Tag: welcome to the real world

Luck and Stuff

I hate talking about my job. Both on this blog and in real life. I know it sounds weird considering I spent months complaining about my lack of success at finding a position in my field. However everytime I’m asked about my job, I get a wide goofy smile on my face and I have to mentally slap myself (“You’re a professional! Act like it dammit”).

That being said there are several days when I can’t believe my luck at finally getting the job.

And that, my friends, is where the problem starts. I keep telling myself how lucky I was to get the marketing internship especially since our company hasn’t had any internal positions in the entire three years that I’ve been there.

While several marketing internships have administrative tasks only, I get to learn new things everyday while also actively learning about paid media.

So yes, in that case I was really lucky. And I really do appreciate it. Except I forgot a vital part of the story up until I overheard a conversation between my mum and aunt.

My aunt was telling my mother how excited she was for my new job and how I was “so lucky”. My mother agreed and then said I worked hard for it.

At this I was mildly confused. Sure I worked hard at my Customer Care job but it wasn’t a tough job. But then my mother continued, “She was always studying and doing things online. She really wanted that job.”

I felt like she was speaking about someone else. I had forgotten about that. I had spent early mornings, late nights, lunchbreaks at work and even a few leave days working on Digital Marketing courses and assignments. It seemed like in the few months that I had the job, I had forgotten what exactly it took to get me there. The months of saving to pay for those courses (my father had paid for my university degree and I wouldn’t let him pay for more studies since there was no guarantee it would pan out), the times with friends that I sacrificed and even the one week leave I took to ensure I had adequate time to complete assignments.

I felt proud of myself but also a bit disappointed. It wasn’t luck. I worked hard and the right opportunity presented itself to me.

I am still so grateful for my job but the one thing I’m taking out of that conversation between my aunt and mother is that no matter what studying further IS important. You never know when the right opportunity would come your way.

We Need to Talk About Toxic Work Environments

Why does no one talk about toxic work environments? We need to talk about the feeling of dread and despair in the bottom of your stomach when you realize it’s time to return to work.

That feeling of being so exhausted no matter how much sleep you try to get. Eight, nine, ten hours…it’s no use. You’re still drained. Emotionally, mentally, physically. Sleep. Diet. Exercise. Nothing seems to help.

You don’t have the energy to do anything but no matter how much you try to “rest”, your body is still exhausted. It’s like your body decided one day to just give up.

We need to talk about that feeling of walking on eggshells, of working constantly and hoping that nothing you do or say will get you in trouble. That feeling of being watched, that feeling that someone is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can pounce on you.

That feeling of hoping that with all the hours you put in, all the exhaustion you’re feeling, you DON’T make a mistake because if you do that could cost you your job.

We need to talk about watching our friends and colleagues being forced out of jobs and fired. That feeling of heartbreak for them and their families. And then wondering, is it better to be forced out? Is it better to be left without an income but with your mental health scarred but not totally damaged. No, not yet. Or is it better to have money and watch as your mental health declines and slowly by slowly you lose all sense of self?

That feeling of seeing friends leaving jobs they’ve held for years and years just because your job has turned toxic. That hurt in your heart knowing that it was not supposed to be like this. That something somewhere has gone terribly gone.

But you don’t know what the issue is or how to fix it. So you sit quietly and you drag yourself to work. You walk on your eggshells and you hope for the best. That something someday will change.

Welcome to The Real World 4: The Interview that Never Was

The 4th interview was for a Human Resources position at a call center. Apparently they some sort of database at the university and they had picked up my information from there. I don’t know how true that story was but it made absolutely no sense for them to call me.

I had completed a single Human Resources module. I was not qualified for the job. I knew it. And if they had read my CV, they should have known that as well.

The company’s offices were a mere five minutes away from my house. So I got dressed immediately and went in for an interview.

They had me fill out a form and asked me to wait. I agreed. I waited an hour. Then another. I watched as the receptionist called someone who they had previously offered a job to. They had found someone who was a better fit so they called him to let him know that he didn’t need to report to work the next Monday.

My heart fell for him. Imagine thinking you’re going to start a new job and all of a sudden you have to learn that “we’re found someone else, sorry.”

After three hours of waiting, I was finally shown to a room with a frenzied lady who was in the phone of a phone call.

She asked me a couple of quick questions about my background in Human Resources and looked surprised when I pointed out that I had just graduated. She was even more surprised when she learnt that I had no knowledge of Excel. Apparently they were unable to hire me but they would keep my curriculum vitae on file.

I was stunned. They had made me wait for THREE HOURS? For something that could have been confirmed by simply looking at my CV or via phone call.

The receptionist took down my details and my list of skills but I highly doubted they would call me again (I was right. They didn’t).

I went home incredibly annoyed and tired. I had missed my nap because of a job interview I didn’t even have.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger

Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career

Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career by Lauren Berger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the book that I wish I had when I started my first job.
Lauren Berger shares real life examples of how to deal with “The Real World”, possible pitfalls at work and just how to overall kick ass at work without suffering burnout.
Even after a few years into my first job, I still found so many things helpful in this book.
Lauren stresses the importance of work-life balance and taking care of yourself.
Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the workplace whether it is dealing with rejection, how to become better organized, possible problems you may encounter at work and how to work with different types of people.
All of this super-handy info is told in a conversational manner so it is almost like having a mentor guide you through the workplace (and speaking of mentors, she discusses that too).
If you are a college graduate or you know a college graduate, I highly recommend this book.



View all my reviews

Welcome to the Real World: 1) The Girl Who Made Dreams Come True


Sometime in late 2016, I was lucky enough to get an interview with a local newspaper. Granted, I only found out about the opportunity through my uncle who was a radio journalist but I was thrilled to have my foot in the door.

Walking into the building I had always dreamed of working at, I felt like things were finally coming together. 7 years of hard work were finally paying off.

At this point, I would like draw attention to the fact that I was still technically a college student. I was finishing up my final semester which was delayed by UKZN protest action. But I was tired of waiting for a job in my field (it’s been two years and I’m still waiting so yes the irony is not lost on me).

My interview went great and I was given a position to write for the cultural/lifestyle section of the newspaper. I instantly secured an interview with an author I knew. I conducted the interview, wrote my article and submitted it the day before deadline.

Three days later, I had the pleasure of seeing my writing in print. Above the fold.

I was overjoyed. And then came the payment. Or lack thereof. Here’s the thing though, I was more than willing to work for free. But apparently freelancers take a while to pay.

The next few months were brutal. I chased down the Payroll lady weekly for updates on my payments, completed university and started interviewing for regular 9-5 jobs. I was ghosted by my editor. No calls went through. Neither did my emails or SMS’es. And this was not for payment. No this was for my pitches. Radio silence.

My payment finally came through 4 months later in February 2017. I still tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to get interviewees but it was kind of hard when I didn’t know if I was even still a freelancer (SPOILER ALERT: I still was. I received a letter a year later confirming that they were releasing me from my contract as they no longer required my services. My co-workers and I laughed non-stop at the idea that I had been dismissed from a job I didn’t even know I had).

That was how my short-lived journalism career ended, leaving me with two very important lessons. 1) I didn’t want to be a freelancer and 2) I needed some sort of support structure in a working environment.

For a first job and especially for a first freelancing gig, this experience was absolutely awful and I would not like to go back. Though I supposed if I went back now, things would be different.

For one thing, I am no longer the same quiet girl. If I had been ignored for pitches now, I would probably get in my car and drive straight to the editor’s office to query if I could get started or not.

What I didn’t know at the time was that these experiences were going to shape and define me and help with a very important life choice that was coming up.

Welcome to the Real World

So I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now but just never got around to sharing it. I feel like it is REALLY important for me to share my horror stories, making the transition from college graduate to responsible working adult. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun but it was almost always hilarious looking back.

Also there are tons of things I wish I had known but just didn’t. So to save you from making my mistakes, I’m starting this mini-series following me from my ambitions of being a journalist to finally settling down in a career.

I hope you enjoy! Or at the very least, feel free to share some horror stories of your own.

7 Things I Wish I Knew in College

The “real world” is completely different from college. Which is odd considering that college is supposed to be your first taste of independence and the world out there. Here are 7 things I wish I knew when I was in college:

 

1) Your grades don’t matter: This part hit me the most when job-hunting. No one cared that I had great grades or was part of a honour society for students in the top 15% of their field of study. In fact no one seemed to care that I had a degree at all. People just wanted work experience which I didn’t have (and couldn’t get because I had no work experience). Which brings me to my next point:

2) The importance of work experience: No one wants to employ someone with no work experience. Which is ironic because how do you get work experience if no one wants to give you work without prior working experience. It baffles me that this has been going on for a while now and no one has done anything about it.

3) How to work in a team: It’s not that I don’t know how to work in a team. It’s just that I don’t want to. Group projects in college were a total nightmare and we basically divided the entire project into individual parts and then got together to present the entire project. While I may love the team that I work up, it took the introvert in me five months to finally feel comfortable around them. I definitely wish someone had taught me the importance of working in a team.

4) It’s who you know not what you know: Like number 1 on this list, this also hit me hard. Finding a job seems to be more about who you know than what you know. So network network network. You never know who could lead you to your next job. My cousin found her current job because someone saw her searching career websites on her phone and they knew someone who was hiring.

5) You can’t stay at home from work just because you want to: There are many reasons to miss class in college. It’s too cold, too hot, it’s a Friday, you’re hungover, etc. Unfortunately you can’t do this in the real world. Come rain or shine, you have a job to do. While slacking off in college was okay, that kind of behavior could get you fired.

6) Treasure your free time: My holidays and weekends in college were spent complaining about how bored I was. My holidays and weekends as an employed adult are spent running errands or completing chores that I couldn’t do during the week. Free time is no longer a thing.

7) It’s all going to be okay: I was a neurotic wreck in college. I always fretted over the smallest of things (I once printed out an assignment three times because the ridiculous tutor kept changing her mind about the format of the assignment). I would love to tell my past self to relax and breathe, everything will be fine. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want it to and that’s okay.

What do you wish you knew when you were in college?

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