15 Things to Do After College Instead of Getting a Real Job

Many college students take advantage of the few years of freedom post-graduation, choosing to pursue other paths instead of jumping right into a 9-to-5, full-time career.

If you're a recent graduate who's hesitant to jump into the "real" work world, consider doing something else with your time, like interning, volunteering, or traveling. However, whatever you choose to do, make sure you think hard about your decision, as you want to be sure you have quality experiences to list on your resume when you do choose to begin the job search for a more permanent career.

Be an Adventure Guide

Four Mountaineers Ascend Cliff Above Mountains
Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images 

Are you the adventurous type? Whether you're into white water rafting, skydiving, rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, snorkeling, bungee jumping—turn it into a part-time or even a full-time job. Many adventure companies look for young people to hire.

There are opportunities both within the United States and also internationally, as many companies look to hire eager, English-speaking guides due to the popularity of these types of activities among college students who are abroad.

Become a Nanny

Nanny and Child Picking Carrots in Field
Caiaimage / Paul Bradbury / Getty Images 

Nannying is an excellent opportunity for people who like working with children. If you decide to be a live-in nanny, you can often get free room and board, which is an excellent way to save money. Plus, nannying jobs tend to come with other perks like the opportunity to travel with the family, a solid weekly paycheck, and the complimentary use of a car, for example.

Long-term nannying, like working with the same family for a year, can also be an excellent way to develop strong personal references you can provide to other employers down the road.

Become a Research Assistant

Scientist Using Pipette in Research Laboratory
Morsa Images / Getty Images 

If you're still living close to a college, look into a research assistantship, as universities have a significant amount of their resources invested in research. Although "research" might seem exclusive to the sciences, you'd be surprised how much research goes into other fields, too—from the obvious, like biology, chemistry, and psychology, to the unexpected, like journalism, international relations, and art history.

There are generally many opportunities for post-graduate students, and if you're a recent graduate, you can tap into your connections with your past professors and other faculty and staff you may have gotten to know while you were at school.

Do a Gap Year Program

Young Adults Planting a Tree
KidStock / Blend Images / Getty Images 

If you're interested in putting your time toward a good career, consider a gap year program like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or City Year.

Not only do these programs provide essential life lessons, but they also strengthen your resume and will undoubtedly give you a lot of material to discuss during an interview. Moreover, having participated in a gap year program links you with other alumni who may be valuable resources later on in your job search.

Find an Internship

Young Man Interning at the Office
SolStock / Getty Images 

Although many internships stipulate that candidates must be able to receive college credit to be eligible to work, there are some that don't require interns to be enrolled in school. Many of these types also happen to be paid, offering monetary compensation instead of the opportunity for credit.

If you're a recent graduate, there's a good chance you can find a position that works for you, especially if you are available on a full-time basis. Not only do internships offer valuable work experience, but, they are an excellent way to make connections with potential employers. An internship will also give you solid experience to list on your resume.

Invest in Your Passion

Personal Trainer Assisting Student With Cobra Pose in Her Yoga Class
GCShutter / Getty Images 

Do you love yoga or pilates? Can't spend enough time on the ski slopes? Are you a rock-climbing pro? Love to paint? If you have a passion that you can turn into a part-time job, consider investing in a training course and get certified, or even teach it on your own.

For example, you could take a yoga teacher training course, become a certified ski or rock climbing instructor, or become an art teacher at your local community center.

Whatever you love to do, look into how you can make a job out of it. Not only will you have a blast at work, but you'll gain the experience and skills you need to turn your hobby into a job that you can always fall back on.

Take a Continuing-Education Class

Teacher Helping Student at an IT Class
andresr / Getty Images 

Whether you're interested in pursuing a field other than what you majored in or want to develop career-specific skills further, consider taking continuing-education classes at a community college or an adult-learning center in your area.

For example, if you were an English major but want to pursue a different field, like computer programming or graphic design, taking classes gives you a foundation to begin looking for entry-level jobs in that field.

Moreover, these classes are relatively inexpensive compared to credited courses at four-year colleges but still offer valuable, real-life skills.

Pursue a Part-Time Job That You’re Passionate About

Young woman working part time in a greenhouse.
Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty Images 

If you don't feel you're ready to jump into a 9-to-5 career, take the year off working a part-time job in an area you're passionate about, or somewhere you've always thought about working, like at a flower shop, for example, but never had the time to try it out.

Not only does this give you the opportunity to pad your bank account post-college, but, it could develop into more promising opportunities down the road.

For example, a recent college graduate who was very interested in yoga obtained a position working as a receptionist at a small, local yoga studio. That part-time job eventually led to her now-permanent career as a manager and marketing specialist for a larger studio.

Volunteer in the U.S.

Volunteers Holding Hands in Circle
Hill Street Studios / Eric Raptosh / Getty Images 

While volunteering might not bring in income, it is a valuable way to use your time, as you will be making positive changes while also building a network of fellow volunteers, co-workers, supervisors, and organizations that might be important to your future work.

Gap year programs like City Year and Teach for America are one way to volunteer. You can also find day-to-day opportunities within your hometown, or reach out to a non-profit organization and ask if they could use your assistance.

Your volunteer experiences can be included on your resume. Worried about money? Consider a side gig to boost your income.

Teach English Abroad

Smiling Teacher and Student in Front of Chalkboard Holding Hands
XiXinXing / Getty Images

A large number of Americans land jobs abroad each year. English has become the dominant language for international trade so export countries, particularly in Asia and Latin America, are eager to have their citizens learn the language.

Popular options include programs through international embassies, such as the JET Program with Japan, as well as jobs at international schools and through service organizations.

Work Seasonal Jobs

Farmers Working at Pumpkin Farm
Gpointstudio / Getty Images

If you want a range of colorful, varied positions to add to your resume, pursuing a few seasonal jobs for a year is a fun way to get diverse work experience while also enjoying yourself. There are many types of seasonal jobs—positions at ski resorts, beaches, resorts, and cruise ships. If you plan wisely, you can find employment for a full year in this way.

Volunteer or Work Abroad

A woman sits on a hillside in Iceland.

Westend61 / Getty Images

Do you love to travel, but still want to use your time to make a difference? Consider an international volunteer position, through an organization like Peace Corps, Global Vision International, or the Red Cross.

If you want to travel while still earning a paycheck, another option is to pursue a "working holiday" visa. Certain countries, including Australia and New Zealand offer "working holiday" visas in which U.S. citizens are permitted to stay in the country and work temporary jobs.

Travel Recreationally

Woman With Backpack in Airport
Hero Images / Getty Images 

The best time to travel is after college when you are free of obligations to a job. If you have the opportunity to travel, you should do so when you can, as it broadens your perspective and is an important life experience.

If you decide to travel, make the most of it and take photos, or blog about it. You can then share whatever you come up with as an example of your multimedia, writing, or web design skills.

Work at Your College

University Student in Library
ML Harris / Getty Images 

If you decide to continue living close to your college, consider pursuing a job there, whether it is in administration or education. There are many jobs to be had on college campuses. For example, you could work in the department that you majored in; or, you could work as a teaching assistant if there are positions relevant to your degree.

These types of jobs can be especially convenient if you still live in your college town, and can also lead to further opportunities, like the funding of post-graduate classes or even a degree, as many universities will allow their employees to take classes for free.

Try Organic Farming

Farmer Harvesting Organic Tomatoes in Greenhouse
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images 

The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program, commonly called "WWOOF," is a program that helps individuals find opportunities on organic farms throughout the world. For a small fee, participants are provided with an extensive database of opportunities in the country of their choice.

Although the duration of the experience depends on where and when you work, as the details of the agreement are between the farmer and the volunteer, most situations tend to be a few months long and generally include room and board.