As one of those weird millennials who went straight to work full time after May graduation (almost exactly one month later, in fact), I think there are a lot of pros to working full time after college. But as you are well aware, I also happen to be a world-traveling blogger who has trouble staying in one place. Since these characteristics don’t intuitively work together, I tend to get some questions about this topic… so I figured I’d address those common questions in bulk.
Do I regret going to work full time directly after graduating?
In general, I try not to think of decisions I’d make differently if I could as “regrets”… more as “lessons learned”. This is a difficult question, because in this case I know that I made the only choice that was available to me at the time. Because I only got paid once a month in my first full-time job, I had a daunting gap from the end of April (when I quit my part-time job and paid internship) to the end of June (when I started my full-time job) with no income coming in… and two rent payments due! It was tight, and there just weren’t funds available to push back my start date at the full-time job to August or September of that year and backpack around Europe for three months.
So I didn’t do that.
Do I wish I’d pulled more shifts during that last year in college so that I could have saved up enough money to push back my start date a bit and go on a pre-full-time work adventure? Definitely. Hindsight is 20-20, and looking back I can see that I should have planned ahead to make that gap trip financially feasible.
What was the hardest thing about the transition from college to full-time work?
For me this question has three answers: structure, sitting and free time.
Like many travelers I’ve met, I tend to thrive on a bit of chaos and unpredictability. In college, I had a different class and work schedule every single day, and I loved that variety. It isn’t my natural tendency to have a highly-structured schedule in my life, so the 8 to 5 work schedule with one hour for lunch in the middle of the day- 5 days a week- was a shock to my system. Couple that with the next big transition from college to full-time work in finance… sitting ALL DAY… and I remember being physically exhausted for the first three months after starting that full time job (believe it or not, sitting all day will totally zap your energy). Pro tip: I feel that a lot of employers are putting more focus on trying to break up the sitting for health reasons now than when I first started working full time, so see if your employer will spring for a standing desk. No harm in asking!
Arguably the hardest part of the transition from college to full-time work was saying goodbye to my free time. In college, I had a lot going on, but I had a lot more free time mixed into an average week than I do the work world. I could study for something a few hours, go meet friends for coffee, study another hour, work on a personal project, go to a class, head to work, then meet some friends at night. At work, for the 8+ hours a day that you are there, you just work. Then there are the big blocks of free time: no more fall break, no more winter break, no more spring break – and most detrimental to us travelers – no more 2+ months off for summer break. You’ve got to get creative with those limited vacation days you have off work (but if you are looking for advice on that topic, you’ve certainly come to the right blog!)
Wouldn’t it be easier to focus on my blog and on traveling if I worked part time instead of full time?
I read a lot about millennials, know a lot of millennials and am a millennial, so I’m well aware that many people in my generation choose to bring in a little money on the side through a part-time job of some sort while pursuing their passion full time. I’m not going to say that option isn’t the right choice for some people, because I’m sure that it is. It just isn’t the right choice for me.
At this point in my blog’s life, I don’t make any money from it whatsoever. I don’t have ads, I don’t have affiliations and I don’t write any type of paid endorsements. My goal is for this blog to be a point of connection to and a resource for other travelers. One day, I’d love to pick up some writing gigs elsewhere. But for the time being, suffice it to say that I couldn’t live off this blog in any capacity!
And even if I could… I’d likely still work full time. While I love writing this blog and sharing travel photographs here, my passion is traveling internationally as much as possible. While working part time would give me more time to travel, it would also give me much less money to travel. So, I plan to keep working full time for the foreseeable future!
What are some of the benefits of going to work full time after college?
We’ve talked about some common negatives to full-time work here so far (lack of free time, rigid structure, etc.)… but what about the positives?
I have two primary answers to this question: money and experience.
Even if you feel that you need more time to explore what you want to do permanently, we all have bills and rent to pay. If you’ve got to work anyway, the most efficient option (in my personal opinion) is to get a job doing something that pays you as much as possible and allows you to build widely applicable skills. If you don’t know what you want to do longer term, that is totally fine: most of us don’t when we first graduate college. Make a plan for what is next while bringing in a regular paycheck and building your resume. Build both skills and a savings account, and read travel blogs in the evening and on weekends (like this one) until you decide on what you want to pursue longer term.
Do you have other questions about going to work full time after college that weren’t addressed here? Feel free to share in the comments!