Shocked Comic Face

The real world! The horror!

By Maria Pianelli

I’m the first to admit that I went overboard in college. And I don’t mean drinking, a milestone squandered by the lack of a fake ID. Rather, I entered school with half a year’s credits under my belt and, in an attempt to save $20,000, decided to graduate a year early. What did that mean for my workload? By my third semester, I was packing 21 credits and come senior year, was juggling a marketing internship, journalism gig, a full schedule of classes and ample volunteer hours. The fear of an empty resume had me frantic and I spent the majority of my time running amok, determined to outdo myself.

So when I decided to ditch campus and spend my last semester interning at a digital tech PR firm, I was confident I was prepared for the plunge. Instead, I found myself in an office operating at warp speed, filled with Ivy-league graduates and industry jargon I didn’t understand. It didn’t make sense– I had taken semesters teaming with PR classes and had field experience to back me up, yet I felt as though I wandered into a sci-fi film. My co-workers were 23, 24, 25, the same age as my friends, but had bragging rights and titles I couldn’t fathom. The phone rang off the hook, my inbox never stopped refilling and within a few hours, my to-do list was a mile long. I had been the queen of multitasking on campus, but suddenly, I was suffocating.

Within a week, I realized everything I learned in class contradicted office culture. We were told to dress business casual– my co-workers rocked jeans and Converse. We were taught how to avoid verbal conflict– my office communicated almost exclusively over e-mail. We were warned to keep a professional distance– my co-workers added me on Instagram. Anxiety was a constant companion those first few months and I was desperate to fit in. Yet nowhere in college had I learned the answers to some pivotal questions, the kind you can’t ask in school. Questions like:

  • How to drink with co-workers.
  • Office friendships: how close is too close?
  • What to do when coffee wears off.
  • What to do when your manager adds you on Facebook.
  • What in God’s name happens on business trips?

And most importantly

  • How do I go from an invisible intern to an employee with a voice?

There’s a lot of material out there on how to find a job, but a void when it comes to transforming from a student to a professional. The transition from classroom to boardroom is a strange one and, often, quite isolating. Being a twentysomething is one of the scariest things a person has to go through, but you’re not alone. We at The Inbetween have your back and truth be told, we’re just as scared. This blog explores the space between college and the real world, offering advice, insights and anecdotes about internships, entry level, grad school and self discovery in a way that’s humorous, real and relatable.

Consider us your coaches on the adult world and the anxieties that come with it. Twice a week, our correspondents will share real-life experiences about what it means to be a student, an intern, an employee, and most importantly, someone trying to figure it all out.

In the mean time, don’t be a stranger. Have an idea? Need advice? Email us at Eager to share your own insights? Send us a message, too.

Welcome to The Inbetween– it’s going to be one hell of a ride

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