It’s been a little over a year since I officially joined the working force. As fate would have it, I found myself back in SMU as a happy SMUff (SMU Staff, get it??… Nevermind), and I could not be more delighted.
A fair few of my friends have been asking about the status of this blog, to which I truthfully answer “dead”. Despite being in the midst of vibrant campus life, I find myself less able to relate to the concerns of current students, and thus, unsure of what to blog about. Nevertheless, I miss being able to write something that isn’t an email or marketing blurb. So here’s a little piece that somewhat combines student life and what I am doing now- a few observations about the Differences Between Uni Life and Work Life.
1. Work Life vs Social Life
During university, my social, work and private lives were more or less integrated. Most of my friends were on campus (social), my main occupation of studying is conducted in the same place (work) and I sleep overnight in school (private). Ok, I kid about the last point. In any case, I did not really need to give much thought to carving out time for friends outside of work because I was surrounded by them, and could easily meet them before, after or during lessons. But once I started working, my close friends were dispersed around the island, and usually have much less time to travel for meet-ups. Even if I got some free time, I feel tempted to head straight home for sleep after a long day of work. Maybe it’s the age, or maybe it’s the work, but it certainly takes a lot more effort to dedicate time for friends.
2. Routine of the 9-to-5After 4 years of designing my own schedule (and purposely avoiding Friday and morning classes), it took a little while to get used to setting my alarm to 6.30am, Weekdays (and 6.35am, Weekdays, and 6.40am, Weekdays, and so on till 7.00pm, Weekdays) to go for full days of work. It took a while to adapt to the fact I can’t run off at 4pm for a “rejuvenating catch-up with friends” and continuing my work after dinner time till 11pm. (Well technically I could, but I don’t think my boss will like it). Luckily, I love my job and my colleagues, so time passes really fast and lunch times are always a great period to look forward to.
And oh my god weekends are SO precious now.
3. Taking Charge of Our Own Learning
As a student, my job was to learn. I assumed the learning will continue automatically when I enter into the workforce- after all, people always say the school of life is where you learn the most, right? What I found was: it was so easy to get caught up with completing my task list, clearing my inbox, and going for meetings, that it could descend into a case of me simply following the motions without gaining insights. For myself at least, I learned best when I took time to reflect and process my experiences. So, since reflection isn’t a mandated part of the curriculum anymore, it is my responsibility to set aside time for my own learning.
Work also doesn’t make a conscious effort to be “broad-based”, so if I really wanted to know more things outside my job scope, such as economics, politics or a new language, I have to do it in my free time, lest I plateau in personal development. That’s one of my fears, really. But I’ll like to make a disclaimer that I am gaining a lot of valuable experience on work-relevant stuff- marketing, corporate communications, events management- whatever I say on my LinkedIn basically.
4. Financial Independence!$!!
The best part of entering the workforce is of course the moolah, and being able to decide how to spend the entirety of it. There’s a sense of freedom and empowerment that came with a salary (and responsibility of course), including being able to cover my family’s expenses. And having interned at the Office at Advancement as well (the office which fundraises for scholarships and bursaries), I am also exposed to the joy of actually being able to give money away- but that’s a story for another time.
And that’s all for now! If you are a student, treasure your time in school! There’s no other job with a schedule like your class timetable. And if you’re one of my FB friends, hey, thanks for reading! We should catch up outside of work!