Post-grad millennial life – or what I miss most about college

Lauren Yanow

It finally hit me.

I am not going back to college.

Everyone told me this would happen, but I figured I had adjusted well to post-grad life and might not even notice.

This summer felt like every other summer I’ve had for the last four years. I got an internship and was working on building my resume, instead of building my tan.

Nothing seemed different or out of the ordinary.

Of course, my diploma arrived and the photos of me in a cap and gown were on Facebook. But it just didn’t seem real. My internship became a full-time job and I now have entered the lifestyle of working 40 hours a week.

Now, I see pictures of younger friends attending tailgates and hanging out at my favorite college town bar.

I’m not there.

Instead, I am living the post-grad life back in Chicago.

Here is what I miss the most:

1.     Sleeping

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I always chose classes based on what time of day they were offered. There is a reason I never had a class before 10 am. Oh, and naps. I miss them, too.

2.     Walking

Walking around my college campus to get to class was the most aerobic activity I did over the last four years. Now, I just take the elevator downstairs to get lunch.

3.     Weekends starting on Thursday

Enough said.

4.     Free stuff

My closet is stuffed with free T-shirts I collected in college. Now that I’m a professional, I need to make room for some blouses.

5.     Cheap drinks

Living in Chicago is not cheap. And neither are the beers. In my college town, you could get a full price beer for $3, but now I am lucky to find one under $6. Oh, well. Guess that’s what my paycheck is for.

What do you miss about your college?

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You’re hired! Now fill out this pile of forms


Lauren Yanow

Well, I did it.

Finally, finally, finally I got a job. When Ragan Communications offered me a full-time position after six weeks of interning, I couldn’t wait to officially get started.

But something was blocking me:

Paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork.

Here’s how to fill it out, millennial style:

W-4:  This probably won’t be the first time you’ve seen a tax form. It’s important to answer all the questions to decide how to declare yourself. Most millennials will be declaring a ‘1’ or ‘2,’ as singles without dependents.

State Withholding:  Just another form that allows the government to take all your money away. This form tells Illinois that I am declaring a ‘1.’ I’m just doing my part to pave the state’s roads.

Insurance: This is overwhelming. I have to start thinking about the following: health insurance, dental insurance, a life insurance policy, and a long-term/short-term disability plan. Not all companies will have this many options, but be prepared to choose between HMOs and PPOs. Let’s translate: An HMO is basic medical insurance, with doctors and professionals who have agreed to treat patients under a specific plan. When selecting an HMO, you will need to select a primary physician and will only be eligible to see specialists with a referral from your primary physician. On the flip side, a PPO is typically more expensive, but gives you the luxury to see any doctor within the limits of your plan.

I-9: This proves to your company that you are eligible to work in the United States. Start digging around for your passport, driver’s license, and/or social security card. 

401K: Your parents are right—you need to start saving your money—and skipping Starbucks on Saturday doesn’t count. A 401K is a retirement savings account that you can put money in now, to use later. But this isn’t like a savings account from a bank. You can’t withdraw money from this account until you are nearly 60. To encourage participation in a 401K, some companies match a portion, percentage, or fixed amount that you put in your 401K. Also, the money that you put in from your paycheck into your 401K is tax free. But you might not be eligible to start your 401K immediately, due to your company’s starting policy. But whenever it’s time for me to start contributing, I’ll put in as much money as I can.  Future Lauren will thank me later.

Basic forms: It’s important that your company has your emergency contact information. I also needed to fill out my work schedule and read an employee handbook agreement. Reading your employee handbook will help get you familiar with your company’s policy.

Money: What will you do with your first paycheck? Some companies have a direct deposit option. This means that your pay check is directly put into your account on pay day, instead of receiving a check. To complete this form, I needed to go to my bank and get direct deposit forms. You can also use a void check, too.

There will be a lot of forms you have to read and sign, after you say ‘yes’ to your first job. But don’t be embarrassed to ask a parent or co-worker for help or advice. They’ve all been in there before.

And just think: After you finish filling it all out, you can get back to work.


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