So you graduated in May and had an awesome summer reliving as much of college as you could. Now, your younger friends are heading back to school and the dust is settling around your old dorm room while you’re wondering what’s next from the comfort of your parents’ couch. You are broke, starting to worry, and wondering if you should have worked harder to get a job from one of the companies that recruited on campus.
If so, then read below for 3 things you could be doing right now to jumpstart the rest of your life.
1. Don’t Panic
Don’t worry, you aren’t a loser that lacks ambition. Many people are trying to figure things out and you aren’t the only one. But doesn’t mean that you should be on en ego-high either.
Newsflash: Millions of people graduate college each year; it’s not an accomplishment anymore.
You shouldn’t regret what’s in the past either. Sure, trying to get a job through on-campus recruiting could have been one way to start your career, but those jobs mostly suck. In the business world there are only 3 jobs that you could get on campus that might be worthwhile: Investment Banking, Consulting or Associate Brand Manager at a CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Company. This last one is a fancy training program for Marketing jobs. If you didn’t go for one of these jobs, then it’s too late now anyway. It’s pretty hard to get into Investment Banking or CPG without going through a traditional on-campus route. So don’t sweat it, and just move forward.
2. Travel, Travel, Travel!
I cannot say enough good things about this. There is no better way to get refreshed and open up your mind to a world of possibilities.
If you need to make a quick buck first to pay for the costs, then do it. Once you’ve gotten to your country(ies) of choice, you can often live and sleep there on a relatively light budget. So wait tables, caddy, do whatever it takes to get yourself to another continent where you can have experiences far beyond anything a first job will give you. And don’t just go to Europe. Besides it being expensive, it’s too westernized to have the truly eye-opening experiences you could have on any of the other continents in this vast amazing world.
I’ll dedicate another post to travel and all the things you can do while abroad that will make you a far more interesting person both in life as well as in the interview room. But I promise you this, nobody ever regrets packing up a backpack and heading abroad for a few months.
Traveling like this takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you more open-minded. As a result, new opportunities will naturally come your way. I guarantee it.
3. Reach out to alumni
I actually think it’s better that you didn’t succumb to on-campus recruiting. That leads to normalcy: normal jobs, normal life, and therefore a boring life. This site is not meant to assist you in becoming just normal. Most likely your are here reading my site because you’d prefer the road less traveled. So now’s your chance to try something unconventional. You are 22, you have no family to support, maybe no rent to pay, and maybe (if you are really lucky) no college debt. So make a plan to start exploring your options.
As you begin exploring, the first thing you should do is join LinkedIn and find 20 people that went to your college and have interesting jobs you’d like to learn more about. Once you find those people, send each one an individual note asking for a phone call or coffee. Don’t make a generic note and just copy and paste it into different emails. Really take the time to look at the person’s background and craft a note that will resonate with him or her. Bonus points if each note includes 10 ideas for growing his/her business.
Now many of these people will not write you back, and that’s okay. It’s to be expected. There is no need to worry about this. But some of them will, and you have nothing to lose by meeting with each one.
4. Volunteer for people & things that interest you
Are you passionate about politics? Then volunteer for a political campaign. Or an even better option is find someone that inspires you and volunteer to help them out for free; an unpaid internship of sorts. Now you have to ensure this person is reasonably easy to approach (ie: went to your alma mater, or perhaps a web personality that is growing in popularity but not completely unapproachable yet). You can’t, for example, write Ashton Kutcher and expect to hear back. But if you can find someone that is doing something you find interesting, then think of 10-20 good ideas for how you could help that person and then find a way to get in front of them. Use your connections, your network, internet stalking, whatever it takes.
Charlie Hoehn has a great free eBook dedicated to this unpaid internship topic. Charlie tried this approach and landed amazing gigs with Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss which eventually turned into paying jobs and some amazing experience that far surpasses what many people are doing for work at his age.
So what do you think? Leave your comments and let’s continue the conversation below.