10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Post-Grad Life

MaryK [@itsmaryk] has been a CHAARG legend for years now. She is known around Chicago + Chapters across the country for writing her own book [!!!], always offering up advice, teaching awesome fitness classes, ++ posting incredible dance videos.

By day she works in tech marketing [a corporate queen] + by mornings + night she teaches fitness, freelances, writes, + more. MaryK boldly makes her peers [+ the world] know about her goals, dreams, + #boundaries. She is 3 years post-grad — which is the perfect balance of figuring out the real world + still remembering college well.  We could not think of anyone better to give CHAARG girls the low-down on all things post-grad! : )

This is a 3 part series, so be sure to listen to the following:

My first year of post-grad life was full of A LOT of realizations, obstacles, +  discoveries. Although it seems intimidating to be a real adult — I truly have learned to love + embrace the post grad life. I added my perspectives as well! 

.     .     .

Tip #1] You Don’t Have To Be Stressed + Tired All The Time.

Mic-Drop Moment: “I’ve learned the hard way by burning out a couple times. In college you’re trained to grind ++ work so hard for temporary periods [like until finals] + it never stops ++ we just work, work, work, without balance or boundaries. We write off long work hours as being young + having to start our career — which will only go so far + lead to burnout.”

My Thoughts: THIS. One of my biggest realizations in the past year is that *every week* as an adult will feel similar to finals week… if you let it. Not only will your work seemingly never end, but you have to put a lot of work into relationships, maintaining your living space, etc outside of work. Work will slowly take over your life if you aren’t careful — make yourself a priority. Talk to your bosses about pushing back deadlines, be honest about finding a balance, ++ put yourself first from day one.

.     .     .

Tip #2] There Are No Longer Required Reasons To Socialize, + Making Friends Is Hard. 

Mic-Drop Moment: “It’s easy to get into a routine of going to work + going home ++ not see anyone.”

My Thoughts: In my experience the best way to make friends [+ low stake friendships] is at your fitness studio! Talk to those in class with you before, during, + after class. They likely live close to you + value the same things. 

.     .     .

Tip #3] You May Not See Friends As Frequently.

Mic-Drop Moment: “Friendships evolve. It seems sad but honestly it is a statement to healthy friendships because we all are growing + changing — evolving means they are growing together + not apart, it’s a wonderful thing.”

My Thoughts: It’s a two way street! If you care about someone, make sure you reach out to them on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s very easy to see who in friendships is putting in more work ++ it’s not a great feeling to realize you are the one who puts in less. Some friendships will fizzle — it’s okay.

.     .     .

Tip #4] You Might Not Be Working 8 Hours Everyday [Even With A Full-Time Job!].

Mic-Drop Moment: “It’s okay to not work all of the time! As someone who started as an hourly contractor, it’s hard to not feel guilty for not working 100% of the time as a salaried employee.”

My Thoughts: This heavily varies based on your industry. Part of the post-grad balance is realizing if you want a 9-5 job with clear duties + boundaries or if you’re willing to have a more flexible work schedule. I’ve found start-ups with flexible schedules work best with my daily lifestyle!

.     .     .

Tip #5] Pay Attention To Benefits, Savings, Insurance Plans, + Your 401k/Roth IRA.

Mic-Drop Moment: “If whatever you are saving makes you anxious, then you’d don’t have that money to save.”

My Thoughts: My biggest focus [1 year out of school] in this realm is health + insurance! If you have the luxury of health insurance from your parents [we don’t all!] ride that wave as long as you can — it takes a lot of the thinking + stress out of making decisions. You will, probably for the first time, have to stay up to date on appointments like the dentist, yearly exams, + more. Start sooner rather than later — do NOT put this off! 

.     .     .

Tip #6] No One Teaches You How To Pay Bills + Do Taxes.

Mic-Drop Moment: “Paying taxes is really simple if you have one source of income. If you have a lot of sources of income or freelance, finding a CPA will probably be worth your time.”

My Thoughts: This is a very hard + stressful area of post-grad life for me, especially with side hustles. No matter how helpful your parents or friends in the industry — the best think you could do for yourself is seek + hire a professional for help!

.     .     .

Tip #7: No One Knows What They’re Doing. You Can Completely Change, + You Don’t Need A Permission Slip. Your Degree Doesn’t Define You.

Mic-Drop Moment: “We take ourselves so seriously + when life changes we are so disappointed in ourselves. Be open-minded, learn, evolve, + grow — embrace the journey.”

My Thoughts: I know more people who work outside of their college major than those who do. In fields outside of STEM your degree truly does not matter — in most cases the only thing that matters is that you have one!

.     .     .

Tip #8: Hobbies + Extracurriculars Are Important Even If They’re Not “Required”.

Mic-Drop Moment: “As a human + as a person it’s important to be multifaceted. Hobbies make you interesting, creative, empathetic, understanding, + fun.”

My Thoughts: Hobbies are also a fantastic way to meet people + new friends! It’s also great to use hobbies as a way to put yourself first, establish boundaries, + think about tasks other than work tasks.

.     .     .

Tip #9: Everyone’s Age Becomes Ambiguous. Everyone Has Different Paces, So Who Knows How Old Someone Is!

Mic-Drop Moment: “[In the real world] No one asks your age. It’s not a taboo thing — it’s just that people don’t care. It’s all about your experience + your personal journey”

My Thoughts: I cannot relate to this more. Most of my friends are 6-12 years older than me — it takes months for either of us to realize it [if we ever do]. Your personality, work ethic, + empathy matter much more than your age.

.     .     .

Tip #10: It’s Important To Find Career Mentors.

Mic-Drop Moment: “It’s hard to find mentors, especially females. It’s okay to look up to people [on podcasts, etc] + imagine them as your mentor.”

My Thoughts: I think mentors + the need for mentors depends on your season of life. Right now, similar to Mary, I’ve been admiring mentors from afar + don’t currently have a formal mentor. As I get the swing of post-grad life, I am going to start looking for someone who balances a lot that I can look up to!

.     .     .

Have a post grad lesson or tip you’d like to share? Let us know on instagram! : )

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment