10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year Working in the Real World

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July 14th, 2014 was the day I began a full-time internship. Three months later, I switched to a full-time job. My internship was really only a taste of the “real world,” but minus the benefits like vacation days and all that good stuff you get from an actual job, it was pretty much the same thing. And a year later, here I am with this breadth of new knowledge to share:

1. Sitting at a desk for hours really isn’t good for you

Planting your butt in a semi-uncomfortable chair for long periods of time and staring at a computer screen under fluorescent lights really takes a toll on your body. Google “sitting at desk health” or anything similar and you’ll read countless articles on how sedentary lifestyles make it more likely for you to die earlier. And even if you exercise your ass off when you get home, if you sit for 7 to 8 hours at work, it doesn’t negate the damage you’ve already done. The only workaround here is to get up every so often from your desk and walk around for a couple minutes. Also, good posture is important. I’m still working on improving in this overall area, but trust me, I know from experience that barely moving for hours really affects both your physical (and mental) health.

2. It never gets easier to wake up early

There is not a morning that my alarm goes off that I don’t press the snooze button. But, this is my fault. I set my alarm earlier than necessary so that I have time to press the snooze button. I have a horrible before bed routine and probably an even worse morning routine. And that’s the problem—I’ve fallen into these habits and I can’t get out. So my advice to any fresh grad hopping into reality: Create a beneficial routine from the get-go. Don’t watch Netflix right before bed. Don’t shut your laptop only to turn off the lights and check Instagram on your phone. Literally, shut down everything and just GO TO SLEEP.

3. The laziness is real

I vaguely remember those days when I actually cared about doing my hair and makeup in the morning before work. Now, I let my hair be free to do what it desires (cutting 5 inches off also makes it much more manageable), and my face really only gets some concealer and mascara. I still sort of try to dress presentable, but the days I wear jeans are my favorite. Total time I spend on my hair, makeup, and outfit in the morning: About 20 minutes on a good day.

4. The office coffee… *sticking tongue out in disgust emoji*

Unfortunately, the coffee pots in my office’s kitchen look like they’re from 1992, and the flavored water they hold is sub par at best. Unless you get lucky with a Keurig in your workplace, it’s probably best to bring your own energy-elixir. (However, I will vouch for the pumpkin flavored coffee that was sometimes made back in the fall. That I could safely drink without feeling overcome with nausea.)

5. Take advantage of your lunch break

I feel lucky to get a full hour lunch break. Sometimes, it even feels too long. I try to fill it up with productive activities, such as going to the nearby park and walking around the path, putting gas in my car, getting birthday gifts for friends and family, or just shopping for myself. Now that it’s nice out, I especially try to take advantage of the weather and step away from my desk to get some good ol’ vitamin D.

6. There’s always that one guy…

Or girl. You know the one. The one with the weird bathroom habits. The one who leaves a mess in the kitchen every single time. The one who doesn’t understand social cues. Yeah, you know the one. Just let them do their thing, and you do yours.

7. Pointless meetings are pointless

Thankfully I haven’t been to that many boring meetings or conference calls (maybe I’m too low down on the totem pole). However, I can say that I’ve wondered why on earth some meetings are even necessary. The good thing about them, though, is that they break up the day a little. So, it can go either way. Either be prepared, or prepare for utter boredom.

8. Find ways to pass the time when you’re bored

Speaking of boredom, sometimes things may get a little dull. You might’ve finished all your work for the day early and have some time to kill, or you just need a break. How do you productively pass the time? You could doodle on a Post-it, you could discreetly look up new restaurants to try out, you could take a stroll around the office, or you could write posts for your blog… Just don’t get caught (or spend too much time doing it) and you’re golden.

9. Some people just don’t understand how annoying they’re being

Contrary to what you’ve been told by Disney, do not whistle while you work. Do not hum. Do not sing. Do not chew like a cow with a broken jaw. Do not yawn out loud. Do not drum on your desk with pencils. If you have a loud, weird laugh, stifle it. If you think it’s okay to have personal phone conversations out in the open, stop it.

10. No matter how good or bad it is, at least you have a job that pays

You might love your job. You might hate it. You might love it and hate it at the same time. Either way, it’s a job, and having a job is an accomplishment in itself. Even if it’s not where you really want to be, it’s where you are for now. Embrace the good, forget about the bad, and remember it doesn’t have to be forever. Plus, it’s probably not even as bad as you say it is.

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