Post-Grad Confession: What Is A Real Job?

In the indie flick, A Real Job, a movie rental store employee meets the girl of his dreams. He moves into a blue collar job to impress her, only to discover that he no longer has time for her.  In addition, his new corporate employer is going to close down his beloved video store. The “real job” no longer seems so great.

The dreaded “real job”. My post-grad friends and I avoid the topic. Many of us are travelling, taking further education or plotting out other ways to avoid getting that real job.

Why do we so dread the thought of landing a steady career-type job? I asked a group of recent grads what they consider to be a real job in an effort to try and find out why the recent grad is running scared. Is it determined by the pay, the vacation time, the hours, your education, your working conditions, your happiness or enjoyment?

Here’s what they had to say…

“To me, having a real job means having a job that could turn into my career, whether I like it or not. What is so scary about that is that I don’t know if I’m ready for a career, but it might just happen to me.”

Elizabeth graduated from university a year ago. She is currently working contract jobs.

“Something related to what you studied for is what I always considered a “real” job. But at the same time everything is real!”

Amanda graduated from university a year ago and just landed her first “real” job.

“Having a real job is having one that you don’t intend on quitting before hand. And one that would affect my life when my shift ends.”

Melissa is completing teacher’s college.

“I consider a real job something you see yourself doing for the future. I have goals of finding a secure, non- seasonal job, with good health benefits, working with people, part-time outdoors, and that I thoroughly enjoy.”

Janice is currently working at an aquarium in Ireland.

Only one person wrote something about how they would enjoy their job. Nobody wrote about a work-life balance or about how their real job would make them feel.

When I think about getting that “real job,” the first thing I think about is whether or not that job will contribute to my happiness or my misery. For me a real job is fulfilling, challenging and enjoyable. Secondly, I think about the field, the hours, the salary and the vacation time.

I think recent grads are apt to fear the real job because we associate it with getting stuck in a career that we don’t enjoy. If we are interning, waitressing, or freelancing, our families ask us when we’re going to get a ‘real’ job. Older generations are more apt to associate a real job with a salaried, nine-to-five, steady job. Fact is that a lot of waitresses and retail staff will make more money and be more fulfilled at work than the person working nine-to-five as a bank teller.

Who has the real job?  What do you think is a real job?

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