16 Options To Consider for What To Do After College
Updated March 16, 2023
College graduation is an exciting time for students. After years of study, you're now free to choose from an infinite amount of life paths. While for many this means pursuing an entry-level role, for others, it can mean traveling, interning or taking a gap year.
In this article, we offer 16 great ideas for what to do after college to help you plan your next step.
What are your post-college options?
Recent college graduates have many choices. Some graduates are ready to begin their careers while others want to volunteer for their communities. Graduates often move away from their college, sometimes back home, to new places or even to international destinations. Carefully consider your options and interests and choose a post-college path that benefits both your career and your passions.
Things to do after college
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 back to your hometown for a while is a great way to look for jobs and explore the 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. You can also contact classmates from high school to learn of employment or volunteer opportunities that may interest you.
2. Continue your education
Sometimes, the job you want after college requires more education. Community colleges often offer individual classes to help you prepare for the workforce. You can also take classes at trade schools that can help you gain hands-on skills and qualifications for vocational jobs.
3. Become a research assistant
Colleges and universities often hire recent college graduates to assist with research. While people may associate research with the sciences, such as chemistry and psychology, there are college academic departments that perform research for a variety of industries. Contact your college or previous professors to ask 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, such as 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.
Related: 45 Gap Year Benefits
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, such as time management, self-motivation and creative thinking, to turn a passion into a job. For example, if you love yoga, earn a 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 can benefit your intended career. You can also review admissions requirements to ensure you can attend a graduate program that interests you.
8. Find volunteer opportunities
Volunteering is an excellent way to add experience to your resume. Often, volunteer opportunities help develop hard skills, such as task management and leadership, and soft skills, such as communication and adaptability. Volunteering can also lead to a paid position with the organization or a full-time job elsewhere through networking while volunteering. It may also feel 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, 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, such as 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
Foreign countries may seek native English speakers to teach children and adults the English language. Language schools may require 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
Colleges may hire their past students to join administrative departments, such as 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 ask if there are any open positions for recent graduates. You can also network with your former classmates and instructors to find a role that fits your interests.
13. Move to a new place
Recent college graduates are well-situated to move to a new place after college. Companies may expect candidates who recently graduated from school to move away from their college to new cities or states. These employers may also be willing to pay relocation costs.
14. Take an apprenticeship
Industries often employ apprentices. While apprenticeships are like internships, they differ in the type of work and depth of mentorship the apprentice has. Companies may give apprentices hands-on assignments and real-world problems to solve. They're under the direction of a senior colleague who helps guide and instructs them in the necessary skills and steps to learn the job.
15. Start your own business
If you have an idea for a great product or a strong passion, starting your own business can be the best way to create your dream job. For example, if you're passionate and knowledgeable about physical fitness and earned a degree in business, you may be ready to start your own personal training company. Develop your soft and technical skills while you're earning your degree to prepare for your career as an entrepreneur.
Related: How To Become Your Own Boss
16. Get an entry-level job
The best option after college graduation may be to take an entry-level position to gain skills and experience. Even if the job isn't in your field or something you're passionate about, a real-world, full-time job can help you build your resume. It can also give you the support you may need for planning for your future and preparing to earn your dream job.
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