For college seniors, graduation is only a few short months away. While some students have an internship or job lined up, there are still many students who don’t. Graduation is a strange time for some. You question what it is you want to do with the rest of your life. You are about to truly transition into adulthood. The last thing you want to do is move back home and live in your parents’ house while spending endless hours applying to jobs for weeks or maybe longer. All while living under your parents rules and working at your high school job part time trying to save up so you can get out of there. Sounds great, right?
It doesn’t have to be like that though. Even if you have no idea what you want for your future and have nothing lined up, it is a great opportunity. You are at stage in your life, probably for the first and last time, that you have complete freedom. You don’t have any classes, no job, and you have the option to go where ever and do whatever you want. Once you start your career you won’t have the freedom to travel or do something spontaneous. If there is a time in your life to not have a job or a plan or any obligations, it is right after graduation. Sure, when you retire you will have that freedom again but you might be too old to enjoy it in the same way.
While not having a steady income may not be ideal, you can manage. Spend this time traveling around to visit different states that you are interested in. Volunteer with different companies and start networking. Pick up a few bucks by working at state parks, canvasing, or helping someone with yard work. Doing these things will help you discover what you are passionate about and you might find someone willing to give you a job after volunteering for them. There are plenty of people out there who have transitioned into their dream job after first working for free.
For a while you may not be able to really save anything. You will see those friends from college on social media with their new jobs and their new apartments. It might make you feel a little jealous, but trust me, when they see what you’ve been up the they will feel the same way. Everyone wants what they can’t or don’t have. The experiences and the people you will meet will make up for any envious feelings punching the clock or sitting in a cube all day long.
A life of uncertainty is not for everyone. People like plans and people like routines. So what can you do on your home turf during this transition period? The last thing you should do is sit around all day applying to job after job after job. Although you will have all the time in the world to do so, which is another benefit of not having any obligations after graduation. But do more than that. When you do land an interview they will ask you what you’ve been doing for the past 6 months or however long after graduation. If you have literally been doing nothing, that doesn’t look good. It looks lazy. Find somewhere close to home where you can volunteer a few times a week. Start a blog. Travel when you can. Get a part time job that will actually teach you new skills you can apply to the real world. There are things you can do to help yourself.
Here’s my personal post grad experience. I was one of those who had absolutely no plans. I had been babysitting for a family during school for a little extra spending cash, but definitely not something to make a career out of. So my boyfriend and I loaded up the car and spent the next 20 days driving in a zig zag pattern across the states. We stopped in Jacksonville FL, Murphy NC, Florence AL, New Orleans LA, Ozark National Forest AR, and somewhere in the middle of Missouri. Then we came to Boulder CO. We loved it, and after a few debates about California, we decided to stay. We were living in a friends basement and spending our time job hunting, meeting new people and exploring the state. I had to really budget and save money during this time which was hard. We both landed jobs not really in our field for close to minimum wage, which is where most people start out. I gained office experience along with other handy skills that later landed me a job in my field. It all worked out for me.
I have a friend who was offered a $100k salary job before he even graduated. He turned it down, did the job hunt thing, and ended up moving to London for a position making less but loving life. Things worked out for him. I have another friend who knew she was going to law school directly from undergrad and had already planned to work for her fathers law firm after passing the bar. Things worked out for her too.
What I am trying to say is that if you have a plan, that’s great, but if you don’t have a plan, that’s great too. Both situations are a blessing and a curse.