Why hello there, my favourite internet addicts – welcome back to the abyss that is my virtual home. How are you doing this fine day?
I was both shocked and confused by how much you guys enjoyed my Top 10 Things My First Jobs Taught Me post. That being said, I have been working for the past few years (and unfortunately, as my rich husband seems to be taking his time to sweep me off my feet, in all likelihood I will be working for the next few decades too) – so I have a lot of thoughts to share with you guys, if that’s what you’re interested in.
Today’s post is somewhat of a similar vein. As you guys already know, I’ve been working in Digital Marketing since I was 17 (in an apprenticeship, then a full time job, then my part-time role now) – which is considered quite young to start working full time in the UK. In this post, I’m going to be talking about whether I recommend starting in on the career ladder earlier . . . or whether I regret trading my youth in and missing all the parties.
Let’s get on with the show.
PRO: The amount of opportunities in my personal life
First and foremost, I can wholeheartedly say that absolutely none of the amazing things that have happened to me would have been possible without me working. That’s an absolute fact.
And while, yes, this is largely due to the money – a lot of the reason links into my next point . . .
PRO: Personal growth, maturity and responsibility. Oh, and the confidence.
In my post about the life lessons work has taught me, I touched on how working helped me to take responsibility of my own life and grow the fuck up. I cannot reiterate how important this has been for me; working made me grow up into a person I like and am proud of.
It forced me to reassess my life and priorities and it also just helped to me to realise that I am capable, I am hard-working and I can make shit happen. Even if I’d have had all the money to have all the experiences I have now while I was in college, I’ll be honest here: I don’t think I would have done any of it. I’d have been held back by my friends, or by laziness, or just by the person I was (ie: a child.).
Also, and this one is actually a really lovely benefit, I feel like I get along a lot better and am regarded a lot more highly by my family and parents because they can see “wow, our Mia ISN’T just a lazy waster, we’re so glad”.
PRO: The amount of professional opportunities
I’ve been incredibly lucky in my professional life and I would genuinely attribute this to my early getting in and the extra experience.
Okay, please, this should have been the top of the damn list. Not only is having money a-m-a-z-i-n-g, the industry I am in doesn’t really need a degree (Digital Marketing) and the pay increases as your experience level does.
PRO: Quality of life massively improved
I know this is a large concern for people – especially those coming from student life to the working world – but working, for me, meant my quality of life improved exponentially. If I wanted to go to a concert, or the theatre, or even on holiday, I could!
(The reason this on the “starting work early” pros is because, as a young person living at home, I’m fortunate enough to not need to pay bills or rent and so my income is purely mine to spend. Of course, when you’re older and living on your own your wages will be going on . . . well, on surviving. Ugh.)
PRO: Sense of purpose and meaning
A massive benefit of working is that, for me at least, I felt like I had so much more purpose. A large thing I struggled with at school was that, while I was pretty academic, it was all bloody pointless. I think education is fabulous, I really do, but what I was studying ended up being pretty far-removed from anything particularly useful and I just ended up feeling like it was a massive waste of time.
PRO: The world massively opens up
This leads on nicely from my previous point: the world is suddenly your oyster. When you’re in school, as much as you may deny it, you still feel like a kid. (I’ve been working for years and I still feel like a damn kid – just one who knows how to pretend to be an adult.) Suggesting things to do can feel a bit like “oh I can’t do that; oh we’re too young for that; oh my parents won’t allow that” – well, when you work, it’s like you’re a Pokemon that evolves to “just adulty enough to do those things you wanted to do, but were a wee bit afraid of”.
PRO: Development of professional and personal skillset
My last significant benefit is how much working adds to your skillset. A prime example of this? Last year, I sold my old website for £8k and, in the space of year, I’ve built a new website that’s actually more successful than my first one! (Thanks for that, by the way, babies.) Both of these things are due to skills I learnt about content marketing that I developed from my first job.
However, while there are a lot of benefits to getting onto the career ladder early . . . don’t get it twisted, there are just as many drawbacks.
CON: Not being able to “relate” to my friends
The first and foremost con of working young is all of a sudden there is a big, fat wall between you and your friends. You can’t see them because you’re always at work (and tired afterwards), you can’t really relate to their problems (because petty school drama becomes pretty meaningless once you start working) and they can’t relate to you anymore. As you can imagine, this can cause some pretty big rifts in your friendship – and can make you feel pretty isolated.
CON: Missing out on a LOT of “youth-related” activities
Leading on from the first point . . . you end up missing out on a LOT. If you’re got the FOMO, you’re fucked. (Soz.) Parties? Can’t, you’ve got work tomorrow. Trip to the beach? Can’t, you’re at work. Fancy coming to this random apartment party tonight? Rinse and repeat your first answers.
One of the biggest benefits of being young is all the parties and the freedom. Going to work really cuts the two of those off at the knees.
CON: Work can be kind of boring
Sad but true. School can be boring, but you’re with people your own age, there are summer holidays and you’re only in a classroom for a few hours before moving onto something else. At work, you’re normally with people twice your age, the days can be super repetitive, you’re stuck in the same place AND you’re doing longer hours. None of which is any fun.
CON: Hard to meet new people
A big con is that, unless you’re working for a company with a young workforce, working all the time makes it so damn hard to meet new people. This is something I didn’t consider, thinking “oh, I have my college and school friends!” – not considering that half of those people would fuck off to uni (the bastards. Hope you’re all doing great, though.).
CON: No breaks!
One of the biggest adjustment periods, for me, was the jumping straight into having no days off! No summer holidays – not even a quick one-week term-time break. The bloody horror!
Overall . . .
All in all, I can wholeheartedly say that starting my career early was the best choice for me. I genuinely don’t think any other route would have taken me to where I am today and I can quite honestly say I don’t want to be anywhere else. At one point, I was really looking into uni (ie earlier this year when I took a whole month off work to build a portfolio) . . . but ultimately I realised it was somewhat pointless for me right now.
Okay, kids, I think here is a good place to end this post! (You know . . . at the end.) I hope you took something useful from this! When did you start working; what has your experience been? Let me know your thoughts down below!