What are the Options for Grads Without Gigs?

Ideas for recent grads without jobsOver at BNET's sister site MoneyWatch.com, Robert Pagliarini lays out the options for unemployed college grads who, despite their shiny new diploma, can't get a decent job. According to Pagliarini, grads have only a few options if they can't land their dream job: remain unemployed, get a crappy job, or check out. It's clearly the last of these choices that appeals to Pagliarini, who notes that grads with gumption can start their own company, travel, or go back to school.

With rates of unemployment among the young much higher than the national average and anecdotal evidence pointing to one of the most punishing labor markets in years, plenty of smart, ambitious young people need to find creative ways to utilize their time. Luckily it's not just Pagliarini who's weighing in with productive ways to check out of the traditional 9-to-5. Marketing guru Seth Godin, for instance, recently suggested a post-graduate-year working at some of the following worthwhile activities:

  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL.
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant-coach a kids' sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
Think finding the funds and the courage to fashion your own alternative sounds impossible? As the New York Times notes a growing number of grads are going so far as China to find opportunities -- so bold alternatives can be done. Other options include doing volunteer work abroad or working abroad as an English teacher. (Plenty of jobs available here. If you're headed to Asia and have a degree, most likely no special training will be necessary.) Other programs also offer the chance to work overseas for several months without committing to a year at the head of a class. Probably you'll have a "crappy job" rather than a high-flying position in marketing or finance, but it's a great way to learn a language and core skills like creativity and flexibility. Plus, some think those with international experience are more attractive to employers.

(Image of happy unemployed guy by Rain Rannu, CC 2.0)