Thinking of "Traditional Work" After College?

Imperial Palace, Kyoto, Japan

Imperial Palace, Kyoto, Japan

As a 90s baby, I'm part of the millennial generation. Despite my generation's quirks, I think they are lovable overall: sometimes for their entertainment value, it's true. But also because millennials are doing some inspiring things around the world and I can't wait to see what else they get up to as we get older. That being said, we (as a generalized, stereotyped group) sometimes have a weird relationship with the idea of traditional work.

So I'm just going to throw a potentially dissenting opinion out into the universe, and if you are a millennial considering traditional work on the dark side (in corporate business, finance, or another “traditional” field)… hopefully you can pick up a few nuggets for the road.

Sometimes, you just have to work

I, like most human beings I know, would have loved to jet off into the sunset without a care in the world 12 hours after tossing my hat into the air at graduation. However, I was so low on cash that I was not going to be able to make rent that June and my name was on the lease. There wasn't much of a choice - I was going to work. Could I have worked as a barista or server for a few months and tried to hit the road after? Definitely, I started working in food service when I was 15. But I studied economics at Uni (believe it or not) and from an efficiency standpoint, if you are going to spend 40+ hours a week working anyway… the best way to spend that 40+ is by making as much money as you can.

If you choose to take the traditional work route post-graduation, you aren't a sellout.

I know it can feel that way. Believe me, I know. The Internet is absolutely FULL of non-traditional workers and full time travelers and life design experts and successful bloggers. But everyone starts somewhere, and every journey is different. In my personal experience, the only way to figure out whether or not you like something or could see yourself doing it for the rest of your life is to TRY it.

Feel free to give the 9 to 5 office a try. It might work for you. It also might not. Either way...

Money matters

So you are in a "traditional" job. You have a salary and some level of benefits. You may feel like you are slaving away for "the man" (whoever that man is) or wasting your whole life in a cube. Believe me, I get it. But what you are also doing is making money. And hopefully, saving as much of that money as you can. Because while it may or may not be the root of all evil, money is definitely an essential component of traveling. So bank as much of it as you can, and read travel blogs at night (like this one!)

Work experience helps no matter what you decide to do next.

If you decide you hate corporate life (or whatever "traditional" job you've taken) and are counting the days till that bank account gets large enough for a Euro trip, that is totally fine. In addition to banking up the cash for whatever is next on your agenda, you are banking up marketable skills. Spending some time in a traditional work environment can really help you get better at talking to strangers (also known as networking), presenting, showing up on time, leading, staying organized, managing your time and sticking to deadlines. If you decide to go into non-profit work, become an entrepreneur (including a world-traveling blogger), take up odd jobs on the road or do just about anything else under the sun, those skills will be useful.

Everyone is on a different path

If you've found a way to avoid traditional work entirely and you are happy, then I'm happy for you. And if you are one of those "weird" millennials who loves the office, travels on your vacation days and would never dream of giving up the corporate life, then I'm happy for you too.

But if you are somewhere in between, just remember to cut yourself a little slack... it takes time to build the life you want, and a lot of that time will be spent trying things that don't end up working out.

Cross whatever doesn’t work out off your list, take the lessons (and the savings) with you, and head out towards your next adventure.