Do I Have to Find a Real Job After College?

I’ll never understand why people feel the need to give unsolicited advice. This especially holds true for career advice. I’ve had way too many random people give me unsolicited career advice the last few months. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m always excited to listen and learn from others. I just don’t appreciate it when people that don’t know me try to tell me what to do without even asking me what I want to do.

This Thursday is my actual college graduation ceremony. The thought of finding a “real job,” and ditching my attempt to build an online empire has hit me a few times. Today I wanted to look at the idea of finding a real job immediately after college.

Do I have to find a real job after college? It depends on the following factors…

Finding a Real Job After College

“You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” — Tom Brokaw.

Do you have any entrepreneurial visions?

Do you have any plans of going into business on your own? Let me rephrase that– are you willing to work ridiculously long hours on your own projects without any guarantee of income? If you’ve always had dreams of starting your own business, this is the best time to give it a shot. If you have entrepreneurial goals on your mind you might want to hold off on finding a steady job for the time being.

Must read posts on starting your own business:

How You Can Start a Business Right Now With $1,000
Testing Your Ideas to See If You Can Make Money

Do you owe a lot of money?

With the rising amount of student debt held by college graduates, chances are that you’re going to have to find an immediate source of income to start paying this money back. If you picked up a massive amount of student debt, you might want to find a steady source of income, while you moonlight on the side to start your own gig. I don’t want to throw out careless “feel-good” advice because the reality is that you need to pay back your student loans.

For more help:

10 Ways to Speed Up the Repayment of Your Student Loan

How badly do you want to make money?

Some of us are content with not making a lot of money. Others want to make as much money as possible. With a steady job you’ll be given a steady income. You’ll be able to create a budget and work towards your financial goals over time. With a irregular income that comes from freelance work/starting your own business there’s no income guarantee at all. You can have prosperous months. You can also go through really lean times. How badly do you want to make money right after college? A steady job will give you the income that you need. Branching off on your own can be roller coaster.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Five years from now, do you want to see yourself moving up the corporate ladder? Or do you want to see yourself running a successful company? Where do you want to be in five years from now? This should help you decide if you want to find a traditional job at this point in time. Long term goals help you keep your eye on the prize.

It’s really easy to tell someone or to tell yourself that you need to find a “real” job after college. The reality is that we all have different plans and visions of what we want out of life. This inherently indicates that we’ll take different paths. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.

Do you think that all college grads should find a real job right out of school? What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Do I Have to Find a Real Job After College?”

  1. I’ve thought about starting my own business in the past and am trying to avoid student loans in getting my MBA so I don’t restrict that opportunity. College, or just after, is a great time to start a business since you have so many friends and connections available to you and so little to loose. There’s also an advantage to getting a job first if you can find one that will allow you to gain valuable experience. Getting funding for your business is easier if you are credible and experience in your industry goes a long way towards that.

  2. MD,

    I think your first question is the most important one to answer. If you want to eventually be in business for yourself, you should plan for it while in school.

    However, I think most young people don’t know what they want to do while they’re still in college. It may take a few years in the corporate world to realize that you don’t want to do it for the rest of your life.

    In that case, moonlighting is a great option!

  3. In my opinion, yes, people right out of college should feel pressure to find a job. Now I do not think that job has to be a “classic” job. If they want to start their own business or trek around Europe, that’s fine, but they should try to find a source of money throughout that adventure too. No reason to let college debt build up interest on them while they try to start a nice life.

    I personally settled for a stable but dead-end position right out of college that I am still in. If my story ended there, it would be depressing. But the happy part was that while in this dead-end job, I discovered the wide world of blogging. I’ve built up a big side income from blogging and online freelance work over the last year and will be leaving my dead-end job to work for myself by the end of this year. If it wasn’t for my mind-numbingly boring out-of-college job, I doubt I would have ever stumbled onto personal finance blogs at all!

    There are a billion ways to reach a happy ending and I think that each of us gets there differently – I just appreciate the ways that don’t involve paying tons of silly interest. 🙂

    1. I love how we all have different journeys when it comes to discovering the world of personal finance blogs.

      Being a business major I was always looking for ways to make more money. I started to search for ways to make money (aka get rich quick) when I found out about these pf blogs. I then realized that I had a lot to say about the topic. I started writing random articles in Word with no intent of publishing them anywhere. Then one Friday I was waiting to go out and realized I had a few hours to kill. I went on Dough Roller and followed his step by step guide for starting a blog. That date was November 7, 2008. Now here we are in the middle of 2011 and I feel like I’m just getting started.

  4. My solution was to do both MD. Find a job that allows you to work part-time or gives you a lot of downtime and pursue building your online empire as your main passion. As a teacher, I basically get 2.5 months coming up to really get the ball rolling on some online ventures. I remember that when I worked as a Border Guard for awhile I had tons of downtime that I used to use to complete correspondence courses. I look back now and think that if I would have stuck with that job I could have made a killing from my salary and writing articles (to be used for building websites when I got home). Working night shifts would have been perfect and people were always willing to trade them.

    1. That strategy probably works best. It’s what I’m doing pretty much. I can’t imagine now having some sort of a part time job as a security blanket. Blogging/growing any business becomes too stressful when it’s your only source of income.

      Btw, can you please start using a real name to post comments?

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