October 11, 2014

What Not To Do—First Job After College.

stress out

College was awesome.

Everything you see in those stereotypical college-party-alcohol-all-nighter movies is very much spot on, especially if you went to a huge school in the Big 10. Being in the band throughout college also made for some very exciting and long lasting friendships, stories and jokes that begin with that one time at band camp.

By the time graduation rolled around I knew deep down that I was ready to move on and start my career as a music teacher.

After walking across the graduation stage in April, moving back in with my parents for the summer and trying my best not to go insane with the number of applications I was filling out daily, I was up and off to Maryland.

The timeline went something like this—15 job apps a day from various coffee houses and cafes plus a daily yoga flow to keep me grounded, strong and mentally focused.

Multiply this by 4 months and you have my summer after graduation.

One Tuesday in August I received a phone call to set up a phone interview for a school in Western Maryland.
The interview took place the following day and by Thursday I rented a U-Haul and moved my life on Friday.
I learned where I’d be living, teaching, rocking and rolling in one short and intense weekend and school started that Monday! Wow!

What you see above is called a curveball.

A huge, crazy, mind-blowing curveball that changed my life and gave me the incredible and joyful experience that brings me to where I am today.

As soon as I was hired and relocated my excitement got the best of me and I did a lot of things that I wish I would have thought more about. Hindsight is 20-20 right?

What Not To Do:

1. Spend your time outside of work doing more work.

When I was hired and learned my duties as a Director of Bands, one of the first things I did was geek out at the new and fancy office I had, and then move all of the offices computer documents, files, pictures and music, onto my personal laptop.

As soon as that was done, I merged my new work email address onto my phone, iPad, personal computer, everything. I had to be connected right?


After my first year teaching, I began to realize what a toll it was taking on me—always responding to work emails over the weekend, at night and visiting family.

In addition to this, I was also getting personal documents, resumes, and music files mixed up with the documents and files I needed for my school.

After putting up with this for a year, I finally wised up and put up a barrier.

I moved everything back onto the school computer that sits in my office.

I took my work email account off of my phone, iPad and computer.

Now I feel like I have a personal life outside of work. Now I am a lot more focused during the school day, instead of procrastinating things for when I get home.

Separating my work and home has made my life incredibly more joyful and stress free. I only wish I wasn’t such a knucklehead the first time around.

2. Stress out.

Don’t. Stress. Out.

I can’t repeat this enough. Your first time doing anything is a learning experience.

Your first year working or teaching entitles you to a year long rookie card that you get to pull out and use any time you make a simple mistake, forget to plan ahead for something, almost anything.

College prepares you for a lot of things you use throughout your life—time management, stress management, networking and it helps you discover a lot about who you are.

Unfortunately, college does a lousy job of preparing you for real, hard, life.

Yes I said it, life after college can be hard.

You have bills to pay, maybe student loans, you’re living by yourself for the first time and maybe you’ve moved to a new city. I could go on and on.

Sure, that conducting class I took for two semesters during my junior year has gotten me comfortable waving my arms in front of a marching band.

Guess what?

There was no class for how to manage your first real pay check or how to collaborate with coworkers.

These are things you only learn by doing and it’s a good bet you’ll be thrown into these situations in the blink of an eye.

Don’t. Stress. Out.

3. Continue eating like you did in college.

Yes, it’s time to cut back on the ramen, pizza and Chinese takeout.

You’re an adult now, rocking in the free world. Now that you’ve got some big boy (or girl) responsibilities, you need to fuel your body the right way to make sure your motor keeps runnin’ day after day.

The number of days you can take off from work is far less than your weekly habit of skipping those Friday gen-ed classes. You need to stay in tip top shape to avoid getting sick.

Naps happen a lot less frequently as well—so think twice before you indulge in that afternoon sugar bomb with a guaranteed sugar crash. The best way to make sure you don’t get sick and you’re as energetic as possible is by eating right.

If you’re a breakfast eater make sure it’s something wholesome and nutritious. Stay away from fried foods, processed foods and excess sugar. Trust me, it’s a lot harder to catch up on missed work in real life than it was back in college.

4. Stop exercising because you’re busy.

If you consider your life on one long timeline—the point in which you absolutely benefit the most from regular exercise is when you are at your busiest. Taking time out of your day to move those muscles, stretch, get some fresh air and get a quick sweat on can reset your body and mind after a long day of work.

Feel like doing some exercise in the morning?

Good for you. You just primed yourself for an incredibly productive morning that’ll propel you through the rest of the day.

Maybe you’re a night owl and need to decompress with the weight room or a four mile run before dinner and bed. You’re guaranteed to sleep like a baby after a workout that late in the evening!

Don’t use work as an excuse not to exercise. Make time to exercise, and you’ll be incredibly more productive as a result.

Hopefully these tips help as you begin your journey into the real world.

If you’re already out there pick one of the above tips and implement it.

If you choose just one, chances are it will allow you to follow through with the others. Get ready to take control of your life again?

Namaste y’all.


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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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