College graduation is both exciting and nerve-wracking. You finally made it through your last round of finals, and you’re looking ahead with equal parts William Wallace’s “Freedom!!!” yell, and perhaps Scooby-Doo’s “Unh?” Now what?
Opportunities abound, and yet, therein may lie the problem. I could do anything if I only knew what it was, as Barbara Sher titled her 1994 book (since re-released). Specific programs are increasingly seen as less important than completion of a degree itself – with exceptions, particularly in medicine and education (I’d like my primary care physician to actually have a medical degree, thank you, not English).
That being said, you’ve got your degree … now what? Rush into the workforce? Freelance? Take a gap year?
For the last 17 years or so, you attended school five days a week, nine months on, three months off. And now that routine has ended. Take advantage of the change in life seasons to evaluate your strengths, passions, and desires; set goals and take the first step toward completing them.
5 things to try after graduation:
1.Consider a short-term mission trip. Whatever the length, whether a week-long or up to two years, mission trips broaden your horizons, open your eyes to new cultures and perspectives, and may even awaken dreams you didn’t know you had.
Timing is key. Acquisition of a 9-to-5 job or acceptance to grad school come with their own sets of benefits, expectations, and limitations. Time off does not come as freely once you join the workforce.
2.Travel. You have a unique opportunity at your fingertips: to travel at your pace, on your schedule. No need to ask for time off or return to the office by a certain date. (It’ll take long enough to rack up sufficient vacation time.)
What about the money, you ask? Consider suggesting travel-themed gift cards or Visa cash cards (even GoFundMe!) in lieu of physical graduation presents.
Concerned about how to travel on a budget? Research budget hotels, hostels, and Airbnb. Rick Steves is another great resource for all things travel.
3.Complete an internship. Many internships offer college credit or a small stipend; on the flip side, just as many offer neither. Regardless of what they do or don’t offer, internships provide invaluable on-the-job experience and networking opportunities. They allow you and the company to learn more about each other with a lighter commitment than a full-time position.
4.One book that may be of particular interest is Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love (which, incidentally, includes a foreword by Financial Peace University’s Dave Ramsey). The book challenges readers to look at work as a way of honoring, glorifying, and indeed worshiping God – in whatever form it may take! Miller encourages you to look at work most in line with your unique personality and calling. That may be a 9-to-5 job, the medical field, or something creatively different, such as freelancing.
If you’re feeling a strong pull towards missions, check out some of the top needs and jobs our partner organizations have to spark ideas of how careers and missions go hand-in-hand.
As detailed above, opportunities abound after college. The day and age we live in allow for much more variety than we saw even 15 years ago; more and more college graduates are changing up the early post-college years and emerging the better for it.
What did you do after your graduation? Some, all, or none of the above? Did you read a good book or have a memorable experience? Leave a comment below!