One thought that I constantly had in the back of my mind while growing up was to graduate high school, go to a good college, graduate from that college, and then get a J-O-B. Period. There was no more sentence after that period, and therefore no idea about what happens after that or what that is like. What happens once you get that job? What is it even like working 9-5 every day (well, 8:30-5:30 in my case)? Is it just like an extension of what school is like?
For brevity and fun’s sake, let’s call this the Dolly Parton Dilemma, after Parton’s 1980 hit, “9 to 5,” which I find perfectly explains what it’s like to have joined the working class full-time.
Having been a part of the Dolly Parton Dilemma as a working woman for three months now, I’ve found that a lot of things have been unexpected, but also a lot has remained the same from my experiences throughout college.
The work itself has been extremely similar to what I had done in internships, so the types of daily tasks and workload have been about what I expected. However, interestingly enough, it’s what I learned in my internships that I apply most to my full-time work rather than what I learned in the classroom. No shade toward class in any way, but internships have been far more educational for me in terms of preparing me for full-time work in public relations.
What IS unexpected is the misnomers people always say about your first job out of college. For one, people always seem to tell you that your first job is typically going to be one you hate. But it could not be further from the truth for me. The work I do on Sachs Media’s public affairs team is impactful, good work and I’m learning every day from my teammates. I’m very lucky to like what I do every day and be around people I actually like. But I do know this isn’t the case for everyone. To that end, my advice to all of you looking for positions post-grad is to find a company that values YOU. By doing that, I’ve found, you’ll be getting a solid start into the working world.
However, as wonderful as it is to be working and enjoying a job you studied in college to do, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. As someone who literally juggled three jobs at the same time during school at one point, I thought that would be the hardest it would get for me in terms of exhaustion and constant work. But that was before I met the Florida legislative session. Point being, working full-time is taxing and there are some days where you may feel like work is all you are. But then you’ll have a really good day and return to feeling like yourself again.
Above all though, the most unexpected thing for me has been physically working in an office. I’ve come from the COVID college generation, where all of my internships had been remote and online; I had no idea how to function in person and not over Zoom. While the general workforce had to make the transition from in-person to online, like many my age I am currently transitioning from online to in-person. I’ve been online for so long I forgot how to put on actual work pants and makeup and talk normally, not just in trending TikTok sounds.
Bottom line, and I think a lot of people my age may relate: Working in person is kind of like going to grade school – you work for eight hours straight, talk to people your own age and sometimes older, pack a lunch, have assignments with due dates, wear a uniform of some kind, get feedback on your work, etc. However, there is no homework, thank goodness. We’ve been doing online school and work for so long we’ve forgotten how to act in person – as seen in this Instagram Reels.
Finally, one big thing I expected was that post-graduation, working full time would be scary. While it is that sometimes, the majority of the time it is fun and refreshingly normal. So, to any of you upcoming grads or those who have just joined the full-time workforce, be reassured – it’s not scary, and you are more prepared than you think.
So, Dolly was wrong, 9 to 5 isn’t too bad after all!