Postponing the Real World: What are my options?

So, you’ve graduated or are on track to graduate within an academic year. You’ve dedicated countless hours, a few dozen sleepless nights and sacrificed a football game or two, all to maximize your ability in what ever it is you’ve studied for these last four (or more) years. Everything you’ve worked toward should make getting a job, finding your own place to live and becoming an all-around independent person smooth sailing, right?


If you are anything like me, the last four years have made you so uninterested in your major,  you now find yourself questioning your reasons for going to college in the first place or at least you’re slamming your head against the wall for not changing majors when you had the chance. Or perhaps, you’re one of those care-free intellectual types who never really thought about getting a job and were always more interested in finding themselves or fixing injustices in the world; which is great, but now you have no idea what to do with your BA in theatre.

Don’t freak out yet. There are new and rising graduates across the country that feel similarly, and if grad school isn’t your thing, there are a number of opportunities that target young adults who aren’t quite sure what they want to do after graduation.

It’s likely you’re aware of some, while others might have never occurred to you, but whatever your situation, it’s possible to find an intermediary opportunity that both interests you and might actually play an important role in determining what it is you finally choose to pursue.

So, be aware that…

Internships aren’t just for undergrads.

New college grads tend to forget this. Most university career services, at your request, will keep you in the loop well after graduation. Internships, while most are unpaid, create opportunities to explore new interests and career paths, and often result in employment opportunities. Not to mention, they are a great way to make connections that although might not impact your life immediately, could very well create opportunities for you down the road.

Non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s)  provide new opportunities.

I’m currently going through Teach For America’s application process and less than a month ago I would have never considered pursuing an opportunity with an organization like TFA. I would advise you to think outside the box, and seriously consider involvement with a similar organization.

Teach For America, Amnesty International, American Red Cross, Green Peace and Peace Corps are some of the more recognizable ones, but there are a ton out there; most of which look great on a resume. Contact your university’s career services for a  more comprehensive list of non-profit and NGO opportunities.

Work on campus.

If you go to a major state or private university, chances are there are plenty of job opportunities on campus, and I’m not talking about the university book store. Reach out to your professors, deans and advisors. More often than not professors and departments are looking to fill temporary positions, and although taking advantage of such an opportunity might mean sticking around for a few more semesters, this is likely a more attractive alternative to being jobless and moving home.

Be open-minded.

Consider adventures you’ve never imagined yourself doing and don’t be afraid to talk to people.

Everything that happens from this point on is up to us. Just because we have no interest in pursuing a career directly related to our major isn’t reason enough to abandon the job search. We instead have to move forward with greater persistence and determination in finding what opportunities are right for us.



Matt Rappaport blogs at Life After Graduation and will soon graduate from Penn State with a major in print journalism and minor in political science. He’s currently working for an engineering firm in Princeton, New Jersey, but has plans to begin law school in the 2014 academic year.

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