The transition to spending most of my week either in a classroom or reading for class and writing papers, to working eight hours a day and then being done was definitely a tricky one. Sure, it was wonderful to finally have my weekends free and to not have to continue working when my class day was finished, but I missed constantly learning, analyzing, debating, and writing. I missed my Middle East seminars in which staying up-to-date wasn’t just beneficial, it was critical to my survival; my political philosophy classes; my history classes that captivated me with stories of the past. In college, every day brought a new revelation about the topics about which I was most passionate and that feeling was exhilarating.
It’s taken some time, but I’ve realized that the feeling didn’t have to end now that I’ve graduated. Just because you’ve moved that tassel on your graduation cap from right to left and have gone from being a full-time student to a full-time adult doesn’t mean you’re finished learning forever. You never know where your next opportunity will come from or where your life is going to take you, so staying sharp is not only important for your professional goals, but who doesn’t love that exhilarated feeling that comes from staying engaged with their passions? I’m learning how to keep my mind sharp and my passions fueled now that I’m in the #9to5 world. This is what I’ve learned so far:
I’m a huge fan of podcasts. They’ve saved me from many a stressful commute and now, I have a weekly lineup of my favorite podcasts so I always have something to look forward to in the morning. We’re going through a bit of a podcast renaissance right now; it seems like everyone has one these days! The beauty of that is that there’s a podcast for everyone, no matter their interests so you can definitely find at least one that sparks your curiosity.
Podcasts are free and they are an amazing way to learn because listening to them requires almost zero effort on your part (which means no quizzes to study for or papers to write) and you can multitask while listening. My drives to and from work are usually my podcast time, but you can listen at the gym, while cooking or cleaning, or while traveling. Were you a business student in college? Check out Planet Money, Freakonomics, or Alphachat. Looking to keep up with current events? Try The Daily, BBC Global News, or Pod Save America. Passionate about language and storytelling? I love This American Life, Serial (where it all started for me), Radiolab, and The Moth.
The beauty of the internet is that there are millions of videos and documentaries out there, right at your fingertips, most of which are free. If you need to brush up on topics or courses you’ve forgotten or even missed entirely from college, videos are a great resource and a simple Google search will do the trick. One of my favorite websites is Khan Academy which promises “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan Academy began as a series of YouTube videos but has migrated to its own site where they have entire courses worth of videos on topics from elementary algebra to multivariable calculus, statistics, economics, computer programming, physics, engineering, art history, world history, grammar, and more. The videos are usually about ten minutes in length which makes them way less daunting — ten minutes of your day is nothing compared to how much time we spend on Instagram or Twitter.
Netflix is another amazing resource for learning. Besides Gilmore Girls and House of Cards, Netflix has tons of documentaries on nearly every topic you can think of. Add some to your watchlist and swap out your usual weekend Netflix binge for a documentary on whatever interests you.
I’m the first to admit that I didn’t read everything I was supposed to read in college. As I got busier with internships, extracurriculars, and other projects, it became easier to just read the minimum assigned reading, instead of really diving into the course material.
Luckily, I still own many of the books I was assigned in school, and I’m slowly getting back into reading what I missed, just to refresh my memory and stay engaged. You don’t have to read course material, though. Taking a little time out of your day to read whatever interests you, fiction or nonfiction, can have a huge impact on your vocabulary, inspiration, awareness, empathy, and so much more. Set aside time — at the beginning of your day, during lunch, before bed, whatever — and read anything that interests you, whether it be politics, history, literature, business, finance, science, and you will be amazed at how much you can learn.
featured image by Social Studio Shop