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No job after graduation? Check out these alternative post-grad plans



Spring graduation is six months away. If your holiday break, first day of class or conversation with your grandma is filled with the question: “Do you know what you’re going to do after graduation?” Consult this list.

As appetizing as an unpaid internship or moving in with your mom and dad sounds, there are options besides settling into a job at the early age of 22 (when you can’t even rent a car…) As J.R.R. Tolkien and overused Instagram captions remind us: “Not all who wander are lost.”

PeaceCorps

Perhaps the most well-known alternative post-grad plan, the PeaceCorps is a 48 month contract (plus a few months of training), that places volunteers in countries – 64 host countries total — to work with in-need communities in the fields of: agriculture, community economic development, the environment, health, education and youth in development. They recommend applying nine months before your desired departure. PeaceCorps will provide a stipend to cover living expenses and health and dental insurance. If the volunteer decides, they can also reallocate some of their allowance to assist with student loans – not a bad gig. Acceptance is competitive, but 90 percent of volunteers have a Bachelor’s Degree (at least). For some people, PeaceCorps may be a bit too noblesse oblige so make sure it’s right for you. And just a reminder: Only U.S. citizens can apply and in many cases, you may be the only volunteer in your area.

Visit peacecorps.gov for more information on what it’s like to be a volunteer.

Teach for America

Teach for America is a nationally run nonprofit that sends recent college graduates into low achieving school districts to teach grades K-12 for a two year contract. With a less than 15 percent acceptance rate, the program is considered to be highly impressive. However, applicants do not need to have any background in the study of education and are usually placed in areas where students need highly skilled teachers — which is why TFA doesn’t always have the best reputation. The next and final deadline to begin teaching in September 2015 is Jan. 30. You must be a U.S. citizen who’s graduating in 2015 with at least a 2.5 GPA. If accepted, you will start training in May or June. TFA decides placements based on several factors — the biggest being where teachers are most needed. Currently this is in Eastern North Carolina, Las Vegas Valley, Memphis, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Visit www.teachforamerica.org to learn more.

National Park Service

Think more Wild, less Leslie Knope. The United States has 59 national parks. Consider volunteering at one. Yellowstone National Park in California is currently taking applications for: camp hosts, visitor center assistants, maintenance workers, wildlife assistants, back-country patrols, desk officers, vegetation restoration and more. While most of the positions aren’t compensated, housing is available depending on position and duration of commitment. Volunteer.gov has a great site that lets you click on a state and view all the National Park volunteer opportunities. If you absolutely need to make money, check out jobs at resorts that are often located near national parks like the Crater Lake Lodge, Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite and Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort in Zion, Utah.

American Conservation Experience

The American Conservation Experience provides several volunteer opportunities for those wishing to spend time in the outdoors, particularly in the areas of California, Arizona and Utah.

– Conservation Corps: People ages 18-25. Consider applying for this program if you’re considering land management or a future career in the outdoors. Service terms last 3-12 months and volunteers are provided with living stipends. Volunteers will work with several organizations including the National Park Service, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

– Conservation Volunteers: People ages 18-25. If you’re looking for a shorter commitment, the Conservation Volunteers may be a good program for you. The program lasts 8-12 weeks and volunteers will be provided with food and housing, but are responsible for their own travel expenses. Volunteers don’t need any prior conservation experience.

According to their website, ideal volunteers should not be looking for a free vacation and should “truly enjoy exerting yourself on meaningful projects in beautiful locations and like a challenge.” The site also mentions that volunteers should be physically fit and able to work 10 hours a day in extreme weather conditions. Typically, projects will be 4-8 days, with up to six days off every two weeks.

Find out more here.

Au pair

If you really like kids and don’t mind moving back in with a family after college (may be better than your own, right?) Consider becoming an au pair. It will give you the chance to live rent free in a foreign country, while earning money at the same time. Greataupair.com allows you to create a free profile and browse families all over the world looking for child care. Worried about a language barrier? Many families abroad actually prefer an English speaking au pair so their kids can practice English. There are also several au pair opportunities in the United States and Canada. Note for males: Most families prefer a female au pair, but many will accept any gender, so don’t get discouraged.


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Sophia June

Sophia June

Sophia is the Senior Arts and Culture Editor at the Emerald.