"Everyone has been a child but nobody has ever been an adult before"
- Ghanaian Proverb
There is no real guide on 'how to be an adult' and for the purposes of this post, self-help books do not count so stop right there. I graduated from university in July and it honestly feels like a lifetime ago. The transition into adulthood has been an interesting one to say the least. I am nowhere near where I want to be yet, but I hope that my transparency, successes and failures can be a lesson to you in some way!
Quick disclaimer - this post is called "6 months post-grad" because my adult life began in September 2016. I can count thank you very much, but moving swiftly on.
There are several aspects of my life that have changed. I have learnt a great deal in terms of career, finances and social life. I have created a few tips that have helped me over the last 6 months.
For those of you that do not know, I studied Law at the University of Southampton. Upon completing a number of insight days and internships, I knew that private practice was not for me in the slightest. I came to realise that I preferred working in-house with businesses rather in law firms. The knowledge and skills acquired from my academic career as well as work experience are incredibly transferable to a variety of industries. Within two weeks of moving back home, I landed a full-time job at the company I currently work for.
→ Research, research, research!
How many times did I say research? It is very important to know and understand the industry that you want to work in. Not only will this be beneficial when it comes to interviews but invaluable when it comes to plotting your future career path. I remember sitting in my uni flat over summer and literally browsing the Internet and researching my possible career options. For uni students, I would recommend using TargetJobs to find out where your degree can take you.
You can never stop learning. The moment you stop learning is the same moment you stop growing. Find out what will set you apart from the next candidate - whether that means pursuing your Masters, completing industry-specific qualifications, in-house training...do it! (FYI: If you are currently employed, find out whether your employer will fund this for you. Many organisations are willing to invest in their employees' personal development).
→ Be open-minded!
Be ready and willing to snap up opportunities that are presented to you. Even if you decide not to remain in the industry that you are currently in, your experience will be a stepping stone to you progressing in your professional life.
Money, money, money! We all need it and we all want more of it. When it comes to managing my finances, I have not struggled as much as I thought I would. (Disclaimer: The months between graduation and moving back home, the struggle was real. Working 3 jobs was my reality, for real!) Naturally, I am not a big-spender, however, I do go through phases where I do splurge - well-earned, might I add! The following few tips have helped my money management.
I am a Christian and I believe in honouring God with all that I have and that includes my salary. God blessed me with this job and I trust that He will continue to bless my career path. Be faithful to God and watch Him be faithful to His Word for your life.
I love, live and breathe lists! If you know me personally, you will know that I have lists on my phone, my notebooks, journals, even on my desk at work! With my expenses, I recommend that you note down every expense that you know you will incur in a month and factor in an 'emergency fund'. For example, travel expenses, utilities (i.e. house bills, phone bills, costs associated with your car if you drive), as well as a social life allowance. Having a budget and sticking to it can be difficult and it does take discipline but feeling financially comfortable at this age is a fantastic feeling!
Ask yourself these two questions - what are you saving for and why? Once you have a definitive answer for both, saving will become easier as you know and understand what you are working towards. I think it is very subjective and you should answer this for yourself. Identify what your priorities currently are and save accordingly.
As I mentioned earlier, discipline is essential. Let money be your servant, not your master.
I am not particularly finance-savvy yet, but I would recommend checking out Refined Currency, as well as Yemi's posts on Adzvice for some amazing tips on personal finance.
Humanity is essentially built on relationships. Now, relationships both platonic and romantic are healthy and very much natural. When you are in university, the dynamics of your various relationships are rather interesting. You may live in a house with several people, you see your friends or partner on a daily basis and ultimately build a 'life' with these people. Yeah, graduation bursts that bubble. Everyone goes off and does their own thing and at times, you can feel alone. I have learnt that you make time for what you care about.
Communication is key! Call me lame (don't) but every Sunday, I set reminders for various times in the week to contact my friends and loved ones. There are some people that I speak to everyday however, regular communication with my wider circle makes up for the physical distance that may be present. I do also factor in a brunch/dinner date every so often with said friends to have a proper catch-up. Relationships work both ways and it is important to check on those you claim to care about.
Embracing change is the only way you can and will grow. Whether you are a school-leaver, recent graduate or further on in life, your future is literally whatever you decide to make it. Being receptive to change will propel you into the next stage of your life. Please understand that things in life will not fall into place immediately and you definitely have to go through things to get to your end goal.
So, the last 6 months have been very uncomfortable but I have learnt so much about myself and so much about life. I am still learning, it is not easy and university certainly does not prepare you for life after graduation but hey, I will check in with you in another 6 months and let you know what life after graduation a year in is really saying.