Public opinion and pop culture paint a certain picture when it comes to life: it is all colorful and party-driven in college and gets greyish and dull as soon as ‘real life’ kicks in. With my experiences in both worlds thus far, I know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
It was a warm and sunny morning in August when I was playing beach volleyball, barefoot in the sand. Sounds like a regular weekend in summer, but it was Wednesday, I had just started my internship with the adidas Group and the game took place on my employer’s premises. Is that this intimidating ‘real life’ everybody has tried to warn me about since I started kindergarten?
There is no black and white
In my professional and academic life, I’ve seen my share of different company and campus cultures. My student career introduced me to four different subjects at three universities in two countries – and my professional experience is even more diverse. And – as always – the picture isn’t just black and white. There were of course a lot of fun experiences in college that I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to miss and there have definitely been some employers where everybody’s highlight was the monthly paycheck.
DISSOLVING THE FRONTIERS OF COLLEGE FUN AND WORK BORE
Just a week before that volleyball game, though, I was sitting in the college library and working nightshifts to turn in papers before their deadline. They don’t just give out Master Degrees for free, sure, but at that time I couldn’t go to parties or even see friends. When they closed the library for the night, I had to go home and continue working there. So much for ‘college fun’. On the other hand, there are workplaces where work and fun are combined. People can gather after a hard day of work to do sports, have a BBQ together or maybe have a drink or two and just try to have a good time.
A lot has been said about the special approach of the adidas Group to work culture, and others already analyzed the difference between adidas and other, more conventional, companies. But it’s not only about the difference between employers anymore.
COMPANY CULTURE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Sure, it probably helps that college today is more achievement-oriented than most people remember it to be. But modern company culture, like practiced at the adidas Group, surely is additionally doing a great job in adding emotional value to work. That way, people won’t just sit at work nostalgically thinking back to college, but will actually look forward to new memories and achievements they can reach.
Eventually, it all depends on where you work, where you went to college and, last but not least, what you make of it. But one thing is for sure: the clear line between college and work when it comes to fun and lightheartedness doesn’t exist anymore. Sometimes, college can be tough – and sometimes you’re at work, playing beach volleyball barefoot in the sand.