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What to Do After College: 9 Ideas to Inspire You

Last Updated March 9, 2023

So, you've graduated college, or maybe you're nearing the finish line; now what? Some people have a post-graduation plan before they even start their career training. But many others are left with decisions about what to do after college. It's a question that can be both challenging and exciting to explore.

The question of the future can be daunting for college graduates, but it doesn't have to be. Luckily, there are a variety of options to consider when thinking about what to do after earning your college degree or other postsecondary credentials. Explore the following nine options to help you decide what to do next.

9 Things Smart People Do After College

What to Bring to College: The Ultimate Dorm Room Checklist The excitement of college graduation rapidly fades as the reality of what comes next sets in. What do you do after college? What is the next step? Don't let uncertainty creep in and overtake your post-grad life. This is the perfect time to take control of your future by exploring all that lies ahead.

Before diving in, here's an important reminder: having confidence in your decision-making is essential. Please don't compare yourself to your classmates and their objectives after college. Everyone's life path is unique, and yours doesn't have to adhere to societal standards.

That said, don't jump into graduate school for the wrong reasons. If you feel uncertain about the future, earning an advanced degree is not necessarily the answer. For some majors and fields, a master's degree is necessary for a job. However, you can attend grad school later if you ultimately decide to pursue advanced education and credentials.

1. Establish structure and routine.

Structure and time management are essential after college, especially when you may have more unstructured time without essay due dates and exams consuming your schedule. Establishing a solid routine will center you daily and provide consistent motivation to move forward. Wake up at a certain time, eat a healthy breakfast, get active, apply for jobs, make time for hobbies, and hang out with friends regularly.

2. Throw your whole self into the job search.

When searching for a job after college, make it your full-time job. Finding the right job requires dedication and care, so treat it as such. Research roles, make connections, arrange informational interviews, and submit one high-quality job application per day. The goal is to do something regularly that gets you closer to your desired job.

It's also essential to balance showing potential employers confidence in your qualifications and abilities while maintaining a sense of humility. Remember, many people need to start in an entry-level role and work their way up as they gain experience.

3. Consider moving somewhere with better opportunities.

What to Do After CollegeIf job prospects in your home or college town seem limited, relocating to a larger city with better job opportunities could be a great option. However, make sure to have a plan before moving, as relocation expenses can add up quickly. Consider living with family for an extended time after graduation, which can help save money for a security deposit or moving expenses and allows for a job search. Set ground rules with your family and establish a clear timeline for how long you plan to stay.

4. Take advantage of career prep resources.

If you're unsure which career to pursue, plenty of resources are available to help you determine your next steps. Take personality and skills tests to gain insight into what interests you and what you're good at. Taking a volunteer position or internship can also allow you to experience different kinds of work firsthand, plus you can practice the soft skills you need to excel in the workplace. Talking to professionals in the field and attending events related to your career can be an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and explore your desired profession.

Your school's administrative departments may also have resources you haven't taken advantage of yet. The academic advising team is an excellent place to start asking about tools for the job hunt.

5. Travel, if you can.

What to Do After CollegeNot only can travel recharge you, but it can provide invaluable life experience in different cultures. Learning a new language or participating in a service project can open doors to new opportunities and knowledge. Additionally, traveling can give a broader perspective on careers you may not have considered before.

Plus, depending on your credentials, you might be able to establish a part-time job or full-time career abroad. You will need to look into the legal employment requirements for non-citizens of the country you want to work in, as some countries have much stricter rules than others. A popular example is English speakers with the right skills who teach English at language schools in other areas of the world. Not all foreign employers will require specific teacher certification to teach English as a second language (ESL).

6. Organize and prioritize.

Once you've decided which direction to pursue, getting organized is key. Making a plan and setting goals will help keep you on track and motivated. Take each step individually, break down your goals into smaller chunks, and prioritize what needs to be done. Work with mentors to help in the process, use websites and apps to organize tasks, build a support network, and schedule fun activities to reward yourself for working hard.

7. Explore opportunities outside of your major or field of study.

Millennials are increasingly forging alternative career paths and making a living through freelancing and entrepreneurship. Consider taking a part-time job with a different skill set to gain experience and make money. Freelancing can also be used to supplement income and whittle down college loans while looking for a full-time job.

8. Get in control of your money.

Managing your finances is another important component when considering what to do after college. Evaluate your current spending habits and create a budget that fits your lifestyle. Consider working toward paying off student loan debt as soon as possible, even if it means taking on an extra job. Start building credit by using a credit card responsibly and researching options to save for retirement.

9. Prioritize caring for your mental and physical health.

What to Do After CollegeStress can quickly overwhelm you and can have a detrimental impact on your well-being. Make time to practice self-care, whether it be yoga, a bubble bath, or going out with friends. Prioritize getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals. It's essential to carve out time for yourself, so don't get too caught up in the process.

Transitioning from college to the real world doesn't have to be intimidating. These tips should help provide clarity and set you on the right path. Whether you move to a new city, explore options, travel, or stick to a routine, finding out what to do after college can be an exciting opportunity to create a new adventure.

Above all, remember to stay positive and know your capabilities. And don't be afraid to take a chance, trust your instincts, and make the best decisions for yourself and your future.