Why Post-Grads are Better Off Subscribing to Professional Networks than Beauty Boxes

After graduating from college, I knew that life would change. I thought about the full-time work schedule, not running into friends on a daily basis on campus, and not switching focus every 10 weeks like the quarter system had taught me.

I didn’t think about how those campus organizations I was involved with and commitments I made for my evenings and weekends during college would suddenly be left open, with no homework or obligations. I didn’t think about how the circles I had run in would suddenly stop, pushing me out into the “real world” to find new circles, or create my own. 

During the first week of my full-time job, this crashing reality hit hard. It was also at this time that I received my monthly Birchbox subscription, and then promptly cancelled it. I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with Birchbox for years now, and had grown accustomed to the stacks of pretty boxes that held residence in the corner of my studio apartment. I looked forward to those tiny bottles of hair product that I used sparingly on my frizz-ridden mane until they inevitably ran out…a day later. Or those little cylinders of perfume that always found their way to the bottom of my purse and gave my wallet a new scent. It’s pretty safe to say that I enjoyed my experience with the subscription company, but something in me suddenly switched.

Maybe it was the guise of adulthood my graduation held, or that I started working for a non-profit, or the fact that I was now paying close attention to where my paycheck went each month, but I wanted something more than a box of beauty products. I started researching organizations to join, which was much like how my addiction to involvement began freshman year of college–a lot of research. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many young professional, non-profit and women’s networks in my city to join. Being involved in several organizations and interest groups apparently doesn’t stop once you have a diploma in hand. Now that I had handed over the reigns to organizations I’d help run for the past few years, it seemed like a no-brainer to start new somewhere else. It seemed right to jump into those new circles as soon as I could. 

And so, my reasoning for cancelling my subscription to a beauty product-testing service was three-fold:

1. Instead of spending that money on products I’ll likely throw away or run out of in a week and have to purchase again, I spent it on memberships that would last me at least a year and could lead to new opportunities that impact my life and career. Most networks have a volunteer aspect as well, which allows you to give back and impact others!

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2. Testing out beauty products before you buy them is smart, but testing out a career or field before you make the switch is even smarter. Member networks allow you to sample a variety of jobs just by talking to people in those shoes, making it easier to see where you might want to go next and where you should definitely steer clear of before you even apply. There’s also a chance that you’ll meet someone in a career that you’ve never heard of but that totally aligns with your passions.

3. Subscription boxes don’t send new friends.

Will I miss the tiny bottles of perfume and leave-in conditioner? Probably, yes. But gaining a professional network of people who can connect to my work, interests, and passions is infinitely more exciting than any perfectly curated box I could come home to at the end of the day. I realized, after passing through the threshold to what society calls adulthood, that a new nail color couldn’t ever replace making a connection with someone.

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