Graduating – Now What? Four Ways To Explore Your Options

Even as your college years draw to a close, you may not be 100% sure about what you want to do after you graduate. Keep in mind that you’re under no obligation to commit yourself to the career you want for the rest of your life. People sometimes change career paths mid-life or, five or ten years after college, find themselves thriving in jobs that they would never have expected to enjoy when they were younger.

However, even if you haven’t yet made firm decisions about your career, you should still explore your options. The following are four ways to figure out what job or career might suit you best:

  1. Do things that will help you develop skills useful for multiple careers. For example, you might take a job that develops your computer programming, graphic design or writing skills, or gives you a lot of experience planning events, handling difficult customers, or leading a team to complete a project. Skills can be transferable from one job or career to another.
  2. Volunteer or take on internships. The extent to which you are able to volunteer or work in an unpaid internship (though hopefully you will be paid) depends on your financial situation. But even if you work at a job to pay the bills, you may still find time to explore areas that are closer to your interests (and again, the job you work at to pay the bills might give you invaluable experience too).
  3. Dip into a field as a consultant. Depending on your level of skill and experience in a particular area, you might want to freelance as a consultant or perhaps try to get a job with a firm of consultants. As discussed in a recent article in Forbes, a consulting position can expose you to many different industries and also help you build up a network of connections across various fields of employment.
  4. Reach out to people. One of the best ways to get a sense of what an industry is like is to talk to people who already work in it. Many people will be eager to meet with someone who is interested in their field. Before you do this, prepare a strong LinkedIn profile, a portfolio or website showing your work, and a resume you can hand out to people. If they’re impressed with you and with what you’ve done so far, one of the people you meet could offer you a job, even on a temporary basis.

The connections you make can help you out immediately or even years down the road, and they can be key to exploring different career paths.

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