells you to go on your lunch. Once you get used to the early mornings, you even start eating breakfast at the right time. And dinner is eaten in the evening, like when you were at school! No more forgetting that crucial life-reliant thing called food.

6. Getting excited about having money… To realise you’ve got to work six weeks before getting your first pay cheque.

Ok, so let’s not pretend like we’re purely doing a 9–5 graduate job for the joy of it. We all have bills to pay and a stomach to feed. But, we’ve spent so long living off a weekly £10 allowance; it’s just plain exciting to think about having enough money to pre-drink in a bar rather than in a flat with left-over Tesco value vodka. Unless you’re lucky enough to start right at the beginning or right at the end of the month, you have a 6-week wait for the luxury of Russian Standard.

7. Actually getting your first pay cheque and feeling rich for the first time in 3 years.

It’s happened; the money is in your bank! You probably spend it all on pointless crap just because you can but it’s your first pay cheque so go ahead!

8. But then remembering you have an overdraft the size of the moon…

Oh fuck. Amongst all the excitement, it’s way too easy to forget about the God damn overdraft looming over your bank account.

9. Accepting you actually need to get a decent sleeping routine to survive.

Ok, so the 3am bed time just isn’t working. You’ve become snappy with everyone, you can barely keep your eyes open and if you don’t start performing better at work, you’ll get the sack before your probation is even over. You’re knackered when you get into bed at 11pm, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to get to sleep so early. It does happen, the sleeping pattern slowly changes, but that process certainly isn’t easy.

10. Realising you’ll still keep comparing yourself to your uni mates.

You weren’t the first to get a graduate job, and the green-eyed monster came out every time another one of your uni mates got a job confirmation. Although you’re of course happy for them, you feel like you’re being left behind, and the only explanation you can come to is that they’re better than you. You just don’t feel good enough. But, the graduate job is finally here and the green-eyed monster can go away, right? Wrong. It never disappears, not really. You start comparing your pay, the jobs you do, the company you work for, perhaps even the people you work with. The most ridiculous part of this whole cruel cycle is that while you’re busy being jealous of them, they’re doing exactly the same with you.

11. Suddenly being younger than everyone around you.

You’ve spent your whole studying life being around people the same age as you. There’s never been pressure to be anything other than your age. Suddenly, you’re working with people older. In fact, you’re probably one of the youngest ones there. The sense of having to grow up, or at least pretend to grow up while at work, is real.

12. Getting frustrated at two days simply not being enough to run errands, clean the house, have a social life, see your family, AND take some time for yourself.

This is perhaps the hardest part of the 9–5 life to get used to. It certainly takes the longest. You eventually find ways to fit things in, but usually the part that suffers the most is taking time for yourself — ironically this is probably the most important one.

13. Feeling like you didn’t even need to go to uni to do the job.

When you first get on the ladder, you’re generally treated as the admin dustbin. The crappy, boring jobs get passed onto you and you start to wonder whether all that studying was even worth it. Reminding yourself that you wouldn’t have got the job without your years at uni is important. But also remembering that you got more than a qualification, you came out with amazing memories, fantastic friends and worthy life experience.

14. But ultimately at the end of it all, you feel good about entering the “real adult world”.

So it all sounds pretty doom and gloom, right? It may seem like that sometimes, but actually what you really take from your first 9–5 graduate job is the feeling of accomplishment. You’re finally on your way to having that dream career, the life you’re striving for, and you’ve ultimately entered that “real world” that students are constantly told they don’t live in — despite paying rent, bills, having deadlines and feeling tired all the time on about £9000 a year, but whatever. Suddenly you understand the Friday feeling, you can empathise with Monday blues, and you have the money to go on all of those adventures you couldn’t afford for so long.

You’re doing great! Keep it up, and remember how far you’ve come.

Written by Hannah Parker

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