Mastering the Art of “Adulting”: How to Transition from College Student to Young Professional

It’s Sunday night. It’s been a long weekend; you’re tired, and you have managed to remain horizontal for the majority of the day, watching Netflix and eating anything within a five foot radius. All day your mind plays the same nagging thought, which only seems to grow stronger every time Netflix asks you if you’d like to play the next episode – “tomorrow is Monday. I have to work, and I’m not ready.” But really, who is?

Like many of you, I recently started my first job out of college, and the whole experience has been a huge adjustment to say the least. Moving across the state, supporting myself, working a full week, and then actually having money?! I didn’t know what to do with myself. I continue to find myself in a whirlwind during this adjustment period, but I think I’m starting to get this whole “real world” thing down. If you’ve struggled, or are struggling with this big change, bear with me, because I have some ideas to help us out. I’ve listed some of my biggest struggles and what I’ve done to overcome them.

  1. Monday Motivation. Where is it?

Mondays are no fun. And sometimes, Mondays being no fun can make Sundays not so fun either. You dread the next day; you have laundry to do; you’ve got the whole week ahead of you, and most importantly – you don’t feel like doing anything about it. I know it seems daunting, but here are some things that I do to get ready for Monday, which actually work.

  • Do your laundry. You’re not alone; nobody likes doing laundry. But if you do it on Sunday it’ll be done for the week!
  • Pick out your clothes for the week and IRON them. There is nothing worse than not knowing what to wear, but also scrambling to iron in the morning. Get it done now, and again, it’s done for the week.
  • Meal prep! It’s so convenient to take the easy way out and heat up some Ramen, buy lunch or simply work through lunch. If you prep your food in advance, you give yourself no other choice than to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Making meals in bulk, or in the crock pot, are easy ways to cook up food for the entire week.
  • Check your email. Walking into work on Monday is hard, but it’s even harder when you walk in to 100 unread emails to read through. You’ll feel prepared and ready to go without missing a beat.
  1. Time Management. How do I do it?

You work full-time, but that doesn’t mean the rest of your life should dwindle away. You want to work out; you want to go out with your friends, and you want to SLEEP. You can do all of these things, but you need a plan that is realistic, and that you can follow. Here’s what I do.

  • Create a bed time for yourself. The last time I had a bed time, I was eight-years-old and probably not too thrilled about it, but I couldn’t be happier to have one now. Setting a time for yourself to be in bed each night forces you to turn your brain off, relax and get the sleep you need.
  • Make a workout chart. If you want to work out four times a week, you better make sure that by Sunday there are four checkmarks on your chart! It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable and actually, you know, work out (which is the hard part). Figure out what days are more realistic for you to work out; schedule it, and make it happen!
  • Hobby time is good time. So you like to read, hike, bike or whatever it may be. Allocate time each week to do the things you love. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you should sacrifice doing the things that make you, you. Set time aside each week for your passion.
  • Take care of yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in the grind and forget you are a human who needs a break every once in a while. Sometimes, your health can get put on the backburner. Know that it is okay to hit the brakes every once in a while and give yourself the time you need to relax.
  1. How to manage it?

On the plus side, you’re making money. On the down side, you’re not always sure what to do with it (other than spend excessively). We’ve all had those shopping sprees because we’re a big deal now, right? Learning how to deal with all your money is one thing, but being smart about it is another.

  • Use online banking. You can track everything necessary, schedule payments and view how much you’re spending at restaurants, stores, etc. Online banking does all the tracking for you, so you can find out where you’re spending all of your money and adjust accordingly. (Personally, I love PNC Virtual Wallet – but there are a ton of options out there!)
  • Create a budget. If you’re anything like me, having no parameters means a shopping spree every weekend, followed by shamefully checking my account balance and praying for the best. Make a realistic budget that correlates with your savings plan, your bills and your fun money. Then if you’re feeling organized, make an excel sheet to help track your expenses and stay on budget.
  • SAVINGS ACCOUNT. Establish your own savings account, and make sure you’re actually putting money into it! I have my account set up to automatically transfer money from my checking into my saving account every week, so I don’t even know that it’s happening.
  1. Social Life – can it be saved?

Making time for your friends, significant other and weekend social time is huge. Yes, you can work, take care of yourself AND have a social life all at the same time (and even do some networking while you’re at it). The trick is making sure you know how to seamlessly manage it all together.

  • Make time for your friends. Your co-workers are important, but your friends are the people who keep you going. Don’t get too caught up in your career that you pass up every chance to hang with friends. They’re important, and they keep us sane. Hangout with them!
  • While we’re talking social life, networking is huge. Attending networking events, talking to new people, connecting with others on LinkedIn and always having business cards on hand is huge. Meet as many people as you can, as now is the time to build your personal brand!

So there it is, my grandiose list of tips. I should warn you, I don’t have the “real world” down to a science, but these are things that I have personally tried and have worked for me! We’re all new; we’re all learning, and eventually, we’ll get the hang of this young professional thing.

 

 

Katie Krissinger is a recruiter from Medix Pittsburgh.

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