You did well in grade school, worked hard in high school and now you’ve finally got that college degree you’ve been looking forward to for ages. But now what? Should you rush out and get your first real “grown-up” job? Maybe. Or maybe you’ll be happier if you take some time off.
College isn’t some Van Wilder-esque paradise, where you spend nearly a decade throwing parties and goofing off. It’s hard, stressful work, and after graduation you may feel like you need some time to relax and clear your head. Opinions are divided on whether taking a year off after college is a good idea. But most people would agree that it’s hard to start a new job when you’re feeling frazzled and exhausted.
If you’re thinking about taking a break after graduation, following are some ideas about how to get the most out of the experience.
It’s easier to relax when you don’t have to worry about the details of your day-to-day life, so if you’re planning to take some time off, moving temporarily to a new location can help you get a fresh start. But you don’t need to go backpacking across Europe to reap the rewards of being away.
Looking for a tropical location where you can write in your journal and gaze at the ocean? Try Florida. Avoid overcrowded destinations and choose a quiet beach like Sarasota’s Siesta Key. Leave your cellphone behind, so you can be alone with your thoughts. Think about what you really want to do with your life, and make notes in your journal.
Unless you have a lot of money saved up, you won’t be able to spend every day lying around on the beach. You’ll have to find a part-time job, at least, but you can find plenty of temporary jobs in the tourism and restaurant industry in Florida. Do yourself a favor and get a short-term health insurance policy; Florida is home to a variety of biting and stinging insects that can cause skin problems — or, if you’re allergic, breathing difficulties and severe illness.
Florida is just one place you could go in the continental United States. You’ll find plenty of other inviting beaches (and nearby tourism jobs), in coastal California, Texas and the Carolinas.
When you donate your time to help others, you experience the kind of personal fulfillment that most people don’t find in their everyday jobs. Furthermore, volunteer experience is something employers like to see on a resume, so even if you’re technically taking time off after graduation, you’ll still be building your personal marketability when you volunteer.
Learn an Irrelevant Skill
Maybe you plan to become an accountant or civil engineer, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning a new skill completely unrelated to your professional goals. You’ve heard of “bucket lists” that outline goals like skydiving, learning a new language or learning to play the piano. But why wait until old age to pursue such an experience? Do it while you’re young, and you’ll have the rest of your life to be proud of your accomplishment.
If you decide you’d like to take time off after college, it doesn’t have to be an entire year. Choose what works for you — even a week or two away can help you recharge and prepare for the next stage in life.