Graduation season is upon us at most colleges, and many students of all fields of study are asking themselves: what now? Unless you’ve already landed a job or are in line for a professional field like law or medicine that will keep you in school for years to come, this is really the end of your school days and the start of your full-time working life. Even during normal economic times, graduation is frequently the start of quarter-life crises for many young people, but graduating in 2010 brings about a special set of considerations. What do you do if you’re graduating during a tough economic climate? Let the Nerd serve up a cold glass of advice.
Travel the World and Take Advantage of Deals
Travel is a popular option, and may be especially tempting during this economic downturn for one reason: deals. As travel agencies and airlines slash their prices to destinations around the world, if you’ve got enough cash left over, you can probably land a cheap fare to Europe, Asia, Mexico, Australia, or other popular places. Plus, if you’re not committed to a job yet, or if you’re willing to take a chance on economic recovery making more jobs available later, you might as well go and see the world now. Just make sure you have a good post-getaway plan lined up (i.e. moving back with parents or in with friend, enough cash in savings, etc.) so you’re not completely disorganized when you return.
Get a Stop-Gap Job while You Pursue Your Preferred Career
Another option is to simply get a stop-gap job, something for now that will pay the bills and help you build up a cash reserve. If you’ve been getting summer jobs for the past four or five years of your undergrad period, don’t be surprised if they don’t call you back, as companies are still cutting back their costs. Try your old contacts and see what the scoop is, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new that can make you money right away, even if it’s not in your preferred position.
Stop-gaps also give you breathing room so that you can pursue your desired career. This is especially true for Arts graduates who are looking for creative endeavors like writing or design: this is your best chance to try to make something a career from something you love doing.
Stay in School and Learn a Practical Skill
If you’re feeling particularly anxious about your job prospects and the state of the workforce out there, consider staying in school. If you’re on a student loan program, the main drawback is that you will have more debt to pay back later – and if your loan is administered by a U.S. bank, you may not be able to get it renewed at all in the current climate – and you’ll be starting out a few years later than your peers.
On the other hand, if you feel that your current degree turned out to be something you didn’t have a real passion for, or if you would like to diversify your experience by adding another discipline to your resume, then re-apply. If you can, try to get a certificate in a practical skill: see if your college or university offers certificates in Human Resources, Accounting, Bartending, and more. You may not have believed it while you were an undergrad, but as you’ll learn soon enough, those practical skills prove to be far more valuable in the workforce than most of the theoretical knowledge you’ve acquired through your degree.
Whatever you decide, make sure it’s in line with your vision of who you are, who you’d like to be, and what you want to get out of life after college. Good luck and the Nerd is sure you’ll make the right decision!
That will wrap up The Nerd’s Word for this school year… thank you all for joining us each week and we hope that you learned something useful to apply in or out of the classroom. The Nerd will be back for the fall semester to continue to provide you with all the tips and tools of surviving the academic world. Be smart and keep your brain active this summer with Nerd: The Focus and Energy Beverage.