Being Out Of School.. Now What?
You spent all of those years counting down the days until you would no longer spend most of your time in a classroom. Now, you’re out of school and, ironically, it’s pretty intimidating. Whether you decided college wasn’t for you after highschool, you dropped out halfway through, took some time off, or just graduated, the question on your mind is probably, “Now what?” Well, it may be time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Scary, I know, but you’ll be happy you did.
For those of you who are freshly graduated with a shiny college degree, good for you! Now it’s time to transition over to the “real world.” Get ready to start building that resume, going on a number of job interviews, and hopefully, working in the field you got that degree in. If you’re not already nervous enough, Forbes talks about the unfortunate things that nobody prepares you for after college; that is, having less time for drinking and friends, and the necessity of upgrading your wardrobe and bedtime. However, maybe you’re not so ready to dive head first into the real world. If you’re in need of a breather, there are other options besides getting a big girl job right away. I strongly encourage everyone to consider a gap year if you don’t already have something lined up and ready for when you graduate.
If you never went to college, that’s okay. So long as you made that decision for the right reasons, congratulations on making it! Despite what the world tells you, you’ll be okay. Besides, college isn’t going anywhere if you ever change your mind. At this point, you’re young, and that allows a certain level of freedom. You can just about go anywhere, or do anything you want. In my experience, jobs in the service industry are ideal for young, unmarried individuals with no kids because they are fairly flexible, easy to get, and easy to maintain. You will find yourself making quite a bit of money, and meeting several different types of people. These types of jobs are perfect for the in-between points in your life, when you haven’t quite decided what’s next. However, if you’re eager to prepare for the future and start a more stable and relaxed life, there actually are quite a few jobs that will set you up nicely and don’t require a college degree. The Balance Careers offers an extensive list of jobs that pay well, and require a specific skill rather than an education.
Maybe you dropped out halfway through college, or maybe you’re just taking a break. If the latter is your circumstance, my advice is to actually treat it as a break. Sure, you may still need to make money. There are plenty of jobs that pay fair and do not require an unreasonable amount of brain power or stress. Personally, I had to take a break after my third year of college because of a cut in my financial aid. I’ve spent my time waitressing, which has enabled me to get my own place in Chicago while still saving for school. The job is easy enough, and gives me the time to work on my creative writing. If you dropped out and have no plans of returning, well, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves off. You will eventually have to get a job. However, it’s okay to fill your time up with things that you actually enjoy. There must have been a reason you dropped out, channel that. What is going to make you happy? Maybe you spend more time volunteering, maybe you continue learning in a different type of setting, maybe you practice a creative skill you’ve always wanted to master. Understand that you probably are not going to be rich anytime soon, you may not even be financially comfortable for a while, but that does not mean your life is over. Take a breath, and find what feels right for you.
Regardless of your circumstance, it’s time to start getting real. So, what do you want to do, really? What can you see yourself enjoying, and being good at? No, not what your parents want you to do, and not what you think will give you the most secure life. What is your ideal job? Great, start there. Do your research. Make a list of the things you want out of life, and acquire the knowledge that will help get you there. Think of what type of environment you’d like to live in, and find cities that fit that criteria and have plenty of job opportunity for your specific career goals. Don’t be afraid to move across the country if you think you’ll love it. Don’t be afraid to move back if you don’t. Don’t be afraid. Taking risks is good. Trial and error is okay. You got this.