For as long as I can remember, my plan after college was to go to law school. Maybe grab a PhD after and become a formidable academic elitist with diplomas covering the walls of my home office. But as my graduation drew nearer and my student loan bills started to accumulate, the idea of funding another educational endeavor seemed daunting. So I went on to Plan B: finding a job.
After sending out 357 resumes and cover letters, I’m still unemployed (if you think this is an exaggeration, I’ll send you a snapshot of my Gmail inbox with the receipts of every online application I have sent). I did get a few job offers, but nothing that I felt was even remotely a step in the right direction. Taking a job just to be a low-level minion in an industry which I have no interest in made me more depressed than the idea of falling further into student loan debt.
So I write to you now, five months out of college with no plans. Being the Type A person I am, this is weird for me. But with these five months, I’ve realized there are options other than getting a job or becoming a professional student.
Whether you decide to backpack across Southeast Asia, or road trip across the country à la On the Road, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best options after college. For four years (give or take a semester or three), you’ve been surrounded by like-minded coeds. The real world is much different than the college lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to. Traveling bridges that gap because while it’s an adventure, it shoves you into the unknown, forcing you to adjust your way of life just the same way you’ll have to adapt when you join corporate America. Brave the world of couch surfing and get a real taste of traveling.
AmeriCorps offers plenty of programs that allow you to serve communities across the country in need. Whether you’re tutoring troubled youth or building homes, there is plenty to be done here in America. If you’re able to make the commitment and lifestyle change, the PeaceCorps is an amazing way to volunteer abroad. These programs also offer tuition assistance if you’re interested in getting another degree. If the career route is what you’re interested in, volunteering your time is a great way to expand your resume and show employers you’re open to new experiences.
Start a blog
We live in an age where social media has replaced newspapers and blogs like Betches Love This are breaking out of the small time and garnering cult followings. Everyone has a story to tell and your blog could be the next inspiration for something more (think Christian Lander’s venture into print after his blog, Stuff White People Like, took off). Even if your blog doesn’t launch you as a voice of the generation, at the very least it’s a resume builder. Employers are desperate for people who know how to manage websites and social media, so get a leg up and get digital.
Get a dog
Recent studies show that getting a pet reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and at this uncertain time in life, stress isn’t in short supply. When my mom voiced her disapproval of me adopting Capone – a pitbull pup with a huge head and even bigger appetite – I told her it was time for me to love something more than myself. Ever since, my priorities have changed. Buying a new summer dress is weighed against buying Capone prescription dog food. I often trade sleeping in for morning jogs and scooping poop. I pay more for dog health insurance than I do for my own. Maybe a pet doesn’t give you an advantage in the job search, but it does make for better small talk than weather and politics. “Oh, you train pitbulls on the weekend?” Boom, I just became more interesting than half the applicant pool.
Moral of the story
Experience doesn’t always come from where you think it will. Right now is probably the last time you won’t be tied to a desk, a family, a mortgage or those other things “real” adults deal with. Yes, eventually you’ll have to get a job or go to grad school, but right now, explore the abyss. Enjoy the absolute chaos and infinite opportunity you’ve been handed. There are no rules, no norms, no traditions you have to abide by.
Plan the adventure and get to it.
Powered by Facebook Comments