Let's face it: there might not be anything scarier than graduating from college without a job lined up. Starting at 4 years old, there has been a 'next step' that has guided you to this point, from elementary school to middle school, middle to high school, high school to college. Once you graduate from college? It's a wild west of possibilities, and while you've been promised the world by your university it becomes very clear very quickly, that having the same degree as your fellow graduates hardly differentiates you from your peers, and certainly doesn't guarantee you a job.
If you had multiple internships in college and leveraged that experience your prospects may be good. If you're behind and have some catching up to do, there is a very short window of opportunity to play catch-up and show employers that you have what it takes to be successful in the workplace. Let's explore what options you have out there, depending on what you want to do, whether you're focused on your comfort zone, travel, or jump-starting your career.
Goal: Stay in your comfort zone
If you're looking to remain in your comfort zone your options are pretty easy. You could:
#1 - Move back in with you parents. You know... they'll cook you meals. And there's free rent. Maybe some of your high school friends will be around?
#2 - Hang around your college town a bit more. College was lots fun, why not have a bit more fun and be the older person lingering around campus?
#3 - Wait Tables. Working at a bar or restaurant can be a good way to make some immediate money out of college, but isn't going to serve as a professional stepping stone or jump-start your career.
Goal: See the World
If your goal is to get out and see the world there are many different options to explore! Of course, finding a way to put your degree to good use and make an income is the ideal combination.
#1 - Teach English Overseas. When it comes to ways to both travel and make a living abroad, the
easiest way is to teach English as a second language. In most cases, becoming a certified TEFL or TOEFL instructor takes roughly 1 month, and there are reputable organizations like International TEFL Academy that can get you certified and in contact with potential employers for roughly $1500. For most places around the world you'll make enough as an English teacher to live comfortably, but don't expect to be able to save much unless you're working for a private school or business in Asia.
#2- Volunteer Abroad. There are many places around the world that need help, and volunteering abroad can be a productive way to explore a new place and culture while doing some good. You may be able to make an impact in a community that is in need, though be mindful of where you decide to go, and if the volunteering you're doing there truly helps, rather than putting a band-aid on a serious problem.
#3 - Backpack! Taking the time and backpacking around the world can be a great way to explore many different cultures, meet amazing people, and have a great time. On the flip side, it can leave you with a hole in your wallet without much to show to a potential employer when you get back.
Goal: Start a Career
In 2015, the number one reason students invest in college is to get a good job afterwards. This statistic by Gallup shows the true motivation for investing in college, and the end result of a good job is hardly a guarantee. Here are a few things post-grad that can get you on the right track:
#1 - Intern Domestically. If you can't get a job and you've graduated, pursuing an internship in your field is essential. Many employers look to their interns as a prime recruiting source, hiring the top interns each season. If you can manage to get into a good company and prove your effectiveness, you may be able to land a job. On the flip side, if you don't land the job you're back to where you started, and still behind the rest of your peers.
#2 - Intern Abroad. Interning abroad brings together the power combination of intercultural competence and concrete work experience. To show that you've been able to pack up, move to a foreign country, and succeed in a professional workplace setting impresses employers and often holds more weight on a resume an that same college degree. Typically international internships can come with greater responsibility than a domestic internship, and all the challenge and fun of a study or volunteer abroad. Interning abroad also gives you the advantage over others when it comes to industry knowledge. If you have an understanding of the London business climate, a company in New York is going to find that knowledge attractive!
Think to yourself, of the roughly 2 million college graduates, what makes me different to prospective employers? If interning abroad differentiates me from the crowd, is it worth pursuing? When it comes to 'bang for your buck' an international internship is perhaps the most productive way to both see the world, and set yourself up for a great career.
For more information about interning abroad, check out the Global Experiences Homepage.