Culture Shock

Writers Note: This post is not a rant about how I hate my job. It is simply a statement on the differences between college life and “the real world”.

A few months after I graduated college, I was hired to work in the marketing department of a non-profit.  Like most recent grads, I was so happy that I actually found something in my field. Mostly, I was happy that I had a better answer to the question, “What are you doing now that you graduated?” So with all of this excitement, I didn’t give much thought to how different the working world would be from college. Of course I knew there was a difference, but I had no idea what to really expect.


The one thing I loved about college is that I knew every four months my schedule would change. Although I may not like having class from 6pm-9pm, I knew that soon it would change. I knew that I would be doing something different yet the same. I never considered that this would be something I would lose by joining the work force. Now in the workforce, there will ongoing projects and work “as assigned”. Mostly the same projects at different times of the year. Don’t get me wrong; there are times where I  get to go on work trips but most of the time I’m at my desk. The college career center definitely didn’t prepare me for this.


Three and a half months off in the summer, two and a half weeks off in the winter, one week off in the spring, and a half week off in the fall. This has what I’ve come to expect for the last 18 years of my life. All of that changed in an instant. In one calendar year I now have to ration out two weeks of vacation. The thing I missed most my first year on the job was summer vacation. May came along and my mind went on vacation. It wasn’t until June that I realized that there is no summer vacation. Can't there be some kind of new grad transition program? 


Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with going shopping and buying a whole new wardrobe, but finding that perfect mix for business casual is tricky. My first few weeks on the job I felt very overdressed. I never stressed this much in college about what I wore. While jeans and a hoodie would work every single day in school, I could mix it up with some casual dresses and fancy shoes. These days, black slacks are my jeans and wearing a casual dress sometimes makes me feel overdressed as well. This wardrobe thing may take me a while. Oh well, just another reason to do some more shopping.

So now I’m two years removed from college. I go to bed earlier and try not to stay out too late Monday – Thursday. I pack my lunch sometimes and have the urge to play out the scene from Office Space where they beat the printer with baseball bats. But I get to travel, (I’ve been to Toronto, Reno, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis.), I’m working in my field, and I like the people. It isn’t anyone’s fault that I wasn’t totally ready to transition to the “real world”. But in the end, I really don’t think anyone is. It’s up to me to find the joy and find ways to make the changes I want to see in my career. Until then, let this be a warning to college grads. Make the most of summer vacation, adults don’t have them.

Danielle R. Harris 


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.

Recent Posts by Danielle R. Harris