What to Do After College If You Can’t Find a Job

College leads to an instant job, right?

“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” — Frank Zappa

When you’re in school you rarely think about what to do after college. When you’re done college you’re excited to no longer have to study all night and stress over finals. Then your parents tell you to get a job. You suddenly realize that finding a job is near possible. There’s also a whole list of things to do after college that you can’t do because you don’t have any money.

What should you do after college if you can’t find a job at all?

Volunteer.

Hey, nobody wants to work for free, but sometimes you have to. Volunteering is the easiest way to get your foot in the door because you’re working for free!

Now before you start working for free, I want to leave you with a few quick thoughts on volunteering that I’ve picked up from friends that volunteered in the past:

  • Take on challenging projects. Just because you’re not getting paid it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it your everything. If you’re brave enough to take on the challenging projects, while working for free, you’re bound to impress a few folks in management.
  • Make sure there’s potential for employment in the future. Your main goal will be to try to land a paid gig in the company. I suggest that you ensure that it’s even possible to get paid eventually. What does means is that you should see if the company even has any money to hire an employee. For example, a company that’s laying employees off, isn’t the best place to volunteer.
  • Get a strong reference. When your term ends or whenever you apply for more jobs, your goal should be to get a strong reference from someone in management. This can be your “work experience” that you use to move on.

Volunteering beats sitting on the couch and playing Wii all day. You’ll also increase your odds for finding work after.

Find part-time work.

You need to have some money coming in. Chances are that you picked up some student loan debt or have student credit cards to pay off. This is why you should stop being picky and find any source of income possible on a part-time basis.

A few things to consider when you start your part-time job:

  1. Don’t treat it like a full-time job. What this means is that you work only evenings or weekends, so don’t act like you don’t have time for anything else. I have a friend that works evening and treats this like his full-time job by staying up late and waking up just in time for work. That won’t help you get ahead.
  2. Switch jobs whenever possible. Your part-time gig is not a relationship. Don’t be afraid to switch jobs and try out different gigs. You’ll eventually find something you like and move onto bigger things.

A couple bucks coming in beats no money coming .

Work abroad.

One of my favorite guest pieces ever on here was a step-by-step guide for finding work abroad.

I’ve travelled plenty of times, but I’ve never worked in a foreign country yet, so I can’t speak on this topic too much. I suggest that you check out the aforementioned article to figure out how you can find a job in another country.

Who knows, a change of scenery could be what you really needed.

Avoid graduate school.

I wrote about the alternatives to graduate school in the past because it’s far too tempting to want to go back to school when you can’t find a job right away. We assume that the reason for us not finding a job after college is a lack of credentials. So we go back to school. Now a few years go by, some more debt gets picked up, and we’re over-qualified and still inexperienced.

I suggest that you avoid spending the big bucks on graduate school for now. One of my friends spent a year trying to find work, couldn’t find any, and now he’s spending the big bucks to go back to school. I personally thinks this makes no sense.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to graduate school. If your company pays for it or if you need the designation for your career (Lawyer or Doctor) than go for it. Otherwise, you’re just delaying life.

There’s no need to stress if you haven’t found a job yet. It’s not the end of the world. This article should help you figure out what to do after college when you can’t find a job. I hope that you stick around to read the other pieces on here.

8 thoughts on “What to Do After College If You Can’t Find a Job”

  1. Networking is key as well. The fact is, you might be a little discouraged when you see a lot of your fellow classmates get jobs, and that might tend to make you back away from interactions with them, but that’s the wrong strategy. As they get into their jobs, they may hear of openings and if you’re someone they talk to regularly, guess who pops into their head as someone to pass along? And, since many college friends tend to have come from the same majors and enter the same fields, this can be all the more important.

    1. I never thought of that Beagle. That makes sense because many jobs don’t even get posted, so it helps to have any sort of an in with the company.

  2. It’s so interesting to see a SURGE in graduate school applications during recessions. The reasons given, “I want to study my passion” or whatever, and not “I can’t find a job,” or “I got fired.”

    Folks need to come clean and get people on their side.

  3. I really need to get better at pitching myself as a volunteer. Last time I tried, they declined because, even though I wouldn’t get paid, I would still cost them money because they would need to add me to their insurance to be able to touch any equipment.

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