The independence and freedom that comes with your first real job is amazing, but at some point, reality comes crashing in and you realise this whole “work” thing isn’t quite what it’s made out to be. While we all toil away at different tasks and in different fields, these unpleasant discoveries are part of every first real job.
1. You’re Making (a lot) Less Than You Expected
There’s no escaping the tax bite that the government takes out of every single paycheck. After labouring all month, it can be a big, big shock to realise that a big chunk of your hard-earned cash has been taken away for taxes, fees and deductions. If you based your initial budget on your gross pay, then that first paycheck is a huge shock. At least you’re not alone.
2. Not Everyone is Nice
Sure, you coped with a playground bully – but the teachers in school kept everyone in line and made everything fair. At some point in your first real job you’ll realise that your parents and those well-meaning educators set you up to fail – hard. The first time someone lies to get ahead, steals credit for your hard work or simply acts like a braying jackass at work can be a shocker – but it happens to everyone.
3. Going to Work Can Cost You
From transportation costs to needing a grown-up work wardrobe, the high cost of actually getting to your job and then looking professional (or at least presentable) can be a shock. Even if your work provides uniforms, you may need to pay to clean them – then there’s shoes, stationery and all the other things you’ll have to pay for out of pocket if your mum is not there footing the bill.
4. Customers Suck
Surely you never behaved like your work customers seem to – with an overwhelming sense of entitlement, combined with an urgent need to be right. From the customers who slip out the door and “forget” to pay their cheque, to the ones who berate you because the product or service your company sells is late, faulty or otherwise not up to standards, you’ll end up hating your customers surprisingly quickly.
5. Hot Drinks Are Everywhere
Even if a steaming cup of hot beverage has never crossed your lips before, you’ll be tempted to pop the kettle on once you see everyone else’s desks. Not only will your colleagues rely on caffeine to get them through the day, but those few precious moments spent in the kitchen provides you with a chance to catch up on all the office gossip.
6. Time Waits For No Man
Expecting to leave the office at 5pm on the dot? Think again. If you’ve got a spreadsheet that needs to be finished off before the morning, or a meeting you still have to prepare for, you’d better get comfortable in that chair as you won’t be leaving until it’s done. Might as well put the kettle on again, eh?
7. You’ll Probably Have a Mini Life Crisis
If you start work straight after university, where you’re used to three lectures a week, the 40-hour working week can be hard to get used to. You’ll probably feel exhausted after your first day too, and will think “Is this the rest of my life for the next 50 years?!” You’ll soon get into a rhythm though, and it’ll feel like second nature.
8. Your Days Off Will Become Sacred
Washing to do? Friends to meet up with? Pets to feed? Forget all that. When you’re in your first real job, forget about actually doing stuff on your days off. The most productive thing you’ll probably do is clicking ‘Next Episode’ on Netflix.
9. Lunches Are Pricey
Oooh, there’s a tasty Vietnamese restaurant next door, and a Mexican pop-up stall down the road? Too bad that you’d have to remortgage your parent’s house (because you will definitely not be able to afford your own yet) to eat. It’s so easy to spend approx £628 a day on lunch (especially if you’re like me and want to eat ALL the food) so you’ll soon realise that bringing in a packed lunch is essential – just so you can afford to survive until the end of the month.
10. Sense of Freedom
For the first time in your life, you’ve got the freedom to do what you want when you have your first real job. Don’t like your career? You can change it. Want to move country? Eh, why not. This can be both liberating and scary at the first time – but, don’t worry. You’ll be just fine.
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