The Truth about Graduate Life: Expectations Vs Reality

You did it! You made it through the all-night study sessions and awkward group presentations in one piece, and now you’re a fully-fledged graduate ready to take on the world. But, once the gowns are off and the mortar boards hit the floor, reality starts to set in.

You’re out in the real world now. It’s okay, though, because graduate life is great! Ok, well maybe sometimes it can be tough.

Here’s what to expect sometimes, vs the cold, hard reality…

Expectation: Living your best life in your own place / Reality: Moving in with Mum and Dad

You thought it’d be like Friends, didn’t you? You’d share a massive purple apartment with your best friend right out of uni despite having no money. Well, in the real world, massive apartments of any colour aren’t cheap, and your funds are a little low post-graduation.

It’s okay though, because the parents still have your old room laid up like the day you left it, complete with the cheesy posters and that teddy you got when you were three.

It’s hard to feel adult and mature when your Mum’s doing your washing and your Dad’s telling you off for leaving your shoes in the hall. It’s hardly the cool and independent graduate life you imagined.

Expectation: Job hunting can’t be that hard / Reality: SO. MANY. COVER. LETTERS.

So great, you’re a graduate now. It’s time to put that Bachelor’s to use and get a job. How hard can it be? Well… first, you hit the job sites and spend hours trawling through pointless ads until you hit the 0.001% that are relevant to your experience. Got a CV? Great. But you know you need to customise it for each job, right? And you’ll need a to write a new cover letter each time too.

The company probably has its own application form, so you’ll have to fill that in. Before you know it, you’re drowning in miscellaneous cover letters and you’re so stressed that you accidentally attach a soup recipe instead of your CV and misspell the company’s name. Job hunting is waaaaaaaay more confusing and stressful than any of us ever imagined it could be.

Expectation: No job? Time to relax baby! / Reality: Boring, boring and more boring

When you first entered the world of unemployment everything was golden. You whiled away your days relaxing on the couch, trawling through Netflix in your pyjamas. The world was your oyster, and you floated through life in a haze of carefree bliss. Then, you realised that most fun things cost money (including Netflix) and when you are sans-job money runs out pretty quick.

Now, you’re at home Saturday night for the 5th weekend in a row flicking through Instagram photos of your employed friends having more fun than you. Too much spare time + hardly any cash = more boredom than you can imagine. Before you know it, you’ll start missing 9am lectures.

Expectation: Getting a cool and exciting job / Reality: You’ll take any job you can get

It turns out that all the cool jobs expect 10+ years of work experience straight out of university as well as a Nobel Prize and the secret to immortality. Eventually, you’re left with little option but to take what you can get. Whether it’s working the counter at Costa, stacking shop shelves or taking on some low-level office work, you know this isn’t the job you imagined yourself in post-graduation.

Making flat whites isn’t really the most effective use of a marketing degree, is it? The hours feel long and the pay is rubbish, but it’s okay because this is only temporary. You’ll get that kick-ass grad job soon; you’ve just got to get some dollar coming in first.

Expectation: Commuting is great / Reality: Commuting is not great

Amazing! You got a job, and it’s just the thing you wanted. It’s not really local though, so you’ll have to commute. How bad can it be? You can read books on the train whilst sipping a platform-bought cappuccino. Or, you can listen to intelligent podcasts in the car on your morning drive. Sounds, blissful right? Wrong. It’s your first week in your new job and there isn’t a single seat on the train.

You try and perch by the toilets, but then a grumpy businessman spills your coffee. And driving is no better. Every day there is a different road closure or an accident that’ll hold you up for at least an hour. You arrive at work hot and bothered from your morning commute, dreading the prospect of attempting it again in 8 hours’ time. Who knew transport was so much hassle?!

Expectation: You’ll party with your friends all the time / Reality: What is a social life?

You and your friends have been through a lot together at university. They’ll be friends for life, that’s for sure. But, even though the group chat is still going strong, actually seeing one another is a logistical nightmare. With half a dozen conflicting schedules, it’d take an Einstein level of genius to find a single weekend that works for everyone. Everyone’s scattered off to their hometowns, set off travelling or slaving through a postgraduate degree. You’ve got your home friends, sure, but they are just as busy as you are what with the long hours and endless commutes. Eventually, your co-workers will know more about you than your Mum does, you spend more time with them anyway! It turns out it’s a little harder to have a social life when you’re working 9-5, compared to when you had 3 seminars a week.

Post-work Happy Hour, anyone?

Originally written for and published by

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