THE BLOG
05/01/2012 05:32 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2012

What Is Life Like When You Graduate College and Start Working?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

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By Dan Robinson, Software Engineer at Palantir

Two changes stuck out to me.

Jobs don't have homework. If you're anything like me, you spent a large portion of your waking hours in high school and college working through problem sets, writing papers, and studying for tests. For me, it was rare to have a night with nothing that needed to get done immediately, let alone a full weekend.

At most jobs, your experience will be totally different. If you're at an early stage startup or an investment bank, the work never stops, but the overwhelming majority of jobs allow you to leave work sometime reasonable (i.e. around dinner time), and you almost never need to take your work with you. You can do anything until the next morning, as long as you can make it in to work the next day and be reasonably productive.

This is a level of freedom you probably aren't used to, and it's awesome. If you program, you can work on whatever side project you want for hours every night. If you play video games, you can play every night. If you like sports, you can join three teams. If you like drugs, you can get high every night. If you want to double down on your career, you can work eighty hour weeks. You can paint, you can sing, you can read for pleasure, you can learn to knit, you can take language classes at a night school, you can have beers with your buddies five nights a week. You get the picture.

If your job and your commute take up ten hours a day, you can do whatever you want for six hours and still sleep plenty. Weekends are even better -- you have from Friday evening until Monday morning totally free almost every weekend. You don't have papers to write. You can hop in a convertible and take a road trip any weekend you please.

Combined with the common condition of having some disposable income, this level of free, unstructured time makes for a pretty powerful change in your life.

The dating pool is totally different. When you entered college, you were the freshman and the seniors were the oldest fish in the dating pool. When you graduate, you're the youngest fish again, but the oldest fish are as old as you'll let them be.

By default, you're swimming in the same pool as people ten years older than you. In college, I didn't have serious romantic interests with ages more than a year or so different from mine. Within a month or so of graduation, I found myself getting involved with 27-year-olds, and I'm anything but mature for my age.

You might find yourself involved with people who already have impressive careers, people with long resumes of lovers and life experiences, and people looking to have kids within the next two years, all of which are probably rare in your college dating pool.

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