Transitioning From Work Back to School

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At this point in my summer, I am able to reflect back on my internship and look forward to my last semester of classes. Of course, an internship does not only render technical skills, but it also opened my eyes to what I truly want out of my education and my time in college. With one semester left, it’s important to utilize every last opportunity.

The biggest eye opener came directly from a coworker. She expressed how the hardest part about switching from school to a full-time work position was the fact that she was working to no end. I do not mean that she was working around the clock, but that she was working and there was no “summer” in sight, no grade change, no graduation, etc. This is important to realize, and I am so happy to have heard it before I got back to school.

With this in mind, I’m not wishing graduation upon me – just waiting for it to come as I know it undoubtedly will. It also helped me appreciate the exam process. Each exam passed gets us to a whole new stage in our life. We can move on from the intensive studying we just did on that subject and take a break, or just move on to a new subject. Either way, we add another exam to the books and for those working, it may even put them in a unique position. I am able to really appreciate starting a new year with graduation in sight, all while being able to appreciate every day I have left in school.

I also learned just how much communication shapes careers, whether it be for explaining work or just socializing and networking with others. As college students, we are all pretty much at the same point in our lives. It’s not intimidating to talk and get to know other fellow Actuarial Science majors, especially with so many of us in one central location. We can consider this practice for networking, especially seeing as how classmates now will eventually become a large part of the small(ish) actuarial community. It’s good to have connections in all facets of the community.

I realized that in the adult world and the work world, friends are just not as accessible. In college, we room with our best friends, study with our friends, and join clubs and groups – all with people who enjoy the same things as ourselves. Don’t get me wrong – we also spend a lot of time alone as individuals but the reality is that our friends are pretty accessible. It’s nice to notice this before we jump into work and realize that a lot more effort is needed to get together with coworkers or friends in the area. The more effort that is needed the more we realize how important the people are that we choose to spend our time with.

Another note: Excel is super important. If there was one class I wish I would have taken before I had my internship, it would be excel. Not only was it used daily in my internship, but it can really shape a thought process. Often, the thought process helps you approach a problem in a more logical way. Getting more familiar with the program will help with being more efficient in a future job, as well as with solving and approaching new problems.

Lastly, college is unstructured. There is the freedom to take certain classes anytime between freshman and senior year (cough cough Spanish). We have the freedom to study when we want, go to class when we want, and take naps when we want. Generally, work is a bit more structured. It’s good to experience the unstructured and the structured. But more importantly, it’s good to not be surprised when the environment changes.

With all of these differences and changes that happen between work and school, it’s important to realize that both are different in their own way. One is not going to be better than the other, but it’s good to note these differences. We can capitalize on what is available to us in each situation. I’m glad the work force will no longer be a surprise to me. And going back to school, I won’t graduate with any regrets down the line, wishing that I had used the opportunities available to me before I had different ones.