What to Do After College Graduation? 15 Options for You
College graduation is upon you. If you have looked at the statistics recently (and of course you have), you may be realizing that there are more graduates in your field than there are opening career opportunities. You may be facing the reality that the “right” job will not be awaiting you and that you should be looking at other options, at least for the short-term.
So, what to do after college? Here’s a list of 15 possibilities, some you may have considered and some not. The point is this: you can find something worthwhile and fulfilling, while you continue to prepare yourself or wait for that perfect career-path position.
- Look at Positions That are not Ideal
If you need to start earning money right away, and many grads do, you may need to look for positions out of your field but that still require a college degree in something. These may be in sales, in customer service, or even restaurant/retail. Being a waiter/waitress or a bartender at an upscale establishment can bring in great tip money and begin to give you a lot of soft skill development – people skills, for example. You will learn to deal with difficult customers, with people from all backgrounds, for a start. Consider positions that will give you plenty of experience dealing with the public and yet allow you to feed yourself and put a roof over your head. An, you never know who you will meet.
- Consider Additional Coursework While You Work
So, you don’t have the ideal job. What would make you more attractive to potential employers? What specific coursework could you take that will enhance the skills you want or need? Even if you cannot tolerate sitting in one more classroom right now, there are load of online course opportunities related to your degree field. Check them out and enroll in one at a time. You can be flexible about your hours and, in many of them, proceed at your own pace.
Many students do not consider travel, because they worry about the expense. If you would really like to travel, however, there are a number of ways to do this on the cheap. Hostels all over the world have become favorite places for young people to find cheap lodging. There are also plenty of ways to make a little bit of cash while traveling. If you want to put down roots in a country for a while, hire yourself out as a tutor in your native language; finding short-term positions in restaurants or bars is another possibility. If you are fluent in the language of the country in which you have landed for a while, you can become an interpreter. If you write, freelance out as a blog post writer – you can do that from anywhere with an internet connection. Travel widens your horizons and assists you with self-discovery.
- Start Your Own Business
It does have to be in your degree field. What other interests do you have? Did you have a part-time job while in school? Do you have a hobby that you could turn into a business? Many students have begun their own businesses after college – businesses that turned into lifelong careers which they have loved. One young man graduated with a teaching degree at a time when teachers were flooding the market. He took a job as an assistant manager at a local motel, part of a large chain. He found that he loved it but also had an entrepreneurial spirit. Ultimately, he ended up owning six hotels of his own and is nearing retirement as a millionaire.
You might even start your own business in your career field, if you have the passion for it.
This is similar to having your own business, but without a lot of the investment that may be involved. If you have skills that are in demand, start networking on social media, especially on LinkedIn. Tap friends and family for prospects and begin to build your recommendation. While you are freelancing, take an additional course or two to widen your expertise and add value to what you can offer.
- Get an Internship
So, there are no paying career positions for you. Aggressively seek internships in your field. These will not pay the rent and you may have to take menial part-time work to eat, but you will be gaining valuable experience in your career field. When positions do open, the fact that you have had a significant experience as an intern will surely help.
Take any position you can that will feed you. At the same time, volunteer in some area in which you have true passion – tutor children in low-income neighborhoods; help run a shelter for people or animals; get involved with Habitat for Humanity. There are certainly student volunteer opportunities – but you will find many more once you are out and about in the real world. Here’s the thing about volunteer work: you will come in contact with all sorts of other volunteers and donors, many of whom have connections that will be of benefit to you. You just never know who you may meet.
- Grad School
Yes, it might be a good idea. In many fields, a graduate degree opens more doors. You might want to check out college graduates’ employment statistics in your field and assess the increase in employability with that graduate degree. Graduate students will incur more student loan debt perhaps, but may be able to make up that increase b beginning of a career path sooner and at a higher rate of initial pay.
- Pursue Another Bachelor’s Degree
There are many ways in which a hobby/interest can combine with your current degree, just be getting another degree. An art major can go back and get another Bachelor’s in computer science and become a website designer/developer, for example. The positions of design and development, once very separate are merging, and those who can do both are in high demand. Explore the possibilities in your own field. As you look at possibilities for another degree, you will want to check out the stats on the highest paying jobs out of college as you make a decision on another major.
- Get Teacher Certification
The market for teachers is picking up now. And especially in STEM areas, many states are allowing those without certificates to begin to teach as long as they are in a program to get that certificate. Who knows? You might find that you love it!
- Enroll in College in Another Country
Many grads are doing this now. Why? Because globalization is upon us, and getting another degree from a foreign university, especially if you pick up the language, makes you highly valuable to lots of multi-national corporations.
- Join FEMA Corps
This is a US government agency that is looking for corps members on a regular basis. You will receive initial training at one of their “academies” and then be on the ready to travel to places of natural disasters. The pay is not wonderful, but you have amazing experiences, have a fulfilling short-term (usually two years) position, and make yourself that much more employable.
- Look for Positions in Other Countries
The job market may not be ideal for you in your native land; however, it may be quite good in a number of other countries. Do some research and see what’s available.
- Civil Service Positions
You may not have thought about civil service. These positions are not widely advertised; however, many may be closely related to your degree; others require only a degree of some type. You will need to take a test and see what offers you get. One grad was initially in pre-med, but fell out of love and ended up with just a Bachelor’ degree in biology. She took the civil service examination and became a food inspector for the FDA. After several years of work experience, she became a consultant to private industry and now has a mid-six figure income.
- Teach for America
You may have a Bachelor’s degree in any field and join this organization. There are a few requirements during the application process, one of which is a type of graduation essay in which you will speak to your desire to help kids, especially those in low-performing urban school districts.
There you have it. 15 alternatives to your ideal career path position. Any of these will provide you with experience; most will give you some income; some will increase your hard skills. And who knows? You may find a career where you least expect to.