The Truth About Life After College

Children watch the adults in their lives go about their daily business. The idea of being a grown up and free of homework seemed so magical. That freedom was something kids longed dreamt of often. I remember when I left for college, my parents warned me not to rush through school because, in the words of my dad, “After college, all there is, is work.”

I should have taken his advice.

I received my degree in three and a half years. Why? Well in all seriousness, that is just how it worked out. I studied abroad summer 2012 and received twelve credit hours, which in turn put me a semester ahead. At the time, I was thrilled to be entering the real world, diving head first into that magical freedom kids longed for.

Well, kids, that magical freedom is not all it’s cracked up to be because after college, all there is, is work.

It does not matter if you live in Carrollton, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, or Dublin, Ireland, the sense of magical freedom in a perfect life does not exist. I get up, go to work, eat, and sleep. That is my life, and I’m slowly figuring out that it is the life of most if not all adults.

Working in Ireland was no different than working in America. Beginning in January, I worked as a receptionist for a financial company based out of Chicago called Northern Trust. Like all receptionists, I answered calls, booked meeting rooms, directed visitors, and kept a smile on my face. It doesn’t sound like hard work, but it was.

Throughout the year, I befriended a number of people in the office. The other receptionist was a girl named Amore from South Africa. She and I swapped stories of home and talked about life in Ireland. The IT staff and I cut up constantly and did nothing but pick on each other. Sadly, my contract with Northern Trust ended in July. I had to say goodbye to all of my friends and move on to a new assignment.

Temping was both convenient and inconvenient at the same time. I was lucky that I received a long-term contract. I was able to build relationships with my coworkers and become accustom to the way Northern Trust ran its office. Unfortunately, my contract did come to a close. With that, I was assigned to new companies. While the new assignments were great work experience, it was a struggle to continuously move from place to place.

As soon as I became accustomed to the new processes, my short-term contract ended, and I was relocated again. Every company had a different way of answering the phones, responding to emails, etc. It exhausted me to go through all of the different changes.

However, temping did have some advantages. Because several of my contracts were going to be short-term, I had time in between assignments to do some more travel. When I was at Northern Trust, I worked five days a week and rarely took time off to see Europe.

I left America because I was unhappy with the job that I had, only to begin working in Ireland in positions that I was not crazy about either. It was a great learning experience though. I accepted the idea of working more in Ireland than I did in America. Maybe it was because I worked in Ireland and that seemed more interesting than working in America. However it came to be, I learned that after college, all there is, is work.

12 thoughts on “The Truth About Life After College

  1. I love that you refer to the “magical freedom” of life after college; that’s exactly how I felt in college, and I spent most of my time there planning for the years ahead. Now, a year and a half out of school and just after returning from a year abroad myself, I’m wishing I could recapture the magic I felt before the responsibilities of being a “real adult.”

  2. So true! When you are a student you have plenty of time but no money, then when you start working you suddenly have money but no time to spend it..

  3. Those of us still in college do worry about this (as you would know)! Hopefully, I’m going to try and avoid this by teaching English abroad and living minimalistic for as long as possible!

    My goal (in the big picture) is to not work a 9-5 job. If I succeed, I believe I’ll be relatively happy.

    1. That’s exactly what I want to do!!! I hope to be able to teach English somewhere someday and combat the 9-5 as much as humanly possible. If I can do it, so can you!!! I’m working on a post on how to combat the working world after college, so be on the look out for it soon. 😉

      1. Will Do! Have you read Nomadic Matt’s “How to Teach English Abroad”? It’s an e-book! I really suggest reading it. Soooo much information, and all of it actually useful too!

  4. Really interesting post because I think exactly the opposite! I always hated school, never wanted to study and quit education with 16 to start working. And I loved every second of it. I love the financial freedom/stability, not having to sit in lectures for hours and being forced to write essays and research. I can work and contribute to a companies success, take my career in my own hands, work in my own time and deal with things the way I think is best (not in all jobs I guess). I love the fact I can take holidays mostly when I want and make use of cheap off season deals in March or October. And many more things! I guess the difference could be in America that you don’t get much annual leave and the work conditions are tougher? I started working in Germany with 32 days holiday, 10 bank holidays and 14 salaries a year. No overtime either 🙂 Ireland can’t offer that but at least 25 days annual leave.. I have no idea how you guys do it in America with some people not being able to take leave at all in their first year for fear of being sacked and ridiculous overtime.. If they would improve working conditions like in some European countries then perhaps people would enjoy their work place more?

    1. Working in America is actually REALLY depressing. Now that I worked in a country where at least once a month there was a national-everyone-take-a-day-off-holiday and people were encouraged to take vacations, I’m dreading looking for a “real job” here in America. It’s difficult to explain. Americans are driven to work and not to live. We have a very skewed mindset of makes a successful person. That is one of the things I’ve struggled most with my family. I don’t know how to explain it… it’s just sad .BUT!!! I will be writing a post soon on how to combat the life after college. Sooo that’s something

      1. That sounds like a good idea, give advice to other people straight from college to show them what options they have! Not everyone is cut out for office life, 9-5, career, etc.. It’s sad to hear how depressing work life is in the US. I would totally hate it it, too. In fact, I’d probably get fired after one month for wanting to take leave! Annual leave is an essential part of my working life and I have turned down jobs at American companies here in Dublin because they didn’t offer the usual 25 days but only 20 days off. They need to know that they cannot and should not do that in Europe – otherwise we soon get exploited the same way that you guys do over there 🙁

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