Although recent graduates are usually pressured to get jobs right out of college, there are many situations in which a gap year after graduation may prove to be a more valuable venture. Before you say that you don’t have enough time or money to afford a gap year, consider your early twenties the time to learn what you want out of life before committing yourself to a field that you may not enjoy. For graduates that don’t exactly know what specializations or field they want to be in, a gap year may be the perfect time to figure it out.
The economy right now makes it very difficult to secure a job straight out of college. However, this doesn’t mean that recent college graduates can’t make something out of what may seem like stagnant years. In fact, seeking different, unique experiences may make resumés more desirable, says some employers. By showing that you chose to do something other than wait for a job to open up, you make it clear that you have initiative and that you seek growth. It would also make for some great stories in interviews.
Below are a few options that you can pursue instead of getting a job:
Teach for America
For those of you unfamiliar with Teach for America, it's an organization specializing in teaching children in underprivileged areas of America. The organization usually recruits college graduates with a minimum commitment of two years in a low-income community. They are willing to take your grade, region, and subject preferences during placement. Applicants do not need to have a teacher certification; instead, they will undergo a summer training program to prepare them for a classroom environment. During the two-year commitment, members are able to obtain a teaching certification through supplemental college courses by the time their commitment is up.
If you need additional incentive, Teach for America teams up with the government to give those students with student loans forbearance each year in the program.
For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org
Volunteering for a cause you believe in
If you're not going to be earning income, might as well volunteer. Have you always wanted to volunteer for a cause but never had time to do so? This is the perfect year to dedicate yourself to organizations such as Green Peace or Habitat for Humanity.
Travel (on a low budget)
Traveling is an incredible experience that people should do at least once in their life. You can learn lifelong skills, gather valuable experiences, and make connections that may help you in the future from traveling. This is also a good way to ensure that you don’t regret anything in the future—after graduation, it may be one of the best times to travel since most jobs only give employees a limited amount of vacation days per year. Maybe you could even partake in a few mission (medical, religious) trips that could also bump your resumé.
For more tips on traveling on a low budget, head to the finance and traveling section!
Teach English overseas
No matter where you search online, you can find numerous sites dedicated to helping people find jobs in teaching English overseas. If you've had the itch to travel but have no means to do so, this is a wonderful alternative that would allow you to immerse yourself in another culture while supporting your travels.
The Peace Corps, like Teach for America, has a minimum commitment—this time, it's 27 months—however, Volunteers are placed overseas to almost all countries, specifically the lesser-developed ones. There are nine different categories volunteers can fall into, including education, health, environment and more.
If you feel as if you got a useless degree, fear not—here is a place where your degree is necessary to apply as a Peace Corps volunteer. You do not need to speak a foreign language, but those that do speak French or Spanish qualify for special placement in certain programs.
Volunteers are given a living allowance during the 27 month served as well as a stipend of $7,425 afterwards, to ease transition back home.
For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov