You’re having a ball at college, partying, making new friends, and learning how to look after yourself when someone drops the dreaded sentence, “So, do you know what you want to do after college?” A Whatsgoodly poll from the University of Richmond recently asked this very question.
Out of the 3708 votes, a majority of students do have an idea of what they want to do with their lives, while the second highest poll response showed that 26% of students actually know what they’re going to do.
Only a small 9% are well prepared and actually have a job lined up already, whereas on the other spectrum, just under a quarter are feeling a little lost on where their life may take them.
If you fall under the latter category, don’t worry too much. It’s incredibly normal not to know exactly what you want to do once you become a “real” adult. The prospect of leaving college and entering the big wide world is a scary one, and it’s difficult to find your feet after years of the education system nurturing you. Yet, not to worry, we at Whatsgoodly are here to help!
Here are six ideas to help you find your direction:
1. Do an internship
The idea of balancing college work, a social life, and an added internship may seem a bit much considering college is meant to be the best time of your life. However, if you take on an internship in college, your future self will thank you to no end.
Internships not only look great on your CV, but more importantly, they will give you a taste of the particular career you are considering.
For example, you may dream of working as a high-rolling banker. You picture it in your head; fancy cars, mansions, yachts, the whole shebang. Yet, after a few months of landing your ideal job at JPMorgan, you soon realize that this kind of high-pressure lifestyle just isn’t for you. If only you had known sooner that banking wasn’t for you. Woah, should have taken that internship, right?
Take on an internship as soon as you can. Summer of Freshman year, for example, is the ultimate time to put your college major to the test and see if the specialization you’ve chosen actually interests you at all.
Again, you may ask yourself, “Why should I volunteer when I’ve already got plenty of things to be doing, plus I don’t even get paid?!”
It’s a valid point, but we all know that volunteering looks amazing on your CV, and much like interning, it can provide you with a glimpse into what working life is really like.
You will also develop a ton of skills that will come in handy throughout college, future internships, and even future jobs.
And if you think volunteering consists only of walking dogs at the animal shelter, you’re wrong. Volunteer with a big-name charity, and you could learn the ins and outs of non-profit marketing by helping them organize their events. Or volunteer to help a local charity out with their social media channels or finances.
Most importantly, you will make connections and create networks. Networking is an absolutely vital tool in securing jobs in today’s world. According to the CareerXRoads: Source of Hire Report 2014, a whopping 41% of positions are filled internally. Therefore the more people you know, the more connections you’ll have to tap into when it comes time to start job searching. You wouldn’t believe just how powerful a great network can be in helping you to find your dream job or to serve as a positive reference for those job applications.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and do some good in this world.
First off, we know to travel, you need money, so you may have to suck it up a little and go live with your parents and work for a few months, but it will definitely be worth it. Now without sounding cliché, traveling will help you learn who you really are. Seeing different cultures and societies will open up your eyes and perspective on life to a level that isn’t possible at grad school or in an office.
You might learn how to catch fish barehanded in South America or how to snowboard in Sweden. You may run with the bulls in Spain or develop intestinal parasites in China. No matter what you get into, you’ll see culture firsthand rather than out of a textbook.
All this will give you a greater outlook on what you want to do with your life, and once again, you will stand out from your peers when you do start applying for jobs.
You will also make friends for life while out on the road, and you never know. One of them may well be the next, Mark Zuckerberg, who could set you up with an awesome job. And hey, you’re young. During your 20s, you don’t have to deal with all the drudging responsibilities of adulthood, so there’s really never a better time to get packing.
If all else fails, you’ll be that person with that crazy story of how you once skydived out of a rickety old plane wearing nothing but a parachute before landing on an elephant and then taming a wild tiger… maybe.
4. Speak to a career counselor
Although slightly less glamorous than traveling, speaking to a career counselor is a great way to figure out what the future could hold for you. These guys are pretty good at pursuing career options. It is their job, after all.
Career counselors can provide you with an overwhelming variety of personality tests that will all inevitably lead you to that career that you’ve been trying to put out of your mind. You took up engineering to make money. You know you can’t have the same lifestyle as a graphic designer, even though art is your real passion.
College counselors will drag this information out of you using their special powers of telepathy coupled with Myers-Briggs tests. But it might be worth it to consider, are you making the right career choice?
Some colleges also offer a peer mentor-type system where you can get in contact with your university’s alumni and ask them questions about their profession.
Make the most out of career counseling services while you can. They won’t be free after college, you know.
5. Keep learning
Let’s face it, you’ve made it this far in education, and if you still enjoy it, why not keep going? Postgraduate degrees give you a chance to really zero in on what interests you in your degree field. You are also given far more freedom in what you study, taking away the regimented schedule of undergrad.
In addition, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in 2014 which stated that unemployment for master’s degree holders is at 3.5% compared to 4.5% of undergraduate degree holders, whilst weekly earnings average at $1300 compared to $1066 of undergraduate graduates. In other words, not only will you be more employable, but you’ll also be rolling in cash, kinda.
And let’s not forget whilst doing your master’s, you can relive the fun freshmen experience for at least the first few weeks before the real work kicks in.
6. Create your own startup
Some of the most successful people in the world started out with a small business idea, so what’s stopping you? With the technology of today, it’s far easier to access the resources and materials to start your own business than it was in the past.
We have the ability to raise funds from all over the world through websites like Kickstarter, whilst the increased exposure created by the internet means you’re more likely to attract interest from big investors or other entrepreneurs.
You can also start your business while still studying with the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Wozniack, and the creators of both Google and Reddit. All of these founders formed their businesses while still cramming for finals!
So hang in there; you’ll figure it all out in no time!
What are you doing to help prepare for life after college?
Are you interning, volunteering, or taking a year off to travel? Let us know in the comments how you know the major you’ve chosen is right for you and what you plan to do after college.
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