The fateful day of freedom has arrived – you’ve graduated college.
Peddling your bachelor’s degree, you carefully survey the selection of traditional post-grad opportunities and you find yourself saying, “WTF?”
Don’t worry – you’re not the only new grad that’s perceived the 9-to-5 as a slow death wish. It’s not for everybody.
So what’s fresh young talent to do when traditional positions just don’t cut it?
Here are three non-traditional post-grad options for the adventurous new grad:
Go on an Adventure
Four years (or longer) is a long, long time.
Rambling lectures, endless assignments, and dreaded group projects are just a few of the “I hate school” reasons many undergrads credit towards some serious senioritis.
Sitting in a classroom five days a week, cramming for exams, and bumming in an asbestos-laced dormitory has you feeling a little stir crazy – too stir crazy for Cubicleville – and you’re ready to bust loose.
Consider going on a great adventure: thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, climb a couple Colorado fourteeners, or visit National Parks in your Uncle Jim’s 1970’s pop-up camper. Experience the life you’ve spent years reading about, satiate your thirst for exploration, and scratch that let’s-get-outta-here itch with something challenging and fun.
Need to make some cash on the way (those student loans aren’t going to repay themselves)?
Join the Peace Corps
One of my biggest career regrets was not joining the Peace Corps right outta college. When I was in school, the Peace Corps involved fairly long commitments (starting at two years) and, well, grad school became a surprising possibility.
The Peace Corps is now offering shorter-term stints in a variety of really interesting places. Today, Peace Corps members can choose between 3 and 12 months stints, doing really neat work – everything from agriculture innovation to economic development – in some really amazing countries.
There’s a variety of other “Corps” options: AmeriCorps and the Marine Corps (other branches are also amazing options). If staying stateside is of interest, explore the unique AmeriCorps assignments in your region (or a region that you’d like to move to). If the military route is more your thing, consider applying for Officer Candidate School.
All of the government-affiliated Corps options provide student loan forgiveness (yay!!!), and some, like military service, offer additional educational benefits.
Start Your Own Business
After nearly a decade as an entrepreneur, I feel as though any conversation regarding starting their business should be prefaced by a big flashing CAUTION sign.
Not because it’s not awesome (entrepreneurship is amazingly awesome – at times); but because it’s quite challenging, super stressful, and legally-speaking, it’s not like a job where when it’s no longer “working” for you, you can simply walk out. The financial and emotional ramifications of running your own business is a little more complicated than turning in your resignation letter.
If you, like me, read the preceding paragraph as said, “that sounds like fun”, maybe entrepreneurship is a good option for you.
If you’re a new grad with limited resources, I recommend starting small (try freelancing), and working your way into developing something more established.
Prioritizing your business education is also an entrepreneurial must – check out your region’s Small Business Development Center and area entrepreneurial organizations for events and workshops that can help guide you on your journey. Connect with other entrepreneurs in your community and find an experienced mentor that can tackle the tough questions.