No Job? No Problem.

Posted on November 2, 2011 by


Let’s face it, as college students living in what is probably the worst economy since the Great Depression, our futures look fairly bleak. With total unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hovering around 9%, and the youth unemployment (16-24) even higher still, many students find themselves in a panic while nearing graduation. The prospects for landing a well-paying job in your intended career field are getting slimmer every day, not only because fewer jobs are around, but those available are being given over to older, more experienced workers. We won’t even discuss the tizzy those who are still without a clue about their future must be having, though this entry certainly applies to their wayward souls as well. So with the world apparently going to Hell in a hand-basket, what is the soon-to-be grad to do? What about the recent grad who still hasn’t found a job? Well, don’t worry, I’ve thought of a few alternatives to the nose-to-the-grindstone path, a couple things to do instead of trying to land that job as soon as you walk across the stage at graduation.

Keep Your Current Job, or Find a Less-Than-Desirable Position

It’s not something most people like to hear, but staying at your current job, whether it’s waitressing, working at the same crappy firm, or just moonlighting as a janitor, is better than nothing. Though it’s definitely tough, just try to think of it in better terms. You’re not a waitress, you’re preventing American’s from starving! You’re not the coffee-horse at work, you’re the guy who’s making sure people don’t make mistakes by falling asleep! Don’t think of it as janitoring, think of it as cleaning up a crime scene so no one discovers what you did to that last bastard who said “No” to your resume.


Of course, this option is pretty scary to think about. Traveling through foreign countries, or even our own beautiful nation, can seem impossible. How can you afford it? You don’t have a job! But, when’s the next time you’re going to have months on end with nothing important to do? To not have any real responsibilities (except find a source of income)? Of course, for the older students with families, or those who really, truly can’t afford squatting in a tent on the side of a road for a few weeks to “find themselves” this option isn’t necessarily viable. For others, a celebratory Soul Trek could be just what was needed after the last few years. Besides, you’ve been working really hard for a really long time and you’ll probably never get the time to do this again until the next recession when you don’t have a job once more.

Peace Corps.

I wrote a post about this very subject a few weeks ago, and I still stand by it as a viable option. Essentially, the U.S. government sends you to impoverished areas to both help foreign locals and to build relations with other nations. Whether it’s helping coffee farmers market their products, teaching in schools, or helping provide technical expertise, you are there to better the community you live in for 27 months. You are given intensive language and culture training prior to actually beginning any jobs, though you do actually live there during the classes. At the end of the program, you’re given a little nest egg of “transition funds” of ~$7,000 USD to help with getting back into life in the US. All in all, it’s not a terrible option. You get to see how another culture lives while gaining skills and great stories for those job interviews you’ve skipped out on.

Teach Abroad

There are many programs for teaching in foreign countries (including Peace Corps.). While Peace Corps is one option, there are others (see GoAbroad). Much of it involves teaching English, sometimes in western-style schools in other countries, or even for the children of high-ranking officials or businesspersons. Again, it often requires you to learn another language, and should only be chosen as those comfortable with uprooting their lives to a wholly new country. Hey, maybe they’ve got some jobs there!

Teach for America

Similar to, but slightly different from, the past two options, Teach for America focuses instead on helping those at home. If accepted, you would be given intense training for a few months before being put in a school in a low-income area within the U.S. , or simply a school that is lagging behind in your particular subject. The program is a teaching commitment of two years  to improve the education of American children. It isn’t only an option for education majors or those with teaching licenses either. Anyone can apply if they are competent in their field of education, i.e. a chemist at an R&D firm teaching chemistry. Again, however, this should be chosen as a serious decision, those with the attitude of “Oh, I need a job, I guess I’ll teach or something” should just stay away. These are kids’ futures you could be messing up with lack of commitment. Of course, the program pays you a similar salary to your teaching peers, and you’re given access to professional advice and online resources to make sure you’re able to competently attain results. At the end of the program, you’re even able to stay in your position if you desire and the powers that be O.K. it as well, and if not, well, at least you’ve got two years of work experience to apply to that dusty old C.V.

Enlist in the Military

As a forewarning, there are plenty of reasons to enlist in the military, none of those should be simply because you have no job. It is a commitment you have to take seriously, and should not be done lightly on a whim. However, if you feel you have a duty to do for your country, or it’s a responsibility for everyone to do their part, then by all means, talk it over with a recruiter, but temper that with a few conversations with family and friends, not for them to talk you out of it, but so that you understand the seriousness of the choice. With two wars, possible defense budget cuts, and a lack of recruits, you may be doing more than your “fair share” of service. Not to mention the very real threat of death, serious physical injuries or PTSD. But, if it’s something that calls to you, by all means join up and do us proud.

Mooch off Mom & Dad

Hey, it may not be the most luxurious lifestyle, and you may run into a stream of questions that bring a very real sense of high school back( “Where are you going?” “When will you be home?” “When are you going to get a job and move out?” “Why can’t you be more successful like your brother?”),  but it’s an option, especially if you can’t find any job that allows you to barely scrape by. Plus, you could probably offer to pay some form of rent so you don’t feel like to much of a leech. And all that time spent on Facebook and Twitter can be written off as “Social Media Training.”

Beg, Plead, Steal or Murder Blackmail Brown-nose Your way to your first Job

Of course, this is exactly what this list was made to avoid. But I thought I’d remind you that the job is what you’ve been after all these long years in classrooms that seemed to always be much too warm or cold. Those countless nights spent frantically typing the paper you forgot about because you were typing three other papers, the million of pennies spent on printer paper, and the lack of sleep for four (+) years all add up to that first real, “adult” job. So don’t forget about that simply because you read a list telling you about other things to do, because even if you do participate in any of the above activities, eventually there will come a day when you’re wiping the sweat from your hand as you see the interviewer holding theirs out to shake, and you’ll want a nice thick resume to help dry that hand off for them.

Posted in: After IUSB