Things to do after college
Now, as a recent college graduate, you have more options and freedom to choose what you want to do next in life, probably more now than ever. It may be time to volunteer or intern in your industry, start trying out different careers or maybe just take a break from a full-time schedule and travel to a country you always wanted to visit. Consider this list of things to do after college graduation to help you find what might be your best next steps:
1. Regroup at home
Moving home for a while is a great way to look for jobs and explore the many options available to you in a comfortable, cost-effective way. Use the time at home to network with local businesses in your field, connect with other college alumni and update your resume.
2. Continue your education
Sometimes, the job you want after college requires more education. Many community colleges offer individual classes to help you prepare for the workforce. Additionally, trade schools can help you gain hands-on skills and qualifications for vocational jobs.
3. Become a research assistant
Many colleges and universities hire recent college graduates to assist with research. While many people associate research with the sciences, like chemistry and psychology, many college academic departments perform research. Contact your college or previous professors to see if there are research opportunities available for recent graduates.
4. Take a gap year
A gap year is a time of exploration and travel after high school or college graduation. Often, graduates who take gap years use that time to experience a new culture and build their soft skills like communication and problem-solving. A gap year can be a great way to gain new experiences and meet new people who may be able to help you find your ideal job once you’re ready.
5. Find an internship
Internships are a great way for recent graduates to gain entry into competitive industries or companies. While internships can pay less than full-time positions, they often result in resume experience, recommendation letters and even full-time positions. Begin searching for internships prior to graduation, so you can immediately begin after graduating.
6. Turn your passion into a job
Use the skills you gained in college like time management, self-motivation and creative thinking to turn a passion into a job. For example, if you love yoga, earn teacher certification and find a studio looking to hire full-time instructors. If you’re an expert knitter, consider selling your creations through an online marketplace.
7. Go to graduate school
Graduate school is a fantastic option for those who know they need a post-graduate education to meet their long-term career goals. Research graduate programs and schools before applying to make sure you complete a degree that will benefit your intended career.
8. Find volunteer opportunities
Volunteering is an excellent way to add experience to your resume. Often, volunteer opportunities help develop hard skills, like task management and leadership, along with soft skills, like communication and adaptability. Sometimes, volunteering can lead to a paid position with the organization or a full-time job elsewhere through networking while volunteering. Additionally, it feels great to provide a service to the community.
9. Take a public service position
A variety of public service organizations exist that provide recent graduates the opportunity to gain new skills with a small stipend while performing a service for the community. Some of these organizations focus on education in low-income areas—both in the United States and abroad—while others perform broader community service in high-need areas. These programs are often a great way to build a strong professional network you can use for job prospecting and references.
10. Find seasonal work
If you’re passionate about a seasonal activity, like farming, consider establishing a schedule of seasonal jobs to accommodate your passion. For example, if you work on a sailboat from the late spring to early fall, consider finding work over the holiday season at a shopping center, where stores often hire additional employees during the busy season. Or, if you’re an avid skier, you might enjoy working at a state or national park leading tours during the warmer months.
11. Teach abroad
Many countries seek native English speakers to teach children and adults the English language. Language schools rarely require the teachers they hire to have a degree in education or even experience teaching. Often, all they need is a bachelor’s degree and a willingness to learn. These job opportunities give recent college graduates the ability to travel, experience a new culture and develop a strong, transferable skill set.
12. Work for your college
Many colleges hire their past students to join administrative departments like admissions, development and academic advising. If you love your college and are passionate about higher education, consider speaking with the administrative team at your school to see if there are any open positions for recent graduates.
Be an Adventure Guide
Are you the adventurous type? Whether you’re into white water rafting, skydiving, rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, snorkeling, or bungee jumping—turn it into a part-time or even a full-time job. Many adventure companies look for young people to hire.
There are opportunities both within the United States and internationally. Many companies look to hire eager, English-speaking guides due to the popularity of these activities among college students abroad.
Just Get a Job (It Doesn’t Have to Be Forever)
For my final piece of advice, I want you to consider just getting a job. This could be an entry-level job that feeds into your larger career goals, but it could also be a part-time job in the service industry or retail. While this isn’t as “sexy” as some of the other options on this list, it can still be a useful move.
To start, getting a job means you’ll be earning money. If you’re still living at home, this offers a chance to save up the funds you need to get out of your parents’ house ASAP. You could also use this money to fund a trip or other valuable learning experience (see point #1).
Additionally, there can be value in having a job that’s less than ideal. It teaches you how to remain calm in the face of unpleasant circumstances, as well as how to deal with people (a valuable skill in both work and life).
At the very least, having a job you don’t love can motivate you to do the work to find a better job, whether that’s through networking, further education, or any of the other avenues I’ve discussed.
And remember: your first job does not define what you do for the rest of your life. You have plenty of time to find your dream job, and it’s unreasonable to expect that it will be the first job you get out of college.
It’s Okay to Be Uncertain
No matter what I tell you, you’re probably still anxious and uncertain about what life after college holds. But I hope this article has shown you some options that will help you be a little less uncertain and a little more excited.
No matter what, just remember that you won’t get through uncertainty by sitting at home and worrying about the future. Instead, you must take your future into your own hands. You must take action. So pick something from the list above and start making things happen!
Ransom Patterson is the editor-in-chief at College Info Geek, a site that helps students study more effectively, become more productive, and get great jobs after graduation. You can learn more about how College Info Geek helps students here .
Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and well-known expert on college admissions, medical school admissions, and graduate school admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into elite institutions.