Thinking about what you’re going to do when you graduate from college can feel overwhelming. I get it. For the first time in your life no one can tell you what to do. When the choices aren’t clear it can be hard to know where to start. If this is you, allow me to (humbly) offer some suggestions.
Option #1: Party (I’m serious)
When I was in my early 20’s I could party all night, wake up the next day and be ready to go. Now that I’m in my mid 40’s neither are possible without pills and pain. If having a good time is your thing, I say take advantage of your youth and do it. Practically speaking, this is what it looks like:
1) Move to a fun city.
2) Find a job. Ideally one you like, but tolerate at worst. If a desk job isn’t your thing then let me suggest restaurant work. A good restaurant gig is not only a way to make decent money but a great way to meet people.
I realize sharing this option with the responsible adults in your life won’t be well received so let me offer some language that should smooth things over when they inevitably ask.
“I’m moving to L.A. to explore a career in __________”
“I’m moving to NYC and taking some time to figure out my next move.”
“I’m moving to Chicago with friends and researching a few industries that interest me.”
When my wife graduated from college she moved to NYC to officially “gain experience in the professional art world”. Unofficially, she partied hard all the time. She did this for a few years, before moving on to another phase of life, but the stories are….legendary! Big picture, she had a ton of fun and zero regrets. Don’t poo poo this option.
Option #2: Bet on yourself
This one hits close to home because it’s what I did. In my case, I started a business, but this can also mean launching a career as an artist, a writer or even an athlete. There’s no better time to take a big professional risk than in your 20’s. There’s little to lose and time is on your side. I realize student debt can make doing your own thing challenging. But if this option speaks to you, send me an email and perhaps I can help.
Fortunately, choosing this option worked out for me. Twenty years later the business is still going strong and has allowed me to have a pretty great life. But it’s not been without sacrifice. Yeah, starting a business is exciting, but it’s also hella stressful. And for the first five years I worked ALL THE TIME. Still, I have no regrets. Since I was a little kid I always knew I wanted to start my own business. As it turned out, choosing to do it early in life when I was single was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. By the time I did have a family, the business was more established, I was less stressed and had more money. Win/win.
Option #3: Travel Overseas
If you really have no idea what you want to do, I suggest you hit the road. Travelling is the best way to have crazy awesome experiences, meet people and test the boundaries of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself. No money? No problem. Opportunities to live and work abroad are much easier to find today than they used to be.
A friend of mine spent a year in Australia right after she graduated college. In between taking surf lessons and hanging out with her Aussie friends she started a career in corporate recruiting which continues to this day.