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This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. All opinions are my own.

I hope you all have been enjoying my college tip series in collaboration with Home Depot’s Retool Your School Program. Ten years ago, I graduated from the highly acclaimed Atlanta HBCU Clark Atlanta University, and I want to share advice that I have personally learned and experience within this past decade out of college. Graduation season is near so hopefully this will be a timely post for many!

I am sure all of you college students and graduates are so excited to enter the real world and start your first “official” job! A job outside of college is one of the first signs of being a true adult and entering “The Real World.” You are excited to make real money and finally growing into your career that you prepared for while matriculating at your university. I want to share some additional advice about the “Work Hard Play Hard” aspect you hear people say from time to time and apply it to your profession adequately.

First, do the work, get it out the way and have fun. A lot of people slip up and do it in reverse which can hold them back in the long run. Also working hard first will come in handy when you actually start adulting and get set in your career. Don’t work too hard that you don’t reward yourself, so please work hard but still play afterwards when you can (responsibly of course).

Let me elaborate on Work Hard + Play Hard Lifestyle.

Work Hard

Do your work first. I cannot stress this enough. If you get into your career after college, establish your career title and position first. Get yourself acclimated into your professional environment, learn your skills strongly and be diligent.

Truly find your craft. Fine tune it. Master it and always learn how you can grow into your craft professionally. You may be out of school, but there are always ways to learn and grow in your industry. You are now in the school of life. Your industry will always have opportunities to shift directions, so make sure you are flexible to move with the industry as well.

As a journalist, I get an opportunity to interview celebrities for content on my site. Yes, although it looks cool to interview celebrities, you have to hustle to get your question and connect with the celeb with other media outlets. My interview with Kevin Hart for “Night School” in Atlanta, GA.

Be creative. Stand out. Be consistent. Always evolve and don’t let yourself get stagnant in one spot. The best way to work hard in my opinion is to always be proactive and make yourself a leader in your industry. Network, lead, and create as much as you can to thrive to your highest potential.

Play Hard

There is a horrible stigma in America, that we might work so hard we forget to balance it. Depending on your career path, please take your vacation days and time off! Travel, explore, have outside hobbies, connect with your friends, etc… don’t become such a “work hard” only person that there is no room for any play. Yes, it sounds great the harder you work the more rewards you will get, which is very true – but don’t punish yourself.

My sabbatical in Mexico, Summer 2018. A vacation that wasn’t a work press trip. This was a personal trip to Mexico I took for play!

Find time often to work, and give yourself mental, spiritual and physical breaks to have fun. You will be more productive if you are able to give yourself the freedom to express yourself outside of your work.

Work & Play Life Balance

If you are lucky enough to have a career that allows you to work and play at the same time, congratulations! Hopefully you are one of the lucky ones who found a path that your career matches your passion so you are very engaged in your profession. Your profession is your passion so going to work is easily a mix of work and play. As you are reading this, I have chosen my career path as a content creator that allows me to work and play at the same time often.

A mix of my job turning into play at Candytopia media preview night!

You might be working and playing simultaneously which can be a good and bad thing at times. It’s good to feel like you are at a job where you are truly happy and excited to do what you love often, but sometimes it’s hard to cut off “work” because you enjoy it so much or its engulfed into your life. Sometimes you are playing so much at you job you forget it is work – so don’t lose touch on the professionalism and the growth aspect of your career.

Also, when you are enjoying the perks of your career, this is even more of a reason you have to take breaks and relax, because sometimes you can’t cut off work from your life. I sometimes truly have this issue because my job is social media and I also have a personal life so sometimes I don’t post on social to connect with my life without it feeling like it is “work.” So take the time to always balance your work life and your personal life and separate the two from time to time.

If you don’t work and play, I will be the first to tell you that you will crash and burn eventually. Burnout is real. Depression is real. This is the part of adulting no one wants to talk about but it happens to most! Most often, when people get frustrated in their profession, it is because they lack work and play life balance. Keyword is to balance!

I hope this tidbit of information helped. It’s a piece of advice I wish I was given sooner. Do not believe you will sleep when you die. No, switch that around you will work hard, play hard, sleep while you can to be the most productive person and balance all of it out. Don’t think you can do one without the other. You can work and play. You can play and work. Definitely do not work with no play and don’t play without any work. Make sense?

It’s graduation season so good luck to all of the college grads out there! Make your mark on the world. Work Hard for it but don’t forget to Play! Pass this message to any college graduate, or any adult who need this strong reminder for their own career.

Thank you to The Home Depot for allowing me to participate this year as a 2019 Retool Your School Ambassador. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have taught and nurtured some of our community’s most visible and vocal figures. Visit to see which HBCU’s received one of 10 campus improvement grants.

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