Many seniors counting down the days to graduation, including several members of the Foghorn staff, are preparing for life after USF without a job or place to live. A bad economy and some of the worst unemployment rates in history make getting a desirable job in the right field seem about as lucky as winning the lottery. While many seniors may not jump right in to the career they have always envisioned following graduation day, there are endless alternative options that don’t involve a nine to five schedule and a freshly pressed business suit.
First of all, moving home with the parents is not the worst thing that could happen (see “Making Mom and Dad Your New Roomies” on page 6 for more on that). Some Foghorn staff members are moving home simply to save money while searching for a meaningful job. During that time at home some of them may work basic jobs, waiting tables or working retail. Although this is not the most ideal post-graduation activity, a job is still a job, and in this economy it’s necessary to take what you can get. If your parents don’t charge you rent, then this may be the perfect time to start paying back student loans and doing some reflection on what the future holds.
Graduate school and established careers may be in your future, but community activism can fill your time during this interim period. AmeriCorps and Peace Corps are government-sponsored community service organizations that allow recent college grads to work for a good cause in return for a modest stipend and other benefits.
AmeriCorps offers internships in community development, youth outreach, environmental programs, and a whole variety of other areas. AmeriCorps is located throughout the United States and its territories. They give their employees a stipend to cover basic living expenses and offer grants to pay for college tuition and student loans. Certain programs within AmeriCorps provide health care benefits, as well.
If you are looking to partake in community service, but also have the travel bug, the Peace Corps is another option to consider. Peace Corps volunteers take part in similar service activities to AmeriCorps, but on a global scale. All Peace Corps jobs are located outside of the United States usually in developing countries. Sometimes these locations come with more risks or a more rugged lifestyle. Because of these pressures, the Peace Corps goes a step further than AmeriCorps by ensuring full health care benefits to all of its service members. Like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps offers stipends and student loan deferment. To find out more about these organizations, refer to their websites: AmeriCorps.gov and PeaceCorps.gov.
Some students feel determined to get their careers off the ground immediately and will begin a job hunt right away. These students would be unwise to assume they must look for work only within their field of study. This is simply not the case. A politics major with a passion for art may find an internship at a gallery that suits him or her, and a biology major may discover that non-profit business strikes her or his fancy. The Foghorn wants all students to recognize the diversity of career paths available and advises them to never shape their future around their degree – instead, shape your degree around your future.
If a career isn’t part of your immediate future, then why not travel? Service work with the Peace Corps allows students to travel all over the world, but there are plenty of options that don’t involve a commitment to service. There is never going to be a better time to backpack through South America or stay at hostels in Europe. Seize the day.
Graduation is an exciting and scary time for everyone, but especially for those students whose futures are full of ambiguity. Don’t let your lack of plans keep you from pursuing non-conventional work, or from dropping everything and joining a service organization that could continue USF’s tradition of educating individuals for social change.