What to do after graduation

Deciding what to do after graduation is a journey, not a destination

Deciding what to do after graduation is a journey, not a destination

The day I graduated from college, I felt a profound sense of relief, pride, and excitement… but also poignant feelings of anxiety, fear and apprehension. 

I wondered what was in store for me in the “real” world and juggled many conflicting ideas about what to do after graduation.

Following college graduation, I sought out the advice of many people ranging from friends, classmates, family members, professors, potential employers, and even career counselors. I experimented with many different paths, naively assumed that eventually someone would possess the Holy Grail – or the perfect solution to my quest for what to do after graduation. 

Looking back on those times, I now realize that although it was important for me to evaluate many different options, no one else had the answer. I was in charge of my own destiny, just as today’s graduates are fully in charge of their own choices. They best piece of advice to bestow on graduates is to remind them that the quality of their happiness rests solely in their own hearts.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions and ideas about what to do after graduation. If you have a friend or loved one with an upcoming graduation, you may wish to pass along this list. None of these post-graduation ideas represents a perfect answer, and certainly not all of these ideas will be right for everyone; nonetheless they are all valuable and meaningful possibilities. 

Ultimately, the question of what to do after graduation is a journey, and not a destination.

What To Do After Graduation: A Few Ideas To Inspire The Unsure Along Their Journey

 Take some time to decompress. Completing college is a serious accomplishment, and you certainly won’t be the first person to feel burnt out by the time graduation day rolls around. It’s okay to relax, take a vacation, make some time for yourself, and have some fun before you decide what to do next. Actually, some relaxation time can put you in a better mind frame for taking the next step in your post-graduation journey.

2) Create your resume. If you are starting out in your job search, this is an ideal time to build the first draft of your resume. List any jobs or internships you may have had in college, your date of graduation and your major. At the top of your resume highlight your job objective or career goal. Passing your resume along to friends, family, business contacts and resources is the first step in undertaking a job hunt.

3) If you aren’t ready to consider a job, or can’t find one that fits your goals or field, consider taking an internship. An internship, even if it is an unpaid position, will give you some real world experience to add to your resume. Ultimately, this will make you more attractive to potential employers in the future, and will help to advance your skills in your chosen field.

4) Read! Throughout college and high school you have been forced to read required books and reading lists. Now is an ideal opportunity to finally read all those books you have always wanted to read, but didn’t have the time.

5) Spend time in the great outdoors. Many graduates who have been tied to classrooms, books and computers during their college years are anxious for some personal time to spend outdoors. Plan a hiking, cycling or camping trip. Get in shape; learn to kayak, sail or rock climb. This is a time to try something new and different.

6) Spend quality family time. If you’ve been away at a school or university and have not seen your family in awhile, take the opportunity to enjoy the company and comfort of your loved ones. Plan some family oriented activities. Most likely, your family will be thankful to see you again, so don’t feel too guilty about returning home before you figure out the next step of your journey.

7) Travel. If you can afford to set aside some time for traveling, this is a great opportunity to pursue before you have a job and other responsibilities. Research destinations that are personally appealing to you and plan a trip. Even graduates on a tight budget should research the wide variety of travel packages and reduced travel rates available. If nothing else, take a road trip! If you really can’t decide on a travel destination, why not check out great book series, and website titled 1000 Places to See Before You Die. This is the time of your life to enjoy an adventure!

8) Join the Peace Corps, Americacorps, or other volunteer organization that will allow you to travel, meet new people and demonstrate your philanthropic spirit. Volunteer experience will certainly look good on your resume, in addition to providing you with life changing new experiences.

9) If you have secured a job or gainful employment, find a home! You’ve spent your college or university years living in a dormitory. Take some time to seek out your own space. Before you sign a lease, be sure to fully inspect the apartment or home. Research the neighborhood, the terms of the lease, etc.

10) Pursue further education. For some, returning to school may be the least desirable choice immediately after graduation. However, it might be an ideal time to take a few more classes just for fun, or to consider returning for a masters or other advanced degree.

11) Last but certainly not least, don’t despair if none of these ideas seems right for you! It is absolutely normal to feel lost or unsure about the future immediately after graduation. Make your own list of possibilities about what to do after graduation. Post the list somewhere you will view it regularly, and take the time to reflect on the options. Remember, the world is your oyster!