Fork in the Road: Choosing a Path After College

By Shelby Haffey  •  January 06, 2014

So you’ve graduated college. Now what? If you’re anything like me this question’s been plaguing you while nearing the end of your college career and possibly even further back. You really only have two options, if you’re not planning on continuing to further your education after you graduate, that is: either head into the real world and seek employment, or travel. Seems easy enough until you consider two considerable factors: the job market and travel costs. There are a couple things to ponder that can make whichever path you choose simpler:

 

Career

If you’re choosing to leap into employment, buckle up—it could be a bumpy ride. Diving into the real world can be scary, and it may seem like the perfect job is hard to find. Even if you find it, chances are 10 other recent graduates have it pegged as their dream job. How do you stand out? How do you score an interview? There are a few things you can do.

Build a stellar resume. Every position requires you to have experience of some sort. Don’t have any in your field? Internships are excellent resume builders and most will give you hands-on experience that should really benefit your job or life in general. If job prospects are limited, try applying for an internship. You won’t regret the experience and knowledge you gain. Internships also look appealing to potential employers. This will give your resume the extra boost it needs.

 

 

Once you’ve gained some solid experience, you will need to have a solid resume. Your resume is the first impression you have on a potential employer. Blasé, sloppy resumes will quickly be thrown into the trash. If crafting an exceptional resume is not your forte, then seek help from a friend or from websites like Resume Edge which will help you create that professional-looking resume. Remember, your resume is representing you. You always want to present yourself in the best way possibly to potential employers.

Luckily, we live in the age of the Internet. Job sites like Monster.com allow you to create a profile, provide a little information about yourself, post a picture and post your resume. There are copious job listings on these sites as well as employers seeking candidates to fill their open positions. LinkedIn allows you to network with companies as well as friends, past coworkers, and even professors. This creates one large social network to seek out potential employers or have them find you. These websites open an even larger span of opportunities.

Make sure to explore every available option when diving into the career world. Finding a job can be a job in itself, so be resourceful, relentless, and persevere.  

 

Travel

If you choose to travel the world and immerse yourself into every possible culture, then go see the world. You’re young, you have a dearth of commitments, so when is a better time than now? Oh yes … money. We can work this out.

If you haven’t graduated yet and traveling is your dream, start saving. If you have graduated, get a job for a few months and save as much as you can. I’m sure you will also be showered with graduation cards that carry a pretty penny. Combine this with your savings and you will be on your way to purchasing a one way ticket to the destination of your dreams. And this doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Search through all possible sites like Kayak or even Priceline. They’ll get you competitive, cost-effective rates for every facet of travel.

Once you’ve reached your destination, backpack around. Work your way through Europe, Asia, Africa, or wherever it is that you go. One of the only ways to truly immerse yourself in a culture is to live, work, eat, sleep, and breathe it. Working your way through countries and cities will not only take you from place to place, but instill in you new ways of life, new languages, and a new way to look at the world. Imagine the stories you will create and carry with you for a lifetime. Not to mention that some of this will probably look great on a resume.

 

 

If you’re not the backpacking-through-Europe type and prefer experiencing countries and cultures in a somewhat structured, organized way, there are reasonable options to you at reasonable prices. Expedia, Travelocity, and other budget-oriented websites are there to help you plan your trips smoothly and affordably. Whether it is back packing and working your way from place to place or planning an extensive trip to see the world, nothing will beat the stories, experiences, and knowledge you will gain.

Don’t be plagued by the phrase “Now what?” You do not have to be stuck at that fork in the road now that college is over. Roll up your sleeves and get to work or go explore the world. Your life is really just beginning and a brilliant story will unfold, no matter which path you choose. 



Shelby Haffey Shelby Haffey Shelby Haffey is always looking for ways to save, for herself and others. When she is not seeking out the latest deal or writing up a storm she is relaxing with a book, taking her dog to the beach, spending time with family, or exploring the city.


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