The ‘real world’ phenomenon
I was spat out of the real world the day immediately after the graduation ceremony. My initial thoughts were to enjoy the freedom of finally not having any responsibilities a college student has.
So, the wisest course of action for me was to create a Messenger group with my batchmates and invite them to the newly renovated National Museum near Rizal Park at the time. After the whole day out with friends, I decided to make plans to visit the cafés and themed restaurants in Quezon City next, perhaps create another Messenger group, this time with my cousins, to plot dates to the amusement park or a movie marathon at their place, which I’ve rejected many times because I was too busy with thesis and final course requirements.
Indeed, it had never occurred to me to prepare my resumé (or at least polish the dummy resumé I did for a business communication class) or to prioritize gathering various government IDs that are required when applying for your first job. In fact, it never did cross my mind to at least start distributing resumés to various companies and wait for their response while I was out indulging in my newfound freedom.
While most fresh graduates would take a “break” for about a week or at least one month at most before setting out on their career path, it took me half a year to go on a job hunt online and another month to acquire the necessary requirements, such as a TIN number or an NBI clearance.
I thought I was finally settling in a position that matched the degree I finished (content writer for an English major graduate) when I landed my first job at a small organization in Parañaque. I was learning new things, meeting new colleagues, but unfortunately, I only stayed with this company for about a month. Sadly, this new experience came with the consequence where my colleagues started abusing how I was able to finish blog articles fast while my fellow content writers were still grasping for words.
The work atmosphere is not always as reliable and professional as one might expect, and the excitement of landing a first office job and undergoing the process of gathering primary work requirements shadow the real challenges that you will face once you come to know your colleagues and the environment more.
Once more, I was spat back out into the real world, this time with new knowledge of how tough it would be to find an organization where you can actually grow without people trying to make use of your skills and getting little to nothing in return.
I received a message from my former college dean inviting me to teach at my alma mater’s language department. I accepted immediately, and although it was a part-time role, I soon found myself pursuing this teaching career as an English instructor to foreign exchange students. While this seemed like a stable career, I soon realized it was not stable enough to contribute financially at home.
I was at a loss, a standstill. I thought that this job offer hit the mark, the career path that I will be settling in for years to come, but then there was the harsh realization that this pursuit was built on unstable ground, an unsure future, especially when the pandemic unexpectedly came and abruptly stopped my “teaching” career when my foreign students all returned to their home countries and the language department was silenced.
It was only in 2020—three years since I graduated from college—when I finally landed a full-time position, still as a content writer, but with much more stability and certainty of where I wanted to lead my life or what I wanted to be known for in this phase.
To say that I am where I want to be would be a lie. No, I’m not “living the life” yet, and I don’t know when that will be or if I will ever get there. Ever since I got out of university, I thought I understood the “reality of the world,” and I thought that I’d already seen enough of it from our seniors who graduated ahead of us.
But the real world’s definition and perception are very different for every fresh graduate. The moment you step out there, everyone’s experience would be different: Some would immediately search for a job, others would take a break, while others might step on a plane bound for other countries to pursue opportunities that have been waiting for them. Each experience is unique in its own, special—or perhaps weird, even?—way.
Everyone moves at their own pace. It’s not about a race on who becomes a successful professional first, or who climbs the ladder of promotions at their organization. It’s about picking up these bits and pieces of knowledge and experience and trying to forge a path that works for you.
Jamie Manuel, 25, is a content writer for Support Services Group in the Asia-Pacific. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in literature at the University of Santo Tomas.
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