What to Do After Graduating College: 5 Suggestions

Ginger Abbot

Nov 3, 2021
What to Do After College Graduation

We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.

Graduating from college is a bittersweet yet exciting experience. On one hand, you’ll miss all the acquaintances and routines you’ve grown accustomed to over the past several years. On the other hand, you now have your ticket to your future in diploma form. Where will it take you? 

You have many weighty decisions to make. Here are five suggestions for what to do after graduating college. 

1. Go Abroad 

Do you harbor romantic fantasies of backpacking through Europe after graduation? You might be able to live your dream, even if you don’t have that much green. Traveling now before you have a home, pets and children to look after gives you considerable freedom — take advantage. 

What can you do if you’re financially challenged? If you’re a native English speaker, your skills may fund your travels. Talk to your advisor about finding low-cost TESOL certification classes so that you can teach your language overseas. Many organizations provide you with a place to live, and the cost of living in some regions means you can save your salary and return home with a tidy bankroll and a smartphone full of photographs. 


Are you handy with a hammer? You might be able to fund your European backpacking trip by trading your labor at various hostels in exchange for lodging. You’ll need proof of vaccination, and each country has independent rules regarding COVID-19. Please do your research before booking your trip to avoid any headaches. 

2. Take an Internship 

Relatively few people find their dream job right out of college. Some people labor until well into their 40s or beyond at various endeavors before finding that one niche that fits. 

While you shouldn’t fear starting over, nor do you want a resume that resembles swiss cheese. Job-hopping won’t benefit your long-term career prospects. However, how else can you tell if you’ll like the daily ins and outs of your target industry until you try? 

One method is by applying for internships. You can find paid versions if you need to keep a roof over your head while you determine your life’s trajectory. Some such gigs convert to full-time employment if you love them. If not, they are limited in duration by nature, giving you an easy answer when future interviewers ask why you left after six months. 

3. Generate an Income Stream 

Here’s something that they probably didn’t teach you in college unless you studied economics — and, quite frankly, probably not even then. The United States’ current tax code favors businesses over employees so heavily that becoming an entrepreneur may be your best avenue to keep up financially. This statement is even more true after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passage, which eliminated many employee deductions. 

However, it takes time to build a successful business, especially if you start by doing so on the side while you keep yourself fed through paid labor. After all, you only have so many hours in each day. It isn’t unusual for new ventures to lose money in their first few years as they struggle to establish themselves. 

Therefore, one of the best things you can do after graduating college is to start a side hustle that you independently run. If you need inspiration, think of all the people who wished they had begun a successful Etsy shop or YouTube channel well before the current pandemic struck. 

Your side business allows you to explore your passions without quitting your day job. You might someday segue to doing it full-time if you succeed. Even if you don’t, you build a secondary residual income stream that can come in handy if something affects your principal paycheck. 

4. Build Your Network 

Some career experts estimate that more than 85% of open positions are filled through networking, not online job boards. Now is the time to establish yourself as a responsible professional in your field by attending as many in-person and online events as possible. 

Your university is an ideal place to start. Many institutions host networking events for alumni and soon-to-be graduates. You can also join professional organizations for people in your major or industry and get notified of upcoming events through their communications channels. 

5. Consider Graduate School 

If you are already burdened with student loan debt, you might think of graduate school as a pipe dream. Please take heart if you have a love of learning. While the cost might be prohibitive here, other countries value education differently and encourage scholars from all over the globe. 

Finland, for example, charges no fees for Ph.D. students regardless of their nationality. You could witness the northern lights while advancing your education. Norway and Germany likewise have graduate school programs where you can study for free or at a low cost. 

Consider These 5 Things to Do After College 

Graduating from university is both bittersweet and exciting. The world is your oyster — which of these five things will you do after college? 


Written By