Four main differences between being in university, working a part-time job and working in the industry.
Before going to university I had a handful of part-time jobs, predominantly bars, which on my CV I have of course said taught me a whole host of employable skills, but truth be told they mostly just taught me the quickest way to drain water off an inflatable slide and how to pour a pint. I mean, sure, it taught me how to hold down a job and the value of earning and having my own money, but in terms of transferable skills about how to behave in the professional workplace, I learned next to nothing. In fact, if anything I learned more how not to behave in the workplace, like not dating your bar supervisor or getting too involved in workplace politics.
Similarly, while I believe that being at university helps to develop a range of skills it doesn’t necessarily directly encourage professional development. In my mind, as long as I turned up to every lecture, I worked hard and I handed my assignments in on time I could drink and make a fool of myself as I pleased.
So when I began working in my first industry job I started to see a lot of stark differences between how to conduct myself in a part-time job and at uni compared to at work.
The first being, you cannot turn up either drunk or hungover.
So many times I would turn up to work with a hangover, especially at the fun park I worked at when I was 16. It was my first job and a gaggle of us would often stay up late, get drunk, and go in the next morning with only our sunglasses as savior. That would not fly now, nor would it be half as enjoyable. Back then it was funny, getting through a whole day incumbered by a hangover was an act of comradery and was eventually rewarded with a pat on the back from my fellow struggling ride operators, and maybe even a pint at the end of the day.
In the same vein, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary to go get a pint – or two – at lunch while I was studying. And going in hungover almost becomes second nature, the freedom to work for yourself and by yourself allows you to go in, get your head down and achieve as much or as little as possible given your varying state, however in the work place you generally have someone to answer to. Even my boss, as chilled as he is, wouldn’t let me get away with slinking off to the back and aimlessly clicking around on CAD until I feel I’ve ‘worked’ enough to take lunch.
You do not talk about how much, or rather how little, money you have.
At university there’s almost what I’d call an overdraft culture of being very open about money, perhaps because it helps to know were all in the same boat, heavy with debt and sinking fast. There isn’t a lot that isn’t open for discussion, lectures, assignments, sex, money, rock and roll… However, this is not the same for the adult world, you’re bank account suddenly becomes shrouded in mystery and to ask how much someone earns has the same brazen sense that comes with asking an older woman her age, it’s something we can guess by appearance but society insists we should never ask directly.
Be careful how much you reveal about your love life
Talking through your love life over a pint at lunch is the norm when you’re at uni but revealing too much about your love life in the office can get you into trouble, and so can blurring the line between the two. To be frank, at uni you can sleep with half the campus if you want to if that’s your prerogative because it’s unlikely to come back and bite you in the arse (not to say it won’t get you a few side eyes) but at work, I would advise keeping your sexual dalliances separate. No one wants to be the topic of office gossip.
Pulling the covers back over your head when the alarm goes off.
Uni and to an extent part-time jobs are a lot more flexible about your presence. I will never condone just not going to lectures but if you don’t want to go, you really don’t have to. It’s not like school, no one is going to twist your arms to go (but you really should!). And anyone who says they’ve never called in sick to a part-time job because of the above-mentioned hangover or because you just can’t be bothered is a liar, but this is simply not an option with a real deal job. Unless you’re dead or dying, you should really go in.
These are just a few observations I’ve made in the short time I’ve been at Philip Watts Design but there are countless differences between working full time in the industry and studying or working a part-time job while at school or college.