It's been almost exactly two years now since I graduated from university and entered "the real world". The world that our professors were so adamantly trying to prepare us for, even though they themselves had chosen to stay in the bubble of academia.
Despite that I've spent one of those two years working on my master's degree and have been working in a corporation for only about half a year, there are a few things I've come to realise now that I'm on the other side of the fence.
This is some of what I've learned so far:
1. You know how everyone tells you that the university days are going to be the best days of your life and you're going to wish they never had to come to an end, leaving you with very little to look forward to? I was never comfortable with that notion. And right now I could say that it is in fact, rubbish.
Yes, I'm fond of my university years' memories very much. And right now, it seems as though we were young(er) and care-free and as light as a bunch of pillowcase feathers. But that's only because we as human beings tend to romanticise the past and we forget about all the hair-pulling, nail-biting, wall-punching and blood-spilling (don't ask) we had to go through.
No phase is "better" than the other. Each has its perks and downsides, and all we have to do is make the most and the best of what we've got at hand as we pass through them.
Maybe we should write more about the things we go through as well, then we could look back at those notes and remember that it wasn't all rainbows and fluff.
Maybe instead of always wishing we were someone else, somewhere else or living during some other time, we could look at who we are now, who we want to become, where we are now, where we want to go and how we're going to do all that in the time we've got.
2. If you never thought about your purpose in life all through your university years, don't expect that it's all going to start magically forming before your eyes once you graduate. On the contrary, it all gets even more overwhelming afterwards. It doesn't become clearer just because you earned a piece of embellished paper to hang on your wall. Identifying your purpose or life's aim, as difficult to figure out as it may be, has nothing to do with getting done with your studies. It's an effort you could choose to take on or ignore at any point of time. And as it turns out, it might have very little to do with your formal university training in the first place. Which brings me to the next point.
3. Most of the people of my class, and most people in general, end up working in completely different fields from what they've studied. So much so, that it's exceedingly becoming tempting to fall into thinking that a big part of the time and effort we spent going through all these courses and projects was a waste, because they haven't benefited us much in "the real world" now. Or maybe it's because we didn't make much use of them afterwards. Apart from the discipline and problem-solving skills we acquired because of them, I could safely say that a lot of the content has been long forgotten. You know what's funny? On my current team (a technology consultancy unit), there are people working with me that have had their university education in computer science, electrical engineering, language studies, archaeology and even applied arts.
What does that say? Apart from something being obviously wrong with our educational model, there's really no need to stress out over whether to take Constraint Programming or Fuzzy Logic as your elective.
If you're one of the fortunate ones who have known exactly what they wanted to do all along and have therefore planned their way well to what they want to reach, you've saved yourself a considerable amount of time along the way. And I sort of envy you. But if, like me, you're still trying to figure it all out, make no mistake that even if your studies were much different from what you want to pursue, it has all formed the layers of what you are, and what you'll build anything else upon. I wouldn't go as far as saying that nothing is a waste, but we can definitely still put it all to good use. The most important thing we need to get down is, "why?". Why do we do anything that we do, and then how to invest in reaching our maximum potential.
4. Contrary to popular belief, life does not end after uni. Also contrary to popular belief, life doesn't end just because you have a 9-5 job. We are in control of our own lives. We choose how to spend our time, we pick our compromises and are responsible for the outcomes of our decisions. Life will revolve only around your day job and sleeping, only if you let it be that way. Whether you choose to take on a job, or a number of them, or none to pursue setting up your own thing. Any of them will need a considerable amount of discipline, and to not kid yourself.
5. It's hilarious how with some parents, you transform into a completely different person just because you have a job. It's like without one, you're a child that doesn't and couldn't know what's good for you, and when you've got one, they fear you not needing them anymore so they become all nice and respectful of your boundaries, finally treating you as an adult.
6. Spending money on useless things decreases exponentially.
7. Your restlessness increases exponentially.