So You’ve Just Graduated College…Now What?

You’ve donned your cap and gown, gotten a diploma with your name on it, and moved on into the real world. This is quite possibly the most terrifying, thrilling, and exhilarating time of your life, when you have the full power to make all of your decisions for yourself. You might not know what the future holds for you yet, but you do know that you want travel to be a part of it. But now that you have real-world responsibilities, how do you squeeze in the time and finances to hit the road?

Travel, like any hobby or interest, needs to be worked into your schedule and lifestyle. It might be difficult at times, but it’s not impossible! Here are some tricks and tips I’ve compiled (with advice from the experts – other recent graduates!) on how to make travel a consistent part of your life, no matter what your situation may be.

If You’re Working…

Congratulations on securing your first adult job! Though things might not be perfect for you, you are fortunate to have a solid financial and personal foundation under you right out of college. With just a few weeks of vacation, though, you might feel overwhelmed about scheduling travel and fitting it into the rigid demands of your job. Here are a few ways that you can see new places and satisfy your traveler’s itch while still working.

Get A Business-Travel Position

What I ultimately decided to do after college was get a job that enables me to see different places and be on the move constantly. For a traveler like me, business trips will definitely be an adjustment, but will help me satisfy the nagging traveler’s itch inside of me. This was my go-to after college because it enables me to have the best of both worlds – a life on the road and a steady income, plus a resume-building career on top of that. Many careers in business and sales have opportunities for travel around the country and the world, so if you’re ready to commit to constant travel, this kind of entry-level position might be something to consider.

Work In An International Industry

Certain industries lend themselves to international work more than others. For example, the city I live in has a lot of oil and gas work, so people from all over the world come here for conferences and meetings. People from Brazil, Norway, and dozens of other countries come to Houston for work, and it’s incredible to see the international impact that this industry has had on the city. A friend of mine who works for a major oil and gas company has gotten to go to Portugal and Spain for work, and he’s only a few years out of college.

If you’re still looking for a job that enables you to work in an international context, try searching within industries that span nations. That way, at the very least, you’ll be able to work with people from all over the world on a daily basis!

Make Your Vacation Days Work For You

If you’re like most recent graduates, you might only have 2-3 weeks of vacation time from work. Make the most of it! Schedule your vacations around holidays that you already have off of work (the week between Christmas and New Years is always a great one!), and you’ll be able to spend fewer vacation days when you travel. Ask your boss if you can work remotely for a week, and that might buy you some extra time for a side trip. If you work hard and play your cards right, you can make your few vacation days work for you in a way that also enables you to take meaningful trips to wherever you want to go.

If You’re In Grad School…

Higher education is nothing to sneeze at – you’ve applied and been accepted into a competitive program to pursue your passions. Kudos to you! However, with grueling class and research hours, grad school might not give you a lot of time to take independent trips around the world. Here are a couple of ways that you can study hard and work in some time to travel without going crazy.

Maximize School Breaks

Since you’re still in school, there will be school breaks. In grad school this can differ depending on your program, so be sure to mark your calendar with any long weekend or school break (eg. summer, winter, Thanksgiving, etc.) that you have. This way, you can plan your trips to correspond with each break.

Check Out Research Conferences

There are conferences all around the world, and since you’ll likely be involved with research or some specialized field in grad school, you could very well be eligible to attend some of these symposiums. You might even be able to present your own research, and many of the conferences are sponsored (AKA paid-for by someone else), so you can travel around the world while still completing school-related things.

Do International Research

Cutting-edge research is happening all around the world, and there are many research facilities looking for temporary (or full time) researchers. Try finding out if you can “study abroad” by completing some of your research abroad. I have friends who have performed degree-specific research in Brazil, Paris, London, and Japan, so it can definitely be done and you may even get paid for it!

If You’re Still Figuring It Out…

Haven’t quite figured out what you want to do with your adult life yet? That’s okay! A lot of us recent grads are in that position. There are still a lot of options for you to travel the world and possibly make some money in the process, so don’t lose hope just yet!

Get a Job Abroad

If you aren’t already employed, try finding a job in another country. Some of these can include teaching English abroad, working as a tour guide or translator, becoming a diving instructor, or working for an NGO. There is plenty of demand for English-speaking workers in many areas of the world, and you could travel and work while continuing to build your resume as well.

Take Advantage Of Work Visas

Many countries, including Australia, offer a 1-year work visa to foreigners who want to live and work there for a year. These can be your doorway into traveling and working abroad. I have quite a few friends who have taken advantage of this opportunity, bought a ticket to Australia, and found a job once they arrived. Be prepared with a resume and a knowledge of skills you can offer in the working force.

Freelance

If you’re not ready to commit to a full-time job but have some marketable skills like photography, coding, design, or writing, you can freelance from anywhere in the world. Freelancing is great because you make your own schedule and can work as much or as little as you want. On the flip side, though, the amount you work also determines the amount you’ll get paid, and depending on where you live in the world, you’ll need to make a certain amount to survive. Freelancing is a lot of hard work but it can give you a location-independent lifestyle and an ability to run your own routine, which is very liberating!

Keeping travel in your post-college life isn’t as difficult as you might think. As you can see, there are a lot of ways to stay on the road, even when you’re working, studying, or figuring it all out. If you truly want to travel while juggling these other life commitments, it might take a little bit of work, but it is manageable and well worth the effort.

Kay Rodriguez

Kay Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief of The Kay Days, a travel blog focusing on immersive travel for young people. She is also a full-time university student at Rice University in Houston, Texas. During school breaks, she travels and writes to inspire other students and recent graduates to do the same.

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3 thoughts on “So You’ve Just Graduated College…Now What?”

  1. I think after you graduate, the best thing is to go for a year and travel. Get to know people and places and then you will know what you want to do for the rest of your life!

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