After graduating, it’s very common to experience a feeling of “what now?” Following over a decade in a scheduled schooling structure that has not changed much since the age of six, it can be hard to fathom the working world, starting out on your own and entering that realm of adulthood.
Many recent grads are eager to get their foot in the corporate door and to start gaining invaluable work experience that will help them continue to advance within their chosen career field. But this path isn’t right for everyone.
For some, the idea of working in an office can be suffocating. You might find that the desire to help others comes before helping yourself. Or that your career goal requires more schooling before entering the professional world.
There is no right or wrong way to start life after college. Luckily, in this day in age, there are many ways to start the post graduate life, and not all of them require the stereotypical 9-5.
Here are three options that may be a better fit for you than the office.
Volunteering is a great way to spend your time — it does a lot of good for yourself and others.
There are many different types of volunteer work to choose from, but nearly all can be divided into the categories of local, national and international.
Local: The great thing about volunteering for a local charity is that you are directly helping your own community. To find a local charity, talk to friends and neighbors, or go to your city or county’s website.
Examples of great volunteering options include after school tutoring programs, soup kitchens, work in the arts, and animal shelters.
National: One very common national volunteering organization is Teach for America. Teach for America offers qualified individuals the opportunity to volunteer for a school year across the country to ensure excellent education for all youth.
The application season runs from August to February, and the organization is happy to accept recent college graduates and graduate school students.
You may also want to consider AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a network of national programs that focus on improving communities by mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more.
International: If a desire to travel is on your radar, you may want to consider international volunteering. Along with the Peace Corps and Greenpeace, there are many other organizations to choose from.
Some wonderful international options include Habitat for Humanity, The Water Project and various scattered educational volunteer opportunities. Some countries are more willing to let in international help than others, but the process of going through an abroad aid program is definitely worth the reward.
These programs allow a person to fully immerse in a culture and society along with supplying needed aid to grateful communities.
Which ever volunteer option you choose, just make sure you do your research. Although there are tons of great programs out there, there are also numerous programs that are more profit facing and do not really provide a valuable service to the community.
2. Get Your TEFL
Another great option is to become qualified to teach English abroad.
TEFL stands for Teach English as a Foreign Language. TEFL programs specialize in training individuals as English teachers. These trained individuals are then sent to various countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
With the continued growth of the global market, the demand for bilingual people (and especially those with fluency in English) is rapidly growing, so there are plenty of countries where your English skills will be valued. The major qualifications are a fluency in English and a desire to travel.
Getting your TEFL requires a course that can be taken either in person or online, where you are substantially prepared for teaching abroad. After that you are assigned to one of more than 50 countries all over the world.
TEFL is a win/win; while teaching English to people who can use it to better their lives; you get to feed your appetite for travel and adventure, not to mention gain valuable life experiences.
3. Achieve a Higher Education
For many people, the academic journey does not end with your Bachelor’s degree. Many professions encourage or require a degree of higher education for employment.
As opposed to starting an entry level position or starting in a field that may not be what they want to do, many recent undergraduates head straight into graduate school. There are a few different options for graduate school.
Some colleges and universities offer an extended five to six year program in which students can receive their Bachelors and Graduate degree in one chunk of schooling. Other students choose to apply to a separate graduate program at their alma mater.
A third option is applying to and going to a completely different masters program. A new master’s program also offers an opportunity for traveling and experiencing a new city along with the academic ascension. You may even want to consider earning your masters abroad.
Post graduate life is not as daunting as it seems, even for those not interested in immediately entering the professional 9-5 world. You just have to find the structure that works for you!