I’m sure everyone is familiar with the discourse about what schools should really be teaching us. 

There was probably a smartass in maths who interrogated the teacher about when they’d actually need algebra in real life. 

It’s a good point - a great point even. Unless you’re actually studying something mathematics-related as a career, I doubt you need to understand calculus or algebra to be successful in the working world.

There are so many things they drilled into us in school and uni, that quite literally do not matter in the slightest once you score a full-time job. 

Obviously, there are some exceptions, like if you’re a doctor or a lawyer, but for the most part no one really cares if you got NCEA Level 2 endorsed with Merit. 

They certainly don’t care how well you did on the beep test or what place you came in cross country.

So here it is, a guide to the lies we’ve been told about being an acceptable adult in the workforce, written by a self-identified yo-pro.

Dress Code

I don’t know if it was just me, or if it’s a universal feminine-presenting experience, but when I needed to look ‘smart’ for something, my Mum would without fail tell me to put my hair in a ponytail.

I have no idea what part of pulling my hair back into headache-inducing territory made me look more professional but she stuck to that rule like gospel. 

You seriously don’t need to do that, unless you’re a surgeon or ballerina. Showing up to work with your hair down is not a dismissible offence. 

Our very own Massive editor had a magnificent mullet for the better part of last year.

What to wear in the office is another thing I shat my pants over before starting a full-time job. 

As someone who lives almost religiously in hoodies and sneakers (I’m not like other girls), the thought of having to wear blouses and ugly work shoes made me want to vom. 

What I learned after a few weeks is that as long as you don’t look outright disgusting, it doesn’t really matter what you wear. 

Don’t show up in fat pants and a hoodie but also don’t stress too much if you don’t look ready for a Business Casual Fashion Week runway. 

Wear clean clothes and save your more out-there shoes for casual Friday and you’ll do just fine.


Okay, this one obviously has more exceptions, but generally your employability isn’t measured by how well you do on your exams or assignments. 

I’m not saying don’t try, you should definitely aim to actually get your degree, but the line between an A- and an A+ is not as significant as you might think. 

Generally, in a job where your job is to produce something, whether it be a piece of writing or some art, the work will speak for itself. If you’re good at what you do, people will notice. 

Producing work you’re proud of is important and you shouldn’t beat yourself up because you’re not the top student. 

C’s do get degrees and they can get you decent jobs once uni is over.

Getting a ‘real job’

Something that really irks me is the idea that if you’re not working in an office then for some reason, you’re wasting your degree. 

I know people that worked in hospitality or retail the whole way through their degree, and when they graduated, they decided they still wanted to work those jobs. 

We put an insane amount of weight on what constitutes an ‘adult’ job and that if you don’t find one straight out of uni then for some reason, you’re a failure. 

If you finish your degree and decide you don’t want to get a job in your chosen field yet (or at all), then that’s completely understandable. 

Whether we like it, or not, the bulk of our week is going to be spent working, so you may as well be doing something you enjoy. 

You could get a law degree and happily spend your days making coffee - it doesn’t mean you’re not succeeding.

The grind

Work hard. Put your blood, sweat and first-born into your career. Respect the hustle. Sacrifice everything for the grind. 

You really don’t need to do all that. 

If your job is something you’re super passionate about and enjoy, then pulling overtime or going the extra mile is cool if it makes you happy. 

You shouldn’t feel an obligation to go all-out for your job. It’s seriously fine to just leave your work at work and then come home and sit on TikTok for hours on end. 

Sure, you should work hard when you’re at work but you don’t need to be a part of the huge race to success if you don’t want to be. 

Hobbies are important. Take up pottery or rollerblading. 

We only have one life. We don’t need to spend our spare time learning the intricacies of the Microsoft Office Suite to impress our boss.

Live, laugh and love

Obviously, there are some things that matter when you enter the workforce. 

Not being smelly, showing up on time and generally knowing what you’re doing in your job are pretty important. 

There’s also so much that you shouldn’t worry about. 

You don’t need to have an ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ attitude. You should take a nap now. Seriously, do it.

Leaving uni and going into the big wide world is scary and feels sudden - it shouldn’t be made harder by putting ridiculous expectations on yourself about what constitutes being a real adult. 

Appreciate life as a student while you still can. Live, laugh and love your way through this academic year whether it’s your first or your last.

This article originally appeared in Massive Magazine Issue #1February 28 2022.