15 Options for What to Do After College

Many college students take advantage of the few years of freedom post-graduation, choosing to pursue other paths instead of jumping right into a 9-to-5, full-time career.

If you're a recent graduate who's hesitant to jump into the "real" working world, consider doing something else with your time, like interning, volunteering, or traveling. Whatever you choose to do, consider how these roles may impact your future career options, if that's a concern for you.

Here are 15 options for what to do after college.

01 of 15

Be an Adventure Guide

Four Mountaineers Ascend Cliff Above Mountains
Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images 

Are you the adventurous type? Whether you're into white water rafting, skydiving, rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, snorkeling, or bungee jumping—turn it into a part-time or even a full-time job. Many adventure companies look for young people to hire.

There are opportunities both within the United States and internationally. Many companies look to hire eager, English-speaking guides due to the popularity of these activities among college students abroad.

02 of 15

Become a Nanny

Nanny and Child Picking Carrots in Field
Caiaimage / Paul Bradbury / Getty Images 

Nannying is an excellent opportunity for people who like working with children. If you decide to be a live-in nanny, you can often get free room and board, which is an excellent way to save money. Nannying jobs also tend to come with other perks like the opportunity to travel with the family, a solid weekly paycheck, and the complimentary use of a car, for example.

Long-term nannying, like working with the same family for a year, can also be an excellent way to develop strong personal references you can provide to other employers down the road.

Just like with most jobs, there may be some potential downsides. Those who work as nannies may have limited personal time and may work long hours for low pay.

03 of 15

Become a Research Assistant

Scientist Using Pipette in Research Laboratory
Morsa Images / Getty Images 

If you're still living close to a college, look into a research assistantship, as universities have a significant amount of their resources invested in research. Although research might seem exclusive to the sciences, you'd be surprised how much research goes into other fields, too—from the obvious, like biology, chemistry, and psychology, to the unexpected, like journalism, international relations, and art history.

There are generally many opportunities for students who hold a bachelor's degree. If you're a recent graduate, you can tap into your connections with your past professors and other faculty and staff you may have gotten to know while you were at school.

04 of 15

Find an Internship

Young Man Interning at the Office
SolStock / Getty Images 

Although many internships stipulate that candidates must be able to receive college credit to be eligible to work, there are some that don't require interns to be enrolled in school. Many of these types also happen to be paid, offering monetary compensation instead of the opportunity for credit.

If you're a recent graduate, there's a good chance you can find a position that works for you, especially if you are available on a full-time basis. Not only do internships offer valuable work experience, but they are also an excellent way to make connections with potential employers. An internship will also give you solid experience to list on your resume.

05 of 15

Invest in Your Passion

Personal Trainer Assisting Student With Cobra Pose in Her Yoga Class
GCShutter / Getty Images 

Do you love yoga or pilates? Can't spend enough time on the ski slopes? Are you a rock-climbing pro? Love to paint? If you have a passion that you can turn into a part-time job, consider investing in a training course and get certified, or even teach it on your own.

For example, you could take a yoga teacher training course, become a certified ski or rock climbing instructor, or become an art teacher at your local community center. Some activities can even be taught online.

Whatever you love to do, look into how you can make a job out of it. Not only will you have a blast at work, but you'll also gain the experience and skills you need to turn your hobby into a job that you can always fall back on.

06 of 15

Start a Business

Start a small business

MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Instead of getting a traditional job after college, why not be your own boss? Consider taking the time to explore the self-employed lifestyle and start your own business.

Whether it's developing an app, selling crafts online, selling used clothes or furniture online, starting a pet-sitting business, or something else, the skills you learn from your business will certainly be valuable throughout the rest of your career.

07 of 15

Take a Continuing Education Class

Teacher Helping Student at an IT Class
andresr / Getty Images 

Whether you are interested in pursuing a field other than what you majored in or want to develop career-specific skills further, consider taking continuing-education classes at a community college or an adult-learning center in your area.

For example, if you were a biology major but want to pursue a different field, like computer programming or graphic design, taking classes gives you a foundation to begin looking for entry-level jobs in that field.

Moreover, these classes are relatively inexpensive, compared to credited courses at four-year colleges, but they still offer valuable, real-life skills.

08 of 15

Pursue a Part-Time Job That You’re Passionate About

Young woman working part time in a greenhouse.
Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty Images 

If you don't feel that you're ready to jump into a 9-to-5 career, take the year off to work in a part-time job in an area you're passionate about, Think about whether there is anywhere you've always thought about working, like a flower shop, that you've never had time to try out. Not only does that give you the opportunity to earn money post-college, but it could even develop into more promising opportunities down the road.

For example, a recent college graduate who was very interested in yoga obtained a position working as a receptionist at a small, local yoga studio. That part-time job eventually led to her career as a manager and marketing specialist for a larger studio.

09 of 15

Volunteer in the US

Volunteers Holding Hands in Circle
Hill Street Studios / Eric Raptosh / Getty Images 

While volunteering might not bring in income, it is a valuable way to use your time, as you will be making positive changes while also building a network of fellow volunteers, co-workers, supervisors, and organizations that might be important to your future work.

Gap-year programs like Americorps and Teach for America are one way to volunteer. You can also find day-to-day opportunities within your hometown, or reach out to a non-profit organization and ask whether they could use your assistance.

Your volunteer experiences can be included on your resume. Worried about money? Consider a side gig to boost your income.

10 of 15

Teach English Abroad

teach english abroad

South_agency / Getty Images

A large number of Americans land jobs abroad each year, and English is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Many people around the world are eager to learn English, whether it's through group classes or even private lessons.

Popular options include programs through international embassies, such as the JET Program with Japan, as well as jobs at international schools and through service organizations. There are also programs where you can teach English online.

11 of 15

Work Seasonal Jobs

Farmers Working at Pumpkin Farm
Gpointstudio / Getty Images

If you want a range of colorful, varied positions to add to your resume, pursuing a few seasonal jobs for a year is a fun way to get diverse work experience while also enjoying yourself. There are many types of seasonal jobs, such as positions at ski resorts, beaches, resorts, and cruise ships. If you plan wisely, you can find employment for a full year in this way.

12 of 15

Volunteer or Work Abroad

A woman sits on a hillside in Iceland.

Westend61 / Getty Images

Do you love to travel, but still want to use your time to make a difference? Consider an international volunteer position, through an organization like the Peace Corps, Global Vision International, or the Red Cross.

If you want to travel while still earning a paycheck, another option is to pursue a "working holiday" visa. Certain countries, including Australia and New Zealand, offer "working holiday" visas in which U.S. citizens are permitted to stay in the country and work temporary jobs.

13 of 15

Travel Recreationally

Woman With Backpack in Airport
Hero Images / Getty Images 

The best time to travel is after college, when you are free of obligations to a job. If you have the opportunity to travel, you should do so when you can, as it broadens your perspective and is an important life experience.

If you decide to travel, make the most of it, and take photos or blog about it. You can then share whatever you come up with as an example of your multimedia, writing, or web design skills.

Keep in mind that traveling can be expensive, but there are ways you can keep costs down, like staying in hostels rather than hotels.

14 of 15

Work at Your College

University Student in Library
ML Harris / Getty Images 

If you decide to continue living close to your college, consider pursuing a job there, whether it is in administration or education. There are many jobs to be had on college campuses. For example, you could work in the department that you majored in, or you could work as a teaching assistant if there are positions relevant to your degree.

These types of jobs can also lead to further opportunities, like the funding of graduate courses or even a degree, as many universities will allow their employees to take classes for free.

15 of 15

Try Organic Farming

Farmer Harvesting Organic Tomatoes in Greenhouse

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images 

The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program, commonly called "WWOOF," is a program that helps individuals find opportunities on organic farms throughout the world. For a small fee, participants are provided with an extensive database of opportunities in the country of their choice.

Although the duration of the experience depends on where and when you work, as the details of the agreement are between the farmer and the volunteer, most situations tend to be a few months long. Many include room and board.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should I apply for jobs after college?

When to apply for jobs as a college senior depends on what field you're going into. If you're in a high-demand field such as engineering or accounting, some companies will recruit and hire you six month or longer before you graduate. For most jobs, starting in March or April is a good rule of thumb. If you've decided to take a hiatus, you should still keep your eyes and ears open for future opportunities.

How many jobs should I apply for after college?

There is no hard-and-fast rule about how many jobs you should apply for, but you should be checking your job search resources every day and sending out between 10 and 15 applications per week. It's ok if you don't land your dream job off the bat, and the more jobs you apply for, the better you'll get at it.

How can I transition from college life to post-college life?

Keep in touch with friends, and join your college's young alumni club. Continue to use campus resources, which are often available to new graduates. Try to save some money before you graduate, to keep you afloat while you transition to life after college and getting that first "real world" paycheck. If you need to move back home temporarily, be sure to contribute to household expenses and chores.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Childcare Workers."

  2. Hanover College Levett Career Center. "Gap Year Options."

  3. Statista. "The Most Spoken Languages Worldwide in 2021."

  4. JET Program USA. "About JET Program USA."

  5. New Zealand Immigration. "Working Holiday Visas."

  6. Australia.com. "Working Holiday Visa FAQ."

  7. Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). "Explore Destinations."

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