Personal Positioning: Opportunities After College

College grads are swimming in a sea of rejection letters. According to a recent survey by the Association of Colleges and Employers, a mere 20% of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually got one. So what are the options for the other 80%? Well, many are setting up shop back home for the time being, and as depressing as that may sound, it could actually be the best thing that ever happened to them.

That is because although opportunities after college seem very few and far between in this bleak job market, being young and unemployed actually opens up a staggering amount of opportunities, that is of course, if you’re willing to operate a little  outside of the box.

Entry Level Woes

Sure, there is always the opportunity after college of taking a menial entry level job (assuming you can even find one), stare at a wall for 50% of the day, pretend to work for another 25% while bitterly stalking the lives of much happier people on Facebook, then finish your simple work in the last hour or two on the job.

Or you could finally do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, master that said something, and get creative enough to make money while doing it. Even if its something you can’t possibly make money doing, look at it like a personal investment, a means to polish your personal brand and set yourself up for future opportunities. It’s your choice, now more than ever your future is truly in your hands.  Most people have nothing  to lose but boredom, a stressful search for a low paying job, and extra TV time, so why not go for it?  Making money doing something you love is the ultimate dream and the first step to achieve that dream is obviously finding something you love.

If you’re not sure where to start looking for opportunities after college, here are a few broad starting points to get the good old creative juices flowing:

Creating Opportunities After College:

  • Learn how to program, you may be surprised at how much you enjoy it. Not to mention the fact that if you can program well, the word “unemployed” will be quickly wiped from your vocabulary: here is a great free resource to learn everything from the basics and beyond.
  • Travel: Eat a lot of Ramen, only buy cheap booze, and tough it out in that menial job we spoke of earlier and it wont take long to save up enough for a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. If college loans are weighing you down a little too much and this is just unrealistic, look into one of the many programs that assists people looking to work or volunteer abroad. There are a whole slew of ways to get paid to travel such as becoming a group travel organizer, a travel writer, teaching abroad, or working on a cruise as a waiter or bartender.
  • Draft a Business Plan (or two): Your young, you have less responsibilities (and bills), and you’ve got the time and energy to make it happen. Once you have a decent business plan together, you will know what resources you need to rally to turn those words on white paper into a reality. Best case scenario: you succeed and become a millionaire ON YOUR OWN TERMS. Worst case scenario: the business fails miserably, you learn a whole lot, and you just put your personal brand on steroids, employers will be impressed.
  • Create a personal website, blog, or online community: WordPress is the golden standard for starting a blog and a personal website is a great way to both create opportunities after college and do some soul searching to uncover your unique and valuable personal brand.
  • You’ve got boats of time now, why not volunteer? To get started, check out something like which has a search-able database of volunteer opportunities.
  • Work on a specific non-profit project of your own design that you can be passionate about for 15-20 hours a week.
  • Learn a new language: Rosetta stone baby!

Opportunities after college are truly endless and although it is easy to feel like the safety net just disintegrated beneath you, there is really no better time to shoot for the stars. Opportunity is a knockin’, the worlds in your hands, the only question now is: just how are you going to shape it?

Evan Watson


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  1. 1

    Good points. In Switzerland, several consulting companies advised graduates to volunteer, too. All graduates that have signed a contract with them will get a job in a year and receive an additional salary during the time they do volunteering.

    I like you list. It’s comprehensive.

    Why not combining all your points: volunteer abroad, learn new skills, a new language, etc.

    Most important, I suppose, is that you try to find your field of interest (related or non-related to your studies) and digg into it, while you’re travelling / working / whatever. Read, read, read. Write about it. Become an expert and sell your knowledge by the time you get back. It needs time to make yourself well-know in an industry. Hence, make use of your free time now.

    Best wishes


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