If you have just graduated college and don’t know what you want to do for a career or can’t find a job you can always consider an alternative. There are many programs out there that just might be right for you! Use this list as a reference for thinking outside the normal career box.
If you want to travel and help out people then this may be just for you. You will have to serve for 27 months but you’ll receive a number of benefits including: a living allowance, comprehensive medical benefits, vacation days, deferment of federal student loans, $7,425 upon completion of the program, free housing, advantages in federal employment through non-competitive status, language/cross-cultural training, and lifetime eligibility for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program for graduate school financial aid. Volunteering definitely does pay off with other benefits besides just making you feel good about yourself.
Say you want to help people but don’t want to move to another country? Well then AmeriCorps could be just what you are looking for. Under the AmeriCorps umbrella are several different programs. There’s VISTA, which is typically a year of service at a non-profit organization. Some of the benefits are: a monthly living stipend, deferment of federal student loans, heath coverage, childcare if needed, advantages in federal employment through non-competitive status, and The Segal Education Award worth $5,550 upon completion of the program that can go toward future schooling or federal student loan debt.
For those that are 24 years old and younger you can join FEMA Corps or NCC. Both are team-based residential service programs that last 10 months long. They come with similar benefits as VISTA but don’t offer the advantages in federal employment. There’s also State and National, which can be part-time or full-time service not to exceed a year. The benefits are the same as NCC and programs are at a variety of local and national organizations.
Lastly there’s Public Allies, which is a program that prepares young adults for leadership through a ten month apprenticeship at a non-profit and rigorous leadership training. The benefits for this program are the same as AmeriCorps NCC and State and National.
Teaching English abroad
If you are a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree you can teach English abroad at many schools throughout the world. Asian countries in particular are aggressively recruiting English teachers for their classrooms. In most countries you don’t even have to speak their native language, although it would be helpful. To find out more you can go to epik.go.kr/, jetprogramme.org/, or transitionsabroad.com.
Fellowships vary greatly and can be in any type of field. One thing that is similar though is that they are usually one-two year commitments. A fairly good list of fellowships that is barely just a tip of the iceberg can be found here. Pay and benefits can be drastically different for each fellowship so pay close attention when you are applying. Most fellowships however will look great on your resume, can give you a taste of what it’s like in that particular field, and some can even lead to full-time employment.
Yes I know some people think internships are only for undergraduates, well guess what? They aren’t! An internship can be a great way to build up your resume and experience after college. Also it can be a good way of testing the waters of certain careers to see if you’d actually like doing them long-term. Another great benefit of internships is that there is always the possibility that the employer will want to hire you on full-time once your internship is completed.
Feeling a little more daring? You could always join a military branch as an officer. This will be a huge commitment but it could really pay off. Military service has some great benefits including great health insurance, good pay for officers, getting grad school paid for, could help you get a federal job, and with some branches they will even pay off your student loan debt. However, you do need to realize that there is a huge risk that you could get seriously injured or even killed. This is definitely a choice you should carefully weigh the pros and cons before jumping into. To find out more about military service go to military.com.
Start a business
Don’t want to have a boss or deal with applying to countless jobs? You could also just start your own business. This will take some money, time, and commitment , but it could pay off greatly. You can get business loans through the SBA and you can even get mentors to help you along the way. Programs like SCORE and Startuplab are great for new business owners and can help guide you through the process.
This is a great way to work for many companies while not being tied down to just one. Usually creative types flourish in this type of work. You’ll work on a project to project basis and get paid for what you produce. If you are motivated you can make some great money. However some of the draw backs are you won’t receive health care or any other benefits, also you may not get work consistently.
Editor’s Note: Having worked freelance myself over the years’s, I’ve learned that healthcare and benefits may be available for freelancers who join a union. Check out the Freelancer’s Union for more info.
This is always a choice for post undergrads. You have to consider though whether or not it is worth getting more student debt, but if you are going for something you are passionate about don’t let debt be a barrier from going after your dreams. Generally more education isn’t a bad thing, but you don’t want to go to grad school just to escape the real world.
Teach for America
This is another great program where you can become a full-time teacher and receive a full salary and the same comprehensive health benefits as other beginning teachers. You’ll have to have a passion for helping children and dedicate two years of your life but it can be a very rewarding experience. To find out more you can go to teachforamerica.org.
Contributed by Travis Doto.