A rude awakening: The story of my journey to the real world

September 2017

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You spend your whole high school career working your way to the top. It starts with being a lowly first former. From there, you slowly but surely make your way to the front of the pack.

Hitting University, suddenly you’re one of the ‘elite’… not everyone you grew up with goes on to higher education, so with your status comes an assumption that you are achieving something wonderful.

Now it’s a fight to stay on top of classes, attempting to pull good grades, hold down a job and still have time for a weekly catch up with mates, smashed avo and a soy latte.

At the time, Uni is the hardest and most stressful thing you’ve ever encountered. Without taking away from the experience, it IS hard. Working nearly full time outside of studies, holding down two jobs, volunteering every weekend and Friday night, and still trying to have time to myself was difficult.

This was so hard I thought coming into the workforce would be a nice break from the constant demand of assignments and late nights.

This perception was reinforced when I quickly secured work. A job lined up before graduation briefly convinced me of my own brilliance. I came into the workforce thinking my time at University had prepared me for everything I needed to know about life, that I was more than capable of doing my job, and to a wonderful standard at that.

System shock: It wasn’t quite like that. At all

And then I started and realised how wrong I was.

Sure, I had skills. Those three years at Uni weren’t squandered.  I really had learnt plenty.

Thing is, so had everyone else in the workplace. Except they also had years of experience in the real world.

It dawned on me that University is about as far from that real world as it is possible to get.

It’s a weird time of ‘free money from the government’, no severe consequences for a less than average assignment and only a minor infraction for a late hand-in.

Working is much different. For starters, you can’t hand something in late and tell yourself it doesn’t matter. You can’t do a crap job, thinking you’ll make up the grade on the next assignment. THIS is the real world, where you have to pull off what you say you can do, you have to do a consistently good job and you can’t just say ‘I’ll do better next time’.

The fear factor

I struggled with coming to terms with an environment where you have to be 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time.

It’s not impossible - but getting used to this new reality as an overly-cocky graduate knocked my confidence, a lot.

I was constantly hyper-stressed. I avoided doing anything for fear of the risk of screwing up.

Those first few months were so difficult I started to count down the hours until home time, where I’d finally be able to breathe and stop stressing about messing up.

At University, fear didn’t feature. I tackled work and creativity without hesitation. Nothing held me back, ideas influenced work and there was no client telling me that it was their ideas, not mine, which were important.

Time’s salvation

But time has helped address the system shock. In the nine months which have passed, I’ve started to enjoy putting someone else’s creative vision into reality, rather than only ever investing in my own.

Slowly, I’ve pried myself away from the desk and started talking to people, starting to make friends at work and enjoying collaborating with colleagues. Fear of challenges has made way for enjoyment. The advantages of stretching personal creativity, growing capabilities, and learning from those around me, who have more experience, have become clear.

Their experience doesn’t take away from my own, but enhances it. I still know what I know; while guidance and learning is available from everyone in the office, I also have a voice and can teach in turn.

Of hate…and love

I love coming to work now, where every day is a new challenge and with each new task comes learning and becoming a better Content Producer. Competence is growing along with confidence. Clock-watching has given way to counting new friendships.

Now I’m proud to be on the Content Team. Our work is new and exciting, it moves the business forward, it’s rewarding.

It is every film student’s dream to be involved in projects like the ones we’re working on at Pead.

And while I’m on the Content Team, I’m an honorary member of the Food Team, the Lifestyle Team, the Beauty Team and the Tech Team.

That’s the biggest realisation of all: at first, I didn’t fit anywhere in this new, professional environment. Now, I fit everywhere.