If you are like most traditional college students, school is all you’ve ever known. From the time you were 4 years old (or younger) to now, you’ve spent nine months out of the year in classrooms, leaving barely any time for work and play.
But, now it’s all coming to a close: your undergraduate career is ending, and in a matter of days (if it hasn’t already happened), you will end your time at school with a shiny, new bachelor’s degree in hand. Finally, after all this learning, you have proven yourself to be a fully qualified adult.
But what does that mean? Seriously, what are you supposed to do now? After a lifetime of parents, teachers and professors telling you what to do, the blank opportunity of post-graduate life can be overwhelming, even oppressive. Fortunately, you aren’t alone; there are hundreds of thousands of graduating seniors just like you who feel lost and uncertain about their real-world futures.
If that doesn’t make you feel less abandoned and more confident, you’re in luck: You also have this list of possible career moves to give you the inspiration you need to keep moving forward.
1. Go Back to School
There are plenty of blogs online that will tell you that returning to school immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s is a terrible idea, especially if your primary reason is to delay entering the job market.
However, if the alternative to a master’s or doctoral program is career paralysis, you should seriously consider a few short-but-sweet graduate programs that will improve your career no matter where you’re headed.
A primary example of a universally beneficial degree is the MBA. MBAs are designed to rocket grads into leadership positions, regardless of industry, and they require only two years of dedicated study.
In an MBA program, you’ll study accounting and finance, human resources and operations, communications, technology and more. Plus, you can consider online MBA programs, which give you more flexibility to obtain employment than traditional graduate education.
2. Obtain Some Certs
If you don’t want to commit to a full program, you can enhance your existing credentials with industry certifications. Certifications prove that you are well-versed in more niche aspects of a particular industry.
For example, if you graduated with a computer science degree, you might endeavor to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), which will give you greater professional standing in the Infosec Industry. You can look into professional organizations in your industry to better understand any certs available to you.
3. Move Somewhere Interesting
You are young, you have a degree and you probably lack the heavy responsibilities that necessitate roots in any specific place, so why not try someplace new? If you have always been interested in living in New York, Los Angeles, London or Hong Kong, now is the time for you to pack up and move.
Thanks to the internet, your physical location shouldn’t much hamper your ability to find work; if there aren’t openings in your dream locale, you can always look for opportunities online. However, you should be careful to understand visas before you move because you could be breaking the law by remaining in a foreign country for too long.
There are hundreds of organizations that desperately need long-term volunteers. If you have enough saved up to enjoy a gap year between graduation and the real world, here are some groups that could use your help:
– The Peace Corps
– Habitat for Humanity
– AmeriCorps VISTA
– Teach for America
– United Planet
5. Get a Job
This is not the advice you wanted to hear, but it’s the advice you are most likely to get. Although it may be intimidating, the job market is where you will eventually find yourself, no matter how long you delay with graduate school and volunteerism.
The sooner you understand how the real world works, the better. Then, you can return to school, volunteer and try other opportunities later.
6. Start a Business
Employment isn’t for everyone. If you have an ingenious idea for a business, you should try it out, but you should surround yourself with the appropriate support beforehand. You should find an entrepreneur mentor, acquire a knowledgeable and experienced partner and take your first steps into entrepreneurship slowly, so your first foray into the real world isn’t a major crash and burn.
You might even consider seeking that MBA before you launch your venture, just to ensure you are adequately prepared for business leadership.