Your college graduation day will be the single most memorable moment in your life thus far. As a spritely twenty-something, your enthusiasm and energy will allow you to emerge into the next chapter of your life with vigor and vitality. However, what on Earth should that next chapter be? There are many subheadings you could choose from and therein lies the problem. Up until this moment, your life has been pretty much laid out in front of you as a path for you to follow with a couple of free choice moments thrown in for good measure. You went to elementary school, high school, college and may have had a part-time job or two. Now that it’s time to graduate, this readymade route has fallen away, and it’s time for you to step up and build your own path through life.
While this may sound a tad prophetic, you will now be responsible for earning a wage, cooking your own food, keeping healthy and ensuring your life is personally satisfying and filled with wonderful experiences. As you stand with your pals with your mortarboard thrown into the air and your Hawaiian lei for graduation bobbing around your neck as you pose for the ubiquitous graduation shots, your mind might start to wander as to what tomorrow will bring. You will be a graduate and a fully grown real-life human being.
There are many paths you can tread post-graduation. Take a look at these ideas to inspire you when writing the first few sentences of the best chapter of your life.
You could, of course, immediately venture into the world of work. With an excellent degree, you may be eager to hit the ground running and secure a place at a multinational firm on a graduate scheme. If your degree is in finance, you could aim for one of the big four financial consultancies in the United States. You’ll be sure of a great starting wage, exceptional career prospects and you’ll be part of a team of like-minded graduates taking their first tentative steps into the corporate world.
If you studied medicine, the natural progression might be to start your life as a training physician. However, it pays to think outside the box. While you may want to work in a private clinic or hospital, you could also think about volunteering your skills as part of a charity overseas. This could be the ideal way of combining your craving to see a little bit more of the world and entering into your chosen profession.
Sit your parents down and tell them that you want to travel for the first twelve months after you’ve graduated from college and you may see their faces drop. They will have the sudden pang of panic that you may morph from college graduate in their early twenties with a ridiculous amount of potential to perpetual backpacker. Try to reassure them that this is not the case and that you plan on visiting a number of countries, immersing yourself in a few different cultures and then returning having found yourself complete with enhanced resume.
Traveling is a fantastic way to show potential employees of your resilience and problem-solving skills. If traveling solo, mastering the art of travel can come as a shock. You need to ensure you have all of your visas in place, you can fund your travels, and you have a skeleton plan of the destinations you are going to visit. If you fancy a jaunt to the Far East, you could hit the Land of the Rising Sun, Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand. If South America is more your thing, you could while away the months exploring the ancient trails of the Incas in Peru or scaling some peaks in the Andes of Chile. Wherever your wanderlust itch is begging you to scratch, there might not be a better time to satisfy your thirst for travel than immediately after graduation.
To make the best of your travel experiences, try to ensure that you do some volunteer work along the way or take a seasonal job while getting to the heart of a community. This can be detailed on your resume and can leave you with valuable contacts when you set foot back in your homeland. While you want to enjoy your traveling experience, you also want to have one eye on your future employment prospects.
If you don’t fancy working for somebody else and seeing far-flung exotic destinations has never been your thing, why not consider setting up your own business. More and more graduates each year are creating startups fresh out of college. Many people team up with pals after they have had an idea when studying for a service or product that they believe could tap into a niche market.
If you feel like you could set out on your own into the world of entrepreneurship, ensure that you do some thorough market research. Your idea needs to be popular with your target audience. It needs to solve a problem, make their lives faster or save them time and effort. If uptake doesn’t seem guaranteed, go back to the drawing board and tweak your business plan until you have a viable startup before you launch. There’s nothing worse than plowing forward with an idea just because you are precious about it. You don’t want to learn such harsh lessons so early on.
Create a business plan detailing your financial forecasts for at least the first two years of trading and try to mitigate any cash flow lulls that you may foresee. As a college graduate, the chances are you will need to secure external funding so having a watertight business plan is a must.
As a graduate, your thirst for life is enviable, and you need to channel it into the ideal route for you. Consider all of your options before embarking on your journey into the next chapter of your life.
Featured Image by Cortney White
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