For most undergraduates, life after college means finding a job.
But according to Elad Granot, dean at the Dauch College of Business and Economics at Ashland University in Ashland, and Beth Miller, assistant director at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, jumping into a career isn’t the only option.
“Post-graduation options can vary, but include a job, graduate school, community service such as Peace Corps, Teach for America, teaching English abroad and additional certification training,” Miller said.
Granot added, “Graduate school is a very valid option. What we have seen over the last couple of decades, (is) the gap between graduating undergraduate and going to grad school has shortened drastically. Also, taking a gap year is definitely an option. I’m a big proponent of international travel. This could provide students with answers on what they want to do.”
Though many options exist, it is common for students to struggle with finding purpose.
“This conundrum of what to do post-graduation is generally influenced by the student not pursuing experiential learning experiences during undergraduate studies,” Miller explained. “Students struggling with what to do post-graduation tend to occur when they don’t have those experiences to draw upon to structure their next step in their journey.”
Granot said, “It’s more common than it needs to be. The options folks have after graduation have to do with what they do before they graduate. If you don’t set yourself up while you’re in college, you might find yourself asking this question. What I mean by this is internships. It is critical to participate in them.”
At Ashland, students have to do an internship. This helps dispel any post-graduation worries, Granot said.
“For incoming students, we actually stress at open houses that one of the advantages (of our school) is they will have an internship or they won’t graduate,” he said. “And what we find is that many students then have multiple internships. The key to that is being integrated into the business community and having connections.”
Granot added these internships lead to jobs, and if not, give a clue into what a student might not want to do.
“Then, their options are more varied after graduation,” he said.
At Bowling Green, students can interact with the career center for consultation appointments, Miller said, where students can discuss career exploration, graduate school, review documents and prepare for interviews.
“Alumni are welcome to attend networking and career fair events,” she said. “Recent graduates also still have access to Focus, an online tool that assesses interests, skills, values and personality, and suggests career options that may be further explored.”
Granot and Miller said it’s OK to be unsure as the decision is an individual one.
“Post-graduate options are different ways to design different professional paths for different times in life,” Miller said. “Each option has value at various stages of one’s development. Many factors can limit what a person may pursue. ... A person needs to evaluate these areas to determine the pros and cons of their choice.”
Granot added, “Not all of us work according to the same timeline or set of preferences. We’re always wondering what we could do differently or in addition to. So, it’s perfectly fine to be in a constant state of questioning as long as there is an understanding. But, there is a strong demand for talent, so it’s a great time to be graduating from college.”
Publisher’s note: Elad Granot is a member of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company Board of Directors.