So You Just Graduated College, Now What?
The day has finally come (or is soon upon you): COLLEGE GRADUATION! As exciting and invigorating as this culmination is, it is also incredibly nerve-wracking and somewhat stressful, especially if you do not have a job lined up for the coming year. Without any definite plans, you may be stuck wondering: “Well, now what?” Trust me, you are not alone. The Los Angeles Times recently released an article about college seniors and their lack of job prospects. You might be surprised to hear that more than 4 in 5 college seniors do not have a job lined up after graduation. So, as you stress about what you should do with your life now, remember that you are not the only one struggling with this existential crisis. Here are some great options to consider for your new post-grad life:
1. The obvious– Get a job
So, you just spent two to four (or more) years at a university to get a degree in hopefully something you enjoy. Now is the time to apply what you have learned in school to real world situations. Most college students are in need of money after graduation, so the pressure to find a job is high. Getting a job right out of college is a great way to become self-sustaining from the get-go and put yourself into work mode. If you are able to get a full-time job out of college, that is a great opportunity that you may not want to pass up. There is a good chance that you may not have the opportunity to start at the “job of your dreams” so it is important to be flexible and open-minded in your job search. A great way to get your foot in the door is to network with experienced individuals in your field of interest to gain some advice and insight about what lies ahead for you in the industry. Professional networks like LinkedIn are great resources for finding jobs and for networking.
2. Get an internship
Just because you are a college graduate does not necessarily mean you are qualified for the position you want within a company. A great way to start out in a company that you are interested in working at long-term is to apply for an internship. At a lot of larger companies, interns eventually have the opportunity to be hired on as full-time, salaried employees. If you are in a position in which you can afford to work as an intern for the summer or for 3 to 6 months, you should consider the opportunity. Many internships actually prefer college graduates and are full-time, paid positions, so do not write off the opportunity to work your way up the ladder from an intern position.
3. Take some time off
We are all feeling the pressure to get a job and make money, but there is nothing wrong with taking some time off after graduation. You may want to spend a month or two just enjoying the simple things in life, spending time with your loved ones, or traveling. As you are taking your time off, it would be good to keep in mind when you will be ready to start job hunting and to even research some job prospects at the same time.
Post-graduation is the perfect time to travel. Once you get a full-time job, there are basically no opportunities for you to take a 1-2 month vacation in the middle of the year. If you are graduating and do not have a job lined up, traveling could be a great option for you. This may be the only time in your life that you can travel care-free without having to worry about asking for work off or waiting to accumulate vacation days/weeks. Whether you plan to travel to another country, or across the country, it is something to consider as a newly graduated person.
It is never too late to spark an idea for a really great project. If you think that starting your own company, designing your own app, creating your own blog, or anything along those lines is something you would be interested in, then you should do it. Right after you graduate, you are most likely very motivated to get your life going. Spending time on something that is your own and building it from the ground up could be the perfect fit for you, especially if you prefer to be your own boss.
6. Go to graduate school
If you are interested in furthering your studies in a certain area or receiving an advanced degree, graduate school could be the thing for you. Many graduate schools like to see some experience on your resume before you apply, so this may be something you want to consider pursuing after a year or two of experience working in a field that you are interested in. Prepping to take the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc. is very time consuming, so this should be kept in mind if you are balancing a job at the same time.
The possibilities are endless once you graduate college, there is no particular path you are supposed to follow. Each person is unique and has their own career and life goals. When deciding what to do next, consider where you will be most happy and what seems most practical to you at this point in your life. Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2014! We did it!